22-Dec 23-Jan: San Cristobal de las Casas

A splendid visit to Cynthia’s new home in this most delightful town in Chiapas, Mexico.

Welcome To San Cristóbal De Las Casas

Following are street scenes on our arrival day from Mexico City, a late afternoon walk-about. Looking back I see they mostly/entirely feature churches. There are a lot of churches here. Also churches always stand out in a landscape and apparently I find them interesting.

This is a quick hello, more tomorrow.


Here’s a reminder of where you can find San Cristóbal de las Casas.

Christmas Eve Day

San Cristóbal de las Casas, locally referred to as San Cris, is a haven of arts and crafts shopping. So many wonderful locally produced items of clothing, decor, accessories, and more.

There are two large streets that cross each other that are pedestrianized and chock-o-block with shops and restaurants. The street below is an example of one of the regular streets. Behind every door is some new delight.

For example, this is the patio entrance to a restaurant.

Here’s another one with a restaurant and an art gallery.

Santa bought me one of these shirts in blue.

Oh look, James Ellroy, an acquaintance from jr and senior high school, translated into Spanish.

Where we had lunch.

A funny chef pitching his Christmas mole dinner. These are the mole ingredients and it’s all you can eat. We might have considered it but already had reservations for a Gala Menú Especial de Navidad.


And here it is. We got every item on the menu as there were two selections for each category. As is often the case the appetizers were delicious, the best part of the meal. It was great fun!

Pictures from the restaurant’s website.


A holiday decoration and a sneak peek of the Christmas Tree.

Christmas Day

Santa brought a pile of treats to San Cristóbal de las Casas for us to enjoy!

Even Kai enjoyed unwrapping his own gift. He so enjoys his toys, it’s a joy to watch him play.

After admiring all our gifts we decided to walk to the most prominent church here, you’ve seen it glowing on the horizon a few times already. Here are some scenes from the walk. Maybe 1/20th of the places were open and that still offered endless entertainment.

Shops, restaurants, cozy hotels, and yes, it’s one entertaining wall after another.

Corn is often featured in indigenous designs.

This guy had a lot of “HEY, look at ME” energy going on. And “No one is illegal.”

This artist is fully engaged.

We went into one of those doors you’ve been seeing along a plain street and inside was a huge garden and work space as well as a restaurant and a hostel. Every surface was a delight.

Here’s an opportunity to extol the variety and quality of the food available in San Cris. There are expats here from every part of the world and many of them open restaurants so indeed the world is at your doorstep. I’ve had pictures of a few restaurants and maybe you get the idea. And more to come!

The street that leads to the main church, Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

There she is at the top of the stairs, where I walked(!) and this is the view from the top. We’ve been seeing the red, white, and green flags all along the street but I didn’t put together that they were the colors of the flag of Mexico.

Flying over the patio of the church, the flag of peace.

Inside the church, continuing the theme of peace.

From the back of the church looking over fields of vegetables.

A police station at the bottom of the church.

Hola you guys.

Across the street from where we ate dinner.

Inside … It’s a beautiful place with an eclectic international menu including for example Spanish paella and the two dishes we got, an Italian seafood pasta and a lentil dish with Indian flavors.

After dinner we were headed to a theater that shows independent and local films. Everything was entirely normal. I was walking as I had for several days, very carefully over the rocky, slippery, narrow, sidewalks that command your attention to be careful. This time I was crossing a very steep driveway with water running over it’s ridges, as I had so many times before, but this time, YIKES, the water was soapy. So Soapy. UH OH, and I’m down.


I didn’t want to go to the doctor I just wanted to go home and lie down and think about it later. Cynthia got us a taxi and then she went full-on Florence Nightingale. She went out for a compression bandage and fixed me right up including ice (off-on-off-on ETC!), and provided the entire RICE treatment = Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. She’s done it all. This happened Sunday night.

I believed it wasn’t too serious because I could move all my joints and I could stand on two feet. It’s Tuesday morning now and I’m better but still sore and I can’t walk so well. We might swing by the clinic today just to confirm I’m not going to make myself worse by trying to walk.

What I Did All Day

That’s right, all day I just lay around in bed with my foot up on pillows, Cynthia and Kai attending to my every need. This was Monday. Tuesday, among other things, we went to the doctor who was a delight and offered excellent news of my early recovery. There’s more to tell, coming soon.

What a cutie. The entire visit including 30+ minutes with the doctor, medications, a wrapping bandage, cost $30. Although you can easily spend $30+ on a restaurant meal, you can also easily spend $5 on a three course prix-fixe.

Recovery Mode 27th-28th

Batman roaring around the Plaza Central on a Wednesday night.

