July 10th 2012 – San Christobal de las Casas, Mexico

Its uphill all the way to San Christobal, so it wasn’t a surprise to get off the bus at 6pm to a chill in the early evening air. The town sits high up in the mountains and reminds me a bit of Antigua in Guatemala – lots of cobble and stonepaved streets lined with multicoloured houses. Our hotel is in a really quiet area, but only a five minute walk from the buzz of Real de Guadaloupe, one of the coolest streets in Mexico.

San Cristobal

San Cristobal – Real de Guadaloupe

Now our hotel was a surprise, La Posada Sanchris – it turned out to be more of a ‘homestay’ – it was like moving in with a Mexican family for a few days – and they could not have been nicer! What used to be a large family home has been turned into a tiny hotel, you have your own room and bathroom, but meals are a shared experience, in fact one day, when the dining room table was full, the family set me and Jane our own table in the kitchen with them as extended family members. Even with thier poor English and my poor Spanish, we still managed to chat and get to know each other really well. We have only one issue – at night our room is cold! They don’t have any heating and we have not adapted to the chilly nights yet.

Real de Guadaloupe

San Cristobal street

This is my kind of town. Day time temperatures are in the mid twenties, so its not too hot, and every single street has something to look at – its a nice mix of old Spanish colonial, traditional Mayan, modern shabby chic, a hippy heaven. You can browse all day in shops that sell everything – from artisan posters of the revolutionary movement, organic local produce, Mayan textiles…and my favourite, replica masks from the Mexican wrestling federation 🙂  All the streets lead to massive tree lined squares where everyone meets to socialise, play music and sell handmade stuff.

San Cristobal - Market Square

San Cristobal – Market Square

The kids here are great, a bit like Asia, you get the inclination to adopt one or two. I don’t know how I feel about a kid of about 7 or 8 who earns his keep by polishing shoes, or selling monkey nuts, or another who has a set of weight scales that you pay him to use (I’m 85kg), or the young girls selling bracelets. Its a hard one – they are all well fed and well clothed, and often the parents, usually traditional Mayans, are not far away, but do you support this? They have us hook, line and sinker, we have a daily fund just for them, but we never know if we are doing the right thing. The Mayans travel into town every day from the outlying villages and they bring all of the children with them, and they really do seem to be loving parents with happy kids – I suppose it just feels very different to the life of most western kids.

Kid selling nuts on the street

Kid selling nuts on the street (I had to buy some)

We are loving this place so much that we have extended our stay for another 3 nights, and have booked a couple of trips, one for a river cruise and the other horse riding (Janes bright idea) so watch this space.

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