Published: September 16th 2010September 16th 2010
Town hall at night
celebrating 200 years of independence + 100 years since revolution.
Saturday 11th September
What a miserable sleep we had. There were dog's barking all night and then chickens were at it on top of buses revving their engines tryng to get up the steep hills around us.
Mind you breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, black beans with tortillas and was fine and wholesome. The Freshly brewed coffee was so dreamy even jill had a cup and she never drinks coffee! The caffeine hit got us up that nightmarish steep hill in no time!!
We stood there watching the morning hustle and bustle of locals getting picked up in chicken buses and pick up trucks at random. Its a free for all, if you have space in your truck its guaranteed someone will hop on. Sometimes 15 or 20 people would be hangin onto the back of a van or truck and we stood and admired the sheer bravery of some of the kids hanging onto back bumpers. There were loads of motor cycles zooming about and bicycles zipped past us downhill at some speed, i bet they get a lift home!! On the chicken buses people just leapt in the back door or front as its moving, girls, boys and
older folk were simply just sticking a hand out to catch anything to grab so they could haul themselves aboard.
It was great to watch but not so fine to be standing at the side of the road where we were as exhaust fumes were thick and heavy in some vehicles. As most roads are steep the vehicles burn more fuel like mad just to get going with the heavy load of people.
Our bus was 1 1/2 hours late and i had a wee panic to myself. The bus got held up in Antigua due to more landslips blocking the road. We're off and running and this is going to be a long journey. 5 hours to the border, change bus then 3 hours to San Cristobal. We are both tired and doze off now and then. We passed the spot that 52 people had died at a few days ago. A chicken bus got hit by a massive landslide which swept it off the road killing a few folk, but to make matters worse the people that had stopped to help the wounded and to try and help got hit by a second slip. A tragic accident.
Its been happening all around central America and in parts of South America. I thought the roads were bad from Antigua to Panachachel but this road to San Cristobal was twice as bad.
We stopped twice for toilet stops and food until we reached the Mexican border. A quick change of bus and immigration stamps and we were off again only to stop at the actual border crossing for visa's. We didn't have to get out here unlike the rest of the shuttle bus passengers as we had a 180 day pass from entering Cancun last month. Apparently when we left Mexico the last time going into Belize, the Belize immigration should have taken our Mexican tourist visa and we would've had to pay again to get back into Mexico. Ah well, their mistake and it saved us $40.
Ok, we're passed immigration now and moving on towards San Cristobal which was another 2 hours up the road. We stopped at a local shop for some refreshments
and water and then finally arrived at our location. So much for the hostal to hostal shuttle bus as we got dropped off in the city square which was about
a half mile away from our hostal. On the plus side it gave us an idea of how to get about and where most things were. I've got to get this bag off my back though. I don't know if it's just me but my bag is getting heavier whereas Jill's is getting lighter!! There will be a stewards enquiry at the next packing!!
Hostal Las Palomas is nice and very cheap. About 11 pounds a night per room. It's basic but it's set in a traditonal mexican house with large courtyard. Free breakfast and free interent plus sky TV. It was a blessing after last nights stay nevertheless.
We unpacked, got showered and then hauled out for dinner. We walked around quite a fair bit and noticed that the town was gearing up for the celebrations on the 15th (Wed). They have a double celebration this year as they are celebrating 100 years since the revolution and 200 years since they got their independence.
Flags, banners and lights in the Mexican flag colours were everwhere and made the already nice town look pretty. We found a nice restaurant on a corner of the square and Jill had
chicken curry and i, for the first time in Mexico, had chilli con carne!!! Ooof it was hot but lovely!! Two beers and the meal came to 9 pounds. Can't be bad eh? San Cristobal is a lovely little town with old style posada's and lovely historical churches mixed with modern shops, bars and restaurant. You are really spoiled for choice and on top of all that the streets are very clean.
Sunday 12th September
We had a great sleep and got showered. We organised our Monday and Tuesday trips which were Palenque and two waterfalls on the Monday and Tuesday would be a water canyon boat trip.
Today, however, was going to be a lazy day doing very little as possible. We walked to the Sunday municipal market which was very busy and very colourful. The area was about the size of two football pitches and set on 4 or 5 streets. There are lots of fresh produce to purchase such as fruit and vegetables and there were fish stalls, shellfish, cheese and meats on offer and it was great to see how the locals shop.
