We crossed yesterday from Mexico into Guatemala. We drove and stayed last night in Panajachel, on the border of Lake Atitlan. I will post more of the finer points later, as Franco and Elisa are waiting for me to get some breakfast!
Happy birthday to Dad!
We have spent a nice few days in San Cristobal, one of the nicest colonial towns I think I have seen in Mexico. Chiapas is probably one of the poorest regions of Mexico, but the people are warm and friendly. A thriving trade is made from the sale of t-shirts with the rebel leader of EZLN who took over the town and its 5 surrounding towns a couple of years ago. The army presence here is quite string, with many “shock” style troops fully armed with M16 automatic rifles slung around their shoulders and full on combat gear.
I have met some great people here and had a few good nights out. There is a fun nightclub here and some nice bars too. I am however, a bit bored of Mexican food, but have found a curry house and a great veggie place.
It has been one of the most beautiful cities I have visited in Mexico. The people in the Chiapas region are mostly indigenous people who broadly fall under the Mayans, but actually are from various different tribes that stretch right through the Yucatan, through Guatemala, and through into Honduras. The people are very friendly, and most wear their traditional dress, especially the women. The young guys tend to wear more western clothes, and I have given up counting the number of England-Beckham shirts worn over here.
San Cristobal has been having a rather large cultural festival (Cervantes), which we arrived at for the final days. Although we had some issues with our hostel (if you stay at Dona Rositas make sure you are in her main hostel and not her son’s across the road) and ended up moving three times. The final one is pictured in the album, is brand new and is run by two Italians, who are lovely (if not a bit stoned).
Our accommodation has been up and down, from bad to good to great. I guess that is why we have met so many people recently! We all have just a a great night after cooking a big sleep up meal for 10 of us, washed down with home-made, with real sugar cane, mojitos. Lovely! On to Guatemala tomorrow or the next day.
View the photos from San Cristobal, Mexico.
We have managed to cover a great deal of ground since the last installment. We left Tulum and spent a couple of hours cenote (cave) diving. This area of Mexico is famous for cenotes, and there are a vast amount to choose from. Since none of us are dive qualified, we had to make do with snorkeling using equipment rented from a great old Texan hippie in Tulum. He was quite a character and apparently we had made his day, but I’m not sure why! The cenote of Dos Ojos is a massive underground system of caves and connected passages all under water. Due to this we were only able to explore the main entrances to some of the caves. It was great fun, but the mossies were out in force and no amount of repellent could seem to drive them away!
We left Palenque around lunchtime with another lengthy drive towards San Cristobal. On the way we stopped at a set of waterfalls called “Aqua Azul”. Getting there was a a challenge. Firstly the road winds through the jungle, and falls away randomly. You often see whole families by the side of the road, especially next to speed bumps, selling local produce. Here they were extremely persistent, and even went as far as stringing rope barriers across the road on blind corners. To get into to Aqua Azul, we had a confusing double charge, first for the car (based on the number of people inside) and then for each person 200 metres further down the road. I’m sure that the locals just get tickets printed up and set up there own unofficial road blocks anyway! Aside from that, the falls themselves are stunning. Not really big by any means, but the colours were extremely dramatic.
Whilst we were there, a swimming lesson “Mexican” style ensued, and the kids seemed to have a great time. Whilst the others continued swimming, two local girls watched me taking photos of the guys with interest. I gestured to them whether I could take their photo. It was amazing to see how shocked they were when I showed them their photos on the screen of my digital camera. I guess it would seem a bit like magic.
View the photos of Cascades Aqua Azul, Mexico.
We continued on again by car to San Cristobal. Again we arrived late, but found a good hostel, where we are now. I plan to stay here a few days max, and then will head for Antigua in Guatemala. Tim is supposed to be arriving in Guatemala on the 17th so I will hang around and do a Spanish course for a while until then. I still am not sure what to do for xmas, but I’m sure that whatever it is, it will happily present itself in the form of an opportunity!
Adios for the time being.