“Yeah man, but it’s a DRY heat!” – Private William Hudson
Actually, its anything but a dry heat. Many towns in Mexico (most that I’ve seen) have a very run-down feel to them. There’s a lack of care and maintenance to houses, streets, and yards. If something doesn’t HAVE to be done, it doesn’t get done. I’m pretty sure I know the reason for this.
It’s the heat.
After living for more than a month in the heat and humidity, I’m keenly aware that it saps your motivation and basically leaves you strung out in a chair with a fan relentlessly yet futilely blowing more warm air over you, a drink clenched in your hand that moments ago was ice cold but now has reached “tepid” on it’s way rapidly to “room temperature” (see: “boiling”). The plans formed in the morning will be all but forgotten since your brain is now moving about as fast as soup. Ever seen soup be productive? I rest my case.
However, San Christobal is very different. This is a town in the hills, 2200 meters above see level. The trees are pine, the temperature actually changes from day to night, and there is even regular misty rain here. I’m able to finally sleep with a blanket over me, instead of sweating on top of the bedsheets. There are nearly 200,000 people here, with a lively tourist business as well as good businesses in textiles and Amber. As a result, the town is ridiculously quaint and beautiful.
So, San Christobal is fabulous. The buildings are “Spanish Colonial” which means red-brick roofs and fabulous facades. Streets are narrow and cobbled instead of paved, many of them near the center are pedestrian-only. You could spend days walking around, admiring buildings, meandering the cobblestone streets, taking in the views, and probably a month alone just sampling the restaurants.
But instead we decided to jump on boat and tour the Sumidero Canyon.
So, we hop on the boat, and head up river. My camera was not up to the task of capturing all the wildlife, but we saw crocs, lemur-type things, spider monkeys, and too many types of birds to count.
Not pictured because the pictures sucked: monkeys in the trees, crocodiles hanging out looking like logs, and a large man-made dam that generates enough hydro-electric power to provide 25% of the state’s needs. Good stuff.
After the boat tour, we got to explore the little town of Chiapa De Corzo. Now, this is down out of the mountains, so once again we were subjected to sweat-inducing heat and humidity. The driver advised we should try a local drink: Pozol. “Es my refrescante!” he enthused. Refreshing? I’m sweating out all liquid from my body, refreshing is just what I need.
For those of you who haven’t tried Pozol, I will attempt to describe: take powered chocolate milk mix, and instead of mixing with milk, just add water so you get a nice, bland, watery flavor. Next, grind in some corn. That’s right; corn. Chunks and grainy grit from corn. After that, scoop up whatever is laying around on the kitchen floor. Little black peppercorns or indeterminate bits of shmutz should be just fine. Put all this in a pot along with large blocks of ice to keep cool. When unsuspecting tourists purchase this, serve it in a plastic bag with a straw.
The rest of the town is quite quaint, but not on the same level as San Cristobal. So just a few pictures to give you a taste.
Whew. So there you have it. Quick summary:
Visit San Christobal. It is fantastic, beautiful, quaint, and welcoming.
- Do some stair exercises. It’s good for you. Stop whining.
If you take the canyon tour, bring sunscreen.
Try the pozol. Let me know if I was right or not. This stuff is everywhere, it can’t really be that bad, right?
Next up: Mexico City. Then back to Playa Del Carmen for my final week of Spanish classes before heading to Spain.