It got far too busy for us and we kept getting bothered
on route to san cristobal
by people wanting to sell us stuff so we nipped down a side street to a much quieter part of the market which sold only clothes, jewellery and leather products. We bought a couple of little bracelets and a bag which were easily haggled down to nearly a third off the original asking price. Lunch and another long walk followed by a beer was the theme for the day and we finally got home just before dark like we normally do in new places.
Old habits die hard as we had nipped into Subway for a sandwich which we ate when we got home. We are tired and needing an early night as we are bring picked up at 630am for our 6 hour drive to the Palenque ruins and waterfalls.
Monday 13th September
Bleary eyed and half asleep still we boarded our bus that would take us to the Palenque ruins and on the way back we were to stop at two lovely looking waterfalls. However 2 hours into the journey and we were held up for a hour at a road block. The road block had been put there by disgruntled locals who were prostesting against the
government that hadn't provided them with much needed water supplies. Being so remote in the hills here you could understand their beef but the roads are in turmoil so i can see both sides of this argument. We eventually got by the road block and 30 miles up the road we were stopped by the Mexican army who ordered everyone out the bus so they could search our bags and also search the bus for drugs or weapons. That was an experience in itself as they are all armed to the teeth with automatic machine guns and batons!!
More setbacks followed as we were again stopped by locals who had blocked the road with trees and logs. Again they were protesting about water supplies. Our bus driver
delivered the bad news,'they will not move this road block until 6pm!!' it was only 12pm now!! oh oh!
We hung about whilst they sorted out the passengers on our bus who were doing a one stop at Palenque without returning to San Cristobal, like us and another couple. They had to walk over the blockade into another random bus at the other side that would take them the rest of the
way. Also people from that side were crossing the picket line to come and catch half empty buses going the other way. It was all very messy. We had the choice of getting a bus and carrying on but we decided it would be safer to stay with our bus and go back to San Cristobal. We missed the Mayan Palenque ruins but i think we've done not bad in that department!
2 more hours of fannying about with arrangements for the passengers refunds etc and we were now heading back. By the time we got home it was 6pm!!! What a waste of a day!!
We got back to our hostal and we were locked out as the Las palomas hostel owner had banked on us being back at 10pm as arranged and had double locked the door!! Great.
We had no choice but to got a get some dinner and sit and have a few beers to pass the time. We got back into our rooms at around 8pm and emailed our tour guide who was very good and offered us some extra tours for later in our travels which was fine.
We were having no
luck it seemed as it had rained heavy that night and our canyon tour was also cancelled for Tuesday. Well, we expected some hiccups on our
travels and we have a long way to go so we didn't lose heart at all which is good and shows that we are mentally prepared for anything. Tomorrow we were going to go to the pub and watch champions league football at 1pm and chill out for the day, we have no other options really.
Tuesday 14th September
We got up and went for breakfast and then decided to book somewhere nice on the south coast of Mexico for three days to catch up on the days we needed to fill. I think we deserve it after all thats happened.
We grabbed some chicken toasties and then did a wee bit of shopping and bought 2 nice tee shirts and then heading to a local bar for mojitos. We sat and watched the Man U v Rangers game and by the end of it we were enjoying the mojitos a bit too much so we left and walked up the road giggling like ten year old's.
We were catching an
overnight bus from San Cristobal to Pochulta tonight at 10pm. The bus would take us 12 hours to get there. The lady that owned our hostal here was
really nice and let us have our room until 7.30 pm without extra charge. We got a wee bit caught up in the celebrations for the independence party so we enjoyed the atmosphere as there were bands playing most of the day and everyone was in good spirits. We came back to grab our bags and then went to a nice italian restaurant for some lasagne and Jill had grilled chicken which were both delicious. We had 4 soft drinks and our bill was just over ten pounds.
By now it was around 9pm and it started to really chuck it down with rain!! We are having no luck really as we've to walk about half a mile to the first class bus station.
After a wee bit of a panic with our bus tickets we finally boarded the bus and downed a sleeping tablet each and zonked out in the luxurious seats which reclined
right back. The aircon was great as this was a brand new 40 seater bus that
we've come to expect from ADO buses which the Mexican equivalent of our Megabus buses. We were woken up at 3am when the bus stopped to change drivers so we got off and had a walk about to stretch the legs, can't wait to get to Mazunte now as i know we'll have a nice hotel and no stress!
There are more photos below