Seems like every time I go to Chiapas (four times now? five?) I at least pass through San Cristóbal de las Casas. I’m pretty sure this year was my longest stay in the city. It’s been over ten years now (!) since Jack and I finished a bicycle tour in San Cristóbal de las Casas. I guess it was time to get back.
After flights from Tijuana via Mexico City and a taxi from the Tuxtla Gutiérrez airport, Zane was waiting for us at the base of the (Guadalupe) hill near his house.
San Cristóbal de las Casas sits in a valley surrounded by mountains dotted with indigenous villages. It’s a colonial city that despite its (large) size is part of Sectur’s Pueblo Mágico program.
It’s easy to wander around, visit touristy restaurants, take photos, and drink fancy cocktails in hipster bars. Haha! That sentence could apply to many of Mexico’s pueblos mágicos.
After some unexpected surprises in Tabasco ten years ago, I read the Mexican travel warnings fairly carefully before this trip and knew that Chiapas was quite safe. What a surprise then to hear so much gunfire our first day in the city. Firecrackers? No, too staccato. We ended up mostly staying in that day. From Zane’s balcony we saw some burning buildings in a couple of the neighborhoods in the north part of the city.
It turns out that two groups of indigenous craft cooperatives, each representing a different collection of villages, were battling it out to determine who has the right to sell their handicrafts in the main tourist market in San Cristóbal de las Casas. I am not joking.
We had a bicycle ride planned for the next day to the mountains to the north of the city, but none of us were keen to bicycle through the north of the city until we were sure things had calmed down. We chose instead a route that headed east on many (some?) roads that Zane hadn’t been on before.
We had a nice picnic in the shade near the church at La Florecilla. As in most villages near San Cristóbal de las Casas locals here were speaking a Mayan language (Tzeltal in this case, I think).
Before the final descent back to San Cristóbal we stopped at a poshería in Cruzton where we bought a couple bottles of flavored posh (pox), a local fermented (also distilled?) beverage.
Zane and I visited the museum at Na Bolom one day with its nice courtyard. I’m sorry I didn’t stay there on my first visit to San Cristóbal when Gertrude was still alive and sat with her guests at dinner every evening.
Our biggest excursion of the week was an overnight trip to Ocosingo to visit the Mayan ruins of Toniná. This was a new one for me, and anyone who knows me knows I love this kind of stuff so of course I had a great day.
Here’s the first view of the hill where the main complex sits.
The more notable of the two ballcourts:
We made our way slowly up the hill to what I guess are the most important structures.
Toniná and Palenque were rival cities. The most interesting carving we saw was the triumphant warriors of Toniná proudly holding (by his hair) the severed head of the ruler of Palenque. I thought I had a photo, but it’s hard to see what’s going on in any of my carving photos.
Ocosingo was a pleasant enough city, but the only photo I have is of Ferda and Zane waiting for the shared taxi back to San Cristóbal de las Casas.