The number one rule followed by foreign drivers in Mexico is NEVER drive at night. Not only are there a tonne of pot holes and topes (speed bumps) without notice, but there are wandering animals, drunk drivers, cars without headlights and of course, banditos. The chances of something bad happening skyrockets as soon as that sun goes down.
We followed the winding roads through Oaxaca and into Chiapas, crossing the border just as the sun began to set. I planned our time so that we would make it to our destination before dark, but a few delays en route meant we were running a bit behind schedule. We were on the road not even 10 minutes after dark and already we realised the dangers of night driving. Anxiously making our way to our overnight stop we finally arrived at the petrol station, parking as we exhaled with relief and laid down to rest.
We rose the next morning, threw down a coffee and continued on our way, taking a slight detour past Cascada El Aguacero, one of the many beautiful waterfalls in the green state of Chiapas. Much to Anita’s dissapointment when we reached the dirt road leading to the waterfall I made the decision to turn around. The deep puddles and thick mud were just too much for our rear-wheel drive to handle. Although I wasn’t the most popular guy at the time, I still think it was the right decision.
We were not far from San Cristóbal when we decided to first stop by the fascinating small indigenous village of San Juan Chamula. Virtually the whole population speaks their own indigenous language and enjoys autonomy from the rest of Mexico, meaning that no police or military are permitted to enter. We parked the van and walked down into the village towards the church, the place we were most interested in visiting.
The church is filled with burning candles and strong incense smoke, the floors with pine needles and the walls in colourful saints which are said to represent Mayan gods. Healing ceremonies including candles, feathers, flowers and even whole eggs were happening all around us as prayers were chanted in their native tongue. It was an unbelievable experience, almost like stepping back in time. Photographs within the church are strictly prohibited but Anita was able to snap a few from the outside. After the cheapest tacos we’d ever had we were back in Fuego and on to our next stop.
Sitting high in the Chiapas highlands, the refreshingly cool San Critstóbal is an old town full of colonial architecture, beautiful art and delicious food. We parked in our vanping spot for the next two nights and went for a wander, walking through a tonne of small shops full of local art and handcrafts. Before long it was time to meet up with friends Finn and Matt from Puerto Escondido, so met at a tapas bar named La Viña de Bacco for a few cheap wines and small bites. After a few glasses we agreed to catch up again the following day then headed back to rest.
The next morning we met up with the boys and took a walk through the market in town, allowing Anita her fix of knick-knack perusing. We then decided to walk up to a look out point close by, then made our way back down for a few tortas and tacos. After a little more window shopping and a lend of the boys’ hostel shower we decided to all head back to the tapas bar for a few more glasses and plates, this time with John, another friend of ours from Puerto Escondido.
After our final bite of tapas and last sip of wine, we said our final goodbyes to everyone and headed back up the dark cobblestone street to our hostel on wheels. Next stop, the ancient ruins town of Palenque!