San Cristóbal de las Casas Chiapas Mexico

The city has become a renowned tourist location for its preserved colonial architecture, red clay tiled roofs, and retention of indigenous culture and traditions. Many residents of the city wear indigenous clothing and walk the streets selling woven shawls and hand stitched shirts.   

 

The city sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. It is really lovely and we walk around and try to get out of the tourists streets. Buildings are painted all kinds of colors. From the we can not see the devastation of the surrounding land from jade and amber strip mining, deforestation and poor resource management.  

 

The hills are full of history. On the day NAFTA was signed back in 1994, the famous Zapatista occupation of San Critobal de las Casas and other Chiapas communities took place. This has spurred some cult tourism, attracting people with leftist political leanings and those interested in supporting indigenous cultures and social justice.  

 

We visit Casa Na-Bolom the former home of archeologist Frans Blom and Gertrude Duby, a documentary photographer, journalist, environmental pioneer, and jungle adventurer. It is in a museum and research center dedicated to the protection of the Lacandon Maya and the preservation of the Chiapas rain forest.

  
We visit the the indigenous market that is absolutely packed with color. I fall in love all over again with all the colorful woven and hand stitched crafts and the small Zapatista dolls. I purchase a beautiful hand stitched hanging from two lovely women that press a pretty hard deal. 
  

We visit the local food market. I love taking pictures of the market stalls but when I took this one, I got yelled at by an old women. I have no idea what these dried plants are. I found them beautiful and meant no disrespect.  It’s possible they are medicinal plants.  

 

Time to move on.  Next Stop: Vamos a la playa, 82 degrees and sunny.

Life on the Road – Chiapas

It wasn’t just the Zapatista that rallied and fought for a better life. We’ve had two rather grim hostel experiences here. We arrived at the hostel after 8 hours on a bus. The place had some pretty glowing reviews an I had booked it for 6 nights. Lesson learned. We discover it is filled with artists living there. That’s the good part. There are several mural projects going on and it’s great to see people happily making art. The place is pretty dirty and my standards are pretty low. I ignore my first impressions but the reality is the room is stinky and the kitchen is a mess. We are gravely disappointed and know we can not live here for 6 days. One night will be more than enough. 

  

art work space at hostel #1

 That evening, we head out to visit another hostel run by a guy who helped us with directions earlier. He shows us the three private rooms with shared bath and we pay him ahead for the next night to hold a private room with shared bath. We eat dinner and return to stinkyville. We close the bathroom door to let the sewer gas vent out the bathroom window and sleep with our room window cracked open even though the air is cool. Sleeping sucks for a variety of reasons and I am up at 6am ready to check out. Fernando asks how I sleep and I said not too well. 

We checked out at 10am with a friendly good bye, filled with new hope and go to our new room at the other hostel down the street. It’s cleaner and our room is much better and has a view of the hills. The kitchen area again is shabby but not so bad. The bed is another story but we don’t find out until later when we try to sleep.  

view from the room at hostel #2

 

Up early we head down the street and pop into a coule of hotels. We settle on one that is clean friendly and has new beds. We are happy with our courtyard view sitting area and clean surroundings. It’s cold but we have layers of clothes to keep us warm. We hope for a sunny day although it is raining on and off. 

 

beautiful cobbled street, San Cristóbal de las Casas

  
If you are remembering bad lodging on your travels please share in the comments section below. We would love to hear about it. 

Crossing Tabasco

We are crossing Tabasco on our way from Palenque to San Cristóbal de las Casas. As much as I read before we left I hadn’t realized how the roads were laid out. Our trip into Chiapas took us through Tabasco heading west towards the city of Tuxtla Guetierez. The road then takes us back inland to San Citstóbal de las Casas. The drive is long and the road winds back and forth through mountainous terrain. The roads are narrow and if you look out the window you see a long way down. I remind myself that the excellent driver does not want to die as he passes double trailered semi trucks. 
  
We stop in, I don’t know where and everyone is to get off the bus. My husband decides it is a most excellent time to use the bus bathroom. The driver thinks he has gotten everyone off the bus and unaware he proceeds to back the bus out of its boarding stall and over to fill it with gasoline. I along with about 10 other nonmexican travelers are wondering what is going on. All we know is that the bus driver said “diez minutos”. My confidence wanes when I no longer recognize anyone. I’m a little worried my translation skills have failed me. I felt fairly certain the bus would return because everyone’s packs and luggage were still on board. Then bay 10 filled with collectives but I hovered anyway. The young French guy with the man bun comes to tell me that my husband is on the bus, which I already knew. I stand around anxiously for about 10 minutes and the bus returns to bay 9, close enough.

  
We keep making our way ever so slowly and the bus that was already an hour and a half late when we got on it is taking longer and longer to reach our destination. We don’t blame the driver. This road is a little crazy. After 8 hours we arrive in San Cristobal de las Casas. It is much larger than I imagined. We think we are grateful we have already booked a room but that is another story.  

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