After an 8 hour bus trip, where I slept the whole way (thankyou dramamine!!) I arrived at the small mountain village of San Cristobal de las Casas. It was nice to finally be out of the heat! It was really cold here and rained almost all the time turning the streets into rivers which wasn’t the greatest but was still an amazing town.
I was staying at an awesome hostel that had a nice garden and chill out area and an awesome breakfast called La posada de abuelo. As it was so comfortable and my spanish was still shit, I decided it was time to do some more spanish lessons. A guy from my hostel, called Mike, also decided to sign up for lessons so we were put in a class together. Mike was basically Austin’s twin except he didn’t drink. Our school was amazing. We had three different teachers for 4 hours of lessons (Jorge, Gabriel and I could never remember our last teachers name…). The week went by really fast and was nice to have a bit of a routine. At the start it was more of a refresher course and in the last few days we started learning some new things like tenses and reflexive verbs. Now I just need to remember it all and start practicing more as my spanish is still pretty shit….
As i had decided to stay in San Cristobal for over a week I decided to change my plans a little and just do a day trip to Palenque and then fly from Tuxtla to Cancun to save time and money (the flight was cheaper then all the buses would have been and a lot more comfortable). They day trip to palanque and back was a mission! We started the tour at 5 am and drove for a good 3-4 hours up and down a windy mountain road. I somehow managed to sleep the whe way! Our first stop was Agua Azul, a massive waterfall with a bunch of other waterfalls. It is very beautiful and you can even go swimming. We jumpped in at one point but the water was freezing so we didn’t stay in for too long. The next stop was another waterfall, whos name I can never remeber… This was more one really tall waterfalll that you could walk under and a big pool at the bottom you could swim in. I didn’t go swimming as I had already taken off my bathers and was too lazy to put them back on but n it did look really nice. After a quick lunch we were off to the ruins.
Everyone on my bus was from mexico besides two girls that were from spain, so I was the only one that couldn’t speak spanish. Because of this the driver didn’t bother to slow down his instructions so I never really knew what was going on. Sometimes someone would translate for me. So when we got to the park I was told we needed a guide and the whole group was getting one, Spanish speaking of course. I later gound out that you don’t have to have a guide to go into the park so i could have just gone in and wandered around. Thankfully a few people in the group spoke english so the would translate the gist of what he was saying byt I’m sure I missed a lot. It was still amazing though and the people there were pretty interesting. They didn’t sacrafice people but would give their blood as a sacrafice by piercing themselves. There was a lot of other interesting facts but I can’t remember them right now.
Before classes started I also did a tour to one of the indigenous towns near san cristobal called San Juan Chamula. This town is totally autonomous mean they make their own laws and have their own form of government. They also practice polygamy (if they can afford it). As part of the tour we went to the main church in the centre of town. If you asked the locals what religion they were they would say catholic but this was like no catholic church I have ever seen. To start with there are no benches/pews (I am obviously not a religious person so have no idea what they are called). Instead the floor was covered in candles and people praying on the floor. They also bring in live chickens (for the bad spirits to go into) which they then kill, so there and dead and alive chickens in the church. They also have eggs which represent new life which they rub over the person who has had the bad spirits removed. They also drink a bottle of coke to remove the bad spirits from insde (by burping) and deink this alcohol called posh, which tastes awful, kinda like an undistiled vodka. Another part of their ceremonies (not one removing evil spirits) is to set off these loud “fireworks”. They just make a really loud noise and there aren’t any pretty lights. They do this several times a day for different saints so there is constantly loud bangs going off. Your not allowed to take pbotos in the church so you will just have to google it.
We managed to go on one other day trip to the Sumedero Canyon. This was apparently a must see in Chiapas. Little tip: It is actually cheaper and a lot easier to do a tour then it is to do on your own. Sadly this wasn’t really an option for us as all the tours left in the morning and we had classes then. So after school we set off to find a colectivo to take us there. It actually wasn’t too hard. The bus/colectivo dropped us off a little to early so we had to walk a bit but we eventually found the place. We then had to wait there for about 30mins for other people to show up and fill the boat, hence why it is better to do a tour. It was worth it in the end though. The canyon was pretty impressive with some parts reaching 1km in height. We saw some spider monkies and loads of crocodiles as well. The boat ride was about 2 hours long and I’m glad we went in the afternoon as siting in the full sun would have been torture.