INSIDE LAKESIDE
Log In or Register

Check your spam/junk folder for activation e-mail after you register.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by oncesubtle on Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:28 am

by Matthew Firestone (posted today on AOL's home page)

All this week, Gadling will be bringing you coverage of the *other* Mexico. Beyond the margarita-fueled coastal tourist traps lie ancient ruins, colonial cities and culinary hot spots. So, leave your preconceived notions at home, and get ready to head south of the border to explore the other side of Mexico.

In 2003, Mexico's Secretariat of Tourism (SECTUR) unveiled the Magical Villages Program. This promotional campaign highlights destinations that offer visitors a 'magical' experience through historical and cultural beauty and richness. One such place that fulfills these characteristics is San Cristobal de las Casas.

Located in the Chiapas highlands at an elevation of nearly 7000 feet, San Cristobal has always been thought of as a rather remote and mysterious place. Enclosed by dense pine forests, and accessed only by serpentine mountain roads, San Cristobal is anything but an easy-to-reach destination for the time-pressed traveler.

But that is exactly why you should it seek out.

In light of its re-discovery by shoestringing backpackers in the 1970s, San Cristobal now boasts stately accommodations, swanky restaurants and an intoxicating bohemian chic. It is also home to a proud indigenous community, and very briefly served as the launching point of the failed 1994 Zapatista uprising against the Mexican government.

(Photographs did not copy)
Gallery:
San Cristobal de las Casas San Cristobal de las Casas lies at the center of an ancestral Mayan region that gave rise to the modern-day Tzotzil and Tzeltal peoples. The city itself owes its origins to the Spanish conquistador Diego de Mazariegos, who established the settlement of Villareal de Chiapa de los Españoles in 1528.

In subsequent years, the military outpost quickly grew into a full-fledged city. The driving factor was the surrounding agricultural lands, which cultivated wheat, coffee, cacao and other lucrative cash crops. In 1535, the settlement was renamed San Cristobal after its patron saint, St. Christopher, and designated as the capital of Chiapas.

Great wealth flowed into the city, fueling the construction of lavish churches, grand plazas, cobbled streets and row upon row of gilded mansions. But indigenous populations remained on the fringes of European society, a fact of history that centuries later was incorporated into the political ideologies of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

On the morning of January 1, 1994, Subcomadante Marcos led armed Zapatista insurgents into San Cristobal where they proceeded to free political prisoners and raze police buildings and military barracks. Despite this initial success, they were chased out of the city the following day by the Mexican army. Ten days later, the Catholic diocese in San Cristobal brokered a ceasefire between the Zapatistas and the government.

The Zapatistas are now primarily focused on pacifist community organizing amongst the various indigenous groups in Chiapas. The Mexican government and armed forces have also largely shifted their attention towards fighting the drug cartels, which pose a much more significant threat to the country's stability.

As such, regional security is arguably stronger than it has ever been, which means that travelers need not fear the roads into San Cristobal. Instead of being on the lookout for bandits and checkpoints, you can focus on the densely jungled hillsides, the sweeping valleys full of agricultural bounty and the towering pine trees that herald your arrival in San Cristobal.

A small, compact city of no less than 140,000 souls, San Cristobal is perfectly suited to exploration on foot, particularly along the central pedestrian promenades. While there are only a few tourist attractions in the classic sense, the entire city is akin to a living museum.

Each turn of the corner brings to life this stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture. The beauty is in the details - vibrant facades, wrought iron fixtures, ceramic roofing, bubbling fountains, trussed vines and flowering trees.

Beyond the steady stream of well-heeled tourists, San Cristobal plays host to a creative community of artists and artisans. It also serves as a marketplace for food products and household goods, luring in villagers from the Chiapan countryside. Mayan dialects trump Spanish, and market goers are often colorfully draped in traditional hand-embroidered textiles.

And now for the nitty-gritty:

How to get there: The nearest commercial airport to San Cristobal lies in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, approximately 50 miles west. From here, there are regularly scheduled bus departures to San Cristobal, with a total travel time of about one to two hours. Long-distance buses also connect San Cristobal with major cities in Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Yucatan. Bus travel in Mexico is generally safe, affordable and surprisingly efficient.

Where to stay: The grittier outskirts of San Cristobal have a few barebones bunkhouses, but splurge on a night or two in the wonderfully restored buildings lining the historic center. Depending on your preference, you can bed down in a former hacienda complete with lush gardens and elegant dining halls, or opt for smaller yet more intimate B&Bs and boutique inns.

