Chiapas is a state of Mexico, which is very different to e.g. the Yucatan peninsula. It has a lot of low mountains respectively high hills, here called cerros. These hills also often are of stone, but still have a lot of vegetation. The state of Chiapas has tropical as well as cloud forest.
6th July 2018
My first destination was Palenque. It was for me a “must see” town with a famous Maya ruin and it also is one of the Pueblos Mágicos. I arrived from Escárcega (see Campeche) by bus, but had to change from the big OCC bus to a collectivo at “Crucero Playa”. Coming to this point felt a little strange to me, because it is very close to the border of Guatemala and even the bus did not leave Mexico, we were checked by name and even our luggage at a real border station. For the collectivo I had to pay 35 MXN. The trip between Escárcega and Palenque took around four hours. We had to hurry, when we changed to the collectivo.
Well in Palenque the collectivo let me out at the ADO bus terminal. It was the closest stop for me. I had only to walk for a few minutes. I had booked the Casa Janaab Hostel, but when I arrived there was a refurbishment ongoing. The owner told me, that he had booked beds for us in the Maya Tulipanes hotel, just around the corner. He followed me to the hotel****. I have got a bed in a 3-bed-room. Brenda arrived soon after me. Even this was an upgrade for the price, we would have paid for the hostel, it became more expensive. The breakfast at the hotel was very expensive and there was no possibility even to cook a cup of coffee. There were a café in the same building, were it was possible to buy something cheaper for breakfast, but that was only a sandwich or similar and coffee, of course.
Well established in the hotel room, I looked one more time for my charger and really checked all backpacks and pockets, but could not find it. Brenda, who fortunately also had a Samsung device, let me her charger for a while. Soon I did take my dirty clothes and tried to find a laundry. First I asked at the reception of the hotel, if they know a laundry. The receptionist showed me a list, where I could put in how many shirts etc. I would like to have washed, but I told her, that I need a laundry per kg. She answered me, that there may be one on the other side of the bridge. After I had forced the nearby bridge, I asked a woman, if there is a “lavanderia” (laundry) and she told me, straight up the street, before the next corner. I found that one, but it was closed. Though I asked another person for another laundry and fortunately he knew another one. I also found that other one after a while (I had to ask two more times for finding it). I had ca 4.300 kg and the woman at the laundry told me, it were five. Then she calculated the price and said to me, that I have to pay 107.50 MXN. That was the highest price I ever have paid. Before it was for up to 80 MXN with a similar weight.
Without the laundry carrying, I was looking for a shop for electronic devices. I found one soon and bought a new charger. Unfortunately they only had one, which also had a car charger added or the one I finally bought: It is an original (I hope) Samsung charger with a lead light. The problem is, that this one, even it should be OK for tablets, nearly not manage to charge my tablet. Even charging my smartphone takes longer than usual. With my lost charger I could work with my tablet and it charged up to full anyway. This charger does not charge fast enough, though if I charge and work with the tablet, the tablet runs out of charge. The charger was for 200 MXN (10 EUR), though it was not for a high price and I hope I can find a better one soon.
I was on the way back to the hotel and looked for tours, but did not really decide, when it started raining. For the rain I entered the shop of a tour seller and booked a tour for the Maya ruins in Palenque and the waterfalls Misol Ha and Agua Azul. They were already on my wishlist and this was a combined tour, which seemed perfect. The price for the tour was for 374 MXN – which was only for transport and the entrance fees. The entrance fees together were for 134 MXN. I asked for a guide and was told, that the guides are so expensive here, that they cannot offer tours with guides.
For dinner this day I had quesadillas with ham and a piña colada smoothie. When I ordered the smoothie, the waitress told me, which kind of smoothies they have. I do not know if she did not listen to me or why she did not take my offer right off, because it was from the menu. This meal was for 94 MXN and she got a tip of 10 MXN. I started to give them all the same amount as tip, if I give them a tip – which I do most of the time.
This evening I made my files and tried to update my blog, but I came not far, because I had to answer emails as well. Because of the shared room, I could not have the light on for longer than 10pm. I tried to sleep so early and managed it.
