30 December 2018:
Puerto Chiapas, Mexico:
The Birthplace of Time

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Mexico’s ancient culture reaches back thousands of years.

And there are hundreds of cruise ships heading north or south along the coast each year, looking for places to stop. More and more each year.

And so we have new ports in an old country:

Two small, old ports called Puerto Madero and Puerto de San Benito were redeveloped as a commercial harbor in the 1970s and renamed Puerto Chiapas. And a cruise terminal came along 15 years ago.

And so we are here. There is not much of a settlement at the port, but it does serve as the gateway to the ancient Olmec city of Tapachula, dating from about 1500 BCE. It was at its height from about 600 BCE until 100 of the modern era.

And about 45 minutes from our ship is the archeological site of Izapa.

The ancient peoples of Mesoamerica—centered in and around this area—developed an elaborate time-reckoning system composed of both a 260-day sacred almanac and a 365-day secular calendar.

They came upon that 365-day year perhaps 1800 years before the solar calendar was supposedly “invented” in Europe.

Izapa is along the Izapa River near the base of the Tacaná volcano, the fourth largest mountain in Mexico.

Here is how it looked today:

Izapa certainly is not as well known as places like Chichen-Itza or Tikal in Guatemala (two great Mayan sites). It does not have the monumental pyramids and temples of those sites which were developed later. But in some ways Izapa is richer and more significant.

The site contains many carved Stelae or posts, most of them from the Mayans who succeeded the Olmecs.

We also paid a call at the town of Tuxtla Chico near Izapa.

And there we were serenaded by a marimba band and given a demonstration of the opening of cacao pods, their roasting, and their conversion into the makings of that essential of life, chocolate.

We are headed out to sea now and for the next two days will be proceeding north up the coast of Mexico to Cabo San Lucas. We will celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day aboard ship, and wish all a healthy and happy New Year.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

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