Wednesday, February 26, 2003

San Cristóbal de Las Casas is nestled in the highlands of Chiapas at an altitue of 7,000 feet. The air is cool and pleasant. Little wonder that when the Spanish arrived here in the 1500's they found the location a fine site for a colony. San Cristóbal, or Ciudad Real as it was then called, was for years the only Spanish town in a region with a large population of Indians, and as such was a major center for missionaries. Each neighborhood has its own church and patron saint. The charm of this attractive colonial city has attracted international artists, writers, bohemians, and backpackers, for better or for worse.

We bagan our day with desayunos (breakfast) at Las Nubes, adjacent to our hotel. Marvelous salsa and the best coffee of the trip. A boy came by and wanted to shine my shoes - while I was eating. Does that ever work? We were treated to more "cheesy listening" music, this time in Spanish.

Inside El Templo de Santa Lucia

This morning we're going to El Parque Ecoturística Grutas de Rancho Nuevo, a park 10 kilometers east of San Cristóbal set in a beautiful pine wood, the feature attraction being an extensive cave with cathedral-like chambers. A taxi to the park is 50 pesos, and it's 10 pesos to enter the cave. You go in unguided, but there is a well-kept walkway. It's impressive.

Los Feliz Americanos at Las Grutas

On down from the cave are some really neat slides and some really neat niños. A whole flock of kids, children of the vendors I presume, were having the time of their lives on these huge, polished-concrete slides. They slid down on cardboard and plastic bottles and clumps of grass - anything they could find! It was nice to see children playing instead of working.

Happy niños

We walked the kilometer back to the highway to catch a ride back to town. Shortly thereafter a pickup with a covered bed stopped for us. It wasn't just a random farmer. These camionetas are a regular form of transportation. Just 5 pesos each. What a deal!

Templo de San Francisco

This afternoon we went church hiking. The Chapel de San Cristóbal is a small chapel, painted in white and red. It is located on one of the city's two main hills, the Cerrito de San Cristóbal, and the prime attraction is the view. It was a heck of a climb, especially in the blistering sun, but it's worth it.

The City of San Cristóbal

Next we walked all the way across town to the Templo de Guadalupe, a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe, located on the hill of Guadalupe, another big climb. The church is spectacularly colorful and affords another great view.

Templo de Guadelupe

We were getting pretty hungry by this time, so Tom bought elotes (corn on the cob) off a street vendor. She was astonished when we didn't want a half-inch of mayonnaise slathered on the corn as is customary; however, we did opt for the salsa. It was good, but it needed butter and salt to be great.

Arco del Carmen

Later we had dinner at the Restaurante Capri Pizzaria. This is the second pizza place we've been to in Chiapas, and they both served us Worcestershire sauce with our pizza, along with of course a pepper sauce. Who puts Wooster sauce on their pizza? I tried it. It wasn't too bad.

We sat in the Zócalo and people-watched for a long time. Tom wanted to Internet. I wanted to sip margaritas. Sorry nobody heard from us tonight!

Continue to Day 12

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