7th July 2018
I awoke already at 5am and could not fall asleep again. At 7am I slowly was leaving my bed and followed my routine. At 8am I was going to the restaurant of the hotel for having a breakfast. I was dressed in my dress, because all my other clothes were in the laundry respectively the pants from the day before were too sweat. Though I was treated well. I ordered a breakfast “Americano” with scrambled eggs with bacon. There were also 2 slices of toast, butter and jam as well as some pieces of fruit and coffee, of course. For this breakfast, which did made me full, I had to pay 132 MXN and it was also added the tip of 13.20 MXN as well as it was summarised to 145.20 MXN. I gave 150 MXN even I do not like when they tell me, I have to give tips, because it is not the young waiter´s fault, that the bill looks like that.
Afterwards I was to a Chedraui supermarket, very close to the hotel. I had to buy new tissues (more than 1 little pack with 10 in it). I was looking around in the shop and found the slips, which I had lost one or two of in another laundry, though I also bought one pack of them. Furthermore I bought some yogurt and other food for the evening as well as nut bars to take with me on the tour the following day. I walked directly back to the hotel and worked with my blog until it was time to pick up my laundry, which I had left the day before. Still on the way there, I bought an ice cream. On the way back a female beggar got a 10 MXN coin of me, because she had no lower legs. I also bought postcards with views from Palenque. I am really sorry, that I could not find any postcards of Calakmul, because the site is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
For a late lunch I was to a little restaurant in the street, where the hotel is, just before the bridge. I ordered “tacos conchito chiapaneca”. They were quite spicy. I was served spicy sauces as well and some kind of vegetables, but this vegetables were unusual to be served with tacos as well as they were not the kind I like, though I had asked the waiter to take it away, before I ever tasted it. Now, the tacos were without vegetables of any kind, not even tomatoes or onion. The amount for the three very small tacos and a glass of Agua de Horchata was for 76 MXN, plus the tip.
Back at the hotel, I tried to update my blog again, but the Firefox app was crashing all the time. I did delete the history as well as I cleaned the catch, but nothing helped. Though I gave up and had my third meal this day, which was yogurt and more of the food I had bought at the supermarket. Even it was a light meal, I have got heart burn again. Actually it was a time ago I have had heart burn, but with this meal it was different. Anyway I had to sit up in the bed until it was over. I also took the pillow out of the vacant bed, though I had two, because it makes it easier for me to sleep. We had got another roommate during the day, which was a guy, but Brenda left around 8pm.
8th July 2018
I was awoke very early again and raised me up, before my alarm clock was ringing. Though I did not disturb my roommate. I used my headlight as well for this reason and did not switch on one of the lights of the room. I took all things needed to the bathroom for this reason, too. At 7am I was ready to leave, but tied my shoes outside the room, because I need full light for that.
I hade breakfast at the café Cafesito, which is the one in the same building as the hotel. I had a coffee and a sandwich, which were for 70 MXN and the tip. A little more than half an hour later I was ready to join the tour and waiting outside the hotel, where I was told, I will be picked up. The pick up time was 8am, but the car was 15 minutes late. The first stop was the Maya ruins at Palenque. We were told, that there is a map for orientation. A tour guide did explain it. I was thinking about to hire one, but when I saw the prices I did not ask for one. It was more than 2,000 MXN. The driver of the bus was waiting for me, to give me the entrance ticket, because when he sent us to the map, he had not given it to me – and not to the others either. We have got three hours for the visit and fortunately it was enough. I also could take a look at the artifacts in the museum and happily the entrance for the museum was included in my ticket.
To go further, I was waiting for the bus like the others of the people, who were in the same bus with me in the morning, but we became divided. Two more and me were driven in a car to other buses. I was the last one, who came with another bus. The tour was now for Misol Ha, even the tour operator, where I had bought the ticket told me, that this was the last stop. The turn was not important for me. Arrived at Misol Ha, there were so many tour buses, that I took a photo of the plate of the bus I came with, for finding the right one then.
The waterfall was not so very big. On pictures it seems to be broader. I think the photo was taken after a heavy rain. What I did not know was, that there also is a cave. I tried to go there as well as others did, but after a while I had to turn around. The first half of the path to the cave – and behind the waterfall, was very well done and had handles, but I came to a very wet part, which looked very slippery and there were no handles. That was the reason, why I did not take a look into the cave and I do not know either, if there should have been another entrance fee. I saw, that many people, who had walked all the way, did not enter – of which reason ever.
