It was love at first sight. I was still not quite there but the road leading the way was already sending me some very positive signals. I had flown from Mexico City to the state of Chiapas – the poorest in Mexico. I was going to spend two days and two nights in San Cristóbal.
San Cristóbal de las Casas is a small town where being different isn’t a motive for gossip, a threat to tradition or a reason to leave. Quite the opposite: difference seems to be celebrated and shouted out loud for the world to hear. It bears tradition in its roots and expresses it in diverse, vibrant ways. It invites free souls with original ideals and unique talents to come and to stay.
I purposely included the town in my itinerary because I wanted to get a feel of a small traditional mexican little town. As many might see Mexico as a beach, party-like destination, for me it has always been about culture and history. I was excited to experience it in the flesh and San Cristobal happened to me on the way to another destination I didn’t want to miss (stay tuned).
But what I was not expecting to find was an incredible young atmosphere, vibrant with so much originality, artistry and even a bit hipster but yet without losing its mexican roots, staying so closely tied with ancient and traditional practices. This was the place where I realised how the Mayan culture still prevails and lives strong in the blood of so many people and how it sits so well with modern times. I was so glad such a great civilization hadn’t died out, even though catholic searches are literally in every corner of this town.
It is simply such a beautiful place. Colourful, energising. Sitting in the middle of big mountains, the city was founded by the Spanish who found the town of Chiapas de Corzo way to hot. And well, when I landed on Tuxla Gutierrez airport, I noticed how hot it was, and I couldn’t believe I had to wait three hours for a bus to San Cristóbal. But it was definitely worth the wait. The bus was actually a well air conditioned van, taking about 10 people inside, driving us comfortable through the curvy roads of the hills of Chiapas to our destination, while through the window I could admire magnificient views which many wouldn’t ever imagine were from Mexico.
After posting some stories on my Instagram account, I actually received messages from friends asking where the hell was I, didn’t you go to Mexico? It is incredible the misconceptions one can get from a country, especially such a big one as Mexico… Chiapas is actually where the last big jungle is located, before continuing up in the North hemisphere (I also learned while researching for this trip that Mexico is often considered to be North America, which for me was completely alien. Mexico was always Central America for me… but when looking at the world map more closely I could eventually understand why it would fall in such category, despite being so different from what we would consider north, and even more from the US or Canada).
So… yeah San Cristóbal de Las Casas is a dream, my fellow travellers. And a photographic, incredibly lense friendly one. While in Mexico City I was struggling to get light for my photos (the smog was intense) or even photos which would look straight (the mexican capital is sinking), San Cristobal was a feast for my eyes and for my camera. My photos has barely any editing… but, on the other hand, it was so difficult to choose which ones to post… as it’s been difficult to refrain myself from writing about San Cristobal. In only two days I did so much… and please do follow my advice and start by taking a Free Walking Tour. I had the best walking tour I have ever had.
Please, do follow my advice and take this tour. I specifically enjoyed the option to take a walking tour in the evening, at 5pm. Since I arrived shortly after lunchtime, I was eager to get a guided first tour of the city before starting on my own. Our guide, Marina, was german, but living in San Cristobal for over two years, she was exceptional, friendly, the most welcoming person. And an impersonation of what I come to realise San Cristobal actually is – a hub for young spirits to come and express their artistic talents in a safe place, where tradition is sacred, maintained and the base to the development of new ideas and feed the upcoming generations.
This walking tour included a coffee tasting (I had exquisite coffee in Mexico, such loved change in comparison with the crappy coffee I had to get used to in London), a chocolate tasting and a posh tasting – a local produced alcoholic drink that I definitely enjoyed a lot more than the most famous tequila and mezcal.
So… if you can, include San Cristóbal in your Mexican trip plans 🙂