November 22nd, 2004 – by: Lamphunite
After getting my fill of the beach, we headed off for San Cristobal de Las Casas. Home to the infamous El Marcos and his Zapatista rebels. I had read about them before coming and was excited to see what effect they had on the city since the takeover. The town was packed with little side streets that led to semi-hidden chapels upon hills, as well as little markets and great street food. It wasn't easy to navigate at first, and we seemed to accidentally run into lots of random places, but it was worth it. Our guesthouse was average and a bit overpriced. They only played Manu Chao (fine for a couple days) and seemed to harbor every wannabe hippie in town, but it was in a good location and we didn't spend much time there.
The town's plaza was alright and sort of peaceful. But there were always armed soldiers around which was a bit unnerving. I'm not sure if it was still from the city's short-term takeover, but it definitely took away from the serenity of the place. The worst though was when the soldiers would drive by in the back of trucks. Their guns would dangle at about head level and I saw down the barrel of their guns on numerous occasions. We also visited an herbal medicine museum that was pretty neat and they even sold all kinds of junk that I'm sure doesn't work. But I bought some tea anyways because it was cheap and it smelled good. The coolest place for me though was the Zapatista store. They sold Zapatista clothing and other merchandise, with profits going to support their cause. So we loaded up on shirts, posters, and postcards of El Marcos and other random rebels with machine guns. This town also had a surprisingly great nightlife that ranged from small cafes with traditional Mexican music, bigger venues with amazing salsa bands, and even a dance club. This town had a lot to do and see, but there was always a strange feel to it. People still seemed a bit on edge and there was an obvious non-verbal riff between the locals and the military presence. But from what I've read things have gotten much better since I was there.