After three weeks in Honduras and Guatemala, Jean and I parted ways. San Marcos was more or less the end of the road for both of us - he turned south, backtracking towards a flight home a month later, and I continued north, with a week to travel the long road to Cancun. My first stop was 12 hours away, in the Mexican city of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
I was excited to cross into Mexico, mostly for the sentimentality of “hello, neighbor.” A few backpackers had sung praises of San Cristóbal, but I knew almost nothing about it. The shuttle dropped us off on a nondescript street corner, and I walked through town - past the central plaza and along a handsome pedestrian street lined with appealing shops, restaurants, and bars - until I got to a street whose name, Tapachula, sounded like a mashup of my two favorite hot sauces. By the time I checked into the nicest hostel in town, which cost me barely six dollars, I had already fallen for the city.
I was in San Cristóbal for the better half of a weekend, and the city was at it’s lively best. I went out briefly on Friday night, and spent Saturday wandering through local markets and artisanal shops. I might have done more, but my stomach - still recovering from the ice cubes in San Pedro - protested. I sacrificed Saturday night in favor of a 4am Sunday morning wakeup call, and a tour to a pair of waterfalls and the spectacular ruins of Palenque. It was a one way tour that left me five hours north of San Cristóbal, in a town whose main attraction I’d just seen. I booked an overnight bus to Playa del Carmen, a stone’s throw from Cancun. After watching Argentina lose another heart-breaking Copa America final, I boarded the last of my journey’s overnighters and wondered how to fill the following days. I regretted that I hadn’t spent more time in San Cristobal, which turned out to be among my favorite cities.