Another overnight bus journey completed, and another day where we start afresh in a new town, and one of our first encounters. A less formal, or law sanctioned protest against the war against Palestine (a slight contrast to that we encountered in Morelia).
It was also a pleasant change to find ourselves in a much cooler climate, our morning bus journey bringing us through cloud enshrouded hills, before depositing us in the town itself.
This also made for a relatively pleasant walk from the bus station to hostel, which we found (like much of the town itself) to be on a charming cobbled street.
It was too early for check-in, but they made sure we had somewhere to leave our bags, offered us the opportunity to partake in the mornings free breakfast, and allowed us use of the Wi-Fi and bathrooms. This coupled with the fact that Posado del Abuelito was itself a beautiful looking place set in an old colonial villa (apparently it was a recent winner of Mexico’s best hostel), helped us feel pretty content with our choice.
We didn’t opt in for the breakfast, instead choosing to do our usual wander to get a feel for the place, which had made a pretty good first impression.
After a brief stroll, we made our way to the main plaza where we sought something to sate our hunger. Normally we would avoid main plazas with their usually elevated prices, but today we were feeling particularly loose with the purse strings.
Finding a nice looking café with some outdoor tables, we settled down and enjoyed a nice feast of muffins with ham & cheese (Sarah’s selection), a ham & cheese omelette and a lemon muffin (my choices) all washed down with a couple of hot chocolates.
Stomachs now content, we decided to wander a little further afield and investigate the Mayan Medicine Museum. The walk itself was an enjoyment, taking us away from the tourist crowds, past the local Mercado (which we decided to investigate on the return journey), and into a grittier area of town where the cobbled pavers had long given way to concrete or in many places, simply streets of dirt.
The museum itself, at least according to our Lonely Planet guidebook, is award winning, so were pretty keen to get in and have a look.
In truth, despite their being a booklet in English to assist us in our self guided tour, it was a bit of a let down. The displays themselves weren’t all that impressive, and the supposed native plant and herb garden appeared to be missing many of the plants (if the plant identifying stakes now stacked against a wall are a true indicator).
I guess it is a true measure of ones disappointment, when the highlight was the self composting toilets situated in the back garden…
Getting back to the local Mercado, now that was more impressive!
Full of life and colour, I won’t say much about it, rather let a few pictures do the talking.
Back in the historical part of town, we investigated a couple of churches, that when we’d strolled by on our first sortie into town, were yet to open their main doors.
It was our first experience of witnessing soda being gifted as an offering to god, which is fairly unique to the region I believe…
By now we were ready for a bit of rest, so it was back to the hostel for a bit of dozing, a bit of much needed attention for the blog, until a break in the afternoon showers convinced us it was time to venture out seeking somewhere for dinner.
The inclement weather and milder temperatures had us convinced to abandon beer for the day and indulge in some red wine for the first time in over two and a half months (which had Sarah excited enough, we had 2 glasses with dinner and bought a bottle to take back to the hostel).
Now, to go with red wine, it also seemed very right to indulge in some pasta at one of the city’s abundant Italian restaurants.
As we’d walked to dinner the rains had returned, and over the course of the meal, they only increased in force so that as an Australian might say, it was “pissing down!”
So heavy was it in fact, that before long the cobbled streets began to flood, meaning that by the time we’d navigated our way back to the hostel (with wine bottle safely clutched to our chest), both shoes and socks were saturated (we’d decided the cooler evening warranted them).
Those poor socks took 2 days to dry…
Our San Cristobal hostel also began to remind us of Oaxaca, as the new trend of meeting fellow Australians continued (there were another 6 or 7 here).
The trend of the afternoon rains also continued, and like clockwork at around 14:30, the afternoon skies would open up and dump copious amounts of water on the town.
This was made more tolerable on our second night by another bottle of wine and the fact that someone had gotten the open fire in the common room started in a very timely manner.
A pretty enjoyable evening passed with new travel friends swapping tales amidst constant calls for us to keep the noise down after the 11pm hostel ‘quiet time’ had been reached.
We’d booked for two nights, but discovered there was plenty more wished to see and do around San Cristobal.
Unfortunately, with independence weekend approaching, and the Hostelworld billing as Mexico’s best hostel, the place was now full, so it was necessary for us to find a new home for our last couple of days.
This new home was Hostel Erni, a small family run place where our double was actually cheaper than what we had been paying for our dorms!
It was a great little place and Juan, whose family left for their other home in Tuxtla Gutierez the afternoon we arrived, was a very friendly host, even with his very limited English.
As our base for some side excursions for our last couple of days, we missed the free breakfast on the first morning, but on the second, it was a joy to be involved.
We made our way downstairs to a table laden with bread, bananas and cereal. Basic, but certainly sufficient so we made a cup of tea, fixed a bowl of cereal and sat down to eat as some wonderful smells wafted out from the kitchen.
Minutes later, Juan our host emerged with a frypan from which these wonderful smells continued to emerge.
Seconds later he had the contents emptied onto two plates and had them placed in front of us, proud as punch to be feeding us up on his traditional Mexican breakfast.
A basket of tortillas was produced to complement the dish, and we began to tuck in, slightly regretful that we’d both already had a bowl of cereal given the size of the plates before us.
This stuff was delicious!
A combination of shredded chicken, cilantro (coriander), potato, tomato, garlic and onion, it was one of the best breakfasts we’d enjoyed in our whole Mexican adventure.
Ducking into a French themed cafe on our 2nd last day in town also produced another highlight.
Initially lured in by the delicious looking cakes, we decided to order lattes on the side.
How lucky were we that we did.
Let me be clear, we are not regular coffee drinkers, you may have actually noticed we consume a lot of tea (when we’re not consuming beer).
But this, was simply the best coffee, either of us had ever consumed. For the record, the cakes were incredibly good as well.
We even considered a quick side trip to collect another coffee and cake (before our onward bus to Ocosingo on our last day in town), but left that run too late as we were busy catching up with our Argentinean friends Carolina and Nacho as they actually moved into Hostel Erni the same day we checked out!
I also nearly neglected a short half hour excursion we took to the city’s Amber museum.
All across San Cristobal, small shops can be found hawking their ‘genuine’ amber wares, which as we quickly discovered in said museum, the majority are fake (no big surprise there).
As an example, found an amber necklace with a Scorpion within? It’s a fake. According to the facts we were presented with at the museum, only 5 of these exist (scorpions in amber, not necessarily as necklaces) in the whole world!
It was a pretty cool little place, and for the 20 peso entrance fee, we felt pretty good value as well. We took the time to do grab a little something in amber for Sarah as well and guess what?
They currently have one of the 5 scorpions on display, a loan from a private collector…
* Our overnight coach service from Puerto Escondido with ADO departed at 18:30 and for a cost of $630.00 Pesos per person got us there in 13 hours.
* As a transport hub (and destination in itself), San Cristobal is well served with many connections from Oaxaca, Palenque and further afield in the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala.