Well, Mexico. After a month of wonderment and deliciousness and beauty and dust and hammocks and cacti and babies (SO MANY BABIES) and corn, corn, corn and beans and crumbling plaster facades and Coke, we are out to Guatemala.
We said goodbye to Mexico from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, where we spent two brief days. The town is at a fairly high altitude, and we shivered as we got off the bus from the beach.
Pedestrianized avenues still feel quite nice after almost getting run down, repeatedly, on Mexico City's streets. I'd like to kiss the person that invented timed crossings, because when they aren't there, scurrying across a 6-lane road is immesurably more difficult.
Traveling during Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in Latin America has been both a frustrating and breathtaking experience. Everything is more expensive and more difficult to come by (especially hotels and transport) but that's been more than balanced by the cultural experiences to be had, especially here in Antigua. In San Cristobal, the Sunday before Easter, we saw lots of people fashioning woven decorations out of palm fronds and leaves.
We went to the tiny but neat amber museum, and climbed a hill for a view and a corn ice cream (the guy selling the stuff said it was grape and strawberry flavor, but it was definitely corn).
There was strange, heavy, yellow exercise equipment on the top of the hill. I can't imagine why you'd climb like 700 stairs and then jump on a rickety elliptical machine - perhaps that's why most of the equipment was broken.
Chiapas is famous for its coffee, and we were more than happy to indulge. At Cafe Museo Cafe, not only did we get to try Chiapecan coffee (brewed with a giant chunk of cinnamon), we also learned about the history of coffee cultivation in the area and about local cooperatives that work with small-farm indigenous producers. The lesson: there's a lot of very, very hard work that goes into your cup of coffee, and in the past, people were treated extremely poorly so prices would remain low.
Of course I felt a little guilty about my cuppa.
And yes, we stopped by the markets. The amount of salted, dried fish on offer was staggering. I'm not sure if this is a Lent thing or what.
Lots of chicken, too. Here head-on, unrefrigerated style (just like the eggs - well, the unrefrigerated part, not the head-on part).
Of course, we ate - this at a comida corrida place already discovered by the NYT called El Mercadito. Comida corrida means that the food can also be had to go, which actually might be the more popular option; people show up with buckets and get them filled with albondigas or adobo or what have you. The meal of the day is a steal at 55 pesos, that is, if you get a main and a side... we also ordered a couple of fritters (plantain and chicken - called tortaditas, apparently) and an extra main.
I got all intrigued when one of the sides on offer was described as "sopa fria", or cold soup. Guess what that turned out to be?
MACARONI SALAD. Complete with chunks of pineapple and ham. I felt like I'd stumbled into my childhood cookouts. Went great with my meatballs in chipotle sauce with plantains, though!
So a big kiss goodbye to Chiapas and its tasty coffee.
Thanks for making booking onward travel to Guatemala such a breeze, even if it did involve three separate vans over the course of a 13-hour travel day. And it's totes not your fault that the Mexico/Guatemala border crossing is such a bizarre, not particularly regulated to-do (I still don't know how the driver knew to pull over at that nondescript building so we could turn in our tourist card and get our passport stamped out of Mexico, but I'm glad he did).
And I'll just have to blame the sidewalk builders of La Antigua for the theatrical, arms-windmilling-and-legs-kicking fall I took yesterday directly in front of our hostel.