----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: Mexico: San Cristobal de Las Casas, Cool Weather At Last

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mexico: San Cristobal de Las Casas, Cool Weather At Last

What a difference altitude can make. In Palenque, every move I made left me drenched in sweat. In San Cristobal I slept under two heavy, thick wool blankets. At nearly 7000 feet (2200 meters), the nights are cool even in the hottest months of the year. During the day, I felt a bit cold in the shade, and a bit warm in the sun. Sun was in short supply, so I wore long sleeves over short sleeved tops, and stuck my collapsible umbrella in my bag for the duration.

San Cristobal wasn't what I expected at all. It's in Chiapas, and the city and the villages around it were the center of of Zapatista rebellion. Now the Zapatistas run a restaurant in town, and sell Zapatista dolls, postcards, and keychains!

The center is geared around tourism, in a much more modern and upscale way than Merida. The two intersecting pedestrian-only streets and sidewalks are paved with flagstone. The sidewalks are wide and open, without the shop overflow that makes walking in some Mexican cities so hazardous. Even outside the tourist area, I was rarely forced to step into the street in order to get by.

All this talk about temperature might seem excessive, but in San Cristobal the problem was the opposite of that in Paleque and Merida. Again, all the restaurants were totally open across the front, and there was no attempt to change the inside temperature. In the evening they were just as cold as the outdoors. There are few coats hanging on the backs of chairs, because taking off your coat really isn't comfortable.

Restaurants were more sophisticated, too. One of my favorites was a Lebanese restaurant across the street from my hotel and another was the Italian restaurant right in my hotel.  I had a favorite table, near the pizza oven, because it was warm.

Yes, I said hotel. I needed a break from hostels and got a private room with share bath for about what I paid for a hostel bed on Isla Mujeres. Because of a low demand for the cheap rooms, I usually had the bathroom to myself.

Add a good English-language used book store, lots of activity in the parks and in the square in front of the cathedral, interesting indigeous villages to visit, and a sprinkling of museums, and I had a great town to pass a few weeks.

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