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Old 02-11-2013, 01:20 PM   #151
0theories OP
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01/30/2013 – 02/03/2013 – Spending time in San Cristóbal and surrounds.

San Cristóbal


San Cristóbal is the kind of place I can see myself living for a while. It's laid back, but with all the amenities one would need to live a happy, fulfilled life without too much hustle and bustle. There is a huge variety of food, from Mexican street stalls to excellent Thai. The markets and stores are full of everything you could possibly need. The surroundings provide all the nature one could want including (nearby) the last (mostly) untouched nature in Mexico in the Lacondon Jungle. Although it can be cold at times, the weather is close to perfect during the day, and cold enough at night to make sleeping cozy.



I spent several days making good friends, seeing familiar faces from places past, exploring the town and some surrounding villages, hiking in the hills, discovering unmarked ruins and caves, drinking the best coffee I've had in Mexico, partying and listening to good live music. One morning I woke up at Rossco Hostel and went to pay my bill for the day, only to be told that my bed was already booked (out from under me [literally]) and I had to move. This left me with a bad taste for Rossco as there was no warning, just “get out” (but not quite so rude). It turned out well though as I had another place in mind recommended by a traveler in Oaxaca. The hostel is called Puerta Vieja (old door) and it was probably the best hostel I've ever stayed in (in my life). Beautiful facilities. Very friendly staff. Good breakfast. It's a new hostel and the only thing lacking there were other guests (there were a few). It was pretty empty, so despite moving out of Rossco, I still spend a good amount of time hanging out there (including the big Superbowl party).

Hostel Peurta Vieja.






Some highlights of San Cristóbal de las Casas:

The Hills above. After moving out of Rossco Hostel, I returned and organized a group of people (Laura, who was to join me later was one of the participants) on a hike through the hills north of town. We went to Moxviquil Orchid Botanical Gardens (which were quirky and cool) and took a trail back into the hills. I heard earlier that there were unmarked ruins on the top of the hills, so we turned off on a spur trail and went exploring. We found some squared off rocks and some holes in the ground. Were these the ruins? No se. Continuing along some side trails we found some caves full of bats, some rocks that could have been ruins, and some rocks that could have been ancient tools. As it turned out later, despite our jokes that we discovered new ruins and artifacts, we were indeed surrounded by Mayan ruins (although previously discovered and documented).

Moxviquil Orchid Botanical Gardens.


Hiking crew: Laura, Haymitch, Tom, Sander and I.




Undiscovered ruins? (no)


First cave (not too deep).


Second cave (much deeper).




Bats.




Heading home.




Exploring town. A couple of days were dedicated to exploring the town proper. I wandered to the Mayan Medical Museum and learned about medicinal plants and western bio-piracy. Just walking down random cobblestone streets and through narrow alleys was a pleasure. Some time was spent in the Mayan Cultural Museum where I learned that the rocks we discovered on the hill during the nature hike were actual ruins and not just our imagination. Apparently the hillside was an old burial ground with terraces and chambers, although at the time we could not tell for sure. While looking at yet another church, I had the privilege to witness the filming of a music video by a local band. Very funny and interesting.



Guadeloupe Church.




Laura.




Street art.


Color.


Cultural Museum.












Band filming video.






San Juan Chamula. A few kilometers to the northwest is the Mayan village of San Juan Chamula. The main attraction is a church that mixes, in a unique way, Catholicism and Mayan tradition religion with various additional tidbits. The place is interesting, with pine needles covering the floor (to bring it closer to nature), thousands of burning candles (as prescribed by shamans for healing various ailments) and shamans sacrificing chickens (personally witnessed) to heal the sick and purge the devil from the soul (with the help of Coca-cola and Posh). No photos could be taken inside the church.

The church.


The market.






They said 5 pesos for the photo, but then wanted 5 each...




Useful information.


