Zapatista Territory

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The night buses were as torturous as I remembered. I got about 2 hours sleep in total as it was impossible to get comfortable. The head rest was ridiculously shaped so that your head tilted back at an unnatural 45 degree angle and it wasn't until we stopped at 3am that I was able to do something about it. I was next to the window and had to clamber over Dave, who was in a Valium induced coma, and grab my jumper that I had luckily stored in my bag. It's normally freezing on these buses but for once it was a good ambient temperature. Not to let the jumper go to waste I fashioned a makeshift pillow and it worked wonders!

All the bus stations in Mexico/Central America are miles away from the cheap hostel areas so we always had to take a taxi. It was only a short journey but you never know if you are going to get ripped off. Speaking some Spanish might help and it did this time as we were sharing a cab with 2 Danish girls who knew far more Spanish than they would admit.

Hostel seemed pretty good and it was great to finally have a shower, even if it was cold water and freezing outside! We couldn't check-in until 3pm, very odd, so we wandered off into town to see the sights.

San Cristobal was a pretty cool little colonial town. Built in 1528 and its cathedrals are still standing today. Not that we could see it as it was covered in scaffolding! Still the streets were brightly decorated and it was exactly like I had pictured. We had seen everything within an hour so found a nice, expensive restaurant for breakfast. Really greasy, fattening enchiladas coved in cheese and salsa! Just what was required after a long bus journey.

The others went to look around the markets but I was knackered so went back to the hostel and fell asleep in the TV room. Everyone returned about an hour later heavily loaded with useless crap from the market. One of the Danish girls had bought an incredibly stylish purple shell suit for about 10p and seemed delighted!

One of the guys from the hostel told us about a small local restaurant down the road and asked if we fancied going along. I'm glad I did as it was an amazing experience! It was a truly local place complete with a Mariachi band! For about $2 I got 2 beers and 3 courses of food. We stayed for about 4 hours, had a couple more beers and some quality tequila. Not the vile stuff back home but something you actually want to savour.

Earlier in the day, Dave and I had toyed with the idea of leaving early and heading to Guatemala but it was worth staying just for the meal. After dinner we headed back to someones house for some moonshine mixed with Sprite, which wasn't actually that bad. He was an interesting guy. An evangelic Christian from Texas and the first (only) Republican voter I met on the trip.

This area of Mexico, Chiapas, is well known for a vigilante group called the Zapatistas. They are a left-wing group fighting for the rights of indigenous people. The LP describes them as, "cult heroes of Chiapas and the world". Having visited the region it just seems like more of a marketing ploy now. All the markets are full of t-shirts with Zapatista slogans and EVERYONE is trying to sell you little Zapatista doll key rings. After talking with some of the locals it seems they are not as popular as all the articles tell you. In fact one person told me 80% of the people in San Cristobal are against their policies and wants them to leave. Fair enough but what would they sell to the tourists at the markets???
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