Published: July 19th 2006July 20th 2006
Arrived in San Cristobal on 7th July.. stepped off the bus after 14 hours at 6am into clean, fresh mountain air (quite chilly though as at 2300m altitude - but great after the sticky heat of the coast). The 1st class buses are comfortable and air conditioned (freezing!) but the windy mountain roads do make you feel sick, and they all seem to show random kung foo movies in Spanish!
San Cristobal is beautiful.. Lots of low rise, colourful houses set around a central zocolo and market.. quiet and laid back atmosphere..
Signed up for 2 weeks of Spanish lessons at Instituto de Languas Jovel, and moved in with a Mexican family for a week.. We lived with separate families, to make sure we DID practice our Spanish.. and they were really friendly and welcoming, but after a week of home cooked food (mainly quesadillas and cheese!) we are spending our second week back in our own accomodation.. with a kitchen so we can cook veggies, and don´t have to eat tortillas every day! .. Found a great posada run by a Mexican woman.. our own room and bathroom, and breakfast, for less than GBP4 each a
So the Spanish is improving (!?) after 3 hours of lessons a day (plus homework) and we even had a Mexican cooking lesson this week.. so we can now cook stuffed chillis.. that's if we understood all of the instructions.
Visited Chamula and Zinacantan (two indigenous villages near San Cristobal) with a really interesting guide who grew up in Mexico City and has lived in San Cristiobal for 16 years. Descendants from the Mayans live in these outlying villages, and the communities have cut themselves off totally from the "Spanish descendant Mexicans" so they have different languages, different beliefs (they use shamens to rid the "evil eye".. no western medicine allowed, they all inter-marry - very young, and with dowries, different religious practices - such as drinking alcohol and coke in the church so they can burp in front of John the Baptist, who is revered above Jesus, and killing ckickens to cleanse their souls.. their interesting adoption of Catholicism, which the Spanish enforced!) And the traditional wool and embroidered clothes are worn (though we couldn't take any photos of this, as they believe the camera takes their soul). We visited Maria (a friend of
the guide's), who lives in Zinacantan with her husband and 7 sons.. She cooked us corn tortillas in the open fire in her (smoky) adobe house (which tasted better than any of the shop bought tortillas we have tried), and showed us how they are made (from read, yellow, black or white sweetcorn).
Took a 2 hour boat trip up Canon del Sumidero, with Majbritt (who we were doing group Spanish lessons with on our first week here).. Beautiful 25km reservoir between mountains, crocodiles, vultures, bats, pelicans, monkeys.. and HEAT!.... as it's at a lower altitude than San Cristobal.
Spent some time with Milan.. who seems to be doing the same route around Mexico that we are!), and also had lunch with Daniella, and bumped in to Natalia (people we met in Puerto Escondido).
Oh, and the budget has allowed one (or maybe 2!) nights out.. so we did salsa with the locals (and a Belgian!) one evening at Latino's.. but luckily no pictures of that! And we've found a great Indian and Lebanese restaurant, for when we fancy a night off the tomatoes.
Next stop Palenque (catch a bus on Saturday)..
so looking forwards to the jungle heat again, after 2 weeks of COLD!
There are more photos below