Occasionally, necessity drives our decisions. That’s how southern Mexico became a last minute stop on my journey through Central America.
After a long stint in the C-A4 block – made up of a political agreement between Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua – I needed to leave to renew my tourist visa. It’s a well known trick on the backpacker trail and significantly less hassle than going down the official renewal route with your embassy.
Luckily for me, this obligatory task became a border run with a difference. I had chosen to spend five days in San Cristobal de las Casas, one of Mexico’s most interesting and colourful highland cities. San Cristobal was awash with rich reds and ochres that adorned buildings, park benches and whole markets. Once indoors, these colours were drawn into the Maya clothing of the textile museum, the stained glass of churches and the deep burgundies and bright yellows of tasty wine and cheese.
I didn’t need to look far in San Cristobal for a world of colour.
One of several vantage points over the town, the steep steps to La Iglesia de Guadalupe are lined with colourful murals
These act as a reminder of poignant histories and also advertise less serious activities within the city, such as English classes.
The red and white of La Iglesia de Guadalupe is mirrored in several buildings around San Cristobal.
The walk from the church to the other side of the city takes in colourful pedestrian streets with a very European cafe culture.
San Cristobal’s central square is a mix of old and new. A new Starbucks sits opposite the town’s namesake cathedral.
Religious iconography is never far from view, but feels joyous rather than sombre with its bright colours.
The Cathedral de San Cristobal was recently damaged by an earthquake and is under renovation.
Despite reds, oranges and blues being used like they’re going out of fashion, whole streets inexplicably match!
From reds to yellows, the city’s other Iglesia de Guadalupe competes for visitors and views.
Even inside, an altar with bright yellows, neon pinks and (surprisingly) silver creates a surreal backdrop to the church’s pews.
The most impressive facade in San Cristobal bares the least paint. The intricacy of the former Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman doesn’t need anymore detail added.
Part of the old convent now houses a colourful textile museum which holds the largest collection of original Maya weaves of anywhere in the world.
If you ever find yourself in this wonderful city, I highly recommend visiting Na Bolom: one of the most interesting little museums I’ve had the pleasure of walking around.