Superbowl party. After several days in San Cristóbal I found myself a part of a large group of friends (of the moment). We decided to throw a huge Superbowl party at Rossco Hostel to celebrate USA culture (I was one of three Americans there, but the biggest fans of football were Quebecois and Scottish). Conveniently there was a professional chef from Chicago and the feast he prepared for the event was immense and fantastic. It was a great party with lots of drinking, shit-talking (we randomly picked teams to feverishly support) and general good cheer. My team won, but if they didn't I could have blamed the power-outage and was fully prepared to do so.
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:49 PM   #152
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Great report, and thanks for posting up! Those pic's of Mazunte really took me back. I spent about three weeks in the area split between Oaxaca, Puerto Angel, Mazunte, Zipolite and Puerto Escondido a few years back. I rode around on a rented 125cc motorcycle with my girlfriend at the time on the back, really fun times! Glad you're enjoying yourself and rock on man.
Yeah srad, that place is great. I can see coming down and just hanging out for the whole winter. But I do wonder what it would be like without all the rainbows hanging out. Probably even quieter if that's possible. They really set the vibe while I was there. Having a scooter or some kind of bike is really helpful there (although I barely left the beach). So much to see and all very accessible...
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:55 PM   #153
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Mmmmm...Laura...
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:50 AM   #154
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Mmmmm...Laura...
To that woodly, I intuit her reply would look something like this:

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Old 02-12-2013, 05:59 AM   #155
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HA! That's great! CRAZY chic! She's still cute, but not like that!
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:07 PM   #156
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02/04/2013 - San Cristóbal to Palenque, 2-up.

Goodbye San Cristóbal.


There are many routes to and from San Cristóbal and a major one is to Palenque. To make the adventure more fun, I was joined for a short time by a German girl named Laura. She's on her way to Costa Rica to work with sea turtles for the next six months to a year, on a beach reachable only by boat. Once we decided to travel together for a while, a major undertaking (although it seemed simple at the time) was to find her a helmet. I don't know if there is a helmet law in Mexico and many locals ride without, but I insisted that she have one (of course). We spent a full morning wandering around town, following many diverse directions (mostly all wrong, as is tradition), looking for a store that sold helmets. We eventually (after a couple of hours) found ONE with a small selection (I think it was a holiday so many places were closed). Luckily there was one that would work (although it was too big) and the mission was a success. It was time to leave San Cristóbal for warmer weather, jungle and ruins.







The KLR is a mule, so it was no problem strapping Laura's backpack on top of my top-case and with the two of us comfortably seated (thank you Corbin), take off into the mountains. I didn't notice much loss of power and the suspension actually felt a lot better with more weight on the bike. I think I may need to do some adjustments once Laura's gone. I've been strongly considering changing up bikes for something smaller when I returned to the states... something like a DR350, but this experience weights in against that option.



The ride to Palenque was pretty straightforward via highway (signed even) leading us there with almost no turns. The roads were smooth (for the most part) and quite curvy, but nothing too scarey for my passenger. When nearing the town of Palenque, the roads became quite potholed with many topes. At first I would slow down to almost a stop at each one, but eventually we developed a system where we would stand up as we approached one and go over it at speed. Laura was acting as photographer so I didn't take any photos, however, she didn't take many photos either. (Some photos to follow [and some previous] credited to her)







Daily bike pic.






We arrived at Palenque towards evening and found a small hostel village near the ruins called El Pachan. El Pachan is a collection of hostels and restaurants in the jungle just outside the entrance to the National Park. It's occupied mostly by hippies and rainbows, with a smattering of more mainstream travelers who want to stay closer to the ruins as opposed to in town, several kilometers away. The place is "rustic". If you want clean and tidy (or a pool or more than a couple of stars) this place is not for you. Upon arrival and a quick look around we booked a couple of beds at the dorm in El Jaguar hostel.

Trail to El Jaguar.


The dorm bungalow.


In the evening we met the Quebecois we celebrated the superbowl with and spent the evening eating good food and listening to live music at Mucho Don restaurant. It was a nice evening, ended early so as to get a fresh start in the morning to explore the ruins of Palenque.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:18 PM   #157
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riding partner

Laura is obviously too cute for you. She must be attracted to the KLR.
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Old 02-13-2013, 04:20 PM   #158
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Laura is obviously too cute for you. She must be attracted to the KLR.
It's got nothing to do with me... The KLR is an irresistible machine.

Mmmmm... KLR...
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Old 02-13-2013, 04:46 PM   #159
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02/05/2013 – Palenque Ruins.



