Snate's Six-Month Sojourn travel blog

Streetscape #1

Streetscape #2

Streetscape #3

One of many churches in San Cristobal

Always a church nearby.

Sam and I have spent the past couple of days in San Cristobal de las Casas in the mountains of Chiapas. On Wednesday, we journeyed six hours on a "four-hour" bus from Palenque and were immediately amazed at the luxury of Mexican first class buses. Air conditioning. (Terrible) movies. A bathroom at the back without a lock on it. Less than six people across the width of the bus. No one standing in the aisle with their ass in your face. A stop for food and bathrooms halfway through the trip. Luxurious. Of course, the trip cost something like $10 which is about twice as much as any Guatemalan bus, but hey.

San Cristobal is friggin' adorable. First of all, the temperature here is actually brisk. It's been pretty HOT for the last couple of weeks, so it's sort of nice to have to put on a long sleeved shirt in the evenings. The streets are all cobblestone and every building is painted a different brilliant color. There are cafes and restaurants and museums and bookstores and such. It feels pretty European and is quite a refreshing break (the coffee here has been better than the other coffee I've had on this trip - Guatemalans export most of their good coffee and depend on Nescafe for their morning fix).

However, all you have to do is walk a little outside of town and you come to the Mayan part of town which is ramshackle and poor. This disparity made San Cristobal the center of the Zapatista rebellion in 1994 when Zapatista rebels from the surrounding jungle took over this town as well as some of the surrounding towns in order to begin talks with the Mexican government concerning the rights of the indigenous people. It's pretty fascinating to see some of the pictures of the rebellion and imagine their motivations, particularly when looking at pictures of hundreds of unarmed women holding back armed soldiers with their hands alone. The townspeople proudly embrace the events of this revolution and the streets are named after insurgents and restaurants are filled with pictures and tributes.

(Sam here) The last three days have been really chilled out. We've been eating lots of good food, drinking exquisite, organic coffee, reading our books, and walking the town. We've visited the Musuem of Traditional Mayan Medicine, which was really fascinating. It was quite a long way from downtown, so it was interesting to see the luster and wealth slowly fade. There are essentially two towns here and most tourists don't see the other, less pristine part. Mexico has the world's greatest disparity between the haves and the have nots and its becoming ever more apparent to us.

We bought veggies and beans from various stands and made ourselves a dinner one night in our hotel kitchen. I made mashed potatoes (God, I've missed them!), a big salad and some beans that took an hour to soften and still were crunchy, but we ate them with relish. We also have been eating some yogurt and pineapple for breakfast to supplement the INTERESTING complimentary ham, mayonnaise and ketchup sandwich we're served every morning.

Today we're preparing to leave the lovely town of San Cristobal de las Casas, mostly because we realize that we have about three weeks left to make it up to Texas. Seriously, take a look at the Mexico map, I think we may be in trouble, or at least have some ugly, lengthy bus trips ahead. We're planning on taking a 12, yes 12, hour overnight bus trip to Oaxaca in just a few short hours. Today has been a great day, though. We have, like every day, had some great food, wonderful coffee and been walking all day. We spent a few hours at a cool museum/villa called Na Bolom that used to house a husband/wife archaeological team who worked for preserving indigenous culture in the Chiapan highlands as well as indigenous rights in Mexico. It was beautiful and fascinating. The couple worked mostly with the Lacandon people, of which only 500 remain. They lived in virtual seclusion for hundreds of years and are now facing drastic changes in their way of life as well as their religious beliefs because of clear cutting within the rain forest and the consequences of the exposure to missionaries and scientists.

Dinner time calls. More to come.


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