This is the story of my 6 months of studying in Arizona in 2010 and subsequent travels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shopping in the mountains - 3 nights in San Cristobal

With my book and a dog in the sun.
It was like waking up a 100 years back in time, considering the environment our first morning in San Cristobal. The room was freezing cold, but we were tucked in nicely with a stack of blankets in our beds. Outside a rooster was galling, dogs barking, and vendors walking the streets calling for costumers. Oh, and our French neighbors decided that they didn't care how loud they were, and kept us awake despite our urge to go back to sleep. Through our rooftop window we could see that the sun had not quite burned its way through the clouds, so we dressed warmly as we went down for breakfast.

After breakfast Sofie spend 3 hours skyping with people at home, while I sat in the sun reading a book. At one point of of the hostel's two dogs joined me, very cosy. In the hostel there are also 4 or 5 cats, some of which prefer to hang out in our room. So always when we opened the door we would have to consider if we wanted visitors, and remember to check when we left if we locked anyone inside.

Around 1 we were finally ready to explore the town. We went to look for a museum with Mayan medicine, but as we figured out later on it was marked wrongly on the map, and we never found it. We did however come across the market. And pretty much, that was all we got to see that day! :D San Cristobal is in the state of Chiapas, the poorest and cheapest and one of the most colorful in Mexico, so we went shop-amok in scarfs, necklaces, and other little things. For lunch we had some tacos in a nice restaurant in one of the pedestrian streets. In the evening we got back to the hotel, where Sofie spent some time at the bonfire in the yard, while I wrote my blog (and sorry for being a little behind and posting a lot when I get to it, its just really hard to find time!).

Ok, so... Monday morning we were up fairly early, going on a tour to the gorgeous Sumidero Canyon. One of those trips that starts with you being in a van for an hour picking up people in other hotels... Finally we got to the canyon, and was equipped with life vests and packed with 35 others into a motor boat on the river. So far so good, though we ended up on the seats in the very back, right next to the engines. Noisy and smelly. But we went into the canyon with high expectations, and they were not let down for the amazing scenery there. Incredible to sail in between such high mountain sides around you... Another fun element was the crocodiles, which we saw lying around on rocks and the shore. Never seen a live, wild one before! :) What was not so fun though was that suddenly water washed over the side of the boat, and in a second I was completely soaked... Not too cold fortunately, but the water kept coming in as we continued down, and in the end I was so annoyed that I complained and got to sit next to the driver of the boat, 2 m above my first seat. Much less wet, though much more windy. In the end we got back rather cold, slightly disappointed with the trip, but happy to have seen the amazing nature! Then we spent an hour in Chiapa del Corzo, where we had lunch before resting a bit in the sun.

Back in the hostel I took a shower to get all the river water-dirt off, then spent some more time on the blog while Sofie talked with her boyfriend online. Later in the evening we went out to find some dinner, and ended up in an Austrian restaurant, where I had a wiener schnitzel with potato salad - so good! Also quite fun to hear the story of the owner of the restaurant, who was also cooking for us, and told us her impression of Mexico and the city. Oh, and the fact that the minimum wage in Mexico is 55 pesos for 8 hours work. Interesting perspective! Back on the street we went to the Zócalo square, where a marimba band was playing and people dancing around the kiosk. Keep in mind that this is a regular Monday night. :) As all the other cities I have visited in Mexico, the buildings are beautifully lit during the evenings, and it is a different experience to walk through it at night and at day time. However, we were tired, so we didn't spend too much time out in the end.

Tuesday the 8th we had actually planned to go on a horseback riding trip into the jungle to an indigenous village, but decided not to, as the hostel owner told us that the horses were not being taken good care of. Instead we spent the time until we had a night bus at 8 PM exploring the city, which frankly we had done poorly the first day, ending up in the market! So this day we started out by walking to the bus station in the other end of the city, as far from the market as possible. We bought our tickets, and then walked to the coffee museum where we learned a bit about the story of coffee in Mexico, and then had lunch in their café. Some rather boring Enchiladas Suizas, so I guess I have to try them again when we get back to Mexico City, after a personal recommendation! We continued our trip to Na Bolom, which is a museum started by the Danish explorer Frans Blom. He and his wife worked in many years to preserve the culture of the indigenous tribes, and the work continues through their house. The museum depicted their activities and life, and also told the story of the current activities, now years after their death.

Back across the market we got a few more presents for people at home before leaving Chiapas, and spent some time enjoying the sun taking a break on a fountain in cute part of town! Then back to a restaurant close to the hostel where we had an amazing vegetarian buffet, got some focaccia bread to go to eat on the trip, and then picked up our backpacks in the hostel. A taxi to the camionera (bus station), and then we were off to new adventures in yet another Mexican state...! :)

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