Nov. 23-27: in San Cristobal de las Casas, preparing for Guatemala

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San Cristobal de las Casas is the easternmost urban center in Chiapas and a major tourist destination.

 

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While boasting less spectacular churches and state architecture than what can be found in cities northwest from here, its one-way cobblestone streets, shops and cute cafes make for a quaint colonially inspired urban experience. San Cristobal also feels remarkably safe, and in seven days I have not once encountered someone trying to overcharge me.

 

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At 2,200m the city has a very temperate climate; at night the temperature occasionally drops to just over zero degrees Celsius.

 

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It’s a fifteen-minute walk from our campground to the city center.

 

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Real de Guadalupe is the main street for restaurants, cafes and shops. Much of it is for pedestrians only, and unarmed police officers can be seen at literally every corner. Security cameras are equally ubiquitous.

 

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As I found out to my delight, a lot of the street musicians, bartenders and waiters hail from Argentina. Not only are they noticeably taller and more fair-skinned than the average southern Mexican; they also give away their roots by way of thick porteno accents.

 

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A week of downtime in San Cristobal has helped Harry and me prepare for Guatemala — and for an envisioned pre-Christmas container shipment of la bestia blanda from Puerto Quetzal to Guayaquil, Ecuador.

 

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Generous amounts of delicious locally made (and hand-wrapped!) chocolate have provided the necessary sugar level for a second stab at the dreaded challenge of trans-American car shipping. I won’t lay out any details here (mainly so I won’t self-ignite); may it suffice for now to say that we are going to cross into Guatemala on Sunday without knowing whether or not the planned container voyage will actually materialize.

 

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To be allowed to cross the border, Harry needed a certificate of good health from a local veterinarian, which we obtained yesterday. He also got his nails trimmed (always a drama…) as well as–courtesy of Bayer–a multi-purpose drug hopefully preventing all kinds of nasty parasites.

 

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While waiting for Harry’s certificate to be issued, I got to witness a small demonstration by indigenous women chanting that “a united people cannot be defeated” and asking that “the treatment of women stop immediately.” I asked a local shop owner which treatment they referred to; he just shrugged and replied, “I don’t care for politics.”

 

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Equipped with Harry’s health certificate, quetzales (Guatemalan currency), a freshly welded bike rack, renewed Mexican car insurance, contact information for several freight forwarders and a hotel reservation for Guatemala City, we are going to set out on Sunday morning to try our luck. Maybe that’s what it’s all about: patience; maybe we should take inspiration from these welfare recipients who for hours waited patiently to pick up their checks.

 

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Before we leave, however, we are going to thoroughly enjoy the remainder of our time with the good people on our campground!

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