Days 23-28 of 184
15.11.2019 - 20.11.2019 22 °C
What a place San Cristóbal is. This blog is going to be difficult to keep short...
Third night bus ticked off. Not too bad this time. We arrived into Tuxtla, though really staying here was just a convenience for meeting up with Georgia - who landed at almost midnight that night. Rach and I explored Tuxtla in the day, but there was very little to do or see here; it's not really a town for tourism. Our hostel was perfectly nice, so we mainly chilled and had a beer or two and waited for G. When she arrived, we grabbed a quick drink on the rooftop bar and went to bed not long after - we had an early(ish) start the next morning. In our room was also Arturo, a guy from Mexico City who had coincidentally been on Georgia's flight and was then staying in the same hostel in San Cristobal the following two days.
In the morning we wolfed down some nice, typical Mexican breakfasts and waited for our van to take us to Sumidero Canyon; we had booked a tour that took us on a boat trip down the canyon, to a local town (Chiapa de Corzo) and then to three viewpoints of the canyon. It was due at 9.45am. It did not arrive at 9.45am. Arturo was actually doing a smaller trip (no viewpoints) and so we waved goodbye to him at 9.45 - an hour later we were still waiting, with the receptionist just pulling a concerned face and shrugging when we asked what was going on.
Anyway, we set off an hour later and it only took around 20 minutes to get to the boat launch. Everyone else in our tour group was Mexican and the guide spoke no English, so we were a little confused at first with the semi-chaos at the departure point. However, we ended up on a boat, lifejackets on, ready to go.
It turns out the boats go quite fast. We had looked at the weather forecast (28 degrees) and dressed "accordingly" - all in shorts and t-shirts. Well, the driver pushed down on the throttle and suddenly we were almost blown away by the wind in our faces! We hadn't expected this! Twenty minutes later and we'd all dragged on any jackets we had. G had lost her sunglasses and was struggling to even open her eyes when we were going full speed!
However, this boat trip really was something incredible. The canyon was touching the clouds, towering over us (it reaches a kilometre high in places). Wildlife was everywhere - we saw one crocodile, a family of spider monkeys and thousands of different birds. An amazing two hours.
The rest of the trip was a touch disappointing - Chiapa de Corzo had very little to see and we ate probably our worst food yet in Mexico - compounded by service being so slow that we were five minutes late back to the bus. Everyone else was back and the guide gave us the evils (he managed to overlook the irony of him being an hour late earlier that day). The first of three viewpoints actually was pretty great, but the next two were just completely in clouds and were a bit pointless.
So, back we headed into Tuxtla to catch a bus to San Cristóbal de las Casas. We had expected to be dropped at the ADO station, but our guide just pulled over in the middle of a random street and starting shouting instructions at us in Spanish. Much confusion between myself, Rachel and Georgia followed as our bags were taken out of the van and we were thrust into the arms of a Mexican who had just appeared. It turned out this was the colectivo terminal to SCDLC and... to be fair to the grumpy tour guide it actually worked out really well. Five minutes later the three of us were on our way (admittedly still a touch confused) and an hour later we arrived in San Cristóbal.
This was then a brilliant four days, two with G, two without. I probably can't (be bothered to) go into full detail of all the fun we had, but this town is now my new favourite in Mexico. Lots of culture and art, suuuuch a nice climate (hot in day, cold at night), friendly people everywhere and amazing (and cheap) food and drink. We stayed in an unbelievably good hostel, Puerta Vieja - a sprawling complex built around an old colonial house, with a lovely outdoor garden and bar. I can't really emphasise how much we enjoyed this place. On our last night it actually turned out to be their 7 year anniversary and we were handed so much free booze and incredible food. What a place.
The garden area at Puerta Vieja
Here we met up with Arturo again, the four of us went out on our first night and found a lovely little wine bar. Rach and Georgia were bemoaning the wine out in Mexico last time we were together, but this place fixed that. So much so that we came here every day but one. I got addicted to their Chorizo and Quesillo quesadillas and ended up eating them on three different occasions! After this we went to a Mezcal bar, where Arturo instructed me in picking a good Mezcal. Then we finally ended up in a rock bar, with live music playing typical latin american rock. Arturo was loving it, singing and dancing along, but us three Brits had hit a wall and we all stumbled back to Puerta Vieja around 1am.
The next morning we made sure to get up early enough for the hostel breakfast (free and incredible, I probably could write a blog post on this itself) and then just spent the day walking around the town. We got lost in the depths of a sprawling outdoor market, containing so many different textiles (we have added to the presents we now have to carry for five months - woops). Another place we ended up coming back to over and over. After this we had lunch on a terrace (notable moment George sitting down and completely missing her chair) and then Arturo left to watch some football. Us three then walked up the steps to the Guadalupe church, which had an OK enough view of the city. I'd luckily spotted a bar (of course) just to the side and we walked over to it. Well, it had a perfect panoramic view of the city and was just in time for sunset. We spend a good couple of hours here just drinking and chatting.
Back to the hostel, more drinks in the garden, met a few more people aaaaand... we ended up in the wine bar with a group - no complaints!
The next day was our last with G sadly, but we made the most of it. In the morning we did a free walking tour - well, it was probably the best one I've ever done. Our guide Carlos, an ex-Zapatista, was so good - really informative, friendly and a dark sense of humour. Afterwards, the three of us caught a short taxi to the Arcotete park. This was a relaxed park, with a cool rock formation over a stream that you could walk through the caves within. A really nice was to spend a few hours in the afternoon.
We got back to the town and had an obligatory hot chocolate (amazing, as per everything in this town). Sadly, it was time for G to leave and we dropped her at the ADO station. We've been really lucky to be able to coincide a fair few days out in Mexico with her and all agreed that SCDLC was such a good place to all meet up.
Rach and I had two more nights and just took things at a slow pace - on a six month trip you can't be going 100% all the time. We went back around the markets, back to the wine bar (of course) and just generally wandered and explored. Then the evenings would be spent in the hostel garden, drinking and chatting around the fire. One night was free mojitos - didn't end too well for Rach who was a little "worse for wear" the next day!
Super sad to leave this town, we both said of everywhere we'd been so far this was the one place we could actually see ourselves living in. But, off we set again, another night bus - this time to Palenque. We'll miss SCDLC though, for sure!