Photographing The Sights and Sounds Of Our Mexico

Our Mexico is complex; yummy cuisines, mariachi music, centuries-old pyramids, unique indigenous cultures and beautifully lit narrow passageways thru colonial cities.

Most people imagine white sandy beaches and turquoise waters when they think of Mexico and it is that, that’s actually where we live full time in the Rivera Maya, but when we want to get away from it all we head for Chiapas to experience old Mexico and the ancient world of the Maya and be revitalized by art, cuisine and a people that time forgot.

Walking the streets of Patzcuaro, Michoacan
Walking the streets of Patzcuaro, Michoacan
Cooking hand-made tortillas at home in Zinacantan, Chiapas
Cooking hand-made tortillas at home in Zinacantan, Chiapas

Exotic birds and butterfly species, howler monkeys and an occasional scarlet macaw might be spotted as we take a misty boat ride up the Usumacinta river to one of the more challenging ruins to visit, Yaxchilan.

Your imagination runs wild thinking of the Mayans in these ancient dwellings located deep in the jungle. You almost expect Indiana Jones to crash through the jungle with the bad guys in hot pursuit. Bonampak and Palenque are a little more manicured and give you a sense of the art and lifestyles of the Maya with their preserved murals, reconstructed buildings and ball courts.

Visitors climbing to one of the temples at Yaxchilan
Visitors climbing to one of the temples at Yaxchilan
 Travelers exploring the pyramids in Palenque, Chiapas
Travelers exploring the pyramids in Palenque, Chiapas

Our favorite city in Mexico is San Cristobal de las Casas, which was founded in 1528 and is one of the best preserved colonial cities in the country. Located in a mountain valley surrounded by pine-covered hills you’ll be captivated walking the narrow cobblestone streets, passing the brightly colored buildings and fabulous open air markets.

The mix of contemporary Mexicans and the influence of the local indigenous populations can be felt in the restaurants, cafes and shops and creates a relaxed, bohemian atmosphere.

Selling strands of garlic on the streets of San Cristóbal
Selling strands of garlic on the streets of San Cristóbal
The historical center of San Cristóbal de las Casas
The historical center of San Cristóbal de las Casas

The markets are amazing and overflowing. The mild climate and the rich soil give rise to tremendous variety in the food markets and restaurants, and fabulous food opportunities abound.

The many distinct indigenous groups that live in the outlying villages bring their vibrant crafts and tapestries to the crafts markets, creating a kaleidoscope of color that would make any photographer drool. The textiles of Zinacantan, in particular, are influenced by the local green houses full of colorful flowers grown for export.

The traditional clothes and textiles of Zinacantan, Chiapas reflect the large flower-growing industry
The traditional clothes and textiles of Zinacantan, Chiapas reflect the large flower-growing industry
The main produce market in San Cristóbal, Chiapas
The main produce market in San Cristóbal, Chiapas

Frequently, there is live music in the plaza (zocalo) and it’s nearly impossible to walk more than 20 meters without coming across a cafe or a chocolate shop since Chiapas produces nearly 60% of Mexico’s coffee and is the country’s second largest producer of cacao, the raw ingredient for chocolate.

Although there are three main regions in Mexico known for coffee, Chiapas is among the best
Although there are three main regions in Mexico known for coffee, Chiapas is among the best

Festivals are common, announced by fireworks, music and jubilant locals. The largest is the celebration of the Virgin de Guadalupe in the first part of December. The Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) observances are also celebrated in nearby villages and are authentic with few tourists.

Aztec dancers during one of the many festivals in Chiapas
Aztec dancers during one of the many festivals in Chiapas
A procession to the Virgin de Guadalupe during December in San Cristóbal
A procession to the Virgin de Guadalupe during December in San Cristóbal

All these things are a magical mix for the senses and feed our photographer’s souls. They are what we yearn for when we are sitting on the beach drinking a margarita talking about where we want to go next. I hope you, too, will discover our Mexico

Michael S Lewis has been a professional photographer for more than 35 years, first as a staff newspaper photographer and eventually working as a photographer for magazines and National Geographic books. He and his wife, Jennifer, operate a destination wedding photography business and a travel photo tour business from the Caribbean island of Cozumel.

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

4 Comments on Photographing The Sights and Sounds Of Our Mexico

  1. We are fortunate to share Michael and Jennifer´s home base in the Riviera Maya, Mexico and we see the fantastic wedding photos they produce. Every shot they take seems distinctive and meaningful. Their Latin American photos will make you want to go see the places yourself, especially these from Chiapas, truly a wonder of another world captured beautifully by Michael and Jennifer.Paul Ellis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.