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MayaDoc

Jan 13, 2013, 12:23 PM

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Chiapas and San Cristobal de las Casas for Mexico lovers

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It's been since January 1994 when the Zapatistas took the initiative in San Cristobal, that I've wanted to return. My trip was cut short due to the mass exodus of the residents and the military infiltration. If anyone lives there or is knowledgeable about the region, I'd appreciate your feedback. I'd like to go there and experience the town and the surrounding area.

If anyone knows of a comfortable place to stay or a place to rent, I'd be grateful for the information. How is it to drive in Chiapas? What are the most important places to visit in the state?

Thanks for your help.
Vanessa



JuanCha

Jan 15, 2013, 6:44 AM

Post #2 of 6 (5682 views)

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Re: [Vanessa] Chiapas and San Cristobal de las Casas for Mexico lovers

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Hello, Vanessa.

I reside in San Cristobal de Las Casas. Media and Subcomandante Marcos (now reduced to a powerless occasional "spokesperson" for EZLN and exiled from Chiapas) seem to still be what many focus on today. EZLN has morphed into a more sociological, political and community organization focusing more on village heatlh, education and well-being.

Chiapas is an ecologically and culturally rich state despite being one of the economically poorest in Mexico. The indigenous Mayan presence and culture add to this richness.

For me, Palenque is a must see (I like it better than Chichen Itza); Yaxchilan, Bonampak, Tonina, etc are a few of the other Mayan archaeological sites. Certain local Mayan villages are worthy of visits. There are some scenic natural spots: Aguas Azul, Misol Ha, Lagos Montebello, El Chiflon, etc and the highland tropical mountains are very scenic.

Lodging: all travel guides and websites are very incomplete and many dated re lodging choices. You may send me a private post re your lodging priorities and wish-list (price, rooms, location, etc) and I'll reply. I live in the Centro area of town near many lodging choices.

Driving: Since I don't drive in Mexico, despite having been here many years, I am not a good source of that info. The InterAmerican Highway, as you probably know, cuts right through San Cristobal. Palenque is about about 5 hours away, Guatemala border about 3 hours away, and the capitol of Chiapas, Tuxtla, only 45 minutes away. Those roads seem in reasonable condition (and have many "topes").
JuanCha de: Santa Fe NM, San Cristobal de Las Casas Chiapas, San Diego CA


YucaLandia


Jan 15, 2013, 12:42 PM

Post #3 of 6 (5645 views)

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Re: [Vanessa] Chiapas and San Cristobal de las Casas for Mexico lovers

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Driving conditions in Chiapas vary wildly. The main highway from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque , (past the deviation over to the very good Toninah ruins), is both in good condition and goes through beautiful countryside. The more eastern route that drops down from Tabasco is much more mountainous, takes you above the clouds repeatedly, and has some potholes - and depending on how heavy recent rains have been, there may be sections where part of the highway is washed out in the steeper arroyos. There are some mountain roads where 80% of the roadway is washed out where they cross steep arroyos - combined with occasional thick fog, so driving at night on an unfamiliar mountain road is not advised.

Sidelights: Palenque has unique architecture, a lot of quickly constructed buildings with stucco & plaster ornamentation, and a LOT of quickly constructed stucco images and plaster statuary. Since stone work takes a lot more time and effort than stucco and plaster, Palenque really does not compare with Chichen Itza and compares even less with Uxmal. If you read Palenque's glyphs and stelae, it becomes clear that they had a very brief period of ascendency and the leaders threw up quick but novel buildings with lots of monuments to advertise their accomplishments. Uxmal's period of high culture seems to be roughly 500 years longer than Palenque's brief series of a few very productive and very creative leaders. Chichen Itza's period of ascendance was longer than Palenque's, but shorter than Uxmal's. This makes each of the major Maya sites special, each with their own unique attributes. Palenque's architectural style is superb and they have beautiful stucco and beautiful plaster work... The quality of Uxmal's stone work outshines either Chichen or Palenque and the quality and number of carvings at Uxmal also make it a gem... Chichen Itza has the biggest buildings of the 3, and Nuevo Chichen has the heaviest Toltec influences. Which is the "best"? Depends on what you like.
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Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com


MayaDoc

Jan 20, 2013, 11:18 AM

Post #4 of 6 (5501 views)

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Re: [JuanCha] Chiapas and San Cristobal de las Casas for Mexico lovers

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Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. I'll thankfully take you up on the offer to help me find a place to stay. Do you have suggestions regarding newsletters or web sites that could educate me as to the social and political climate of the state and San Cristobal? I prefer Mexican media as well as expats' points of view in either language.

I'm interested in comfortable places to stay such as rental condos or houses or hotels in the old town area. We enjoy walking.

I'm also interested in the healing arts and environmental restoration of both the built and the natural environment. If you know people or organizations that I could contact, I'd appreciate it.

Thank you again for being so helpful. I look forward to hearing from you.

Hasta luego,
Vanessa


MayaDoc

Jan 20, 2013, 1:58 PM

Post #5 of 6 (5483 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] Chiapas and San Cristobal de las Casas for Mexico lovers

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Thank you for the details about the roads in Chiapas. Are there frequent gas stations and places to take breaks on the road between San Cristobal and Palenque? Do you know of any nice places to stay in Palenque or anyone who rents apartments or houses?

I appreciate the information about the arqueological sites. We just returned from several weeks in the Yucatan and Quintana Roo. We're glad that we took the time to see many arqueological sites, including smaller ones like Coba and Muyil where we had the place all to ourselves.

If you know of any good sources of news about Chiapas and San Cristobal, both from expats' points of view as well as that of the citizens, I'd appreciate your suggestions.

Again, muchisimas gracias.
Vanessa


YucaLandia


Jan 21, 2013, 7:10 AM

Post #6 of 6 (5430 views)

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Re: [Vanessa] Chiapas and San Cristobal de las Casas for Mexico lovers

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I remember places to eat/gas stations about every 30 - 45 minutes between San Cristobal and Palenque. Decent maps, like Guia Roji ( http://www.guiaroji.com.mx/ ) accurately show the relative sizes of the towns on the route.

We enjoyed a nice modestly priced hotel in San Cristobal across from the Church of Santo Domingo (corner of General Utrilla and Dr. Navarro). http://www.planetware.com/.../www.planetware.com/ The church was built between 1547 and 1560. The current 17th century Mexican-Baroque façade includes some fine Hapsburg double eagle motifs, and the ornate front facade is one of the largest of its kind in Mexico. The interior is heavily laden with typical baroque decorations, and some especially fine woodwork. (a change from all the Maya stone and plaster you have seen). The pulpit is particularly well carved, with a plinth hewn from a single piece of wood - and is considered as one of the most remarkable examples of Baroque carvings in our hemisphere.

This hotel is called Hotel Santa Domingo http://www.hotelsantodomingoplaza.com/galeria/index.html, and serves a decent breakfast. This place is sufficiently popular that we have had to book reservations in advance each time we have been there. The hotel does offer off-street parking. It is located a modest walk from downtown.

We found about 4 different decently priced (but unremarkable) hotels in Palenque Centro.
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Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com

(This post was edited by YucaLandia on Jan 21, 2013, 7:12 AM)
 
 
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