Our neighbor, Paty comes on Saturday mornings and shoos us out of our house so that she can clean it. This is well worth the money and leaves us with around five hours to kill. Here are a few things that we often find ourselves doing while banished from our house:
1. First stop is the neighborhood lavandería. After tossing our dirties in the scales, we usually owe around 47 pesos*. Later, when we retrieve our clothes, they will be infused with spring freshness and folded to Stepford Wife perfection.
2. Thankfully, the Belgian chocolatier on Calle Real de Guadalupe opens shop at 8:30 AM and can be found obsessively arranging a menagerie of cacao-based delights in his display case. Houdini-esque, he whips up 15-peso cups of chocolat caliente (hot chocolate) so magical that we sip wordlessly for several minutes, eyes closed.
3. Next the anador beckons, where fresh loaves of pan de elote (cornbread) are sold on the street corners by industrious gangs of ruddy-cheeked Chamula grandmothers. They offer two loaves for 20p; a deal that makes our day.
4. We find ourselves drawn repeatedly to the outdoor market at Santo Domingo church. Here, we surrender to the staggering maze of vendors selling bags, jewelry, clothing; even the random flash of livestock (a turtle here, chicken there). However, it’s a great place to pick up vagabond essentials, like a wool hat with a skull and crossbones motif (40p), a pair of striped, handknit leg warmers (45p) or a travel journal crafted from locally made paper (35p).
5. Finally, when our grumbling stomachs begin to rival the engines of passing lorries, we make a beeline for TierrAdentro, also on Real de Guadalupe. The ambience is cozy, the Wi-Fi free and a crunchy plate of tostadas de pollo is a mere 42p. Also worth a visit is Kitsch, another nearby café. While it’s a “splurge” at 55p, their Jardin del Eden bagel is worth every peso and comes loaded with fresh vegetables drizzled with a savory honey-mustard Vinaigrette. Clearly, a fan favorite.
So there you have it. A thrifty, charm-infused morning in San Cristobal. And while it is definitely a pedestrian’s town, if you’re tapped out on hiking, a taxi is only a wave away. For around 25p the drivers will take you anywhere your heart desires within city limits.
*For reference, as of this writing (2012), 50 Pesos is about $3.84 US (the current exchange rate of the Mexican Pesos to the US Dollar is 1 = 13).
Added Bonus! Kitten Update:
Momo and her brood are still hanging out and thriving. The kittens are now about a month old (at last count there appeared to be three). We look but don’t touch. Sometimes we leave some chicken or ham out, which they make short work of. Here are some photos of the little family (mostly of Momo skittishly peering out from behind something). She’s getting friendlier, though!