[ San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas ]
Whilst there are many photos to share, and stories to tell, regarding the passage from Ayutla Mixe, Oaxaca to San Cristobal, Chiapas, they must wait awhile longer. In their stead I will share the story of the San Cristobal Saints—a group of semi-mystical, polyglot beings with rejuvenatory powers. If you are lucky enough to encounter them, their enchantments can return your sense of purpose, well-being, good health, and belonging.
I am one of the lucky ones.
One week ago I arrived in San Cristobal, and through a series of random encounters—and the sage advice of the Prophet Google (pronounced “Goog-lay”)—I found shelter in the realm of Rossco. Rossco is a Backpackers’ Hostel, one of the oldest in San Cris, and each night at 8pm a fire appears in the courtyard’s firepit. At 2,200 meters (7,218ft) it gets cold at night, and the heat of the fire summons the hostel’s denizens. It also, apparently, summons the San Cristobal Saints.
In corporeal form, the Saints hail from all corners of the globe: Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Holland, Germany, the United States, and Austria. Mexico, too, obviously (can’t have Saints in Mexico without the home team being represented!). When I made my usual attempts at withdrawn self-isolation they were having none of it. There were smiles and laughter and home-cooked meals from their respective countries; there were tales of travel by bike, bus, and backpack; there was an easy comradery that grew stronger with each passing day. Some people left, some arrived, but the core group of Saints stayed together a full week.
Luckily for me, I was able to photograph these mythical creatures. They were shy, even disinterested at first—but a pair of blonde, blue-eyed Italians agreed to be photographed more or less on their way out the door. The results were simple, but every bit as beautiful as the subjects.
After that, things got easier.
What follows are images of the Saints themselves. If they read this from on high, I want them to know how wonderful it was to make their acquaintance and to share a very special moment in time (within an already very special moment in time—if a decade can count as a moment, that is). Natalia & Katie & Lucho & Lorenzo & Charly & Camilla & Sofia & Ken & Berit & Marco & Chloe & all those whose names I have sadly misplaced in my addled brain: thank you for the wonderful companionship, the meals, the stories and the laughter. Also for your patience while I tried to capture a bit of your essence with my camera.
I miss you all, and hope to see you somewhere down the road!
To the rest of you, I hope your weekend is full of friendship, kindness, fellowship, and fun.
Take care of each other, and always remember: Safety Third!