We had a much better nights sleep. Ruth was still not 100%, but decided she was well enough to go on the boat for a couple of hours, so we did. The weather was perfect, so if you have to look at the bright side of our delay, this was it.
The Sumidero Canyon was formed over millions of years by the great Chiapa River. The section of the river that we went on for 32 kms was the Grijalva River. The river was only made useful for boats when they built a hydro dam which I think I read somewhere was in 1969. The entire area is now a National Park.
So we left about 10am, and there was only 10 people so we were put on one of the small boats.. This was good because there was only 2 seats on each side so it was better for taking pictures than one of the bigger boats would have been. There was an older German couple with us, and the rest were Mexicans. Our boat driver didn’t speak any English, but we understood bits and pieces of what he was saying, so it wasn’t really an issue. The cost was 150 pesos ($13.65 CAN, $11.25 US) each for the two and a half hour trip to the dam and back.
The scenery was spectacular. Some of the canyon walls rise over 1,000 metres (3,000 feet) from the water, which itself is over 125 metres (400 feet) deep in spots. We saw at least 8 different crocodiles sunning themselves as well as many different birds and even a monkey.
Crocodile at the side of the river
When we got back, we had some lunch and then wound our way through the narrow streets back to the main square in the town of Chiapa De Corzo. It would not be good to try and take a motorhome any longer than ours into this town! As we entered the square, who do we see just arriving but our friends Glen and Steve! They have finally caught up to us after leaving in Chetumal a few weeks ago when they went backpacking in Belize and Guatemala. We parked in the square for a minute and arranged for the same guy to guide them on his bicycle to the boat launch area where we had stayed.
We then headed to the zoo in Tuxtla Guiterrez. This is a fairly big city of about 500,000 people, and the traffic was busy and the roads were terrible. We arrived at the zoo at about 2pm, so only had time for a quick tour because we still had to drive another 34 kms (21 miles) to get to the orphanage. We had been told we could park overnight at the zoo, but the zoo is built onto a hillside, and so was the parking lot…it was on quite an angle, so we couldn’t stay there.
It costs 20 pesos ($1.80 CAN, $1.50 US) each to get into the zoo. It’s really well done. The animals are all from Mexico, so because the zoo was built into a naturally forested area, all they really had to do was build fences because the trees and everything were already there for the animals natural environment. The most interesting for me was the exhibits of spiders and snakes. There sure are a lot of different spiders and snakes in Mexico, and some of them look very nasty! Next was the jaguars and the black panther. I didn’t think they looked very happy because in the jungle a single adult male will occupy a territory of about 100 square kms, and although their zoo setting was quite large, I don’t think they should be locked up. They sure are a big menacing looking cat though.
Black panther at the zoo
We left the zoo at 4pm. It should have been fairly simple heading out of town towards Ocozocuatla, but somehow we missed a turn and ended up off the main road. Our map wasn’t very accurate, and they were doing some construction at a main intersection and we messed up. Besides this, the traffic was heavy and the roads in general were in terrible condition. It was not fun! We ended up stopping and asking a girl which way to go. The 34 km (31 mile) drive from the zoo to the orphanage in Ocozocuatla took us an hour and a half!
The Hogar Infantil orphanage has been operating for 40 years. You can read all about them here…
They have 7 sites for RV’s, and with our arrival, there is now only one empty spot. You’re only allowed to stay here for 5 days without the directors approval, and payment is neither allowed or expected. You can of course make a donation via their website, and it seems to be a very worthwhile cause. I don’t know exactly how this became an RV destination, but I’m assuming one of the former American directors must have been an RV’er and this was a great way to have people visit and spread the word. Because they operate entirely by private donations, most of their funding comes from the US and Canada. It is run by volunteers and over 90% of the donations goes directly towards the support of the children. I’m sure we’ll find out more over the next few days, and we’re looking forward to interacting with the children.
We were invited over to one of the other motorhomes for cocktails after dinner. There were 8 of us inside the motorhome, but it’s a large rig with a slideout so we were all comfortable. Two of the couples we had met originally in Campeche and again in Chetumal, and the other couple was from Oklahoma. It’s fun how you bump into the same people over and over again because there are only so many route choices for RV’s in Mexico.
We haven’t had internet for a few days, but the town of Ocozocuatla is very close so maybe we’ll ride our bikes in tomorrow or something.
Total nights sleeping in a motorhome…469
February Fuel $ 0 CAN
February Grocery $ 51.81 CAN
February Overnight costs $ 20.00 CAN