The ruins at Palenque are the most famous in all of Mexico. When I was stuck in Phoenix waiting for my paperwork, I watched the news reports of all the hippies gathered there for the Dec 21st end-of-the-world/age-of-new-enlightenment. I originally had hopes of being there as well to see what would come, but after watching the news and hearing some first hand reports from fellow travelers, I'm glad I wasn't. Not only was it far from the vibe I was looking for, but it would have been a major rush to get there in time and I would have missed some of the more amazing and remote parts of Mexico. Now, after a long wait and many adventures, the time had come for me to explore this famous Zona Archeologica.









To keep it simple; the place is beautiful and amazing. The ruins are extensive and I was in good company for exploration. At the ruins we met up with a Chinese guy named Tao and an Argentinian named Carlos, both of whom were at the superbowl party. I couldn't have asked for better company. We spent the day wandering around, seeing what there was to see. As the day was really hot and we weren't in a hurry, we went slow and took several naps along the way.









They had an aqueduct.












Okay, in case you're getting bored...


My favorite area of the ruins was on the trail down from the main plaza. You follow a path through the jungle to an amazing little waterfall that cascades under a suspended bridge. We ended up spending quite a bit of time just hanging out on the bridge and napping. It's a truly beautiful area, and the complete lack of other people lent a sense of peace and seclusion to an otherwise very touristy place.















All of the napping and chilling resulted in us leaving the ruins rather late. By the time we came out at the end of the trail the museum was already closed. We convinced Tao and Carlos to move over to El Pachan from town and spend another night hanging out. While they took a cab into town, Laura and I walked back along the road (it's not far). When we got back we met up with the Quebecois and spent the evening hanging out and drinking. It turned into a very late night with many funny moments.



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Old 02-13-2013, 05:16 PM   #160
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You Bastard.

You are having tooo much fun.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:24 AM   #161
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Great pictures, I can almost feel the mist from the waterfalls.

You found new friends in your wonderful adventure, and new sites, I'd say you are in a Zona Fantastica.

Thanks for sharing your trip.
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:05 AM   #162
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Napping...yeah right! Is that what you kids are calling it these days?

Cute blonde girls and lots of down time under a bridge...HA!
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:25 PM   #163
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Now I'm very afraid to go there, afraid I'll never want to come home!
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Old 02-15-2013, 04:03 PM   #164
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Don't miss Belize! There is a ton of cool stuff to see and do there. As was said before, just skip Belize City.
Please check my RR in the sig below to get some details. Cheers,

Dorian
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Old 02-15-2013, 04:58 PM   #165
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Originally Posted by Lycan1 View Post
It (having a KLR) shows women that the guy riding it is 2 things; 1.) very secure in his masculinity, and 2.) saving lots money, that in turn he will have to spend on them.......

Really enjoying your report!!
1. Very true and they know it.

2. I think many are wise to our ways (they're usually smarter than they let on) and just know that we're not saving money, we're just not spending the money we don't have

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete_Tallahassee View Post
You Bastard.

You are having tooo much fun.
Is there such a thing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunday Rider View Post
Great pictures, I can almost feel the mist from the waterfalls.

You found new friends in your wonderful adventure, and new sites, I'd say you are in a Zona Fantastica.

Thanks for sharing your trip.
"Zona Fantastica", you nailed it! It's a pretty great place to be

Come on down!

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Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
Napping...yeah right! Is that what you kids are calling it these days?

Cute blonde girls and lots of down time under a bridge...HA!
Okay... sorry to burst the fantasy bubble, but napping is just what it was

In the interest of full disclosure (in case of prying eyes) and at the risk of loosing readership I must confess that we are just friends who met along the way and are travelling together. I think I let your (and maybe my) imaginations run wild long enough... Maybe next time (one can hope)

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Now I'm very afraid to go there, afraid I'll never want to come home!
It's like you looked into my heart and saw the fear there

It's a real problem. Time is starting to run short. Only a little over two months left and I'm scheming for ways to stay longer. Probably will go back to work though until the next 6 month travel session next winter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drifter dave View Post
Don't miss Belize! There is a ton of cool stuff to see and do there. As was said before, just skip Belize City.
Please check my RR in the sig below to get some details...
I'll try my hardest to get there as it's a country I haven't been to yet. Might skip over a lot of Costa Rica to ensure that happens. Been hearing tons of great things about it from other travelers. Will mine your RR for info for sure.
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