Cynthia has so many fun things in mind for us to do and here I am, able to hobble a few blocks. We’ve been using taxis often to get around and it’s quite something because when you want one, there one is. I’m grateful!

This is the main church located in the central plaza, the Catedral de San Cristóbal de las Casas. (The inset is from expedia.) It’s been under renovation for some time but now it is possible to visit on Sundays.


Every night the huge plaza facing the cathedral is packed with food and craft vendors, and even a small amusement park for the kids.

We had a deeelightful massage! This is Cynthia’s picture from the window. You can see the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe up on the hill above the trees.

Cynthia asked me if I wanted to take classes at her school for a week and I was so excited to say Yes Please! Because of my ankle I haven’t gone into the school yet but I’m still hopehopehoping to make it tomorrow. We’ve been doing zoom, one teacher for the first hour and a half and another for the second hour and half. So much learning, so much fun! And just how adorable are mis maestras?!

Sunset from the balcony and the downstairs window.

One of the many dining options where multiple restaurants share a space. I’m going to tell about the places we’ve had a chance to enjoy so far.

Cynthia looked up all our restaurants so I could remember. Good job Cynthia!

Friday arriving from Mexico City: Cocoliche – Asian/Latin fusion

Saturday Christmas Eve: lunch=La Parola Café Gourmet – on the walking street, quotes on the walls, best jugo verde; dinner=our Gala Menú Especial de Navidad at El Colibrí Café & Wine Bar – Hacienda Valentino.

Sunday Christmas and BAM she’s down: Sarajevo Café Jardin – Lentil Dal and Seafood Pasta, and I have a picture of the inside mural.

Monday first day of school: Cynthia brought home food from this Korean place since I couldn’t take a step and we loved it AsiaRico7.

Tuesday and a trip to the doctor: the charming owner of this Lebanese place told us the story of his family and how they came to be in Mexico Malaak.

Wednesday: in Centro Peruano San Cristobal and the location of this photo.

Thursday and I could walk! not 100% but still YAY: Trattoria Catanzaro. I have some pictures that I’ll put in tomorrow.



Yikes! But according to the doctor it’s only a Class-1 sprain, the best case out of three.

The Paloma And The Jaguar

There is one exact shape of clay palomas in 100s of sizes and ornmentations and 100s of jaguars with a specific attitude all around town made in the neighboring village of Amatenango del Valle. We’ve learned the historical reason for the jaguars and are still looking for an explanation on the palomas (which translated by google, a paloma is both a pigeon and a dove).

Our first outing of the day took us to the museum Na Bolom, coming from the Tzotzil Mayan language and means ‘House of the Jaguar’, and home to an excellent collection of artifacts from the the home of the Danish archaeologist Frans Blom (1893-1963) and his wife, the anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby de Blom (1901-1993) .

Here is a not-too-long but very academic report of the Jaguar, God of the Underworld.

It’s very beautiful and interesting too containing art galleries, historic objects, and a very well known research library.

Representing the research area of the Bloms.

Taking a taxi to our next destination, note the objects on the dashboard. We got to talk about them with the driver and when I picked up my camera to catch a picture of the mural which just happened to have the dashboard in it…the driver stopped dead in the street so I could get the shot. Thanks for that!

We were making plans here for NYEve and this guy was in the window. It’s the place where the first picture was painted on the wall.

Cynthia caught this precious child from the back seat of our next taxi.

It goes by many names, all of them deserved: The Main Market, The Central Market, The Big Market!

It’s an amazing place and overwhelming as the Main Central Big Markets can be. We ate a popular street snack containing corn from the cobs boiling in front of you, shredded carrots, cucumbers, salsa, and beets all crushed up in a bag of something like tortilla chips. YUM!

I had a lot of fun in the market because everyone was chatty and seemingly happy to engage. One of the things I learned was that in this picture on the right are all the ingredients you need to make an important beverage, ponche, and there are a lot of ingredients involved!

The neighborhood street dog. Cynthia says she runs into her everywhere and everyone knows her and gives her pets.

We had to make a reservation two days in advance to be able to eat at this well-known Italian place where the owner and his wife run the six table establishment by themselves. It was totally fun and pretty darn tasty too.

The type of arcade that is in every Plaza Central I’ve ever visited in Mexico.

This might be some part of the back of the Cathedral, it’s the same color anyway.

La Escuela And More

This is some detail from the facade of the Temple of Santo Domingo.

It’s so dramatic, I need to find some information… There’s a very large market in front.

An inside view.

Below, from the front door, and from the back.

Google street view of a normal street in the historic center where behind these doors you will find the massage place, a few restaurants, shops, a hair cutting place, etc. and Instituto de Lenguas Jovel…Cynthia’s school where she has been going in every day but I’ve done zoom for the sake of my twisted ankle. Today, Friday, I went in!

