- Rotary InterCountry Teacher Exchange

Chiapas 1999

By Cathy Sullivan Hitt

1st week (July 2-10, 1999)

Stayed with: Roberto (Rotary president-elect) and Sonia Sosa and their sons, Roberto (14) and Gerardo (8)—nicknamed Robby and Jerry, in Villaflores (pop. Approximately 60,000).

Places went: El Sumidero Canyon outside of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Museo de las Artesanías, Buenaventura Zoo outside of Villaflores, Agronomy University of Chiapas (UNACH) where Roberto teaches.

Things did/unique experiences: ate traditional Chiapan cuisine at Las Pichanchas at normal dinnertime (3 pm); ate seven course dinner at regional Rotary Club meeting at Tuxtla at normal suppertime (9 pm); watched local Ballet Folklórico at Villaflores plaza; attended Rotary meeting on Tuesday evening from 9:30 till midnight at Frailes Restaurant, owned by the Constantinos; attended elementary graduation ceremony coordinated by Fidalma’s daughter, Fida (a/k/a Fida Hija), at Buenaventura school outside Villaflores.

2nd week (July 10-19)

Stayed with: Antonio (Tony—former Rotary president) and Fidalma (Fida) Constantino, in Villaflores.

104 Pictures from Villaflores

Places went: Chiapa de Corzo outside of Tuxtla, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Grutas de Rancho Nuevo (mini-caverns) similar to Carlsbad; Buenaventura chicken processing plant (similar to Tyson Foods) managed by Fida’s son-in-law, Jaime; Buenaventura summer day camp.

Things did/unique experiences: watched Star Wars Episode with Spanish subtitles; visited their ranch (Rancho Natividad) between Villaflores and Villacorzo where I climbed a nearby hill covered with a unique plant which closed up at the slightest touch called Duérmate Panchita (Go to sleep, Panchita), attended Rotary meeting; ate at Las Mojarras, a restaurant with a lake in the back full of alligators; made cheese; witnessed a local farmer uprising and taking over of the municipal presidency (equivalent of mayor) which lasted at least through the end of the month; was given the opportunity to sew traditional Chiapan embroidery (bordado); observed many native "Indians" make and sell their goods.

3rd week (July 19-26)

Stayed with: Efraín Sr. (former municipal president of Chiapa de Corzo and former charro—Mexican cowboy) and Carmita Coutiño and their children, Efraín Antonio (24), Lucía (22), and Miguel Absalón (17)—nicknamed Efra, Lucy, and Migue in Villacorzo (small municipality approximately 5 minutes from Villaflores).

Places went: Los Lagos de Montebello, Los Lagos de Cristóbal Colon, Tuxtla Gutiérrez.

Things did/unique experiences: explored the great hilly ‘metropolis’ of Villacorzo on foot with their kids; ate breakfast at a local taqueria where a huge pig was walked through on a leash moments before it was to become lunch; visited the local panteón (cemetery with chapels built on the graves) with Migue; experienced my first earthquake tremor; watched my first Charriada (Mexican type rodeo); and watched Efra, a veterinarian and charro, artificially inseminate cows at their ranch (Rancho Santa Lucía); was taken to the highest point in Villacorzo by Lucy.

4th week (July 27-Aug. 3)

Stayed with: Ricardo (Rica—International Chairperson and former Exchange Student) and Rosy Coutiño (also former Exchange Student) and their daughter, Ana Lorena (17 months) in Villaflores.

Places went: La Tigrilla (Rosy’s birthplace and her parents’ ranch).

Things did/unique experiences: huge recognition ceremony for end of English classes; attended Rotary meeting; borrowed the Sosa’s video camera to tape Migue on guitar and Efra with rope tricks; went back out to Buenaventura plant for a before/after photo; spent last full day in Chiapas at Rancho Santa Lucía waiting for Rica to register his uncle’s newborns; was later e-mailed by Efra informing me that they had named a calf after me which I considered an honor; met other teachers on plane from Mexico City to Dallas including Bill Gentzel’s (our assistant superintendent) son’s former college roommate…small world.


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WWW version added on 04-28-99
Last updated on 04-28-99