Photography and Text
By Ann Conway and John Do
La Joya Hotel San Cristobal
San Cristobal de Las Casas
Chiapas – Mexico
La Joya Hotel San Cristóbal
Bringing Back The Parlor – Chapter Two
La Joya Hotel is an elegant home for travelers. Only two blocks from the center of San Cristobal de Las Casas, it is close enough to explore this magical town and far enough away to enjoy the serenity of the patios and beautifully appointed suites. Each of the five rooms boasts fine linens, original art, and bouquets of fresh flowers. Ann Conway and John Do created this oasis in Chiapas, Mexico, after traveling the world. They chose San Cristobal for its perfect combination of natural beauty and cultural riches. www.lajoyahotelsancristobal.com
The parlor in medieval Europe was the room where monks and nuns received guests from the outer world lest they disturb their praying brothers and sisters with earthly chatter. Later this separate space became a status symbol for the middle class of England, a place to welcome visitors during the day and where the men could retire to talk politics after dinner while the women shared their secrets elsewhere. In the 20th century the living or family room mirrored the preference for increasing informality. Now the internet allows a younger generation to meet and greet thumb-to-thumb through tweets while their parents escape to their man caves and she sheds.
La Joya Hotel was designed with a parlor or sala to celebrate friendly interaction as well as quiet time for reading and solitary thoughts. The sala is also a place for treasures that sequester stories of their former lives. For the owners, this room holds memories of places lived and visited.
An intricate turquoise window sits center stage. Who might have closed it only hours before the earthquake struck at 3am, 1999? In 37 seconds thousands of lives were changed in Ismit. Somehow this window remained intact and was carried from northwest Turkey to Boulder, Colorado, and later brought to San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico.
Six carved wooden saints stand each in their own niche on either side of the fireplace. Once they belonged to women who created altars in their homes to protect their families from sickness and the typhoons of the Philippines. Santa Ana, Virgin Mary, Saint Roque, Virgin Mary on a cloud, Saint Joseph, Antonio de Padua. Each was blessed by a priest in Iloilo and generations later carried across the Pacific.
On the floor there is a carpet with rich red and blue designs that originated with the Kerki tribe centuries before Christ. In 1969 the weaver sat on the floor in front of her loom in Turkmenistan. Between the top designs she wove the date, while in the same year the rest of the world didn’t know that her people existed within the massive borders of the USSR. In 1991 Turkmenistan became an independent republic, establishing its own borders and sharing its heritage.
The parlor at La Joya Hotel reclaims its original purpose to share lives well-lived and to protect the memories of its treasures.
 “Parlour” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parlour