The front door and behind that door check it out!

Here are my teachers again because they are so adorable.

The textile museum was just closing but they let us have a few minutes convincing us to come back another time.

We had a roaming buffet for dinner at a couple of Cynthia’s favorite places beginning at this most delicious tacos al pastor con piña place (notice the pineapple above the meat – each taco gets a sliver of pineapple too)..

..then, check out that door. You go up to the door, tell the woman there how many you want and what toppings you want and she produces a type of taquito so delicious, really one of the most memorable tastes so far. We are eating them on a park bench across the street.

Then we went to a nearby bakery and selected among so many delicious-looking treats, and then we took a cab home. Another great day in San Cris!

New Year’s Eve

But first..

..we went to the dog friendly El Encuentro: “Biodiversidad Parque Natural Encuentro. This park is private property, but open to the public as a voluntary conservation area located to the east of San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the lower middle part of the Jovel Valley Basin, on the banks of the Fogótico River. It comprises a wide range of environmental conditions that include pine-oak forest, scrub, riparian vegetation, and open areas of induced grasslands. Historically it has been known as a place for family recreation and recreation.” from naturalista.mx.

Kai having the best time…

…running to join all the people who might give him pets. I waved, they waved back.

Below is me resting while Cynthia checked out more of the grounds including the gardens above.

YES, a taxi to take us home…

…for an afternoon rest. Kai, in his spot.

Next stop was the trolley tour around San Cris featuring, no surprise here, churches.

So many churches…

The adults in this group where taking various pictures of this kid and that one and various selfies so I asked the woman holding the baby if she’d like a picture with everyone. Oh yes, she would like that very much, and handed me her phone. Gather ’round, Click Click. Then she said wait wait you, patted a spot on the bench, and gave Cynthia her phone. Wellll, I had to have that picture too!

This group was gathered in the plaza of yet another church. I was so taken with all the fun that I forgot about the church and we had to hurry back to the trolley as this was a 10 minute stop amazingly without a vendor in sight.

Our tour ends with another view of the central plaza in front of the cathedral.

This restaurant on the plaza was having a big Prix Fixe dinner but we ate at home – a pile of fabulous tamales and one of Cynthia’s yummy salads, and then came here for a late night hang on the balcony…and then home sweet home by 11. Right up my alley!

Happy New Year!

A New Year’s Day Tour

Copied from the tour website: “Leave the tourist track behind on this visit to the indigenous communities of the Tzotzil ethnic group of Mexico.  The tour includes a visit to the town of San Juan Chamula to see the fusion of contemporary and ancient Mayan traditions, and a tour of Zinacantan to see locals working pre-Columbian waist looms and to sample handmade tortillas and regional drinks.”

I wanted to do this tour on a Sunday because I heard the church was most amazing then. Amazing is not strong enough to express how AMAZING it was to see. There’s a wikipedia article that talks about San Juan Chamula and the church – I’m having a problem figuring out how to summarize it and include some of the guide’s stories too.

One important thing to mention is that absolutely no photos are allowed inside the church and taking pictures of people without asking is highly discouraged. The next two pictures are not mine.

Not My Photo: the city has it’s own police, the men in white. The men in red and black are religious celebrants. We did see them gathered but I didn’t take a picture.

Not My Photo: a picture someone posted from inside the church. When we were there it looked like this only more crowded and the church is much larger than it seems here.

And here’s an abridged version of sweet Kiki’s essay of her experience (thanks Cynthia!)

MY INITIATION IN CHIAPAS 1977 – Michaela and I arrived in San Cristobal after suffering 14 hours on a third class bus from Oaxaca. I had a sore throat, and worse debilitating diarrhea. Leaving the bus and entering the terminal full, we were greeted by many vendors calling for their hostels. We went with the first one—a bed for three US dollars a night! The room was dark and cold and looked as old as the city, but it had two beds. We fall over them. The next morning, we went to the only coffee shop, right in the town square, Cafe Central. During breakfast, my friend fell in love with a young Mexican who invited us to his home during our stay, and we immediately happily accepted. This man was an artist who worked with hardwood, turning them into pots and bowls. Her house was filled with these wooden treasures and all Holy Day people knocked on her door to see the latest job of the day. They also came to drink tequila and smoke marijuana.

This artist had promised to take us to an indigenous people. “Wow” we thought. “ a real indigenous people. Incredibly exciting! “

The daily share of tequila and marijuana, however, led us to postpone our excursions many times. It was always tomorrow. Finally, the morning has come. The three set sail accompanied by Gabriel, the artist’s friend and neighbor – the man who would become my husband. We are driving to chamula promised land. —an indigenous Mayan town, just six kilometers from San Cristobal.

