We decided to spend an unprecedented 3 whole days (and 4 nights) in San Cristobal to enjoy this laid-back bohemian town, hoping some relaxing vibes would rub-off on us, as we were starting to suffer from ‘travel fatigue’ (and yes there is such a thing!).
San Cristobal is the main city in the Chiapas, a poor region, mainly populated by Indian communities and at the heart of the ‘Zapatista’ anti-government militant resistance movement formed in the 90’s. This aspect of San Cristobal is now more of a tourist attraction, as the group are slowly losing impact and support among the locals, and military and or political operations become scarce.
San Cristobal is yet another colourful and quaint city. Every street and church looks like a postcard. It is very pedestrian friendly, with many streets dedicated exclusively to cafes serving locally-made coffees and chocolates with chili, chic boutiques, international restaurants and lively artisan markets. It is located at 2000m in altitude so gets quite chilly and wet this time of year.
We especially enjoyed the friendliness of the young locals we met on our many nights out with our new group of friends from the hostel Casa de Paco, as well as their friends and friends of friends: William from Kansas, Marco from Italy, Kristian from Germany, a group of french friends Michou, Anais and Laura, and the unforgettable Mads from Denmark. We all enjoyed the nightlife and restaurants in San Cristobal together, meeting locals and other travellers at a couchsurfing event at Bambu Cafe ; enjoying soups and local dishes at various restaurants ; great music, live bands and local beers, tequila and mescal shots at Revolucion Bar ; and salsa dancing in a few clubs. These evenings were unforgettable. A special thanks to Anna (Marco’s friend) who organised the couchsurfing event and painted my face for Dia de Muertos!
We also got round to a little (unfortunately disappointing) sightseeing. Let’s say we got unlucky again, wanting to bypass the official tours. We rented bikes, intending to cycle to a neighbouring town (San Juan Chamula). The guy who ‘managed’ the place we booked at was completely stoned and managed lock himself out of the office, meaning we could not collect the bikes. We then went to another place, got bikes and cycled. The route wasn’t very scenic and even polluted at times. And then my chain broke, in the middle of the uphill. McGyver Renaud managed to fix it (with a rock!), but it broke again when we arrived at Chamula. The town was polluted too, and the locals were busy with their traditional Dia de Muertos celebrations, we felt like we were interfering. I walked/glided back while Renaud went to another town which was just as disappointing.
After that experience, we decided to visit the Lagos de Montebello with a tour this time, but went for the cheapest one! What you pay is what you get: the place was very far and the driver (/guide ?) had serious timekeeping issues. After a 2h stop at a beautiful 120m high waterfall, El Chiflon (where I also got to taste a wierd coconut/salt/chili/lemon juice mix) and a 2h lunch break, we only got to the first (of 5!) lakes at sunset… It was also pouring with rain so we didn’t get to see the characteristically blue colour of the lake. So us girls, and one really fat guy (who happened to be one of the 2 fat guys I was squeezed between during the 4h bus ride), decided what the heck, lets raft around the lake. The water was warm fortunately, we had good laughs and got to explore a cenote and an island en route, so all in all, no regrets! We would however have loved to see these exceptional and secluded lake formations at the border with Guatemala, in better circumstances, but that’s what travel is about. You never know what to expect: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
So it’s with mixed feelings that we leave San Cristobal, with our new travel buddy in tow (William from Kansas -who we will meet up or travel with until almost the end of our stay in Mexico-), headed to Palenque.