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Bubba

Jan 19, 2007, 8:35 AM

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Letter From San Cristobal

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The misconceptions about the Chiapas Highlands among extranjeros and Mexicans in West Central Mexico are pretty astounding and I guess it makes sense that this remote part of the country is a mystery. I´ve had several people express amazement that we would move to a place with such a hot and miserable climate. When I explain that San Cristobal is at 7,200 feet and, thus, rather cool to cold, you would think I was talking about the other side of the moon.

But, then, we are also learning. My wife is down there now in what is their dry season and has been calling me telling me of the crystal clear mountain air and daily temperatures in the 60sF. Sometimes there is morning overcast or fog but mid-days are often brilliant and pleasant for walking around this walker´s town. Within a short drive to the country are wonderful alpine forests open to the puiblic as parks which are dog friendly.

The winter weather is something of a surprise to us since, when we were there in May, there were regular and spectacular storms that seemed to hit the city every afternoon. Pretty exciting and a lesson in why many sidewalks in the city have such steep and dangerous gutters. Any of you contemplating buying or renting property in that city should think of the lay of the land and possible flooding before you make a final decision.

Think of Chiapas as several distinct places. The Soconusco coffee growing region is characterized by an extremely hot and humid coast called the "tierra caliente" rising suddenly inland in the Sierra de Soconusco (where the coffee "fincas" are located) and, farther north the Sierra Madre de Chiapas. The important regional city of Tapachula sits in the tierra caliente as does the city of Tonalá which is the gateway to the best Chiapas beaches at and near Puerto Arista and Boca del Cielo (Where Y Tu Mama, Tambien was filmed )

Inland, Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital and largest city with about 600,000 people, sits at about 1,400 feet in a region known as the Depresión Central de Chiapas which is a huge agricultural area. Tuxtla is a much underrated city in my opinion and has a sort of modern but decadent look to it. There is excellent shopping there and some really good restaurants. If you like heat and humidity you can buy a house here quite cheaply. The beautiful Rio Grijalva with its Sumidero Canyon runs between Tuxtla and the historic and very attractive town of Chiapa de Corzo. San Cristobal is about a 45 minute drive up the new and spectacular autopista from Chiapa de Corzo.

The Mesa de Ocozcuatla is a mountainous region found between Tuxtla and Veracruz State which yoiu can observe from your airplane or driving along the new autopista between Tuxtal and Minatitlan, Veracruz. These are some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen, especially during the rainy season when it is unbelievably green.

Finally, there is the border region with Guatemala between Comitan de Dominguez and Palenque which includes the Lacandon Jungle, the multi-colored Lagos de Montebello and countless other attractions such as Bonampak, Laguna Miramar and on and on.

You can have just about any climate you want in Chiapas and if you get tired of the climate where you are, you are an hour or less from another climate that is very different.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Jan 19, 2007, 11:46 AM)



Bubba

Jan 19, 2007, 10:03 AM

Post #2 of 15 (3872 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Letter From San Cristobal

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Well, after writing the above I went outside to read yesterday´s Miami Herald (that´s the nice thing about retirement, you don´t feel compelled to read anything until you damn well feel like it) and saw the headline out of San Miguel de Allende regarding the municipal unrest over excessive development and residential development without regard to standards that protect the integrity of the colonial city. Of course, the same thing is happening here at Lake Chapala where rampant and uncontrolled development is taking place. We don´t really have any colonial center anywhere on Lake Chapala´s north shore to protect but, while congestion here doesn´t come anywhere near the congestion in San Miguel, I suspect this narrow urban sprawl along a lakeshore and delimiting mountains will become a nightmare soon enough. The problem is even more complicated by construction and urban infrastructure problems that lack regard for human health and safety. That´s another story.

It occurred to me that San Cristobal has sort of a unique advantage over places such as Lake Chapala and San Miguel in that it sits in a bowl on a mountaintop surrounded by slums designated as ejido land which is both good and bad. If one thinks about it, the communities along Lake Chapala´s northern lakeshore are also surrounded by ejido land but that ejido land was and is largely undeveloped mountain scrub whereas the San Cristobal ejido land is developed with indigenous communities not about to sell off their communities for a sack of beads. The bowl in which San Cristobal sits is almost fully developed and there is really no place contiguous to the city proper where opportunistic developers can come in and negatively impact the ancient colonial city. The countryside around San Cristobal is also the domain of various Maya indigenous communities and these people are dead serious about retaining their ancient cultural traditions and communities so any opportunistic developer who goes in there offering chattels or filthy lucre for land will probably not come out. Ever.

What this means is that San Cristobal need not worry that its new autopista to Tuxtla Gutierrez will invite in those who would desecrate the community for personal gain. Not that there are not many speculators buying up housing at outrageous prices in the colonial center but that any refurbishment they perform will have to meet local standards severely enforced.