The road and the surroundings from the ruins to the waterfalls were very hilly and I loved it. After I have been for two month in mostly flat terrain, this was a pleasure for my eyes. Surprisingly was corn grown on the steep hills. We reached our final destination for this tour: Agua Azul. I could not really see, why it was called “azul”, but it was amazing. There were lots of waterfalls, some very heavy ones, some not much to see. When we were on the road to these waterfalls, at one point we could see the river, which is the child of the waterfalls. Unfortunately the area around the waterfalls was very touristic, there were lots of stalls selling handcrafted items as well as food. Just when we arrived, the first waiter of a restaurant tried to show us their menu. We ignored and walked to the waterfalls. I was this day walking alone all the time. All the other tourists made it their way as well as I made it mine. Though, when I finally was looking for a cheap meal, I found the last stall selling empanadas (5 for 20 MXN) and the liter Agua de Horchata for 25 MXN. I had to go to the bathroom, before I ordered the meal and the woman there told me, that the children will take the money. I thought, the children, just take the money for the bathroom, but later the little school boy took the order, served me the Agua de Horchata and brought me the bill. His sister helped him with the change. The mother only fried the empanadas. I do not like, when children has to work, unfortunately I was so surprised, that I did order anyway.
On the way back we had a short stop, because two of our attending travellers had booked, that their tour is ending in San Cristobal de la Casa – also a pueblo mágico. Therefore they had to change to another bus of the company. I did not know that, before I was in the bus and we picked up other tourists, that it was possible. It had been a good option for me as well, but I had to go back to Palenque and spend another night at the hotel.
When I had left my small backpack at the hotel, I was going to the ADO bus terminal, asking for a bus ticket for San Cristobal de la Casa. I also was asking for different options. The bus was for six hours, as I could see and I was not told, that there are other buses (collectivos), which make the ride in shorter time, because they can go directly on the winding roads. The bus ticket was for 283 MXN, but there was a discount, which could be used for another ride for 41 MXN. The bus company was called OCC.
9th July 2018
My day started similar like the day before. I also had the breakfast at the café Cafesito, but had checked out of the hotel already. During my check out I have been asked if all is OK. I answered “yes” even the day before the cleaner had forgotten to put clean towels in the bathroom. I had asked for a towel in the reception the afternoon before, though I think that was already cared about. My breakfast this day was a little more expensive, but also a little bigger, because of the Panini, I had ordered this day. It was around twice as big as the sandwich. The coffee and the Panini were for 84 MXN together plus the tip.
At 8am I was at the ADO bus terminal. The bus was for 8:30am. We could enter the bus at 8:25am, which is unusual, because the bus usually arrives at the time for departure. Anyway the bus had already arrived 8:10am, but the bus driver took his rest. Though, we were not allowed to enter. When a conductor and a man answering for the luggage came to the bus, the girl behind me tried to go around me to come to the bus, but none had given a sign, that we were allowed. I saw the security man and asked him and he told me, yes, it is OK. I have made the experience, that the security persons tell you “no”, even it seems all is ready. The girl might not have done that experience yet.
I did not know, that the bus was not directly going to San Cristobal de la Casa and was wondering, if I was on the right bus, when we were going all the way to Villahermosa and Cardenas. Meanwhile I have got a WhatsApp message from a woman, who is on CS and she asked me, if I am coming by such a bus. She told me, that there are collectivos to San Cristobal de la Casa, who drive directly, which does take less time and costs less money. I wrote back, that I unfortunately had not known that, but was wondering by myself. I had thought, that it is too far for collectivos. The bus stopped for lunch in Chontalpa – the driver had to take a rest and eat lunch, which gave us the opportunity to have lunch as well. I had only empanadas again (but they were different to the day before) and an Agua de Horchata.
Finally arrived in San Cristobal de la Casa it was almost 4pm. I was not happy and the first, who met me was an aggressive elderly female beggar. Directly afterwards a man tried to sell me something. If it was a taxi driver or he tried to sell me a tour, I did not hear. I told him twice “no, gracias”, but he continued and I missed my patience and barked at him “shut up” – he did. This made me lose my concentration for the way to the hostel and I did take a little detour, but that did not matter for me. Especially not by the hostel and the staff, who welcomed me and also told me already during the check in, that I can book tours by them. The hostel is very nice decorated and clean. I was allowed to choose my bed and, because of the two pillows in the bed, I chose one for two. The upper bed is smaller. There are also lockers in the room, even I only can get in my smaller backpack, important is to have my papers, credit cards and money safe. When I was installed in the room I was downstairs, ready to go to town and have dinner. I asked the receptionist, where I can find a cheap dinner and he explained it for me on a map, which he left to me.
