San Cristobal Snapshots.

Caught in that vortex. Traveling rule, the longer you stay the harder to leave. Looking at the map together, Peter says why go, just settle in, stay. But my time is coming soon. San Cristobal snapshots.

image Old-school VW bugs, integral Mexican identity.

image Street coloring.

image Locals and indigenous people selling goods.

image Fruit among them.

image Plentiful.

image To escape the city, head into the surrounding mountains. Various iOS and Android apps can supply GPS routes, though the backup option is just to get away from the highways and start on the network of back roads.

image Riding into the countryside.

image To the church at San Juan Chamula, a Catholic church that the local people reclaimed.

image Back in town, past the unmistakable smell and sound of a tortilleria, the machinery within pressing and shaping masa dough into those small discs.

image Bean vendor in the market.

image Lookout onto the city.

image Meet the parents.

image Who bring some gear and clothes, some to swap out, some to use just for the week.

image Travel to ruins, these at Toniná.

image Atop a pyramid.

image To Palenque, massive Mayan site farther east in Mexico.

image Greenery and vegetation, in abundance.

image Alternative transportation.

image Some bike maintenance and tuning.

image Family shot.

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To San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Pros: hit a reasonably good wind gap through the Isthmus, buffeted only a little by sidewinds that died down in the afternoon. Lucky. And that same day was flagged down on the road by a WarmShowers host (warmshowers.org, CouchSurfing for touring cyclists), then welcomed into a home for the night. Anyone passing through Zanatepec should look up Rodrigo’s and Lupita’s house, just follow the signs literally painted onto the highway or ask anyone in town.

Cons: struck by first bout of sickness just before crossing the isthmus, but luckily only spent one day emptying my guts everywhere. After witnessing one such episode, a kind woman, Margarita, at a comedor taught me the local word for soup (caldo) and let me crash there for the afternoon and night. Thankful.

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The Oaxaca to San Cristobal route is bounded on both sides by mountains. First, descend from Oaxaca City down to the coast, exiting the Sierra Madre Sur mountain range. Cue heat and hammock country.

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Standing water- long time no see.

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Mountainous treetops to dry lowlands, where shade has even higher value. Note background windmills- a cautionary sign for cyclists, and even drivers here. Winds sometimes blow strongly enough to toss over tractor-trailers.

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Though the grazing cattle seem to pay the wind no mind.

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And once the stomach had recovered…

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Scenery changes.

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Entering Chiapas sees an immediate shift in road graffiti, nearly all taking on a religious message. San Cristobal de las Casas sits up at 7200′, so getting there involves a roughly 7000′ climb from the lowlands to the surrounding mountains. There are two routes to choose from, the new toll road that does the climb in ~40km, or the old highway that winds through small indigenous villages for a slightly longer 65km. I took the old highway, and even starting early in the morning, didn’t get to San Cristobal until late afternoon. A good climb, great for the appetite!

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From one set of mountains to the next: welcome the Sierra Madre de Chiapas!