Back in Mexico City, a helpful hotel clerk asked me where all I was traveling to in Mexico. When I started listing off places, her eyes lit up when I got to San Cristóbal de las Casas. “Ah, that is a place lost in time! It’s beautiful!” she told me. Later on, our guide Carlos told me, much to my delight, that it was a town popular with hippie backpackers.
These words echoing in my head, I couldn’t contain my excitement as our 12 hour overnight bus from Oaxaca pulled into town. Well, I also really wanted to brush my teeth.
Once we made it to our hotel to drop our bags (and said teeth were brushed) a few members of my group and I set off to explore the colorful town. The colonial buildings of the central San Cristóbal sit in the center of a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. We started our wanderings with a visit to Iglesia del Cerro de Guadalupe, one of the many colorful churches that the city contains. Perched on the top of a small hill, it gave us a great view of the narrow streets and brightly painted buildings of the town below.
After soaking up the view, we wandered down through the main historic town, passing by yoga studios, vegan bakeries, and adorable cafes offering tempting happy hour specials. Carlos definitely wasn’t lying about the hippies! We passed through the Zócalo, or main square, and spotted the gorgeous main cathedral.
A few more narrow and charming streets later, we found ourself at the base of an even higher sets of stairs that led up to the Iglesia de San Cristóbal. We girded our loins and made our climb, passing by some cool street art dedicated to the Zapatists, a separatist group with strong ties in the state of Chiapas, where San Cristóbal is located.
The view from the top was outstanding, and we easily spotted the next point of interest to wander to – a cool blue and white church that ended up being Iglesia de Santa Lucia. I think it’s my favorite church I’ve seen in Mexico so far.
Despite my high expectations for it, San Cristóbal did not disappoint! I would definitely be up for spending some more time in this town in the future.
After our spontaneous city tour, we went back to check into our hotel and prepare for the evening, which ended up being a wild one. We hit a local bar with almost our entire group and Carlos taught us how to salsa dance, and by taught I mean he shook his head while watching a bunch of awkward gringos wiggle their hips in horrifically uncoordinated fashion as the rest of the bar looked on, visibly laughing. I ended up at an afterparty in a strange bar/house hybrid and then stumbling home drunkenly at 4am with a few stragglers from our group.
History, charm, colorful colonial architecture and boozing until 4am? I think me and San Cristóbal are a match made in heaven!