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Mexico: The Vanished World of Agua Azul

December 10, 2009

When I first heard about the spectacular waterfalls and jungle at Agua Azul in Chiapas, I could scarcely believe my ears.  We were told that a drive over a treacherous dirt track of 50 kilometers or so was necessary to reach the river and the waterfalls, but that we were free to camp on Mayan communal land for as long as we liked. The land was pristine, if used sporadically for cattle farming, and the resident Mayans were supposed to be virtually untouched by the modern world.

And so we found Agua Azul. The waterfalls were magnificent, the Mayan Indians friendly and welcoming – they never said a word about our nude sunbathing.  Horses swam in the river with us, and we experienced the magical world of nature at ease.  I hear that Agua Azul is now the site of a major hotel and casino, but I have no wish to return to find out.

I guess the only downside was that our Volkswagen bug never made it back to the highway.  Somewhere en route we blew a hole in the oil pan; the oil fell out of the car and the engine seized.  We abandoned the vehicle and hitchhiked a ride with a truck back to civilization .  I can safely say the rental company was not too happy about the situation when I informed them by phone of the situation, but they never tracked us down.  I guess I hung up on them before they figured out where I was calling from.

One other interesting event happened while we were there.  A sleazy Mexcican bar was located at the bottom of the waterfalls, and we used to go there in the evening for the occasional beer.  One night I witnessed a local guy express to a neighbor at the bar, “Chinga tu madre!”  This insult resulted in a full-scale fight, complete with thrown beer bottles, overturned tables, and much commotion of the old cowboy-movie variety.  The experience taught me to keep my mouth shut when dealing with Mexicans, who like the rest of us tend to be sensitive about their mothers.

Another day, while taking a walk in a cow field, probably looking for edible mushrooms, I discovered upon my return that I was literally covered with ticks.  I burned them off with a cigarette, much to my disgust.  Altogether I lost little more than pride and a touch of dignity.  After all, I was naked as a new-born babe at during my stroll in the field.


1) Swimming with horses

2) Our campsite

3) The gorge

4) Trekking through the jungle

6) The waterfalls

7) Mayan homestead where we were made welcome

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