Well this is a beautiful colonial mountain town, and there's enough chill in the air at night to wear a fleece sweater.
I rode into town and was lucky to find a room for about $32/night at the Hotel de la Plaza del Santo Domingo, just across the street from a 400 year old church and a lively open market.
The sidewalks are paved in stone and polished from untold years of human traffic. Be careful when it's wet. I stepped in a puddle once crossing the street and nearly fell on my ass when my wet shoe hit those slick stones.
Itís Easter weekend though, and they donít have a room available for Saturday and Sunday night, so Iíll either find another room or move on. I eventually found another room at a small hotel for only about $15/night, but after two days of constantly being approached by street vendors and kids begging, I wasnít sure if I could afford to remain here much longer. I have a hard time not giving them all some money, even though I know it will do nothing long-term to improve their poverty. I merely hope it improves their day.
San Cristobal is surrounded by towns of poor Chiapanecos, and this ring is sometimes called the ďRing of MiseryĒ. People are poor in this part of Mexico. Really poor. They are mostly indigenous Mexicanos.
The Zapatistas captured 4 cities here in Chiapas in 1994, including San Cristobal, essentially declaring war on the Federal Government of Mexico, and professing their open opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA), which they saw as a policy that would further enslave indigenous Mexicans, and lock economic control of the region into the exploitative hands of the rich, and powerful corporations. The movement has a strong component in support of women's rights. A lot of the street art here reflects the desire to organize a politically meaningful coalition to fight for their goals of economic well being for an oppressed minority. Perhaps one of the saddest events to occur during the ensuing conflict was the 1997 massacre of 45 pacifists belonging to the group Las Abejas, (The bees)
, who supported the aims if not the means of the Zapatista movement.
Their goals are primarily directed at ensuring the rights of all the various indigenous groups of Mexicans, but their political base is located mostly here in the southern part of Mexico where population pressures have been increasing as Guatemalans and other Central Americans trying to escape the overwhelming poverty of their homelands move north toward the US in search of economic opportunity.
Some street art I saw in San Cristobal
San cristobal seems to be pretty much an elite Mexican/gringo town, surrounded by indigenous Mexicans living in poverty. Iíve decided to move on to Pelenque after only two nights in this lovely town so full of economic contrasts as to be hard to comprehend.