- Rotary InterCountry Teacher Exchange

Chiapas 2000

By Cathy Sullivan Hitt

1st week (July 6-12, 2000)

Stayed with: Ricardo (Rica—International Chairperson and former Rotary Exchange Student) and Rosy Coutiño (also former exchange student) and their daughter, Ana Lorena (2 ½) in Villaflores (pop. Approx. 60,000).

Places went: La Tigrilla (Rosy’s birthplace and her parents ranch); Rancho Santa Lucía—Efraín’s ranch.

Things did/unique experiences: attended Rotary meeting on Tuesay evening from 9:30 till midnight at El Mesón Restaurant, owned by the Rotary secretary; got to see the cow that the Coutiño family named after me on my last day in Chiapas last year, but they didn’t tell me until after I’d returned home.

2nd week (July 13-19)

Stayed with: Roberto (Rotary president elect) and Leticia Grajales an their children, Roberto (8) and Susana (5)—in Villaflores.

Places went: toured small villages around Villaflores.

Things did/unique experiences: attended their niece’s 18th birthday party; threw Migue, my daughter’s host brother, into the pool when he didn’t bring his swimming trunks; played a Monopoly type game where you bought countries; got to drink coconut milk from coconuts cut right off the tree.

3rd week (July 20-26)

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

Places went: Chiapa de Corzo outside of Tuxtla Gutierrez, San Cristobal de las Casas, San Juan Chamula (an indigenous village), El Sumidero Canyon and Río Grijalva, zoo in Tuxtla Gutiérrez (capital city of Chiapas), and Buenaventura Zoo outside Villaflores.

Things did/unique experiences: attended Rotary meeting at Frailes Restaurant owned by my host family; observed many naative ‘Indians’ make and sell their goods; learned to speak a form of Pig Latin Spanish secret language taught to me by Migue.

4th week (July 27-Aug. 3)

Stayed with: Efraín Sr. (former municipal president of Villacorzo and former charro—Mexican cowboy) and Carmita Coutiño, and their sons, Efraín Antonio, Jr. (25) and Miguel Absalón (18)—nicknamed Efra and Migue in Villacorzo (about 5 minutes from Villaflores).

Places went: Villahermosa in the neighboring state of Tabasco; La Venta Zoo and Museum; El Mirador—lookout tower; Palenque—Mayan ruins/pyramids; Misolha—waterfall; Agua Azul—waterfall; Buenaventura chicken processing plant (similar to Tyson Foods) managed by Fida’s son-in-law, Jaime.

Things did/unique experiences: recognition ceremony for end of year classes (clausura); attended Rotary meeting—said "Thank you" for the last time; received beautiful bowl and certificate of appreciation; toured home for children of the street who abused drugs; met Tony, a homeless child who slept in a hole underneath the town clock and shoeshined for a living.

"Service Above Self" * "Be A Friend"

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Last updated on 04-28-99