DEC 31, 2015 – When I arrived in San Cristobal, I realized both how touristy and how full the city was. There were countless hotels and hostels, but all of them seemed to be fully booked. After about an hour I had found a hotel, in which I stayed until my departure towards Palenque. I met up with my friend Marisol, whom I had met in Monterrey, and who was visiting San Cristobal with her boyfriend. We visited the local microbrewery, which is rather a nanobrewery, but makes decent craft beers – a good Pumpkin Ale, among others. The city has a mediterranean feel to it, with architecture similar to San Miguel de Allende, but additionally a lot of Italian restaurants and coffee shops serving local-grown espresso.
The city is full of travel agencies offering fun activities, but I have a strong aversion against group tour packages, so I was reluctant to book any. The one I did end up doing was great, though: I rode a horse to the indigenous village of San Juan Chamula and back. When I signed up for this trip in a bookstore, I expected to find myself in a group of people and be picked up by a van. Instead, only one lady showed up, and she took me to a nearby village by colectivo (a van that follows a fixed route and stops whenever requested). After about five minutes, two men showed up with two horses, and one of them accompanied me along an adventurous path to San Juan Chamula. In the village’s church, I was able to observe several groups of people performing a traditional sacrifice ritual, which is part of the reason the Pope doesn’t recognize this church as Catholic. It involves a live chicken that is not killed, lots of small candles set up in rows on the floor, an alcoholic beverage that is spit onto the burning candles, and a bottle of Coca Cola. That’s all I know.
On what was going to be my last day in San Cristobal, I visited Cañon del Sumidero, using public transit rather than a tour group. The canyon was impressive, particularly the trickling waterfall called the “Christmas Tree”. I tried to capture some of the birds and other animals on photos. The next night, I had what was likely a flu, so I stayed in bed for a day before taking a bus to Palenque. The idea of spending New Year’s Eve in a crowded city does not really appeal to me, so I was glad to get out of San Cristobal in time.