Stairway to a church in San Cristóbal de las Casas
On my journey I actually wanted to avoid night buses because firstly I can't sleep in the bus most of the time and secondly the risk of accidents and robbery is higher. But considering the long distance from Oaxaca to San Cristóbal de las Casas it could not be avoided. The way led through some mountain pass roads. The resulting centrifugal forces and the freezing air conditioning system did their best to prevent falling asleep. After 12 hours without sleep, the bus finally arrived early in the morning.
Apartment with beautiful view
Fortunately I was able to check into my Airbnb apartment early. I was welcomed by a very friendly Italo-Mexican who likes to ride a motorbike and listen to rock music. The special thing about this apartment was undoubtedly the beautiful view of the city, which one had from its roof. And it wasn't even expensive. Just a little more than a hostel bed. Together the owner lives there with his faithful bitch, who with her barking on the roof already frightens all unwanted guests from distance. However, when you came closer to the bitch in the house to caress her, she first ingenuously looked at you and then shyly ran away.
Initially my Mexican friend planned to return to Mexico City after our Oaxaca trip because she also had some appointments there. Accordingly, she had little luggage and clothes with her. But with my "persuasive skills" and the perhaps only once offered chance, I could convince her to also accompany me on the rest of my Mexico trip. She herself had not had the opportunity to see all the famous Mexican places, although she had spent her whole life in her country. A win-win situation.
City of hills and churches
After all this driving I rested for a while. When we planned to go into the city centre, a heavy hailstorm broke out and the temperature fell. Anyway, San Cristobal de las Casas was the coldest Mexican city I visited. Due to the location in a highland at 2100 meters altitude, the temperatures are usually only 15°... 20 °C.
The city is characterized by a large number of churches and smaller hills, the streets are sown with cobblestones. It is a rather small city with about 160,000 inhabitants and therefore a welcome change from the hectic and noisy Mexican cities I had visited before. This cosy atmosphere is probably one of the reasons why so many foreign hippies have settled here and why the city attracts so many tourists. The city has a certain charm. The centre is bustling with narrow alleys, colourful houses, chic restaurants and historic colonial buildings.
Chiapas, a state rich in species
The area around San Cristóbal, the state Chiapas is also very pretty. It lies in the extreme southeast of Mexico on the border to Guatemala. Unlike San Cristóbal, most other regions of this state have a hot and humid climate. Characteristic for Chiapas is the diversity of species: numerous exotic mammals like crocodiles, howler monkeys, tapirs, anteaters and umbilical pigs live here.
A huge canyon with crocodiles
A big attraction in the state of Chiapas is the Cañón del Sumidero, a canyon up to 1000 meters high. It was formed about 35 million years ago, about the same time as the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
There are many tours to this canyon in San Cristóbal, one of which I booked. Before the bus reached its destination, it stopped in a small village. At the local market there I tried a regional specialty called Pozol, a beverage made of cocoa and corn that the natives used to drink and is still widely served today.
Nearly 1 million, or 20% of the population, are of indigenous origin, 300,000 of whom do not speak Spanish. The majority of the indigenous population belongs to the Maya people. When the Spaniards wanted to enslave the natives in their conquest, some of them precipitated into the abyss of the canyon and chose suicide instead of enslavement.
In the heat I had intended to take a bath in this beautiful river of the canyon. Well, the nasty little animals that live there would certainly not have minded devouring a "German dish" for a change. So it was just a two-hour boat tour. The breeze of the airstream did well with the hot 37° C that were there. Then I also saw the crocodiles sunning themselves on the beach or chugging comfortably after the boat. It's really not a good idea to take a bath here. The boat took us to the Chicosasén dam, one of the ten highest dams in the world, and finally returned.
Another highlight of Chiapas is the prehistoric city of Palenque in the middle of the jungle, which was the next stop of my trip.