Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico, mostly attracts Mexican tourists, but as early retirement budget travelers, we had the desire and the time to check it out. We found some worthwhile attractions to check out in and around town.
Two of those attractions are the Marimba Park in Tuxtla, and the Christ Cross in Copoya, a small village just outside the city.
The cross is visible from many areas of Tuxtla, which is the state capital of Chiapas. We also could see the cross from the rooftop our Airbnb rental. There is a great view of the cross from a spot called “El Mirador” just outside Tuxtla.
To get to the cross you need either a taxi or a colectivo – a shared taxi van. The colectivo is the cheapest way to go, and that’s how we got there. It was six pesos each to get there, and another six each to get back to the city. That’s about $1.38 USD, round-trip for two people. It’s not far – maybe a 15 minute ride from the city.
We took the Tuxtla – Copoyo colectivo that started at Avenida Segunda Ote Sur & Septima Sur Ote. The sign at the stop looked like this:
Once you get to the village of Copoya, population under 1,250, walk along the paved roads (not all roads are paved, but they are working on it…)
Aim for the cross. Sometimes you have to cut sideways, just keep walking towards the cross on the paved roads. You’ll eventually get to the pathway that leads right up to the cross.
There was no admission-taker the day we went, but we left a donation in a donation box inside the base.
The view is fantastic, and it’s peaceful on the base of the cross. There are two giant poles in front of the cross that light it at night. To get a pano shot of the Tuxtla valley without the poles, I hopped went behind a small, plastic clear fence. I had just enough time before the guard came out and told us to get back on the other side of the fence. Apparently, there’s a cliff beyond the where I stood for the shot, so I wouldn’t recommend monkeying around in that area.
There were only a few tourists there the weekday we went. In fact, many approached us to ask where we were from. When we told them the U.S., they were shocked because usually only Mexican tourists visit the cross. Or so they said. One family from Mexico City wanted to take our picture. We were novelty.
There are information placards inside the base of the cross about the design, the building process and more, and it’s all in Spanish. One thing I learned: this cross is larger than the famous Christ statue in Brazil.
The cross was completed in 2012, and I’m sure it takes some money for the upkeep and lighting it at night, so if you visit, and you’re not Catholic, consider a donation anyway.
There is even a photo opportunity with Pope Francis! People are proud that the pope came to visit southern Chiapas in 2016 (although he did not come to Tuxtla).
Of course, next to the pope is where you will find one of the donation boxes.
We didn’t hang around Copoya because there were no restaurants that served beer in the village proper. So we headed right back down to Tuxtla, where the options are plenty for spouse to whet his whistle. The colectivos seemed to leave every few minutes, the second street from the main square (the first street is one-way into town).
The other must-see spot is in Tuxtla: Marimba Park. Each night at 6:00, a marimba band plays music. People start sitting and waiting for the show two hours before showtime! There are benches that line the area around the park’s center that offer front-row seating to see the band and the dancers. The dancers are simply city folks who don some fancy duds and head down to the park.
The music is good, and vendors selling everything from hammocks to bracelets to ice pops come by to offer their goods for sale – even though most of the people in the park each night appear to be locals.
Many of the vendors are kids and teens. Parents are usually nearby watching somewhere. They are smart – they know it’s more difficult to say no to a child.
Most of the tourists are Mexican. We didn’t see any gringos in Tuxtla during our week-long stay. (And as I previously wrote, I like that.)
You can tell who is a tourist by who goes to the brand new “Tuxtla Gutiérrez” sign at the park entrance. The sign was put up while we spent a week in Tuxtla.
In fact, when we took this sign, ‘Gutiérrez‘ hadn’t yet been added, but it’s on the sign now. The second word was added in white letters on the black band underneath the colorful letters the day after I took the above picture.
The band takes a break around 7 and again around 8. By then, it’s dark and the pace of the music picks up a bit and there are more people in the park dancing. Everyone is happy and smiling by the time the band quits at 9:00 p.m., including us!
During the day, Marimba Park is a meeting place. It’s on Avenida Central Pte – and everyone knows where it is.
I see people simply living their lives – selling things, walking through the park to meet friends or go to work, tourists taking pictures. It’s a pleasant place and we rented an apartment through Airbnb nearby. If you spend any time in Tuxtla, this is the area where most hotels for tourists are located. Can’t go wrong in this neighborhood. We definitely enjoyed the area and this park.
We also took a Grijalva River tour down the Sumidero Canyon – another attraction worth your time in southern Chiapas. I’ll get that post up in the next day or two.