18.08.2012 - 20.08.2012
To reach San Cristobal de las Casas we had caught a 10 hour overnight bus from Oaxaca. Alex and I traveled with our guide and one other girl on our trip, Anita on the regular bus while the others on our tour had upgraded to a more deluxe bus. We had figured that with some of the buses we had caught recently through South America it couldn't be that bad so just stuck to the normal bus. It turned out that it wasn't too bad except for the 45 minute stop in the middle of nowhere at 3am in the morning.
We arrived in San Cristobal around 7:30am and made our way to our lovely hotel. Our room was available so we were able to shower and get changed before having a great breakfast of Heuvos Rancheros. We then headed with our group to Sumidero Canyon for a boat ride along the river. We hadn't been told too much information about the canyon or boat trip except it would be a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
We arrived at the pier, put on life vests, boarded our boat and set off down the river. The scenery was amazing with steep sided walls of the canyon plummeting down to the river below. We cruised along in our jet boat for a while until we saw the first of many crocodiles. We stopped to snap off a few photos before continuing further down river. We stopped off at a small cave that had a virgin statue in it and beautifully coloured rock. We then went past a waterfall that looked just like a Christmas tree starting narrow at the top before widening towards the bottom. We were also very lucky to see some monkeys and lots of bird life along the river. One really thing that really amazed me was the amount of rubbish floating around. Apparently it washes in whenever it rains and they have crews of people cleaning it up but in such a beautiful place piles of floating rubbish really ruined it. We ended up at a dam before turning back around for the 15km return journey. It was quite a enjoyable day out not requiring too much effort considering we were all pretty tired from our overnight bus rides.
That night we had a walk through town which was another one filled with beautiful colonial architecture. For dinner we diverged from the typical Mexican food and had Thai with the rest of our group.
On Sunday we had breakfast and then walked through the town to the collectivo stop. From here we caught a collectivo for about 10 minutes to the town of San Juan Chamula. It is a little town that fills with indigenous locals on Sunday for market day. We wound our way through the crowded markets to the towns church, Templo de San Juan. While it is officially a Catholic church it is allowed for the locals to practice their own traditional religion in it. It is strictly forbidden to take photos inside so we stored our cameras away before crossing into the church. It was truly an amazing sight to see. The floor was covered in pine needles which made the whole church be filled with a rich aroma of pine and incense. All around the church individual groups were performing rituals which involved lots of candles, offerings of food and drink and prayers. There was a Catholic priest at the back performing christenings for babies clad in white outfits while at the front a full band played to celebrate some event. It was very strange to witness such a mix of traditional religion and practices with modern religion and practices. It is also known that some locals perform sacrifices inside the church. While I didn't get to see any, I did see live chickens lying inside bags just with their heads poking out ready to be sacrificed. The strange thing was that they were alive but were just laying their peacefully ready for what was coming to them. Our guide told us all about the locals religion which provided a really interesting insight into their beliefs. It really was a mystic and spiritual place to visit.
Afterwards we wandered through the markets looking at the mix of things that could be bought. There was plenty of fruit and vegetables, clothes, shoes, chickens (both alive and dead) and lots of souvenirs. It was interesting to see the local dress which women wore black shaggy woolen skirts and men wore either black or white shaggy woolen jackets. Once we were done we caught the collectivo back to San Cristobal where we had lunch in a restaurant run by the Zapatistas, a revolutionary group. After some tasty tamales we explored through the markets in town. At one point it started to pour rain so we had to find a cafe to hide out in for a bit. That night we had dinner at an Argentinian steakhouse where we had tasty steak and red wine.
On Monday morning we returned to the Zapatistas restaurant for an amazing breakfast. The blue corn tortillas they served were mind blowing. I had Mulitas which were tortillas topped with eggs, tomato salsa and served with fried plantains and avocado. It was definitely up there with the tastiest breakfasts I have ever had. After breakfast we made our way to the bus station for our ride to Palenque.
Next stop Palenque for some more ruins and waterfalls!