From Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas: Preview

Palenque, photo by Roberta Christie

On Tuesday night January 31, I will be on the ADO-GL overnight bus to San Cristobal de las Casas, set to arrive mid-morning on Wednesday, February 1.  This is at least a 12-hour bus trip, and I’ll be traveling with Fay, a Canadian woman from an island off the coast of Vancouver.  Since this is my first trip to Chiapas, my friend Roberta shared her photos of what I might expect.

I also rely on recommendations from friend Sheri Brautigam and her terrific website Living Textiles of Mexico for advice.  Sheri is passionate about the huipiles and other textiles of Chiapas and I want to experience some of what she has discovered there.  I’ve spent some time in Guatemala, have a few pieces I’ve collected, and attended related exhibitions at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca. So, I’m familiar with the type of brocade weaving on back strap looms that brings Chiapas recognition as one of the great textile centers of the world.

First, some bus ticket buying advice for foreigners (that’s people like me who don’t have a Mexican bank-issued credit card).  1)  Find a Mexican friend with a credit card to buy your ticket online and then pay him/her back.  2) Go in advance, in-person to the bus station (4-7 days before you want to go) and buy your ticket with a U.S. bank-issued credit card or cash.

From Oaxaca to SCDLC you have three options for class of service.

1) OCC (452 pesos one-way) leaves daily, is a first class bus with one toilet and can accommodate 44 passengers.  Seats do not fully recline.

2) ADO-GL (542 pesos, one-way) leaves several times a week, has 40 seats and two toilets, for women and men.

3) ADO Platino (726 pesos) is the highest level of service with 25 seats that fully recline, internet service, electrical outlets for PDAs/computers at each seat, and two toilets. According to the schedule, it gets there faster, too. ADO Platino is only in service Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Oaxaca city to San Cristobal de las Casas.

In my “freedom” mode, I bought a one-way ticket.  My plan is to also see two major Mayan archeological sites: first, Palenque and then Bonampak, where there are incredible murals, located near the Guatemala border.  I don’t really need to get back to Oaxaca until mid-February.  So, stay tuned for the next adventures!

Bonampak mural, courtesy of Roberta Christie

I traveled to the Yucatan to visit Chichen Itza and Uxmal in the early 1970’s along rough, pot-holed dirt roads.  The sites were spectacular.  It was a real treat to climb to the top of the pyramids and look out across the jungle.  My son, who recently went to Chichen Itza, says this is no longer possible.  Then, my dream was to get to all the major sites:  Tikal, Palenque and Copan. In the 90’s I climbed to the top of the highest Tikal temple on a hand-over-hand ladder attached vertically to the side of the building — two days in a row!  I loved it there.  Now, I’m getting closer to the early dream.

6 Responses to From Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas: Preview

  1. Norma,

    When we were at Chichen Itza several years ago Sasha laughed at me as I scooted down on my bottom and she practically ran down. I was terrified up there, but it was so beautiful! I am sorry to hear this is no longer possible. She wrote a great poem about the sights and sounds of being up that high when she got back to school.

    Overnight on a bus….you are adventurous!

  2. Norma,
    The ruins of Tonina, on the main road between San Cristobal and Palenque are very impressive and there were very few people at the site both times I visited. In addition, when I was in San Cristobal a few years ago, there was a man on the street behind the main church on the plaza who sold beautifully made bags woven from maguey fiber. (In the main square where the band kiosk is, face the main church – the side wall of which will be in front of you. The vendor sold his bags at the back of the church – which would be on your right-hand side.) His regular bags were well-made, indeed, but what impressed me most were his minature bags (about 1/2 the standard size) with very fine work. Hopefully, he’s still there. His prices were very reasonable given the quality of his product.

    • Shames, thanks for the tips. About to board the bus!

    • I haven’t been able to find him. I have found these ixtle fiber bags (also called “pita”) in various shops around town. I bought one in the Zapatista cooperative shop, but will likely get another one dyed in indigo from a shop called Madre Tierra across from the mercado de dulces on Insurgentes. Thanks for the tip. I may not have recognized the fiber otherwise! In Oaxaca, there is jewelry made from the “silk of the pita” which is what it’s called there.

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