Stuck in San Cristobal de Las Casas

Again the pace has been slow as I struggle to leave Mexico behind. Time seems to pass very quickly whenever I stop somewhere and I have a consistent, albeit mild, sense of guilt when I have more than one or two rest days. This guilt doesn’t seem to make much difference to my behaviour as I consistently indulge in an extra few days in various locations.

I’ve nearly hit the 2 week mark in San Cristobal de las Casas; an exceptionally beautiful colonial city. I would have stayed only a few days but unfortunately I’ve had an extended period of food poisoning. The hotel profited well since I’ve stayed an extra 10 days as a result! My first proper illness in my trip so far. It took me by surprise since I’ve been eating at some pretty dodgy places for the last 6 months without any problems. I seemed to have recovered ok in the last few days so I’m heading off tomorrow and should be in Guatemala within a few days. I had considered flying to Columbia and skipping the raining season in Central America, it’s been raining very hard all this week; think rivers running down the road. All day as well, not just 1 hour in the afternoons as everyone says about the tropics; I’m told it’s the back end of a hurricane. In my opinion, rain is the one the toughest hardships in cycle touring. Being permanently wet for weeks can be difficult to endure (I’ll be avoiding camping where possible). Dirt road options are often difficult or impossible to cycle, depending on the surface, so paved is often the preferred route but of course the traffic is much more dangerous when it’s wet. Anyway all these thoughts are going through my head as I consider what Central America might be like. If it’s too bad I’ll fly to Columbia; this is, afterall, supposed to be fun (sometimes).

UPDATE: I’ve continued along to Comitán. Climbing out of San Cristobal was pretty wet, grim and cold. After 20 km or so the road started descending steeply; I could barely see due to the water flying off my wheels. I tried wearing my sunglasses but they just steamed up. Fortunately as I got lower the air temperature heated up significantly and the rain stopped. Within about 30 minutes I was dry and the rest of the day was a fun ride. Comitán has a nice colonial feel and beautiful square, close to Cascadas el Chiflón (one of the highest and most powerful waterfalls in Mexico).
I have 4 days left on my visa but it’s only a day of riding to the border. I’m going to have to ride between the storms over the few days as I head up into the Guatemalan mountains (a lot of bad weather coming this way). I think they’re over 3000 metres so LOTS of climbing coming up!

8 thoughts on “Stuck in San Cristobal de Las Casas

  1. Isn’t avoiding getting wet recognised as one of the top survival priorities because of what it does to your spirits? Perhaps order some goretex overshoes from Lord and Lady Donnington, or fly. Life is to be enjoyed afterall. I find it a huge mental struggle cycling the 1.1 miles downhill to Reigate train station in the morning rain, so understand exactly what it’s like.

    • Thanks Tom. Yes, it’s my least favourite weather condition when I’m cycling (strong headwinds aren’t too far behind!). Thankfully it seems to have improved these few days after leaving San Cristobal.

  2. Nick. I am so glad to hear you soldiering on. I’m also glad to hear you keeping your options open — this shit is supposed to be awesome fun, and being rained on for 3 months it is not. Another friend who made it through the wet season highly recommended an alpaca sarape! The strategy is, I suppose, adapt or evacuate.

    Best of luck friend. Can’t wait to hear your continued adventures south.

    • Thanks for your support Ginger! I admit to having to look up alpaca sarape, thanks for the tip. 🙂 The weather has been ok the last few days as the hurricane has backed off. The rain seems to be restricting itself to afternoon and night so lots of early starts ahead of me!

  3. Hey Nick,

    Do you recall how was the highway between San Cristobal and the border? We’re considering taking a side route that would drop us down sooner and include some gravel and a bit more miles to avoid the traffic, but might stick to the highway for the sake of time to get to Brandy’s language class on time.

    Along the same lines, how about in Guatemala from the border to Xela? There is a side route that looks particularly inviting, but again, in the name of time, if the highway is nice, we might stick with that…

    Take care

    • Hi Lewis, I don’t remember much about it which probably means it wasn’t that exciting. The waterfall I mentioned in the blog was pretty awesome. In Mexico I think there was some traffic but I don’t remember it being overly grim. In Guatemala, the chicken buses were quite unpleasant, not giving much room and passing at high speed. I remember there was a bit of a climb up from the border. Quite cool heading into a new country, prepare for a lot people shouting ‘gringo’! 🙂 Could be worth taking a side route but then if you’re in a hurry….
      Have fun!

      • Hey Nick,

        Yeah, the road had some highlights, but nothing to really stick with me, aside from the epic downhill. There was quite a bit of traffic, but not too bad.

        The climb from the border actually went fairly well for us, although both countries tried to scam us at the borders. We made it from La Mesilla to Huehue in one day. It was the next day where we were demolished after climbing all day. I looked later and the climb from Mesilla to Huehue was about 60% more, but it was just more gentle I suppose. We’re in Atitlan now after a beautiful day and a half from Xela area.

    • Yes I remember customs tried to scam me on the Guatemalan side! Only a couple of bucks though. They went quiet when I challenged them and waved me through. Have fun Guatemala, great place to study Spanish….

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