San Cristobal de las Casas – Home of the Zapista Movement
After our visit to Palenque, we spent three days exploring San Cristobal de las Casas in the Mexican region of Chiapas. As soon as we arrived, we knew it was our kind of town. There were numerous coffee shops for T and trinket stalls galore for Ku. Additionally, there were VW beetles, tempting restaurants and great architecture for both of us.
Indeed, it’s was a great place to wander, sit for a while and watch the world go by. The city is known as a base for the Zapatistas, the leftist group. In fact, there are several fair-trade businesses run by the movement that sell items made by the Zapatista community. Additionally, the city is home to organisations that support the indigenous population of Chiapas. It’s a progressive city, with much going on politically and artistically. As a matter of fact, we went to a great courtyard restaurant called Tierr Adentro which was run by Zapatista supporters where we drunk wine, ate tapas and soaked up the lively atmosphere.
Arts and Crafts
There is an excellent local arts and crafts market around Templo de la Caridad. We also found an interesting fruit and vegetable market around the corner. Much of the produce was displayed with an artistic flair rarely seen elsewhere.
The main Templo de Santo Domingo is a beautiful church, and the area surrounding it is a meeting place for both locals and visitors. Indigenous women sell woven rugs, bags and knick-knacks in the square and it’s a perfect people-watching spot. In fact, we spent about three hours there on a ‘bus day’ (those occasions when we have spare time between checking out and taking an overnight bus to an onward destination).
Na Bolom is the ex-home of Swiss anthropologist/ photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her Danish archaeologist husband, Francis Blom. It is a lovely building and has a great collection of photographs and artefacts. Gertrude was a great supporter of the Lacandon jungle people and worked hard to protect them. Indeed, the museum is a great testament to the couple’s work and doubles as a research centre. It also has an impressive nine thousand books.
San Cristobal is a cool city to hang out in for a few days. There’s plenty to do and its connection to the Zapista Movement adds another dimension to the city. Full of energy, colour and some fabulous arts and crafts, it made quite an impression on us both.