Monday, February 24, 2003

The temperature this morning is a very pleasant, sunny 70 degrees. We went for breakfast at Café Quiptic on the Zócalo. I ordered huevos rancheros and Tom ordered breakfast tamales. The meals came with coffee, orange juice, bread and strawberry marmalade, and of course tortillas and salsa. It was great and we were stuffed. The whole thing set us back about seven bucks.

Templo de Santo Domingo

Our destination for today is the Lagunas de Montebello National Park, also known as the Lagunas de Colores. These mountain lakes are very deep, which gives their waters wonderfully rich colors. There are over 60 lakes in Montebello, and the park is set in a thick pine forest, much like the Smoky Mountains.

Dual lagos - Esmerelda and Encontada

Montebello is one hour from Comitán. Our combi driver was a speed-demon I've unaffectionately named "Zippy." We're lucky to have gotten there alive. Lunatic.

Encontada

The combis stop at Bosque Azul, the largest lake in the park, where a number of guides immediately come and accost you. We had our choice of hiking, horseback riding, a boat ride, or a tour by pickup. We ended up hiring a hiking guide, Daniel, to show us to some of the lakes, as we did not have a map of the area. We gave him 70 pesos to take us on a 30-minute walk we could have done ourselves. Oh, well. He also picked me an orchid, which I'm sure is illegal, as we are in a national park. We went on a longer hike later by ourselves.

Esmerelda

The lakes are muy bonita. We visited Bosque Azul, Encontada, Ensueño, Esmerelda, and Lagunas Agua Tinta. The park is supposedly quite busy on weekends and holidays with families from Tuxtla and Comitán, but there was hardly anyone visiting today, so we had the place almost to ourselves!

Ensueño

On the combi ride back to Comitán was a French couple. They were speaking to a Mexican woman in Spanish, and she commented she was surprised when she got on board and it was all gringos. The French couple told her that they aren't gringos; they are from Paris. The Mexican lady didn't comment. Paris? I don't think that exempts them from gringo status. It automatically includes them! Wankers.

Back in Comitán, we taxied up to Mirador Belisario Domínguez for an expansive view of the city. Then we walked down a steep path leading to steep streets and back to the Zócalo. We passed the Templo de Guadalupe, where we saw a woman praying and walking to the altar from the back of the church on her knees. Do you suppose she did something really bad?

El tortuga

At the hotel, we were taking pictures of the cute tortugas when the proprietress came out to feed them. Mexican tortugas eat cut-up hot dogs - at least these do. There were ten turtles. The oldest and biggest is 12 years old and is named Rambo. The proprietress said tortugas can live to be 100, but probably not these - too much cholesterol! She also said they eat only every fourth day, so we were pleased to be there on a feeding day. She let us feed them too!

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