San Cristobal de Las Casas

Riding up to San Cristobal was amazing. Gaining elevation with beautiful winding roads made for a great trip. My first night in town I walked around and found 3 more big bikes! I met up with Jeff, Arno, and Kevin (and Vince who I met in Oaxaca) who are also headed to Ushuaia. They left the next morning for Guatemala.

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The next day I met ANOTHER rider on a KLR. This makes 6 riders I met already who are headed for the bottom of the world. It’s good to know I’m not that crazy after all. Torben is stuck in San Cristobal waiting for parts to rebuild his top end on his KLR. He is from The Netherlands, flew to Los Angeles, bought a bike, and is headed south. Leaving Copper Canyon in northern Mexico he road through a marijuana plantation and passed many guys with machine guns. One group of guys followed him to his hotel and he suspects they opened his oil cap and put in a brass nut in hopes that he would abandon his bike. He was able to make it out of town to a mechanic, take out the nut, and reassemble his bike. Days later he noticed he was out of oil. His bike’s top end had been trashed by the time he made it to Chiapas. He’s been stuck for 2 weeks waiting for parts and most likely will be waiting for 2 more before he gets back on the road. He has such a positive attitude and reminds himself that this break is good for his Spanish lessons.

A little walking around San Cristobal up to the church.

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Passing through a parade

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And the foreigner who ruined the shot…

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I met a girl from Argentina. Her English is just slightly better than my Spanish. We had a great conversation. I spoke in Spanish and she spoke in English. It worked out well because I couldn’t understand her Spanish and she couldn’t understand my English. It was really fun.

I met up with some other travelers from the hostel and we all boarded a collectivo (group taxi) for a Zapatista village. The collectivo was a new experience for me. Even now, just thinking about being crammed in that little van, being tossed around as we drove up the mountain and over all the topes (speed bumps) is making me feel sick… Again, I’m so happy to be traveling by motorbike!

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The Zapatistas are comprised mostly of indigenous Mayans who are at “war” with the Mexican government.

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We passed through the gates where 2 women with masks asked us for our passports. Next, we entered into “holding cell” where 5 locals gathered and one young boy did all the talking and writing. He asked each of us our name, nationality, political affiliation, and profession. After about 30 minutes we went to another building to meet 2 more masked locals who asked us all the same questions. They then began to tell us the history of their struggle. Between them they spoke in their indigenous language but to us they spoke in broken Spanish. Fortunately, we had a traveler from Spain in our group who was able to translate everything for us. Here I am joining the movement.

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The masks seem to be more for theatrics than function. The Mexican government knows where they are and knows who they are; so why do they need masks? After our education, we went to yet another building where we were asked all the same questions and finally given a piece of paper with a stamp (they love stamps in Latin America) that was permission for us to walk around the village. Unfortunately it was pouring rain (a first for me in Mexico) and very foggy. I walked around for a bit taking pictures of all the beautiful murals on the building as I became drenched.

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They had a small gift store where they sold their local handicrafts – which were simply beautiful.

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Me with my official EZLN mask.

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It was getting late in the day. We waited around for an hour for a collectivo but it never came. Becoming very wet and cold we decided to split up and hitchhike back to town.

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Back in town, I helped Torben forge a title for his bike. I’m not going to lie, it’s quite good. I have to give thanks to Mike at the New Hampshire Institute of Art for all the Photoshop instruction even if it’s not quite what I had imagined doing with these skills. If I run out of money perhaps I can sell my services.

The town has heaps of colorful handicrafts that are all handmade by the local indigenous people. At the risk of ruining the surprise for someone’s Christmas gift, here’s a photo of me wearing an authentic Mexican Lucha Libre (wrestling) mask.

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Oh, and another KLR rider came into town Yesterday. Sam is from Australia and is riding from Whistler to Chile. I had no idea I’d meet so many other moto riders.

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Tomorrow, I’m headed to some out of the way ruins near the Guatemala border with Justin who I met a few weeks back. Stay tuned.

Categories: Mexico | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “San Cristobal de Las Casas

  1. Daniel Hu

    Interesting journey, different culture, nice people.

    Where do you think you will spend the Xmas?

    All the best from China.


    • Benny

      Thanks, Daniel. I’ll probably spend Christmas in Belize and maybe New Years in Guatemala.

  2. Was great to meet you and hope to see you again down the road!

    Let me know how it feels like to have a working bike, I have almost forgotten.
    I might get all my parts this week though, if the Mexican postal service is willing to cooperate…

  3. Haley

    Please tell me you bought that white and pink monkey. I think he’d make a great companion for Dirty Jo. If anything, he’s a little dirtier.

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