Week 49: San Cristobal de las Casas. Mexico

Myself, Gustavo (a lad I met while eating seafood in Puerto) and Rob (another lad I met while eating goat in Oaxaca) all caught the same night bus from Mazunte to San Cristobal de las Casas.  Everything generally evolves around the food here in Mexico. As always it was a turbulent puke inducing journey. I was luckily positioned beside an aggressive snorer that serenaded me for the 12 hours. We all booked into the gorgeous hostel;Puerta Vieja. Gustavo was a lovely man from Bariloche in Argentina and was a bit of a yogi. He was mad for the meditation and a big believer in the hollistic way of life. He refused to use creams, mosquito repellent or any unnatural substances. Not exactly my gig but a nice chap all the same.

The worst thing about night buses is arriving at the crack of dawn with hours to kill before you can hit the leaba. On this occasion we were lucky and the hostel let us have their delicious breakie. This consisted of empanadas with guava juice and buckets of coffee. Poor aul Gustavo lost his shoes on the bus (he had been hanging out with me for far too long) so he went back to try and hunt them down. Myself and Rob decided to power through the tiredness and did the free walking tour. San Cristobal de las Casas is on everyone’s hit list while in Mexico and rightly so it a gem of a place. It  is a highland town in Southern Mexican in the state of Chiapas.

San Cristobal de las Casas

It has a similar buzz to Oaxaca except is smaller, more quaint and prettier as far as I am concerned. It is well known for its wine and coffee scene.Need I say more? I had planned on camping out here for a good few days to soak it all in. The walking tour was amazing and probably one of the better ones I have done on the trip (best one still remains La Paz in Bolivia).

The guide brought to all the different markets and explained about the indigenous people in Chiapus. He brought us to loads of different coffee shops, cool bars and galleries. This is the type of town you could mooch around in for hours and get stuck in for days or even weeks! After the tour and some shots of pox (a liquor  made out of corn) a few of us joined the guide for lunch in his favourite restaurant; famous for its soups (more like stews). I went for the really healthy version of beef, chorizo and chicharron (pork cracking). This was sensational!

I could love off this stuff
Dossing from work; behind a bunch of lettuce
San Cristobal is famous for its candle making

I was having a chill in the hostel when I heard the refreshing sound of a north Dublin accent. It had been a while. Lorcan from Clonliffe road also travelling solo indefinitely around Mexico. He provided me with some much needed Irish sense of humour that I had so badly missed. A legend! Lorcan was the definition of cool. He wore shoes and tracksuit bottoms and a fanny pack around his chest and got away with it. Need I say more? I was so lucky with the people I met in the hostel and we quickly formed a great gang.

Spot the Dub

That night, we all took advantage of the unlimited free cocktails in the hostel. Generally there is a catch but on this occasion there was no none and they were actually v decent so this escalated into a Mexican/ Irish dancing session. The beauty of travelling as an Irish girl solo is that anytime you break into Irish dancing people think you are Micheal Flatley. Any aul muck will satisfy a casual onlooker. The next morning a bunch of very hungover backpakers pilled into the bus to take us to the Sumidero Canyon. This is a massive canyon set within a National Park. The canyon is instantly impressive and home to so much wildlife such as; crocodiles, monkeys and thousands of birds. One of the most shocking things about it was the rubbish. It was horrible seeing animals chilling on plastic bottles. Apparently during rainy season all the rubbish from the nearby villages floats down into the canyon. They make attempts to clean it up but are failing miserably.

Rubbish in the Sumidero Canyon
Stunning waterfall in the Sumidero Canyon
Crocodile having a chill
Boating through the canyon
Obsessed with Sumidero’s waterfall

En route home we stopped off at a random town where all we were fit to do was to stock up on goat tacos. Back home, I crawled back into the leaba for a quick power nap before hitting San Cristobal’s famous wine bar. 1 euro glasses of wine served out of an actual wine glass which also included free tapas. A dangerous place.

Myself and Lorcan escaped to watch the Conor Mc Gregor fight where we were conveniently sat beside a group of rowdy Mexicans. The excitement got too much for them and they needed to escort their very drunk Mexican friend home. So happy days we were left to the honors of  finishing off their bucket of beers. A tough job that someone had to do. Afterwards we made it back to the wine bar for a few more late night tipples. Things escalated quite quickly when a funny German starting setting off fire works. That was our que to leave.

The next days plan was to visit to the famous village of Chamula.  We picked up a few randomers from the hostel who joined us for the day. I have never experienced anything like this place before it is on a complete other level. Firstly the village is made up entirely of indigenous people who speak their own language. This community is mostly known for its church. They have a very distinct culture that they are very private and protective about. Tourists are allowed to pay to visit the church but are forbidden to take photos. One guy from the hostel got his phone smashed out of his hand for trying to take a photo. Another guy I met got his hand whipped by a man on a horse for attempting to take a photo.

Chamula’s famous church
The locals in San Yuan

Inside, the church is a different kettle of fish. The floor is entirely covered in pine needles and there are hundreds of candles. To add nicely to this fire hazard everyone is drinking Pox a lethal spirit made out of corn.  Another common practice in the church is for them to kill chickens as a sacrifice if a loved one in sick or they are praying for someone. The people of San Yuan believe that if they drink until they pass out it will cleanse them so their goal is to drink until they collapse. While we were walking around at about 2 pm in the day we saw countless amounts of people just collapsed on the streets.

Typical scenes in San Yuan
And another one bites the dust

We were lucky enough to arrive during one of their many festivals
(which happens about every month). The party had been in full swing since 5 am! There were fire works being randomly set off. I almost ended up in one of them fairly lethal but an unforgettable experience nonetheless. Everyone was dressed up in their indigenous clothes which were made out of fur just what you need in 30 degrees heat.

Having a gossip
Parades in and out of the church
Chilling outside church

En route out of the village one of my friends from the hostel Emma got groped by a drunken man. This is just one of the many examples of this crazy little village. Anyone visiting San Cristobal you need to visit this town which is only 10km away. It is amazingly bonckers. Go on a Sunday for market day that’s when all the madness happens.

Back streets of San Cristobal

One lazy afternoon back at the hostel a German lad asked me to go for coffee and watch sunset with him. We went back to a gorgeous art gallery we had visited during the tour. This had the most stunning view of the city at sunset. Wined out of it we decided to stick with a coffee on this occasion. Germany opted for a brownie but little did he know it was a happy brownie. En route home we stopped to listen to some street artists drumming. Afterwards, Germany looked very emotional and he said he had never experienced anything more beautiful in his life.  I honestly thought that they were only alright and wanted to leave half way. He then went on to give a 500 peso donation this is mad money for Mexico. To put it in perspective I was routing around for 5 pesos to give and eventually abandoned ship when I couldn’t find it. I tried to warn Germany not to give all of his money away saying the drummers were good but I could have done a better job myself. A good lesson to Germany is to steer clear of the space cakes in the future It was the drummers who were the happy ones earning a small fortune that night.

Sunsets in San Cristobal
No wonder Germany was happy looking at this

San Cristobal and its numerous wine bars and not to mention Puerta Vieja’s insanely comfy beds made it impossible to leave and we all extended our stay.

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