Monday, May 14, 2007

The Beauty of San Cristobal de Las Casas

Photographically speaking, San Cristobal offers so many photogenic opportunities that I can't resist just walking around with a camera and no goal in mind. It occurred to me that these three days were more like a 'traditional Glenn travel adventure' than my life usually is these days. When I left Tuxtla, I realized I had no plans for the time in San Cristobal at all. I hadn't even thought about what I might do. Does one need a plan to enjoy the aesthetic beauty of an ancient city? Some would think so, but I don't.

However, the question makes me wonder what beauty is and why is San Cristobal endowed with so much of it?

Ancient Colonial Architecture

Setting aside political implications of colonialism, there are some spectacular churches and buildings in San Cristobal. Having said that, one goal this weekend was not to take a single picture of the cathedral. I failed.

This is the interior of the hotel, Casa Vieja, one of the oldest buildings in San Cristobal. I did not stay there.


Even the most carefully arranged produce department in a major supermarket can never be as picturesque as a simple fruit stand on the street. Spotless, stainless steel and photoshopped promotional posters somehow just don't compare to wooden crates and pyramids of mangoes.


I think the old masters were on to something. But who am I to say this?

Vibrant Colours

Chiapas breaks all the rules when it comes to colour. It makes me want to buy a house in the suburbs and paint it really bright colours (well, almost).

A note about the second photo. I spent many hours scouring San Cristobal for amazing doors to shoot in order to make a mosaic of doors using Flickr Tools. Despite finding over thirty interesting doors, I was not satisfied and will make another trip simply to photograph more doors. The best ones always had an ice cream truck parked in front of them.

No, I am not a perfectionist. Yes, I am in denial.


The old section of San Cristobal does not have a lot of nature, certainly not by Canadian standards, but what there is, adds to the impact.

No, I did not stay in this hotel either.

Cultural Beauty

Whenever I am in San Cristobal, there are musicians doing outdoor concerts, street performers dazzling the crowds (mimes underwhelming handfuls of children), dramas and much more.

These Fire Dancers performed to the drumming and playing of a small band of dreadlocked musicians, but their performance was so mesmerizing that I barely noticed the musicians. OK, I was a little wrapped up with the photography as well.

I shot over a hundred photos of the Fire Dancers and developed a following in the first few minutes. I had a cadre of future photographers - four young boys between three and six years old who were so thrilled with seeing the photos appear on the screen after I shot them, that they kept pushing closer and closer to see the photos until I could no longer see the screen. They were nearly as entertaining as the Fire Dancers. I wish now that I had taken their photo.


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