Another long, but pretty comfortable, overnight bus trip brought us to the mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas. It is a beautiful and picturesque town with an abundance of incredible food. And believe me we took full advantage of all the food places at our finger tips, I even got to finally try the famous chocolate mole sauce on some enchiladas. Heavenly. We stayed at a place called Rossco Backpackers Hostel and I cannot recommend this place highly enough. The staff are really friendly and helpful, the place is clean and spacious , and they own about 5 dogs that you can play with. So obviously we loved this place.
Our favourite thing to do while in San Cristobal was simply to walk around this gorgeous town and pop into any eatery or place that caught our eye. The old buildings and churches were really beautiful and there were small markets all over the place. We also popped into the Na Bolom Museum, which was the home of the Swiss anthropologist Gertrude Duby-Blom. It was a great place to get a good feel of the indigenous cultures in the Chiapas region. There are also great places to go out in the evenings with live bands and many cocktails.
One of the best things we did in San Cristobal was a cooking class. We organised it through the Instituto Jovel language school with a lovely lady called Irma. She picked us up from the school and immediately took us on a walk through the largest market we had ever seen. There was absolutely everything there that you could dream of. Some of it was really eye opening, like the meat section, where there were just carcases lying around. But some of it was really beautiful, like the chilli and spice section where barrels of spices and dried vegetables spanned across many stores. Andrew and I were transfixed by everything. We also managed to get a good view of it all as we were both twice the height of anyone else at the market! Irma expertly negotiated with the vendors and we left with bags of fresh ingredients to cook with.
The first dish we made was Chalupas. These are basically a fried taco topped with re-fried beans, salsa, lettuce and cheese. Its vegetarian and its delicious. Next we made Asada de Puerco. This was our favourite and definitely a dish that we will repeat at home. We blended ancho and cascabel chillies together with a few other spices and vinegar to make a thick paste that we then slowly cooked the pork in. It is divine. And finally, the last dish was called Sopa de Chipilin. You use corn flour dough filled with cheese to make delicious cheese balls which you fry, and add to a corn soup filled with leaves called chipilin, which kind of look like baby spinach leaves. We combined all these dishes with some homemade tamarind juice for an epic feast.
We absolutely adored our time in San Cristobal de las Casas, and honestly the cool mountain temperature was a welcome relief.
Here is a breakdown of our costs for 4 days:
Budget = US$284 (NZ$400)
Accommodation – US$93.50
Activities – US$59
Food/Drink – US$107
Travel (incl. Taxis) – US$58.50
Total spent – US$318 (NZ$449)
So we were US$34 (NZ$48) over budget. Not too bad, and the cooking class was definitely worth going over budget for.