San Cristobal De Las Casas, Mexico

Upon arriving in San Cristobal, we wandered through the market for awhile, bought some mexican roasted corn with mayonnaise, chili powder, and lime on it, empanadas stuffed with potato and beef (4 for 30 cents) and then bought some tangerines. Now usually in the states if you go to a fruit stand youll see a bucket with 4 tomatoes precariously perched on top, but they know that you subconsciously assume that the bucket is full of tomatoes, which of course it never is. So when I saw about 8 tangerines perched on one such bucket, I asked how much it was, she said 60 cents, and I paid her expecting 8 tangerines, which was an OK price. Then she held out a bag and I held it while she poured the tangerines into the bag. As you probably guessed, the entire bucket was full of tangerines. We got 21 tangerines – and they were delicious, sweeter than Ive ever had at home – for 60 cents. And ten mangoes for another 60 cents. And a pineapple for 90 cents. And a papaya for well, you get the idea.

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They had the most charming way of displaying beans. I dont know what it is, but I really liked the way the colors popped out of the trays.

San Cristobal was without a doubt our favorite town of the whole trip. Food was plentiful, gourmet, and cheap. I counted 5 whole wheat bakeries in town and two health food stores. For Latin America, that is astounding. Hey, for Texas thats astounding. Thats why we chose to spend a week there, to rest and to eat. I had whole wheat bread at 3 different restaurants – one of which served it complimentary with the meal! And the food was great. All sorts of cuisines – Lebanese, Greek, French, Mexican, Italian, Argentinean, you name it.

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No doubt the reason they had all sorts of cuisines was because it was a very eclectic town. This map was hanging in a phone booth store (like it sounds, a store devoted to nothing but phone booths for calling home), and you can get an impression for who visited the town. This was a pretty good sampling of the nationalities on the trip, actually. Only a few americans, but tons of europeans.

The next day we found an ex-circus performer doing crystal stix, an art with which I am well acquainted (think a cross between baton twirling and juggling), so we hung out and did that for awhile. Went and had some whole wheat pancakes. Traded in my Star Trek book which I had finished for The Adventures of David Balfour by Robert Louis Stevenson – in Spanish. Went to the local artesian market and bought gifts for people back home. Went and had cat soup for lunch. Apparently, there is no actual cat in it, but think tortilla soup with milk and avocado in it and you have a fair idea of what it is. It was excellent.

We had fresh squeezed orange juice off the street for 60 cents, a 14 ounce glass. And not-quite-as-freshly-squeezed pineapple juice (but still real homemade juice), and coconut milk, for the same price. We did eat at one restaurant that annoyed me – they provided free chips and rather hot salsa. As we were most of the way into our meal, I took out the water bottle to drink, had a good drink, then a waiter rushed over and said I couldnt drink my own beverage. I said what? Its just water, but he said it was prohibited. It was a scam. They give you free salsa, to make you thirsty, then you have to buy water or a beverage from them at a greatly inflated price. Well, I was almost done with my meal or I would have made an issue of it. Probably should have anyway. There was no sign out front that said no BYO(Water), after all!

In wandering through the market one day, we saw this strange orange liquid in reused bottles. I naturally inquired what it was, and was told Rompope. I then asked them to write it for me, since I couldnt quite figure out what it was from that. I then asked them for a taste since even being written I had no idea what it was. Turns out it is basically a Mexican version of Eggnog. A very, very strong, thick eggnog. It must be half rum from the taste of it. Quite good though, in a different sort of way.

Somewhere in here we decided that we didnt really want to go the rest of the way through Mexico by bus if we didnt have to. We were running short on time (we had to be home in 9 days), but we really liked this town and if we were going to go home by bus wed only have 2 days here. And honestly, after 70 hours of bus travel, we were tired of it and needed a break. So we looked around for fares and found a flight from nearby Tuxtla to Monterrey for 85$ each. Since the bus fares would have cost almost that, we decided to take the cowards way out and fly most of the way home.

That night we had quesadillas, mushroom and peppers and all kinda things in them, for only 1 dollar each. They were huge and came with a serving tray with cilantro, beet-pickled-onions, fresh onions, jalapenos, and red and green salsa. See below:

Quesadillas - Everything you see for $2!

Quesadillas – Everything you see for $2!

The green salsa was hot. Coming from me, that means it was HOT. I took a drop of it and placed it in Crystals hand to lick it and then she said she had no feeling in her lips for an hour. I had two spoonfuls of it on my quesadilla and my tongue and whole mouth went numb. I could hardly breathe. It was awesome!

I wont make you more envious with tale after tale of cheap food, huge portions, and gourmet meals. It wasnt all great, anyway – but it is definitely high on my list of places to go back to, primarily for the food. nuff said about that. Basically, the next few days we didnt do much. Went to the markets occasionally, did laundry, ate, slept, did what sane tourists do – nothing.

We wandered around some of course. I found that same juggler again and we passed pins for awhile. It had been awhile since I did it, so I was a bit rusty, but I thought it turned out pretty good:

If a bit comical at times:

Only one more post left of this trip and well be home!

Posted on April 16th, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Honduras, Mexico | 2 Comments »

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