Colorful San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

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3 great friends and I have been planning a trip to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead – DOTD) in Chiapas, Mexico for 2 solid years. Like everyone else who planned international trips in the last 18 months, we had to cancel a few times. Boo. After a long wait, vaccinations and lifted travel restrictions, we were finally able to make it a reality this year!

If you don’t know where Chiapas is, it’s one of the southern states in Mexico on the border of Guatemala. It’s also home to 12 federally recognized ethnicities who are direct descendants of ancient Mayans. Not something frequently seen in other locales of Mexico – certainly not in Cancun or Playa del Carmen where American tourists run amok. This diversity makes Chiapas particularly special.

If people can’t acknowledge the wisdom of indigenous peoples, than that’s their loss” ~ Jay Griffiths

The capitol of Chiapas is Tuxtla Gutierrez, but the central gem of the area is San Cristobal de Las Casas. If you ever decide to visit, staying in San Cristobal is the way to go as several tours start in this colorful, Spanish colonial town. One can also find more than a few markets, tasty restaurants, ornate churches, and if you go during DOTD, there are nightly/daily parades and some of the best halloween trick-or- treaters I’ve ever seen. One thing we did not do was visit Palenque to see waterfalls and ruins, we just ran out of time. This part of the state is supposed to be pretty incredible – next time.

Rather than give you a play by play description of the town, thought I’d tell the story in pictures. Enjoy!

Our hotel, Casa Lum, was on a fabulous street, close to the action, restaurants, bars and shopping. It was the perfect jumping off point to explore the city and enjoy the parades and Halloween shenanigans. The people watching from the patio out front was insane – we spent a good chunk of time there.

San Cristobal is an incredible walking city – at first it’s a bit overwhelming with the flurry of activities, colors, and smells, but it soon becomes a normal part of the experience. There are quite a few europeans and indigenous people living in and around the city. (image of pink monster on the wall by SR)

As mentioned earlier, there were daily parades which were sooo much fun! They were a nice mix of Day of the Dead and Halloween celebrations. We never quite knew when they would start, but they seemed to be never-ending. (image of the Catrina in yellow by KR – her new iPhone took some amazing pictures at night).

Trick or Treaters were out in full force for not 1, but 2 days. Lucky kids! They were the sweetest, most gracious little humans. One of my favorite things in life is handing out Halloween candy. October 31st in Chiapas was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a long while! (images of 4 clowns, girl in blue, girls in red and black, and the joker all by KR).

“Halloween was confusing. All of my life my parents said, ‘Don’t take candy from strangers’. And then they dressed me up and said, ‘Go beg for it’. I didn’t know what to do! I’d knock on peoples doors and say ‘Trick or treat – no thank you.” ~ Rita Rudner

San Cristobal de La Casas is a town of roughly 200,000 residents. Given the strong faith of many in Mexico, there is a church in every neighborhood, all seemingly requiring a ton of stairs to ascend. (image of yellow church with blue sky by SR)

The decor and ambiance of the restaurants and cafes was soooo well done. We spent many hours in these beautiful places sipping wine and sharing laughs about the day’s adventures. We didn’t have one bad meal. In fact, I had some of the best Tres Leches cake in this sweet little town.

“I’m convinced that anyone who doesn’t like Mexican food is a psychopath” ~ Jim Gaffigan

There were definitely signs of the Dia de Los Muertos celebrations in San Cristobal, but not as many as we thought there might be. My friend KR, built an ofrenda for us so we could mourn and celebrate our loved ones who’s lives were lost too soon. It was the sweetest thing ever. Tears flowed freely.

We did manage to take a specific tour to the surrounding indigenous villages to share the Day of the Dead festivities with the locals. More on that later. (image with ridiculously hairy arm (mine) by KR)

In short, we laughed, cried, walked, explored, ate and drank our way through San Cristobal. It was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in Mexico. Perhaps it was the timing or the best travel companions for this sort of trip. Regardless, I’ll never forget it.

…i choose this…

Pam

80 comments

  1. I didn’t know how badly I wanted to experience this until I saw your pics on IG and read the post. What an amazing, fun thing to do! The costumes are fantastic, even the kids have great costumes and makeup. Great post Pam! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jeff, it was really nice. We didn’t feel threatened at all in Chiapas. I think this state has a really low crime rate at least in San Cristobal. I’m always a little on guard in Mexico City, but I don’t do anything after dark for the most part.

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  2. Oh wow, this is so much my sort of place! We’ve not been to Mexico but it’s on the ever-growing wish-list and you’ve convinced me that when we do we should consider including San Cristobal 🙂

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      1. She lives across the street from me and I was so excited but there were only a handful of people I could tell about it that would care 😂 I would love to do a studio yoga class, I’m too scary sweaty on the bike I might freak everyone out ha! Boot camp sounds fun but very hard!

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        1. sooo cool!! haha on the bike – that’s a hilarious visual. It is fun and hard, my back is killing me this morning. lol. Question for you….have you been down to Stone Street in NYC? I can’t recall from your posts. I will be there in January and put together a Scavenger hunt – debating whether to put this on it! You can be honest if it sucks. haha.

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          1. How fun!! I actually live very close to Stone Street I think it’s cool and it’s usually all lit up in the winter ❄️ there’s a few bars that are always busy and a very good pizza place called Adrienne’s Pizza. The only thing is it’s pretty far south, so if your scavenger hunt is like Central Park and midtown area it would be like a 25-30 min subway to get to stone street. The seaport district is close to stone street and on the piers they have the igloo type things that would be fun to get drinks/food with a group

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                    1. Thank you!!! I quit right before the wedding and not coming back to 1000 emails was such a blessing!! It still feels surreal to be but jon supported me and I’m so much happier now 😊 I turned into such a miserable zombie during busy season and he couldn’t take it anymore ha!

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                    2. ohhh, I totally get it. I’ve spent 25 years of doing either public accounting or M&A consulting…it’s been a butt-kicker of a ride. Travel is the only thing that has kept me sane over the years! Jon’s a peach!

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                    3. Wow!!! That’s impressive!! Travel is definitely necessary after all the hours and stress. I always planned a trip to get me through each busy season. He is a peach! He does have fun tagging along to restaurants I get invited to 😁

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  3. This is so awesome Pam. We had plans for San Cristobal de las Casas/Palenque and beyond just as covid broke out. Now that I see your post I think going during Dias de los Muertos is the ticket. The costumes and colours are fantastic. I also love the little place you stayed and will make a note of it.

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  4. Here comes your little party pooper …. I really don’t like Halloween or DOTD! Do you still want to be my friend? What I DO like is the looks of San Cristobal de las Casa and Chiapas; they would be perfect destinations for people who have seen a lot of Mexico, like us. Love all your photos and the fun friend time you had, too!

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    1. Whaaatt – that’s crazy talk!! Well that’s good to know, I won’t ever drag you along on a DOTD trip! You’re right, it’s a nice change from the standard Mexico destinations. Been thinking about Nepal a lot lately – it’s calling our names.

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  5. Oh this seems like a fantastic experience! I have never been to Mexico but being there during this very special celebration is probably amazing! Thanks for sharing 😊

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