A wonderfully weird Christmas…

Instead of going back to England for Christmas I spent 4 weeks or so travelling with some of the other Southampton people through the states of Chiapas and Quintana Roo, in the South East of Mexico. Here is a rather long account of everything I got up to!

So the adventure started on the 14th of December when Helen, Georgie and I got a night bus from D.F, arriving slightly tired and confused in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas the following day. We decided to try out couchsurfing, which went a lot better than my first experience in San Luís Potosí. Needless to say, when you wake up to find the couchsurfing host has snuck into the bed and is creepily stroking your friends leg it’s not a difficult experience to beat! One of the main reasons we went to Tuxtla was to visit the Cañon del Sumidero, which is quite obviously a huge canyon. We had a really fun time getting a boat tour of the canyon, which was AMAZING.

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It turns out there’s not an awful lot to see in Tuxtla, so our couchsurfing host suggested that we go to the beach and came with us too (very nice of him really considering it was 3 hours away). So we went to a lovely, pretty much deserted beach called Boca del Cielo. Having already seen it in the Mexican film ‘Y Tú Mamá También’ I was really excited to experience it for myself; my first visit to a Mexican beach didn’t disappoint! We stayed for a night in cabins right on the beach, ate loads of yummy sea food and got a little tour on one of the fishing boats. It was so untouristy, unspoilt and absolutely beautiful.

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After Tuxtla we got a bus to San Cristóbal de las Casas to stay with our second couchsurfing host. San Cristóbal is a really quirky and beautiful colonial city and definitely one of my favourite places in Mexico so far! Our stay there consisted of lots of lie-ins, mental breakfasts (tamales chiapanecos are my new favourite thing EVER) and wandering around the city, visiting museums and cute craft markets. There are two churches on hills at opposite sides of San Cristóbal, so here is a view of the city from one of them:

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(Tamales Chiapanecos; they’re basically made of a corn dough which is steamed in banana leaves and has chicken and a kind of sauce called mole inside)

We also went to a little village called San Juan Chamula where we visited one of the strangest churches I’ve ever seen. I have no pictures because the people there are really protective of the church, so you’re just not allowed to take them. It was essentially a mixture of Catholicism and ancient Mayan. The floor was completely covered in pine needles and candles. It felt kind of weird  and intrusive visiting it as a tourist because we turned up half way through some kind of worship ceremony and you could tell it genuinely is a really important part of life in the community. In the village we also tried a Mexican drink called posh, which is a pretty strong (and pretty disgusting) spirit made from sugar cane.

Next stop Palenque! After six hours on the windiest road in the world we arrived in Palenque and here is a little summary of everything we did there!

For me one of the coolest places we visited during the entire trip was a waterfall called Misol-Ha. It was huge and you could swim in it and everything – amazing!

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We stayed for a few nights in cabins in the forest (so cool!) and met up with everyone else on Christmas Eve for a lovely meal together. On Christmas Day we all went to see the waterfalls at Agua Azul (which weren’t actually very azul because it had rained a lot) Still very impressive though! We went out for pizzas in the evening (not your most traditional Christmas meal I know) and exchanged secret santa presents. It was so nice to be able to spend Christmas with everyone else and definitely made it a lot less sad than it would otherwise have been!

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On Boxing Day we went to see the ruins at Palenque, which were incredible. They’re probably the most impressive ruins I’ve seen so far as there was just SO much there and in the most amazing setting right in the middle of the jungle. I definitely made the most of being able to climb the pyramids (which were HUGE), and after all, not many people can say they’ve eaten left over pizza for lunch sat at the top of a Mayan pyramid… In the evening we got the night bus to Playa del Carmen, where I experienced the first of many robberies…

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Amazing lunchtime view…

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And that’s Christmas! A summary of New Year will follow as soon as I can be bothered!

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