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December 3, 2005 09:50 AM

San Cristóbal de Las Casas

So it seems some of the best of Mexico may have been saved for last. Or at least maybe. As we slept or stared into the darkness, the coach wound up and through the Sierra Madres; carrying us from the warmth of Zipolite to San Cristóbal De Las Casas - the coldest `damn` city in Mexico.

When we arrived in the day's hot sun, it was hard not to appreciate the beauty of the place. Half asleep or exhausted, the six of us weaved our way through the colonial streets on route to the 'Backpackers Hostel'. Once there, though sleep was on all of our minds, it was no option. We had all of twenty-four hours in the city, and intended to see as much as possible.

On top of elaborate indigenous markets, churches, and mellow streets, it seems that much of San Cristóbal's recent fame is owed to the Zapatistas. In protest of the inauguration of NAFTA, the leftist guerrilla army emerged from the surrounding mountains and woods January 1st 1994, to seize the city. Their aim was to improve the desperate and oft ignored living conditions of the rural indigenous population in the state of Chiapas, and their popularity is evidenced by hoards of t-shirts, key chains, and posters throughout the city.

The brief stroll we took through the city was enough to impress us, but we knew we had to move. Even after meeting many fun people in the late-night and early-morning hours, we broke camp early the next day. For all of its merits, Mexico is but one country in a very big world.

This photo was taken in Ocosingo, a self declared autonomous Zapatista municipality.