I think I got in just in time. Too bad I´m so old and may expire at any time. Damn! One of God´s little jokes.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Jan 19, 2007, 10:06 AM)


sfmacaws


Jan 19, 2007, 11:15 AM

Post #3 of 15 (3859 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Letter From San Cristobal

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Great posts Bubba! The state of Chiapas truly does have everything including incredible beauty and vistas that resemble illustrations from The Cat in the Hat.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Bubba

Jan 19, 2007, 11:57 AM

Post #4 of 15 (3853 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Letter From San Cristobal

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The state of Chiapas truly does have everything including incredible beauty and vistas that resemble illustrations from The Cat in the Hat.

So true, Jonna. Very well put. It is a fantasyland.




soyalison

Jan 27, 2007, 9:38 AM

Post #5 of 15 (3765 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Letter From San Cristobal

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Hi Bubba
I am enjoying all your posts about Chiapas. Keep them coming! I am planning a move to SCLC this summer and look forward to checking out some of your recommendations.
Alison


Gringal

Jan 28, 2007, 2:41 PM

Post #6 of 15 (3732 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Letter From San Cristobal

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".....the headline out of San Miguel de Allende regarding the municipal unrest over excessive development and residential development without regard to standards that protect the integrity of the colonial city. Of course, the same thing is happening here at Lake Chapala where rampant and uncontrolled development is taking place."
_______________________________________________________________

It gets worse. What we have in San Miguel is a beautiful colonial city in the center of a "bowl" where all the traffic pollution collects. The air in the center often isn't fit to breathe. Dining "al fresco" by the street makes chain smoking look healthy.

The local authorities' "solution" was to build a large, two storey parking facility so far from the center that only the sturdy can walk to it. Chances of catching a taxi nearby get slimmer by the day. There was talk of closing off the eight streets surrounding the Jardin, except of course, for the big busses and taxis. So far, just talk. Meanwhile, development proceeds, prices rise and travel writers encourage more visitors. The comida that cost 50 pesos a few years ago is up to 100.
Mexicans living in the outlying neighborhoods have seen bare lot prices rise from 15K U.S. to over 50K in three years. They see dinero available; they sell, move out further......and....more dust settles in the bowl.

If you think that the situation in Chiapas will be immune to this sort of nightmare, think again. It's just a matter of time and advertising before they "pave paradise".
But, as you pointed out, those of us yammering now may not be around to see it.


(This post was edited by Gringal on Jan 28, 2007, 2:46 PM)


Bubba

Jan 28, 2007, 3:14 PM

Post #7 of 15 (3724 views)

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Re: [Gringal] Letter From San Cristobal

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If you think that the situation in Chiapas will be immune to this sort of nightmare, think again. It's just a matter of time and advertising before they "pave paradise".

I would agree with you Gringal except for the fact that the densly populated ejidos surrounding San Cristobal are inhabited by indigenous communities filled with extremely poor exiles ejected from their indigenous communities for having defied religious tradition by become protestant and who have no place else to go, have a strong sense of community and are reputed to be in a real bad mood. Then, adjacent to those lands, the historic indigenous communities own everything and there is no way they will tolerate the selling off of any of this land under any circumstances.

The down side is they may get really irritated and shoot us all.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Jan 28, 2007, 3:15 PM)


Gringal

Jan 28, 2007, 3:29 PM

Post #8 of 15 (3721 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Letter From San Cristobal

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Yup. That's a downside. But seriously, Bubba, how comfortable is it for a gringo to move into a place surrounded by folks with that much fervor?


(This post was edited by Gringal on Jan 28, 2007, 3:41 PM)


Bubba

Jan 28, 2007, 3:48 PM

Post #9 of 15 (3713 views)

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Re: [Gringal] Letter From San Cristobal

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As my Uncle, Alfred E. Newman, was fond of saying:

"What, me worry?"


Ron Pickering W3FJW


Jan 28, 2007, 4:44 PM

Post #10 of 15 (3705 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Letter From San Cristobal

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Speaking of Alfred E Newman.......
You should worry Bubba.......



Getting older and still not down here.


Bubba

Jan 28, 2007, 5:06 PM

Post #11 of 15 (3696 views)

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] Letter From San Cristobal

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I knew it!


esperanza

Jan 28, 2007, 5:48 PM

Post #12 of 15 (3684 views)

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] Letter From San Cristobal

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Oh my god. I'm sure that picture violates some MexConnect guideline, but...<falls on the floor laughing>.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Ron Pickering W3FJW


Jan 28, 2007, 6:02 PM

Post #13 of 15 (3680 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Letter From San Cristobal

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A bit of levity is good for ones soul occasionally. It helps give the forum a bit of personality which it does need from time to time......
Getting older and still not down here.


Gringal

Jan 28, 2007, 8:03 PM

Post #14 of 15 (3660 views)

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] Letter From San Cristobal

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YOU are a steenking genius. I love it. Don't worry. Be happy.


Rolly


Jan 28, 2007, 8:06 PM

Post #15 of 15 (3660 views)

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Re: [Ron Pickering W3FJW] Letter From San Cristobal

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Al Newman is an old and dear friend since my college days. I don't think you should insult him that way. :-)

Rolly Pirate


(This post was edited by Rolly on Jan 28, 2007, 8:07 PM)
 
 
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