I chose the Pachamama restaurant, because the one I would have prefered was closed. This restaurant sells pizza and I was lucky, that they had a different bottom to the last place, where I have had pizza, even it was not a real pizza bottom. The pizza was not so very big, but I could not eat all. though the two piezes I took with me in a papers bag. When I left the restaurant I felt, how chilly it was here. San Cristobal de las Casas is on a high of around 2000 meters. I walked through the street to the marketplace (Zocalo) and took a look. I was surprised about the scaffolding around the cathedral, but was thinking, that it will be refurbished. When it got dark I walked back to the hostel. I tried to update my blog by my smartphone, but understood after a while, that I had written text on the site “Quintana Roo”, which should have been put in under “Campeche”. When I am working with the tablet or the smartphone I cannot move the text. I was too tired to write all that text one more time and left it, though I could remember it. I was to bed as early as the last few days again.
10th July 2018
I was ready for breakfast at 8am and in the kitchen. A staff member asked me, if I would like to have breakfast – even my booking was with breakfast included, it may be options, where it is not. She also told me, that I could choose between eggs and banana or pancake and banana. Though I chose eggs. Actually I have got eggs with chilly respectively it was chilly with eggs, because of the amount of chilly – the green one, which looks like bell peppar. It usually is not very hot, but this was very spicy. Therefore I tried to eat the egg (which was not much), the beans and the tortillas. Anyway the coffee was OK: After breakfast I booked a tour for the Sumidero canyon (Cañon del Sumidero) including some view points and the city Chiapa de Corzo for the following day. The staff member called the tour operator, if the tour with the view points is scheduled for the upcoming day and it was. This extended tour was for 370 MXN.
I took my small backpack and was going to town, because I was going to meet Mirjam, the woman from CS I have had a chat with by WhatsApp the day before. I was in good time and was aware of, that I soon need new medicine. Though I was looking for a pharmacy and found one very close to the market place. I showed my jar with my medicine and my name on it – it is the way they do in Sweden, and told the shop assistant, that I need new one. I also showed him the attestation in English, I have from Sweden, that I need this medicine the rest of my life. He was looking for a similar medicine and sold it to me, even I had neither seen a Mexican doctor nor had a Mexican prescription. I was happy, that it was so easy and happily paid the 74 MXN for an amount of 100 pieces – which is for three month. I did not have much money left in my pocket, because I was thinking, that I may not need some, when walking the town with Mirjam. I changed my mind and was happy, when I saw an HSBC ATM while taking a lot of photos of the city, e.g. of the cathedral and the town hall. I took out 1,000 MXN.
Mirjam is German, but decided six years ago to move to Mexico and live here. Nowadays she has a permanent residence permit. She has another background as me, but I was surprised, because she has a similar think thank as I. She told me, that the scaffolding around the cathedral and other buildings is for the earthquake they have had last year. We were also talking about, where I will go next and she helped me to get the right ticket to my further destination. We climbed the stairs to the hills in two directions of the town for the great views from above and took also a look into the churches. Before we took a collectivo to Chamula, we were walking around on the indigenous market of the town. Mirjam had told me, that in the Catholic church in Chamula, pagan customs are celebrated. The shamans heal the people with a ceremony, where they use a chicken alive, but if the result is not coming, they kill the chicken. They also drink a lot of soft drinks for being able to burp. When I was there, at one place they just were at the end of such a ceremony. First the chicken was floundering with its legs and a minute later it was laying dead on the floor. I did not see, when and how it was killed. Blood of the chicken was used in the continuing ceremony. By the way it is not allowed to take photographs in the church. Therefore I can only describe how it looked like in the church. On the tiled floor, green pine boughs were laying, but where the lights are burned. On the walls are statues of Saints. On the left hand side are only male statues and on the right hand side only female statues. If you like to read more about it follow the link above for Chamula (Wikipedia).
