Not being backpackers any more… we decided to fly from Oaxaca and save ourselves a windy 11-hour overnight bus trip. Aeromar is a small local airline and it took just over an hour to the nearest airport of Tuxtla Guiterrez where our preferred bus company ADO, put on a shuttle to San Cristobal up in the mountains which took about another hour, and so we checked into our hotel mid-afternoon. It was quite a treat – our first hotel stay in over 2 months – we have been Airbnbing it up until now, but for a 2 night stop we took a discounted booking.com deal and stayed at the Parador Margarita – a cute medium sized hotel where we had two rooms with king sized beds and welcome fast hot showers. It was cool (temperature wise) at night we put on all our clothes to go out. Extreme layering.
At this stage on the trip we have a confession to make – the former ‘light’ travellers have both become somewhat laden down with luggage. Lola’s is a hefty 24kg plus carry-on wheely bag which she doesn’t dare weigh and Ms Pacifica’s is also weighing in at approx 20kg. Our taxi from the bus terminal to the hotel (we cannot now walk the 4 blocks! ) almost didn’t take the bags: the taxista had a broom handle to prop the boot open, groaned when he lifted them, and I was concerned with the rust and cobbled streets the bags might still end up on the road. Personally I was just trying to scoot into the seat without touching anything in his car. We cannot complain about the price though, whilst not stylish, modern or clean, it is usually 30-50 pesos (or $2-4 NZ) divided between us! -plus a tip to help him save for his new car.
After unpacking we set off to explore the town. San Cristóbal has become the new ‘IT’ place for foreigners. Whilst still a bit hippy and attracting US college students, it is also attracting the attention of former San Miguel residents looking for a more authentic experience. That means there are bars and nightlife, and a few more upmarket places to eat and drink, and some very stylish crafts and shops. In fact we both had a shopping bonanza (despite the already hefty luggage) and by the time we left all bags were at capacity!
We went to the amazing textile museum and saw the best on offer, and then went out to the market and negotiated for some of it. San Cristóbal is in the state of Chiapas, one of the poorest states and close to Guatemala. There are many native Indian people, still wearing their traditional dress, including a huge furry skirt that is not at all flattering and doubt it will take off in the west. They don’t like having their photo taken so you will need to imagine most of it – we did managed to get these two girls who were busy looking away.
These men however with a didgeridoo type instrument however were happy to oblige for a few pesos!
We were on the move after tow nights only – and could have done with spending a few more days. At breakfast on the second day there was only us plus one other table – 6 older NZ’ers with barely a word of Spanish between them, and they didn’t have a guide with them at the time but may have been on a small group tour. Unfortunately their conversation consisted of diarrhoea woes and rugby results – so we didn’t identify ourselves. Good on them though – they were well off the beaten track.