After our yoga retreat, we spent a couple more lakeside days in San Pedro before leaving Guatemala.
We stocked up on some nuts and local chocolate before hopping on an early morning ferry followed by a shuttle from Lake Atitlan to Mexico. On receiving our first local currency, we were thrilled (or at least Niina was…) to see Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo featured on the 500 peso note.
Our first stop was the cool highland town of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the Chiapas province. We loved the cafes, book shops, and little boutiques of the town as well as the nightly live music on the streets and in restaurants.
San Cristóbal is surrounded by some pretty good mountain biking terrain so, naturally, Roger felt the need to try it out for a morning.
There are traditional villages nearby that would be worth a visit, but we were in the mood for just wandering the pretty streets and popping into cafes and independent shops.
As soon as we entered Mexico, we started spotting a disproportionate number of Volkswagen Beetles on the streets. Quite unexpected, but definitely put a smile on our faces!
Crossing over the border, we had to say goodbye to travelling on our fond chicken buses – not a regular means of transport in Mexico – and be sadly (!) limited to air-conditioned 1st class services offering superior safety and comfort. From the chill of San Cristóbal, we took a bus to the hot and humid Palenque, where we first began to feel like real tourists, staying in La Cañada area where the hotel maids would sculpt our towels in new and different ways..
It is possible to do rather long day trips to various points of interest in the area, but we opted for a more relaxed afternoon excursion to the lovely (albeit busy) jungle waterfall of Misol-Ha…
…followed by a visit to the gorgeous Agua Azul, a set of waterfalls and pools off the road between San Cristóbal and Palenque. This area, too, is very popular with tourists and full of little restaurants, souvenir shops and peddlers but if you wander a bit further up the stream and stay until late afternoon, you can get pools all to yourself. We loved this natural spa.
Of course, we could not have missed the Mayan ruins of Palenque just a short combi ride away in the jungle. Although more accessible and less grand than Tikal, we were still struck by the remains and the way the original inhabitants integrated the city with its surroundings.
Next up we head to the Yucatán peninsula, home to some of the better-known destinations Mexico has on offer.