Today, Chamula is unrecognisable from that town I first visited in 1977. Now there are concrete houses and photocopy shops, but thirty years ago, it was still a straw-roofed adobe shack town. It looked exactly like I had imagined an indigenous people. In its center was a large market place in front of a small white church. This church has maintained so much of what it was back then. It was and still is decorated around the entrance and with windows in every Mexican color possible. With the bright morning sun, it shone like a precious jewel—one I wish I had hidden in my pocket.

From the bright light of day, we entered the darkness of the church vessel, lit alone by hundreds of candles all over the floor. Imagining purgatory for the first time in my life, I thought, “If that exists, this is what it looks like.”

There is no altar but a priest that celebrates the holy mass. The last priest of the church was run decades ago, by the chamulas. Since then, they have organized their own rituals and parties in the way they like themselves.

There aren’t even benches. Instead, one has to stand or sit on the floor. The Chamulas consider it an audacity that one sits on comfortable benches in front of God.

Beautifully crafted wooden boxes are seen all over the walls, with glass fronts and sides. Each of them protects a saint who is carefully and colorfully dressed in Mayan weaves and decorated with an enormous number of silk ribbons. I am told that every Catholic saint is considered parallel to an ancestral Mayan God.. There’s a little mirror hanging from the neck of every saint. An anthropologist once explained to me that the mirror is to remember the supplication it is actually taking for itself.

Behind the rows of many different colored candles, the faithful recital of the speakers that sounds a lot like the chanting of Tibetan monks—monotonous and enchanting. On both sides of the ship, witches perform their healing ceremonies with basil crumbs, coca-cola, raw eggs and, sometimes, a live chicken. The church smells intensely of copal (a common resin burned like blessed incense)

The Chamulas tolerate tourists because they want to sell them their folk art, but it’s not that they like it. This is especially true when men have been drinking pox (a strong, home-made liquor). In fact, they can become downright hostile. Many of the men who pray in churches are drunk; it is a local belief that one must be drunk to communicate with God. A tourist wearing a camera can trigger an assault. I once had to rescue an elderly French tourist from Chamula prison. Ignoring the procedures Chamulas, he had committed the mortal sin of photographing the interior of the church. Thankfully, money usually and quickly cleanses these kinds of sins. The French man paid a fine and was allowed out—without his camera, though.

Few months later I got married and pregnant with my first child.

Since that first visit, I have been to Chamula countless times. Seems to me like no place like they do parties like the ones they do over there.

The cemetery in San Juan Chamula, oh yes, there is a story here too.

Our guide.

From the tour’s website, the top three in Chamula and the bottom three in Zinacantan.

The first two garments represent the clothing of the village ‘before’. Once Zinacantan became a flower-growing center they began wearing clothing heavily embroidered with flowers, the second two garments. Around this room were examples of the clothing from the surrounding villages. You hear often how among the indigenous people everyone can recognize another’s home village by their clothes. We visited two indigenous villages and now I recognize people from there too.

A nice touch – samples of the local liquor.


On another topic, this is Sunday New Year’s Morning on the Andador. Perfectly cleaned up from the night before.


Left foot OK, right foot not so OK, but still I’m moving along.

An Art Walk

Cynthia designed an art walk for us that stuck pretty close to home so my ankle would make the distance and we got to see a wonderful selection of the oh so many galleries and museums on offer in San Cristóbal de las Casas. I’m writing this on the 6th and don’t remember so well what’s what…but here are a few pictures.

One of the galleries offered a mescal tasting opportunity and this lovely woman above told us all about it.

A really interesting museum with a particularly excellent photography exhibit.

A wall in one of the galleries.

Many of the galleries have cafés too.

Let’s look at this church from here.

My Last Day In San Cristóbal de las Casas

Kai in the window for every arrival and departure. Hi Kai! Bye Kai!

Below is a drone picture of San Cris that Cynthia found online. She’s contacted the owner hoping to buy a print. The detail is amazing. You can orientate yourself by the Cathedral and Plaza Central in the foreground and the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe directly up the hill.


El Jardin La Reserva Real de Guadalupe where we had lunch with..

..Alison (I forgot to take a picture and she kindly sent a selfie…) and Jennifer (who hasn’t sent a picture yet…). Jennifer is Michi’s friend Jill’s friend and Alison is Jennifer’s friend, with both Jennifer and Alison permanently settled in San Cris, Jennifer for a couple years and Alison for many years.

We had such a good time!

We had so many delicious meals at home, here’s just a sample.

The cat who lives here says ‘see you later .. and welcome home’.

Thank you Cynthia SO MUCH for such a Wonderful visit!
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