We walked the few streets looking at the indigenous craft. I told Mirjam, that I was really hungry and we found a comida economica, where she had a chicken dish and I a soup with meatballs. Afterwards we did take the next collectivo back to San Cristobal de las Casas. From the terminal for collectivos Mirjam followed me a while, because she thought, I would not find my way back to the hostel. When she said good-bye, we were starting over again to talk. It was a perfect day, but I think, that it is unusual to find people, who connect so well so fast.
At the hostel I had my pizza slices from the day before. It was OK, because of the topping, which was four kinds of cheese. Finally I used one of the computers of the hostel, which are free of charge to use of us guests. I did not realise, that I continued writing on the site of “Quintana Roo” instead on the site of “Campeche”. I also changed the blog post for Calakmul with links to both sides. By the way, guests are only allowed to use wi-fi respectively the computers until 10pm, though even this evening I was early to bed.
11th July 2018
I awoke between 5am and 6am and read the WhatsApp message from my upcoming host. Afterwards I put two photos into the text about Escárcega. It was now I realised, that I had made a mistake. In the hope, that I on the computer can cut and paste I did not continue with my blog in the morning. I tried instead to find out, when I paid 134 MXN for what, because that amount is missing in my files. I have not found it yet. I have neither bought souvenirs nor clothes, I have not had an expensive meal either after the last time I made my files and all was correct. I checked all my tickets – nothing there either. Maybe I will find it anyway after a while. I am up to make my files every night, but this night I do not have time enough, because I try to update the blog for the last days.
I had breakfast at 8am again. This day it was filled crepes with bananas at the side. The filling was some mixed fruits. It was enough to get full. From 8:45am I was waiting for the tour bus, which should come around 9am. I was picked up around 9:20am, but was lucky that I could take the seat in the front. The driver had to pick up more people and the bus was totally filled, before we were leaving for the Sumidero canyon. The important part of the tour is the boat tour on the river of the canyon. At the pier are bathrooms etc. and we got the opportunity to visit the bathroom before we were entering the boat. It was not a big boat, but it was space for around 20 people, maybe even more, I would have liked to sit in the front to take good pictures, but we were not allowed to sit on the first two rows. Before we left, four guys, one of them very short, were allowed to sit in the first row. For the other row they asked a girl to sit there on the left hand site to balance the boat. The sun was shining now and it was really warm. We were down at maybe 200m above sea level. When the boat was in move, it was not so warm anymore, though I was happy to have warm clothes. The canyon is amazing. To see it from the boat is amazing as well. It was better than the train ride throughout the Copper canyon.
Afterwards we was brought by the same bus and driver to three of the five view points, where we could see the canyon from above. This was great, too, but not as much as the boat tour. The view points we visited were the Mirador la Ceiba, Mirador de Chiapas and Mirador Coyota.
Finally our tour was going to Chiapa de Corzo (see link the day before), even this city a “puebla mágico”. The “La Pila Fountain” is fenced just now, maybe it also was damaged by the earthquake last year. Around the square you find the town hall and a church. At the square is also a clock tower, which is not very old, but was built by similar bricks like the “La Pila Fountain”.
I could not see more of the town, because I was afraid, that I was not able to find the bus again respectively would not be back in time for the bus. There were also lots of stalls selling crafts respectively food. I had not understand the driver right, that we should have a meal here, though I only had an ice cream and ate in San Cristobal de las Casas, even I was very hungry already at the view points.
Back at the hostel I updated the blog at the hostel’s computer and was able to write all the text until this day. Unfortunately it is neither possible to add photos from my Google account via the computer nor have I time enough to do this by my smartphone. I hope I have time enough tomorrow, because I have time to check out until 11am and my bus is going at high noon, which means it should be enough with time.
In the room I prepared my small backpack for leaving and surprisingly I found another nut bar, which I ate before I was to bed, because I have only had two meals this day. I stayed awake a little longer and corrected some mistakes in the text of my blog. My roommate arrived, when I still was working with it. It was the first time I have seen her awake.
12th July 2018
I slept until 7am this morning, but stayed in bed an additional hour, because I was freezing. My WeatherApp told me, that it is only 12°C. Surprisingly and unfortunately the hostel has no heating in the rooms. They provide the guests with two blankets, but that does not help outside the bed, of course.
I took a shower at 8am and had breakfast afterwards. Then I added the photos to my blog site about Chiapas.
… will be continued! Stay tuned