Santo Domingo is a pleasant little village that grew out of one of Chiapas’s first coffee fincas. The main house on the original (and still operating) farm has been converted into the Centro Turístico Casa Grande, which houses a coffee museum and restaurant.
Located in the creaky attic of the Casa Grande, the Museo de Café (tel. 962/627-0055, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, US$0.50) provides an excellent overview of coffee history—from its beginnings in Ethiopia to the present-day Chiapanecan fincas. It also has a detailed display on the growth and processing of the coffee bean, a fascinating step-by-step exhibit. Signage is in Spanish only, though the photos and machinery are worth a look even if you don’t do español.
Tours of Santo Domingo’s coffee plantations (cafetales, in Spanish) are offered year-round by the Centro Turístico Casa Grande (tel. 962/627-0055, US$12.50 per group, 2.5–3 hrs). Guides lead visitors around the property while describing the process of growing, harvesting, and prepping coffee beans for expor; tours are in Spanish only. A fascinating walk, it makes you appreciate your morning cup of joe that much more. Reservations are recommended.
A handful of hikes in Santo Domingo’s verdant hills also can be arranged through the Centro Turístico Casa Grande (tel. 962/627-0055). The most popular hike leads to Pico de Loro (Parrot’s Peak, US$20 per group), a rock overhang in the shape of a parrot’s beak, about six kilometers (3.5 miles) away. If you’re not in the mood to break a sweat, Pico de Loro is also reachable by car from a road located between Santo Domingo and Unión Juárez—signage is nonexistent, so confirm you’re going the right way as you drive up.
Getting to Santo Domingo
To get to Santo Domingo from Tapachula, take a Unión y Progreso combi (5a Calle Pte. near 12a Av. Nte.) to Cacahoatán (every 5–10 mins 4 a.m.–10:30 p.m., US$1.50), about an hour away. Once you arrive in Cacahoatán, cross the street to the Cordova depot and take a combi headed to Unión Juárez (every 10 mins 5 a.m.–8:30 p.m. daily). Be sure to let the driver know you want to get off at Santo Domingo (US$0.75, 20 mins), otherwise he’ll blow right past the little town.
On the return trip, be sure to leave early enough to catch the last combi back to Tapachula; the last one to Cacahoatán passes through Santo Domingo around 7:15 p.m., and the last one from Cacahoatán to Tapachula leaves at 8 p.m.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition