Buses in Mexico are fantastic, you can go pretty much anywhere in relative comfort and cheaply too. Thus we left the familiarity of Oaxaca for the Southern mountain town of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas. The bus left Oaxaca at 8.30pm and arrived at 7.30am – a bit of a journey! The seats were very comfortable but I managed about an hour’s sleep, Fran did a bit better, but we arrived feeling pretty exhausted and weird from lack of sleep.
Our new home for the next six weeks or so was to be Casa Rosada, an apartment in the central part of the city. We had booked this some time ago on the internet and had arranged to meet someone outside the house at 8.30am, (we thought the bus arrived later) so we had to wait for 50 minutes outside the house on the street. There was a lot of activity going on as we are opposite the store house for the local market, so there was a constant stream of people with massively loaded barrows and hand-carts taking their stalls to the market site just around the block. 8.30 came and went and no sign of our host, we gave it another 20 minutes but still nada. As you can imagine we were getting pretty tired and fed up by now, so we tried to call him, eventually getting through after some confusion with public telephones and cell phone codes (don’t ask). Anyway, turns out we were supposed to be there yesterday, oops…. Luckily the next door neighbour had a key and came out to rescue us. His name is John and he is a Mexican/American living here in San Cristobal for part of the year. It was a relief to get in and John gave us the low down on the place and we finally flopped down for some sleep.
The first few days at Casa Rosada were difficult, mainly because it was so cold! We were so used to the constant warmth in Oaxaca and it came as quite a shock as the temperature was way down at about 8 degrees celsius. Also we could not get the Boiler working and the apartment seemed generally bloody freezing. We were both feeling a bit like orphans as well because we had left all our friends behind in Oaxaca and knew not a soul here. Eventually after a few days and with the help of Sebastian, our Mexican host, we got on a more even keel and things seemed a bit brighter.
San Cristobal is a fascinating city, a lot smaller than Oaxaca and with very high indigenous Mayan population. We have been walking around the shiny pavements and taking in the cafes and restaurants. There is a more ‘alternative’ culture here, alongside the Mayan influence, the European side of things seems more geared towards new age styles. There is a big Zapatista presence here as well which is very tangible in all the graffiti everywhere. (San Cristobal was the centre of the Zapatista uprising in 1994). (See guide books/wikipedia for more blah).
It’s good to be somewhere else, although we are missing our friends and of course there’s Christmas and all that at the back of our minds. I’m not sure if I care or about Christmas itself, but it’s definitely a time of year when friends and family are important and we are so far away. We also decided not to go to Nicaragua, so we are going to miss our pal Austin which is a great sadness for us, (abrazos to you mate). Still, here we are a third of the way through our trip and soon we will kiss goodbye to Mexico, there’s still plenty of things to do here but the idea of New Zealand is looming…
Over the next few weeks we will be exploring more of the area, but here is a gallery of pics of what we’ve been up to so far. Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to comment too..