What to eat: San Cristobal has a sizeable resident ex-pat population, which ensures a surprising number of cosmopolitan dining and drinking options. The pedestrian throughways are lined with brick-oven pizzerias, Argentinean steakhouses, French bistros, Lebanese sheesha lounges and even a Belgian chocolatier! And in case you were wondering, yes, there are in fact excellent Mexican restaurants in San Cristobal.

Still think that Mexican tourism begins and ends along the often overhyped coastlines? Think again as some of the country's most spectacular destinations lie inland, awaiting to be discovered by savvy travelers. If these veritable diamonds in the rough sound appealing, then make the effort to discover what lies in the *other* Mexico.
oncesubtle
oncesubtle
Moderator
Moderator

Posts : 2016
Join date : 2010-04-07
Humor : After 2nd cup of coffee

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by hound dog on Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:36 pm

oncesubtle wrote:by Matthew Firestone (posted today on AOL's home page)

"...Located in the Chiapas highlands at an elevation of nearly 7000 feet, San Cristobal has always been thought of as a rather remote and mysterious place. Enclosed by dense pine forests, and accessed only by serpentine mountain roads, San Cristobal is anything but an easy-to-reach destination for the time-pressed traveler.

But that is exactly why you should it seek out...."


Well, oncesubtle, since Dawg my be your only forum participant residing, at present, in San Cristóbal, I consider that you have challenged me to respond as a part-time resident of that city (winters in Chiapas, summers at Lakeside) even if that was not your intention.

The AOL piece was, of course, meant to be a snapshot of the place featured and I will be happy to elaborate on certain characteristics of San Cristóbal and its surroundings if there is any interest among the readership here but I don´t want to be simply barking at the wind so for now, just this:

For now, allow me to address a couple of points:

San Cristóbal and the High Jovel Valley are no longer and have not been poorly accessable up winding mountain roads as implied by the article for at least four years. An autopista was completed and opened in 2006 from the colonial city of Chiapa de Corzo near the large capital city of Tuxtla Gutierrez to San Cristóbal , in 2005 and, since then, it only takes about 45 minutes up a splendid toll road to get from the Tuxtla Gutierrez/Chiapa de Corzo metropolitan area to San Cristóbal.

More later but enough for now.



Last edited by hound dog on Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:15 am; edited 1 time in total
hound dog
hound dog
Bad Dawg
Bad Dawg

Posts : 2067
Join date : 2010-04-06

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by oncesubtle on Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:52 pm

Not a challenge really, just thought you might find interest in what is being published about your berg south. San Cristobal sounds downright cosmopolitan compared to the rustico vision I had before reading the article.
oncesubtle
oncesubtle
Moderator
Moderator

Posts : 2016
Join date : 2010-04-07
Humor : After 2nd cup of coffee

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by hound dog on Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:54 am

It´s pretty rustico alright but with a cosmopolitan air provided by fairly significant European expat communities, the very large indigenous population both in and arround the city and the large number of both European and Mexican tourists.

Just some thoughts for those who may think of visiting here:

The best and most direct route from Lake Chapala´s north shore is Chapala-Ocotlan-Queretaro-Arco Norte-Puebla-Orizaba-Minatitlan-Tuxtla Gutierrez-San Cristóbal. That´s about a 19 hour drive more-or-less. An alternative would be to drive from Puebla through Oaxaca City, Juchitan and Arriaga to Tuxtla Gutierrez and that is vary scenic and a worthwhile alternate journey but will add about five hours and a number of extra kilometers to the trip. I think I would skip the much longer Pacific Coastal route through Huatulco, Puerto Escondido, Acapulco and Zihuatanejo until all the drug thugs along the coast have done each other in once and for all.

San Cristóbal is not, as stated in the article, surrounded by beautiful alpine forests although there are abundant forest lands near the city and along the route to Ocosingo and Palenque. Most of the surrounding mountainsides near San Cristóbal are highly cultivated and fairly densely populated indigenous communities, many dedicated Zapatista enclaves in which the visitor may sense only a tenuous welcome and should endeavor to be polite and respect local customs. These communities operate under indigenous laws which should be respected by visitors and the countryside is indescribably spectacular with extensive milpas interspersed with stands of magnificent pines or coffee and banana plantations depending on the altitude which varies greatly from town to town.

If one takes the San Cristóbal-Ocosingo-Toniná-Cascades Agua Azul- Cascades Misol Ha-Agua Clara- Palenque-Bonampak-Yaxchilán- Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve-Lagos de Montebello National Park-Chinkultic-Comitan-Cascades El Chiflon-San Cristóbal circle route which will take one into the Lacandon Jungle, one will experience incredible variations in topography and climate and will enjoy beautiful high mountain pine forests, lush coffee and banana plantations, some of the most spectacular tropical jungles anywhere, fabulous Maya ruins-crystal clear cascades and lakes and swimming holes to boggle the mind.

