Day 26 on the road came and before we left Bahia De San Agustin, we decided to enjoy the beach for one more day before we left in the afternoon and made our way back inland towards San Cristobal De Las Casas, Chiapas.
When we looked up the drive from Bahia De San Agustin to San Cristobal De Las Casas we found that it was 8.5 hours long. Throughout this trip we’ve completely avoided driving at night, not because it’s unsafe, but because of constant speed bumps, animals/people in the street and unpaved poorly lit roads, so we decided to split the drive up into two days. Looking at a map we figured out that Tehuantepec was about halfway through, so we drove away from the ocean and into the mountains and booked a hotel room for the night. We didn’t do much that night besides eat and sleep in the comfort of air conditioning and continued to San Cristobal on day 27. We didn’t explore Tehuantepec at all, but the hotel we stayed at had secure parking, a restaurant and comfy beds which was great after sleeping in a tent for five days.
The drive to San Cristobal was spectacular. Driving through Mexican mountainsides doesn’t get old. As you’re arriving in the city you’ll start to see murals of Che Guevara and other Socialist imagery painted on the sides of buildings. Chiapas is an autonomous state and also has the highest poverty rates in Mexico. It is not uncommon for people and children to come up to you as you’re walking the streets and ask for money. Of course we gave what we could every time and when I ran out of pesos offered a little girl a slice of chocolate cake I had left over. She was so happy and that made me happy.
Driving into the city you’ll see colonial architecture that appears a bit run down, but still charming as ever against a mountainous backdrop. San Cristobal sits at 7,218 ft. The cobblestone streets around the center of town are full of heady looking people and little stores selling the most colorful handmade textiles. It’s beautiful. We pulled up to our airbnb and knocked on the huge wooden colonial doors that opened up to a quaint little garden and a small building in the back with four apartments. We unloaded the car and settled in. The one bedroom apartment we rented had everything we could have possibly needed AND an oven! Which was one of the first we came across on our trip as many airbnbs use hotplates or mini two burner stove tops.
I highly recommend the airbnb we stayed at if you’re ever in San Cristobal De Las Casas. It’s right in town, has safe parking, a lovely garden and is extremely clean all for $25/night. We were originally only going to stay four days, but extended to five since we felt so comfortable.
We dropped off our things and at this point it was around 5:30 pm, so we went on the hunt for some dinner. San Cristobal De Las Casas is a very vegan friendly city, if you search vegan on google maps tons of restaurants come up, so we picked one called Bek Semilla De Vida (Seed of Life) and walked over. The menu there is huuuuge and fully vegan, so we ordered a ton of food consisting of lentil ceviche, vegan bolognese, nachos, green juice, tacos, muffins and two sandwiches. We were pretty hungry, we hadn’t eaten since around 7 am. Everything was sooo good and we had leftovers for the next day.
We walked back to our airbnb through a lively nightlife scene and sleeepppptttt. The next morning we woke up super excited to check out Cañon Del Sumidero. It’s a huuuge canyon in Chiapas about an hour away from San Cristobal De Las Casas near Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas. The canyon is a little over 8 miles (13 km) long and the walls reach as high as 3300 ft (1 KM).
We drove to a section of the canyon where you can take boat tours of the site. When you arrive at this opening in the canyon you pull up to a little market, where people are selling souvenirs and trinkets. There’s also a stand run by a woman who sells food and beer. The boat ride is about two hours long and as we were waiting to get on the woman offered Keith some beers, so he decided he’d have a few while we waited. We noticed that other people waiting for the ride were also buying beers and filling up coolers to take with them along the tour, we didn’t think much of it, but once we were on the boat we realized that people were slamming beers. Keith alsooo had to pee really bad about an hour in, so bad that he was in visible pain. I felt really bad because we were still gonna be out in the canyon for another hour and there was nowhere to stop obviously, so I offered him my thermoflask water bottle to pee in. Luckily he wore basketball shorts, so he was able to very sneakily pee in it. I could not stop laughing at him.
The boat tour through the canyon was amazing. We saw so many animals and the canyon walls left us in awe. We couldn’t believe how tall they were. I felt so little. We saw spider monkeys, so many different kinds of birds and crocodiles. Our guide told us that because it was dry season the depth of the water in the canyon was low, but it can get as deep as 80 meters (262 ft). He also told us that during rainy season the walls of the canyon are covered in water and it looks like you’re going through a giant waterfall. It was a really cool experience. Chiapas is gorgeous.
We pulled back up onto the dock after the boat tour and Keith and I realized that not everyone was as lucky as he was in the pee department. The other guys who were pounding beers on the boat ride also had peed themselves! There was one guy who was dressed in the nicest outfit. He was wearing dark red pants, a white button up shirt, a fedora and really nice sunglasses and when he walked off the boat we noticed a huge stain on his crotch. I felt so bad, but it was pretty funny. Then behind him another guy got off also looking a little wet. Luckily, he was wearing shorts, so he must have been a little more comfortable. It was so funny because while on the boat Keith and I were like damn how are these guys drinking sooo many beers with no bathroom in sight? Turns out you can just pee your pants.
We drove back to San Cristobal De Las Casas and went out to dinner at another vegan restaurant called Te Quiero Verde. Here we ate veggie fried rice, nachos, enfrijoladas and tacos al pastor. Everything was sooo good. Vegan Mexican food is up there.
Our next few days in San Cristobal De las Casas were spent walking around town, taking in the architecture, culture and scenery. It was the first city we stopped in that I felt like I could live in. There were little organic markets around that had lots of vegan/healthy options and things like nutritional yeast, there was also a farmers market we found in a hotel that grew its own organic veggies and the textiles throughout were so cool. Chipas has a large indigenous population and if you’re walking around the center of the city you’ll definitely encounter people selling their intricately designed garments.
We came across one store that I really loved called Folklora. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the store because a lot of their items were one of a kind pieces with original patterns on them made by different indigenous populations from the region. I got the sickest white denim jacket with colorful patterns sewn into the shoulders, back and wrists. I love it so much. It was the first time on our trip I couldn’t resist buying a souvenir. I also got a handmade bucket bag purse. I usually try not to buy so many knick-knacks when I’m traveling because of the bulk it adds, but these pieces were so unique, I knew I would never find anything like them in the world again.
Our last night in San Cristobal we had to get tested for COVID as we would be making our way to Guatemala within the next 72 hours, so we found a farmacia called Farmacias Del Ahorro that does rapid antigen tests for 350 pesos (17 USD). It was so easy. We just walked up to the pharmacy and they gave us an appointment for later in the day. We were a little worried even though we hadn’t interacted with anyone unmasked since the last time we got tested in Austin, but we were negative!
On day 31, we packed up the Suba all over again and started our way to explore more of Chiapas and prepare to cross into Guatemala.
I highhhlyyyy recommend visiting San Cristobal De Las Casas and Chiapas. It’s a beautiful state with beautiful people. It’s also not insanely touristy and feels a bit off the beeten path, so it’s definitely a nice place for people who aren’t into resorts and instead more into a chiller pace of life.
Miles driven: 3,657
Days on the road: 26 -31
Next stop: Cascada El Chiflon