San Cristóbal’s Real de Guadalupe

 

Running east from the zocalo in the very center of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Real de Guadalupe is a pedestrian street at it’s western end where gentrification is having it’s way, apparent even to a first-time visitor. Expat gringos speak with disdain about the situation but I admit I found walking along it every day a pleasure, stopping for coffee, observing the action, shopping for bread or cheese or pecans out of big jars at a corner sweet shop. I loved that there was room to walk, even when it was full of people, rather than squeezed onto the narrow sidewalks elsewhere in town.

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Cafeologia, good coffee in front, expensive hotel through the back door.

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Guadalupe-4A sidewalk tango, above, a different angle below.

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I don’t buy much these days but I did bring home a shirt that I know will be a favorite for a long time, purchased from a shop, below, on Guadalupe from a lady who thereafter greeted me as I passed.

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I got acquainted with the American couple who own Abuelita Books, just off Guadalupe on Avenida Cristóbal Colón, so an easy stop for a browse or to drop off a box of tea I’d rejected.

The traffic began again at Avenida Diego Dugelay . . .

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. . . and if I turned left I’d be at my favorite produce shops or, continuing uphill, to Sweetbeat for a late breakfast or lunch. In other words, Real de Guadalupe was pretty much my freeway-on-foot, the easiest way to walk just about every place I routinely wanted to go.

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Guadalupe-9I confess a purchase here, pox ("posh"), the local distilled beverage.

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Heading east and raising my eyes above the heads, the view included a white church growing larger as I walked. One day I decided to keep going to see what I’d find. Foot traffic largely subsided where motorized traffic began, shops and cafes were simpler and local-looking but no less interesting.

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The street widened until it came to a small park and just beyond . . .

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. . . 79 steps leading to the white church on the hill, Iglesia del Cerro de Guadalupe (1834) and . . .

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. . . turning, for the first time was able to see San Cristóbal from above and take in the undulations of it’s cityscape in a bowl.

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The church is handsome from the outside and inside has a homey neighborhood feel.

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Plain walls highlight the statues and wall-hung features and I found it a comfortable place to spend a few minutes.

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Leaving by the side door I walked into the winding streets on the hillside, heading always downward, and found my way back by a circuitous route to Real de Guadalupe.

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Walking back the way I’d come but different in the opposite direction, as it is always is, everywhere. And on, back to the beginning at the corner by the zocalo where Real de Guadalupe begins . . .

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. . . a face so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes.

 


 
Find all episodes of  'A Month in Chiapas'  here.

 
More PortMoresby stories here.

 

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