Pueblos Magicos: Tapijulapa Attracts Artisans and Eco-Tourism
Tapijulapa, Tabasco, is a small town home to crafts, nature and tradition. Whitewashed houses, red tile roofs, cobblestone streets and beautifully painted pots decorate the town. A zip line hovers overhead, and crosses the Oxolotan River. The town is famous for artisans who make furniture with regional vines, which the locals call “matusay.” The finished products are often referred to as wicker furniture. These wicker crafts have been made for over half a century, and can be found in the form of chairs, tables, baskets, sombreros and thousands of other items.
The central plaza of Tapijulapa is adorned with trees and a gazebo. The side streets are decorated with the charming houses. The Oxolotan Convent rests on the banks of the Oxolotan River. Built around 1572, it has interesting and intricate architectural details. Now home to an art museum, the ex-convent showcases colonial pieces, oil paintings and wooden sculptures.
Tapijulapa is nestled between the foothills of the Sierra madre del Sur mountains of the state of Tabasco. The State Reserve “Sierra de Tabasco” protects the last remnants of the forest Tabasco, and adds rich nature to Tapijulapa. The Amatan River drifts alongside one side of the town, and the other side is bordered by the Oxolotan River. The surrounding mountains, forests and river provide waterfalls, natural pools, botanical gardens and nature trails. The rivers provide refuge for hot summer days. These outdoor activities are encompassed by unparalleled natural beauty, with a wide variety of flora and fauna to appreciate.
A setting perfect for enjoying nature is the Yu-Balcah, an ecological reserve. Visitors can walk into the jungle and observe endangered animals, as well as camp, bike, kayak and simply observe nature. The Kolem Jaa (The Greatness of Water) ecotourism center has a spectacular group of waterfalls. Scattered along the falls are botanical gardens and nature trails.
Ancient tradition is also found in Tapijuapa. The Cueva de las Sardinas Ciegas (Cave of the blind sardines) holds a lake inside. Because the water is surrounded by darkness, the fish inside are blind. There was an ancient Mayan tradition to honor Chac, the rain god, where ceremonial fishing would occur. To honor this tradition, natives join in the cave on Palm Sunday to fish, and the amount caught forecasts the future crop.
The Pueblos Magicos program identifies towns that reflect “the culture of Mexico” through attributes like architecture, traditions, customs, music, gastronomy, festivities and handcrafts. There are currently 52 destinations throughout Mexico that have earned the Pueblos Magicos classification.