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I visited San Cristobal in the Mexican state of Chiapas in 2010, and the photos on this page are from that trip. The town was one of the most magical I have been to. During this trip, I was able to tour both Palenque and Agua Azul. While in San Cris, be sure to visit the museum and learn about indigenous medicines using local wildlife-including tarantulas. There is also an entire practice of using Coca Cola during childbirth due to water quality being poor in the area.

My advice for Palenque (at least from back then) is to prepare for humidity, the bus ride will make you very queasy and bring change for the bathroom attendants or you won’t be given toilet paper. Oh, and wear comfortable clothes/shoes. I accidentally purchased seltzer water that exploded all over me at one point during the trip to the ruins. There was nowhere to clean-up or replace my water.

As you drive up, you will see a trove of tour buses. Children will linger to offer “unofficial” tours of monkeys and snakes. Since these would require going into the jungle, I decided to pass. The ruins themselves and the surrounding grounds are gorgeous.

The highlight of the bus ride was a group of drunk Italian tourists jumping onto the bus at 6 a.m. and essentially hijacking it for a bit. We then ended up at the police station so the driver could file a report before we were on our way.

Many Italians began to visit Chiapas with the start of the Zapatista revolution and it has continued to be a popular destination for them.

San Cris is incredible. They have a great market and lots of cute hotels and restaurants. I went with an acquaintance named Carlos to visit his friend Monkey. When I asked about that name, he said, “I don’t know. They just call him monkey.”