A 13 hour night bus might seem like a journey from hell, but to be honest, it was pretty cruisey. I slept for approximately 12.5 hours of the whole journey so really it only felt like a short trip.
We arrived early to San Cristobal De Las Casas and headed straight to breakfast. We had arranged an Airbnb for the few days, and although I had completely messed up the dates due to the overnight bus etc, we were allowed to check in after breakfast. Stoked!
We grabbed our packs and headed off up the cobblestone roads towards the historic city center. Within five minutes, halfway across the road I hit the deck, rolling my, already bad, ankle and taking a chunk out of my knee. You would think that after two months I would have learnt that cobble stones are a bitch. Everyone always describes the most beautiful cities with “oh the beautiful architecture lined with beautiful cobblestone streets” and everyone always dreams about how wonderful that seems. It’s not! Lay down some bloody bitchumen and give my freaking ankles a break! Who ever had the thought process “you know what would make a great street? Small, mistaken, completely uneven stones cemented down in no order so that it’s really hard to not only drive on, but walk on comfortably” and then for added measure it was like someone had gone around and polished every single last one of the bloody things. Brilliant.
After drowning my sorrows in a traditional “huevos rancheros” we trekked a couple blocks up to our Airbnb and threw down our bags, had a little lay down, then hit those “wonderful cobblestone streets” for a work out.
Turned out that my £2.50 Primark flats were even worse on the streets than my runners, so I spent the whole time snapping every bone in my ankle and swearing. “Just walk on the footpaths Jess?” Yeah they are cobblestone aswell. Relentless.
Moving on, not gracefully.
San Cristobal is set in a highland valley and is surrounded by pine Forrest. It’s (meant to be) a destination known for being a wonderful place to explore the streets and restored century old houses.
SC is surrounded by dozens of little traditional Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages which make for nice day trips to see some traditional culture and markets.
Colourful San Cristobal @ San Cristobal de Las Casas
As the day (and my ankles) wore on, the sun set and out came the vendors. Until late hours of the nights, children of all ages (only sometimes accompanied by parents or older children) would walk around selling anything you could think you would need. Cigarettes, chewing gum, chocolate, the lot.
Adam and I went off to put some laundry in, you can tell that my Spanish accent is getting really good because when we picked up our clothes, our receipts said “Alan” and “Yes”. Nailing it.
Every Kind Of Balloon @ San Cristobal de Las Casas
The next day we sought out a couple chocolate museums and tasted the local coffee. We spent the day roaming the beautiful and colourful streets, getting a chance to really soak up San Cristobal. We decided to check out the nightlife and were greeted by a street blasting 10 different type of music, so loudly and so obnoxiously that we couldn’t stand out on the street let alone dare to go into one of the bars responsible. We instead headed to a few little bars to try some Posh, well Adam tried Posh, we all stayed clear of it. Posh is a local liquor that smells and tastes of fumes.
The next morning we headed out and wandered through a little local market on our way to the collectivo station. The four of us decided to seal our friendship with some woven bracelets which led to being mobbed by the other vendors. As soon as you show interest in something, everyone tries to sell you the same thing, or one hundred completely different things. “Oh I see you purchased a lovely little bracelet, now you need a table runner and 10 placemats”.
El Cerró de Cristobal @ San Cristobal de Las Casas
We jumped into a collectivo and headed for San Juan de Chemula, a strongly independent Tzotzil community, just 10km northwest of San Cristobal. The local men, Chamulan men, wear loose homespun tunics made from white wool, whereas the local Chamulan women wear mostly plain blouses matches with woolen skirts. These “wooden” skirts looked like thick black fur, it was insane to think of wearing something so hot! Although we stumbled into a huge local market, the main attraction here is the Templo De San Juan. The church itself is completely white, with a vibrant green and blue arch lining the doorway.
Inside we found a very dark church, the floor lined with a couple of inches of pine needles, and local people worshipping using candles melting onto the floor. Whilst here we also notice a lot of soft drink bottles, it turns out that worshippers often drink soft drinks as burps are believed to expel evil spirits. We didn’t see any, but there is also meant to be Curanderos (curers; medicinal men/women) that perform in this church by rubbing patients bodies with eggs and bones. We also saw a chicken that was likely going to be used to absorb evil spirits that come out of the Coca Cola burps or something like that.
We spent the rest of the day sipping on local hot chocolates and planning our next adventure and transport. After approximately 100 rounds of monopoly deal, a slab of beer and a home cooked meal, we all called it a night like the big party people we are.
The next day, and our final day, we all walked up to the two main view points in San Cristobal, literally on opposite ends of the city.
Iglesia de Guadalupe @ San Cristóbal de Las Casas
View from el Cerro de San Cristobal @ San Cristobal de las Casas
The Cerro De San Cristobal and Cerro De Guadalupe, both churches, but only one of which has been maintained. The views were incredible.
We wandered the cold streets, all stuffed into our puffer jackets looking like big nerdy gang. We found a wine and tapas bar that night, met some Aussies and all had the sufficient amount of red wine you should have before waking up at 6am for a border crossing bus that will take minimum of 10 hours. Classic Power Puffer Pals.
Laters San Cristobal, you’ve been cold, painful to my ankles, and completely breathtaking.
Power Puffer Pals @ San Cristobal de Las Casas