You might say Dawg loves this place.
hound dog
hound dog
Bad Dawg
Bad Dawg

Posts : 2067
Join date : 2010-04-06

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by hound dog on Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:32 am

"San Cristóbal and the High Jovel Valley are no longer and have not been poorly accessable up winding mountain roads as implied by the article for at least four years."

I forgot to mention in that post partially quoted here, not only is San Cristóbal much more easily accessable now with the new autopista but there is a new non-stop daily flight from Guadalajara to Tuxtla Gurierrez on Vivaaerobus which has cut the travel time each way to two hours. No more hassle with changing planes in Mexico City. We had two friends (Idaho snowbirds) who took the inaugural flight when they started a couple of weeks ago and they loved the equipment with great legroom and excellent service. They indicated that they had nothing like that flying out of Spokane.
hound dog
hound dog
Bad Dawg
Bad Dawg

Posts : 2067
Join date : 2010-04-06

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by hound dog on Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:14 pm

So, speaking of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Dawg walked down to El Jardin this afternoon to do some shopping and damned if this place and the surrounding pedestrian walkways were not crowded to the point that there was human gridlock on the andadores and automobile gridlock on the street accessing and exiting the historic center and that´s what one would expect during Easter Week in San Cristóbal and its surrounds which is one hell of a festival and here on a stage in the principal plaza were these local young chics belly dancing to Arabic music and to a huge audience of adoring locals - mostly traditional indigenous folks and Dawg inquired among locals thereabouts as to what this hedonistic belly danceathon had to do with the famed and, at this time of year, celebrated Jesus and his legendary rise into the ether and the typical response was, "Say what?" I found that amusing and even comforting. People who take their religion seriously while simultaneously taking it with a grain of salt are OK in my book.

razberry
hound dog
hound dog
Bad Dawg
Bad Dawg

Posts : 2067
Join date : 2010-04-06

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by Mainecoons on Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:02 pm

Dawg, when I ran into you along the lake front a few months ago (I was the guy removing graffiti) you mentioned that San Cristobal has a lot of tagging and it has really blighted things. Is that still the case? The impression I got was that it might not be worth the effort to go there.

How about an update? How long to drive or should one definitely fly?
Mainecoons
Mainecoons
Share Holder
Share Holder

Posts : 1950
Join date : 2010-11-28
Age : 75
Location : Ajijic
Humor : Mad Magazine

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by hound dog on Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:41 pm

MC:
One can fly nonstop from Guadalajara to Tuxtla Gutierrez in less that two hours or drive via Puebla and Veracruz state (the most direct route) in about 19 hours, We always drive as we have three dogs who accompany us. Were it not for the dogs, we would normally fly but that is not an option for us. If you do fly into Tuxtla Gutierrez, you will find it easy to rent a car there to travel about Chiiapas.

Graffitti is definietly a serious problem in San Cristóbal but it is a splendid old colonial city and the the sights around there are indescribably beautiful and of immense historical interest. If you decide to go there, let me know and we can discuss this wonderful region further.
hound dog
hound dog
Bad Dawg
Bad Dawg

Posts : 2067
Join date : 2010-04-06

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by Mainecoons on Sat Dec 03, 2011 6:33 am

How long does it take you to drive?
Mainecoons
Mainecoons
Share Holder
Share Holder

Posts : 1950
Join date : 2010-11-28
Age : 75
Location : Ajijic
Humor : Mad Magazine

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by CanuckBob on Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:25 am

As quoted above:

Drive via Puebla and Veracruz state (the most direct route) in about 19 hours.
CanuckBob
CanuckBob
Humble Administrator
Humble Administrator

Posts : 16767
Join date : 2010-04-04
Age : 56
Location : Lake Chapala (from Vancouver)
Humor : Sick and twisted

http://Www.casadecomo.webs.com

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by Mainecoons on Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:11 am

OOPS!

Blackeye
Mainecoons
Mainecoons
Share Holder
Share Holder

Posts : 1950
Join date : 2010-11-28
Age : 75
Location : Ajijic
Humor : Mad Magazine

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by brigitte on Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:50 pm

you can fly easily enough to Tuxtla and there is excellent public transportation once there. We may use the car once a month if that much once there. I have gone back a forth a lot and go there by myself by bus or plane and do not have a car once there.
I go everywhere by micro/colectivo / bus or cab as it is cheap to go around.

brigitte
Share Holder
Share Holder

Posts : 3902
Join date : 2011-12-02

Back to top Go down

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas   Empty Re: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chipas

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum