We have been going to San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico for over 40 years. I did my dissertation research there for 18 months in 1967-8, and over the years we have lived in the city for summers, semesters, and year-long research trips for a total of over 3 years. We saw the city grow from a small town of 20,000 to it's current size of well over 100,000. Jessica, our daughter, lived there for about three years after she graduated art school. We have some dear old friends there.
The city is always beautiful, and at 7,000 feet has a great climate.
The city is surrounded by Indian communities, many who retain distinctive clothing to mark their identity.
We love to go with friends for walks in the countryside. This walk was in a magical cloud forest just outside the city on Huitepec mountain.
You may have noticed that Mexican people love to paint their houses with bright colors.
The Restaurante Jovel has terrific food, and hand made tortillas, plus nice marimba music.
We stay at the Hotel Rincon del Arco in San Cristobal. It is owned and run by the son of an old friend, and has great views from the upstairs balcony.
Chiapas was the site of the Zapatista uprising of 1994. There are many rural communities who have declared themselves "autonomous" of the federal government. As a result they enjoy ethnic and political dignity but languish in socio-economic misery and backwardness. And the entire state of Chiapas is under military observation.
Chiapas is a part of our life, even though its present political situation is full of tension. The economic situation of the city of San Cristobal is good, because the government invests money. But the situation of the Indian communities in the hinterlands, who embraced the Zapatistas in a search for dignity and development, still seems pretty bad. If you want to read a sympathetic expert's view of the Zapatistas, look at Basta a book by anthropologist George Collier. The cover of the book is from Phyllis Plattner's artwork.
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