San Cristobal de las Casas is situated in a fertile valley surrounded by mountains in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico. Chiapas is home to several indigenous groups descended from the Maya, two of the largest being the Tzotzils and Tzeltals who inhabit highland villages surrounding San Cristobal. The indigenous people of Chiapas speak their own language (often in addition to Spanish), practice their own unique customs and can be identified by their traditional dress that varies by group. They continue to depend primarily on agriculture for their economic well-being. It’s not unusual for them to travel into San Cristobal to sell their handmade crafts and shop in the markets for everyday items to take back to their villages. San Cristobal, one of Mexico’s best-preserved Spanish colonial towns, is made up of a series of traditional barrios (neighborhoods), each of which is known for a particular trade or custom, such as iron working, carpentry and woodcarving.
You can find a lot of interests like Na Bolom, an atmospheric museum-research center, Na Bolom for many years was the home of Swiss anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her Danish archaeologist husband Frans Blom.
They bought the 19th-century house in 1950, and while Frans explored and surveyed ancient Maya sites all over Chiapas, Trudy studied, photographed and fought to protect the scattered Lacandón people of eastern Chiapas and their jungle environment. Since Trudy’s death, Na Bolom has continued the thrust of the Bloms’ work, with the house operating as a museum and research center for the study and support of Chiapas’ indigenous cultures and natural environment, and as a center for community and environmental programs in indigenous areas. The library of more than 9000 books and documents here is a major resource on the Maya.
Chiapas food is a delectable blend of indigenous and Spanish influences. The regional cuisine in and around San Cristobal, Chiapas differs from the cuisine in other parts of Mexico. In San Cristobal you’ll find a variety of beef, pork and chicken dishes prepared with local herbs and seasonings and often using less chili pepper than in other regions of the country. Kakao Natura is something different, melt into a hot chocolate at this chocolatería. Order a classic, semi bitter or bitter, and add cardoman, vanilla or even chiles for a few pesos. There’s even a lactose-free choice. Pastries, sandwiches and artisanal chocolates also available. La Viña de Bacco is the San Cristóbal’s first wine bar, chatty patrons spill out onto the street, a pedestrian block of the main drag. It’s a convivial place, pouring a large selection of Mexican options, starting at a reasonable M$18 per glass. A free tapa with every glass of wine. Perfída An artsy and relaxed restaurant, gallery and bar showing work by local artists, Perfídia stages live Latin jazz, rock, salsa and blues from Wednesday through Saturday. It has an excellent international menu and a cheeky list of cocktails.
Until tomorrow: Love is an attempt at penetrating another being, but it can only succeed if the surrender is mutual.
Dorothy Prats / [email protected]