Over last Christmas break, we went on a great roadtrip around South Mexico. We mainly explored Chiapas and spent a few days by the beach on the Pacific Coast, but as we were on our way from Mexico City to Chiapas, we made a quick stop in the state of Tabasco.
We left the Mexican capital early one morning and drove all day to reach Villahermosa where we spent the night. We did not see much of Villahermosa but the next morning we visited two incredible sites before continuing our adventure towards Chiapas: el Parque-Museo de la Venta, famous for exhibiting the incredible Olmec heads, and the Agua Blanca waterfalls.
1. El Parque Museo de la Venta
We woke up early that day and went straight to the museum de la Venta. We spent a few hours walking around this amazing park / museum. We felt like we were in a jungle as the open-air museum is set in the middle of luxuriant vegetation. El Parque Museo de la Venta is a popular stop for tourists on their way to Chiapas.
A few history words
The Parque-Museo de la Venta exhibits extraordinary pieces from Mexico’s first major civilization: the Olmecs. Often called “mother culture”, the Olmecs lived in the South of Mexico, in what are today the states of Tabasco and Veracruz, from as early as 1500 BC to about 400 BC! As the first Mesoamerican civilization, they have greatly influenced the civilizations that followed.
We do not know much about this mysterious ancient civilization but their most impressive remains are the colossal heads, carved from single blocks of volcanic basalt and weighing between 25 and 55 tons.
Some other Olmec sculptures can be seen in the museum:
- El Gran Altar (“the great altar”): the character holds a rope leading to two men carved on the other sides, probably prisoners.
- La Abuela (“the grand mother”): this old lady on her knees is holding a bowl, maybe an offering.
- Personajes con ninos (“characters with children”): this character is sitting in front of a throne or an altar and is holding a baby in his arms.
- El Rey (“the king”).
What I loved about this museum was that it was outdoor museum, in a “jungle” atmosphere. As soon as we arrived, we were faced with a giant ceiba, the sacred tree of the Olmecs and the Mayas (first picture bellow on the left). On our way out of the park, we found a little “friend” in the pond…
2. Agua Blanca
After a few hours spent in the park, we hopped back into the car, heading to Palenque. We made a stop at a little town called Macuspana to admire the beautiful waterfalls Agua Blanca. It was the prefect place to relax and enjoy a cool breeze under the hot Mexican sun.
We then continued our journey and reached Palenque in Chiapas late in the afternoon.