Recently, I made my way to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, with our After the Rain Gloria Tote in hand. Like Oaxaca, Chiapas is a Mexican state with a strong culture steeped in its rich history. Chiapas is home to many indigenous groups directly descendent from the Mayan people. Two of the largest groups being the Tzotzil and Tzeltal who live in the highlands surrounding San Cristobal.
It’s a well worth the full day’s drive it takes to get from from Oaxaca to San Cristobal. This colonial city nestled in the mountains has some of the best coffee I’ve tasted, markets rich in unique artisanal goods, and an abundance of natural and historical archaeological sites close by. Whether you’re exploring the surrounding area or taking in what the city has to offer, there’s something for everyone in Chiapas.
Traveling with the After the Rain Gloria Tote was perfect for the bus journey and long days spent out and about. Though the days here are usually warm, the morning and night time can be quite chilly. Luckily, the tote was roomy enough to fit my jean jacket inside during the heat of the day, while still leaving room for all of my market purchases. Not to mention the sea foam green color is one of my absolute favorites. Who doesn’t love a calming, yet cheery pastel.
A required day trip from the city is the town Chamula, which is famous for its unique church. From the outside it appears a typical Catholic church, like those built in every town during the colonization, but once inside you can witness traditional Tzotzil ceremonies. In place of pews, pine needles carpet the floor and there are thousands of candles covering all surfaces. Here families gather to drink a locally made spirit called pox, quietly chant, and offer eggs and even live chickens as sacrifices. This ritual sacrifice is done as a limpia, a traditional cleanse. Its a truly unique experience, though, take note, photography is strictly prohibited inside the church.
No matter where I go, shopping in the local market is an absolute must. The markets of Chiapas surely did not disappoint and were in fact a highlight of my trip. The city’s main market is set up daily right outside of the Santo Domingo church. Here you will find an array of beautifully embroidered goods, naturally woolen paper notebooks with pressed flowers, and leather bags that last a lifetime, all for unbeatable prices.
Another market worth checking out is right next to the San Francisco Church. Here you will find more crafts, but most importantly you’ll want to check it out for sweet tooth satisfaction. My personal favorite is anything cajeta, candies made with a sweetened goat’s milk.
On the backside of the Santo Domingo Church is an incredible textile museum, well worth spending a couple of hours inside. Their collection of huipiles, or embroidered blouses, is of the best I’ve seen. Dating back to the late 1800s, the pull out display features pieces from all over the diverse Chiapas region, as well as Guatemala. Absolutely gorgeous.
My short trip to San Cristobal de las Casas only breaks the surface of what the Chiapas state has to offer. The city is also a base for getting out to explore stunning natural beauty and the jungle ruins of Palenque. I’m going to have to go back for more.