Tuesday, July 16, 2013

San Christobal de las Casas and over to Guatemala (01.07.2013 - 05.07.2013)

We took the ADO bus from Palenque to San Christobal de las Casas passing by Tuxtla. But before we reached Tuxtla we got stuck in traffic because of a car/truck crash. Just minutes ahead of us two trucks crashed into each other, we still saw them burning...! About 6 hours later the fire died down enough that they could clear the way and we could head on to Tuxtla. Where upon they told us they wouldn't continue to San Christobal as there where some undefined roadblocks. Nobody could tell us what kind of roadblocks (political, zapatistas?) or when they would be cleared. Stranded in the middle of the night in a huge city with no clue where to stay or when we could head on we decided to wait it out. The first regular bus would/should leave at 4am and then every hour and finally at about 8 in the morning there was a bus leaving for San Christobal, hooray!

Just at the bus stop a guy talked us into taking a look at Planet Hostel. They would pay for the cab so we decided to take a look. In the end it was so cheap and we were so tired that we stayed for one night but changed places the next as it was quite dirty and without warm water. You appreciate a hot shower in this cold weather! Bring a sweater, it is quite cold in the mountains here! The other hostel (Los Camellos) was quite lovely and we could relax a bit and visit the charming town of San Christobal. Especially worth mentioning is the bar/restaurant La Vina de Bacco, we spent quite some time and money on the fine wine and tapas they serve!

Feeling relaxed enough we took a bike tour the other day, which would lead us around the country side of San Christobal. We visited the Mammoth Cave (no mammoths beside a stone which might look like a mammoth with a lot of goodwill) and stopped at a lovely little village to rest.

We decided not to take one of the all-inclusive-shuttle-services to reach Guatemala and took the ADO bus to the frontier. After having our passport stamped on the mexican side we shared a cab (with an elderly lady, small girl and a chicken) over the border to Guatemala. We changed our remaining pesos and wanted to take the Linea Dorado bus to Panajachel on Lago Atilan. But we would have to wait 4h till the bus would leave, so we decided to take the local option, Chicken Bus! These old north american school busses are re-painted colourful and usually run between two towns back and forth. Luckily the guatemalan people aren't too tall, as these busses were built to transport kids. I'm not the tallest but still my knees touched the bench in front of me, Melanie had no problems... ;)
They told us we would have to change to another bus but would reach Pana, so we got dropped of at an intersection and hopped on another Chicken Bus. After becoming assured multiple times that this bus would take us to Panajachel we enjoyed the ride through the green valleys. As the day turned to dusk and then to night there where fewer and fewer people on the bus till we were the only two left. Shortly after it stopped at a gas station and told us that is the end of the line and there would be no bus to Pana leaving today. Bummed to be stranded (again) in a unknown city with no clue where to stay we took the next cab and trusted the angry driver (at the traffic, not us... hopefully) to bring us to a hostel. He dropped us of at the Black Cat Hostel, which turned out to be a lovely hostel in Quetzaltenango (the mayan name Xela is much more common and easier to remember/pronounce).