Tapachula is all about shopping—Guatemalans cross the border in droves to partake in the sport. Unfortunately, it’s mostly geared at household goods and personal items like clothing and leather shoes; there’s precious little in the way of Chiapanecan artesanía and mementos to take home.
The Instituto de las Artesanías (Avenida Central Ote. near 1a Av. Nte., tel. 962/118-3190, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. daily) is one of the only places in town with a wide selection of folk art. Items from every corner of Chiapas can be found: clay doves, impressive textiles, laca crosses, amber jewelry, handcrafted toys….Quality is incredibly high and prices are reasonable—both reasons to stop and have a look.
One of the best bookstores in the state, Librería Tapachula (Parque Hidalgo, 8a Av. Nte. near 1a Calle Pte., tel. 962/626-0727, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. daily) has an excellent selection of books, including good foreign-language offerings in the fiction, history, and guidebook sections. Beautiful folk art from around Mexico and music CDs are also available.
A used bookstore, Utopia (1a Calle Ote. near 1a Av. Nte., no phone, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.) has rows, stacks, and piles of books and magazines crammed into its one-room shop. Cool jazz is piped in, creating a perfect ambience for browsing and poking through the collection. There is a small foreign-language section as well as a decent CD selection.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition