Colour was one of the themes of my trip in Cuba and Mexico, from the classic cars of Havana to the bright walls of Puebla. San Cristóbal de las Casas continued the theme, with colourful markets, crafts, cars and food. Despite the very different feel to this mountain town, I still found it equally beautiful to those we had seen before.
We only had one full day in and around San Cristóbal and given the colourful streets I’d glimpsed the day before, I decided to get up early to stroll around before our day properly began. I underestimated both the amount of time I’d want to spend photographing all the beautiful colours and murals, and the effect that the altitude would have on my walking, and ended up sprinting back to my friends with minutes to spare and next-to-no oxygen in my lungs. I still think it was worth it!
A short drive away (during which I attempting to regain my breathing) was the village of San Juan Chamula. Here the indigenous culture is much more independent than in other parts of Mexico, with their own laws and religious practice. The stunning bright white-and-green facade of San Juan church belies the dark incense-scented interior, where worshippers mixed Catholic gold idols with the older trappings of pine needles and sacrificial chickens. You aren’t allowed to take photographs inside but I tried to fix it in my mind… it was a fascinating glimpse of a very different kind of belief.
In sharp contrast to the dim and quiet church interior, the Mercado de Artesanias is filled with bustle. I was fascinated by the perfectly stacked fruit and vegetables, and the huge piles of chillies, fish, t-shirts and videos – definitely buying in bulk here!
Our next stop was the artisans’ village of Zincantan, where we watched women demonstrate traditional weaving on a waist-loom (the scarves they produced were gorgeous!), and ate delicious soft tacos fresh off the fire. The brave amongst us also sampled “pox”, the traditional liqueur made from sugar cane that packs quite a punch!
Allll the toppings!
Back in San Cristóbal, we wandered the streets to take in the sights for a while, before resting our legs in a local brewery – it would be rude not to try a few of the local brews, right?!
Seriously couldn’t get enough of either the classic VW Beetles or the street art!
The gorgeous garden of the brewery
If you visit San Cristóbal, I can’t recommend Belil restaurant highly enough. We stumbled upon it when our grumbling stomachs demanded something other than beers to fill them, and were charmed by the owner Ricardo, who took us through the entire menu and was at pains to help the vegetarians, lactose-intolerant and food-FOMO conscious amongst us. He told us that the word “Belil” roughly translated to “The feeling of food and family” and we certainly felt at home here. I had the traditional sopa de pan and a local specialty, Jovel Antico pork – both were mouth-wateringly good!
Our stay in San Cristóbal may have been short, but all those colours meant that the experience has stayed vivid in my memory.
Where’s the most colourful place you’ve visited? For more of my colourful trip, click here!