Sorting Out Loose Ends

27th Sept. 2106

Templo de Santa LuciaIt was a long day yesterday. Very worthwhile and enjoyable, but we are glad that we can have a day taking it easy today before our transfer to Guatemala tomorrow. I think that both Alex and Marcella(?) from our trip yesterday also have other trips again today. There are definitely more sights to see in the area – Palenque in particular looks to be interesting (but too much as a day trip) – but we learned long ago that you can’t do everything.

Rain is forecast for later on today and that would certainly be consistent with the pattern for the last few days. I suspect that this is typical for this time of year and that we will find the same pattern in Guatemala. Still, the downpours have tended to be short and sharp and we’ve been lucky not only that we haven’t be caught out in the open but also that the weather hasn’t stopped us doing things we wanted to do.

Waiting at the bottom of the stairsFor our last day in Mexico (until we get to the Yucatan after Belize) we have a  couple of tasks on our To Do list as well as a few more sights in town to see. First up is an easy one – getting the laundry done. We have seen plenty of laundrettes in town and there is one right opposite our hotel. Even better, it is possibly the cheapest laundrette we’ve ever used – just MXN$30 (£1.20) for our 3kg bag.

Arco del CarmenWith that out of the way, we want to work through our check list of sights whilst the weather holds. On our first day in San Cristobal, we went up the hill at one end of town to admire the church and the view back across town. Today, we want to go up the hill at the other end of town with exactly the same objectives – yes, more churches! Who’d have thought! Our route takes us close by the Arco del Carmen (Carmen’s Arch). We don’t know much about the history or the provenance of the name, but LP assures us that it used to be the (a?) gateway into the city.

Looking up at San Cristobal

After pausing to take the obligatory pictures (distinctly ‘holiday snaps’ in photo club speak!) the steps leading up the hill (Cerro San Cristobal) can’t be put off any longer and so we crack on. Whilst San Cristobal is in a bowl ringed by hills, it is convenient that there are two easily climbable hills within the town itself.

Impressive floral arrangements insideThere is then one final church for us to view in town, the Templo de Santa Lucia  – we spotted it yesterday as we drove round and round picking up the others for our trip out to El Chiflón – and it is a stunner in blue and white. When we get there, we realise that taking pictures of it is going to be difficult because of the direction of the sun and because of obstructing wires and railings. We head inside, only to find that the blue and white theme continues there – even down to the flowers which, after inspection, we concluded were real white roses that had been sprayed with blue stripes. [We returned later in the afternoon and were a little more successful in photographing the outside]

Doorways of San CristobalAs has probably been spotted, along with churches, I am also fascinated by doorways – particularly if they are colourful or characterful. San Cristobal is full of examples which I do have to stop and photograph. However, I have also come across this blog where someone has done an even better job of capturing the doorways of San Cristobal. I’m encouraged that this isn’t just a peculiar Dave fetish, but I will clearly need to try harder if I’m going to produce something as  good as this.

A much needed trimSan Cristobal, as I have described, is well provisioned with churches, photogenic doors and laundrettes. What we haven’t seen so much of (surprisingly) is barber shops – the locals must get their hair cut somewhere. I had been meaning to get mine cut before we left the UK but failed for one reason or another. So, when we spotted a unisex hairdresser, with a bored looking woman sat there, I had to go in and with a quick “¿puedes cortar mi pelo?”, I was in the chair and we were off. Like pretty much everyone we have met, the hairdresser was very friendly and patient with our terrible Spanish. Janet even made friends with Simon the handbag sized dog.

As well as laundry and sight-seeing, our other task for the day was to exchange some of our Pesos for Guatemalan Quetzals as we don’t really want to leave it to the (inevitable) men with wads of money wandering up and down the road by the border. The bank tells us that they only change money to or from Euros or US Dollars but the helpful man behind the counter points down the main tourist drag of Real de Guadalupe. Even better, LP gives an address on the street and sure enough there is a bureau de change there.

Sopa de panIt’s definitely lunchtime by now – and, yes, we are looking forward to having a much lazier afternoon – so it is a question of picking a café and giving it a go. The café advertises some Chiapas regional dishes, so I decide to give the Sopa de Pan a go. It is described as being (and turns out to be) so much more than bread soup and is pretty solidly packed with boiled egg and vegetables as well as soggy bread. Certainly filling and perfectly fine, though I won’t be researching the recipe to cook it when we get back home.

Coffee MuseumThe weather forecast had predicted that it would be raining by now and although the skies are grey, it is still dry and so we crack on and tick off the last item on our list – the Coffee Museum. This focussed on the history and extent of coffee growing, particularly in the Chiapas region. Truth be told, it was a little disappointing as although it did provide personal accounts from people living and working in the coffee plantations it didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know – other than that coffee growing was still a thing in Chiapas.

In the evening, we treated ourselves to a meal in the Argentine assador that we had spotted on our first day in San Cristobal – this was, after all, going to be our last meal in Mexico (for a couple of weeks) and we have had such a good time in Mexico. The owner introduced himself to us, and on learning that we were English, asked a very important question – football or rugby? He was a big rugby fan and so we spent a little time chatting about improvements in Argentinian rugby whilst our steaks were cooking. As we were eating, the heavens opened and the forecast rain arrived with a vengeance. It wasn’t far back to our hotel, but the streets were running with water and even the pavements were booby-trapped as the occasional gutter overflowed giving unsuspecting pedestrians an unwanted shower.

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