We departed San Cristóbal de las Casas early yesterday morning and in truth we were all really glad to be leaving. Honestly I think that as a family we murmured, thought, and even yelled the phrase “What are we doing here?” more often this past month than we ever have before. So, why did we decide to live in this area of Mexico for a month in the first place? We really wanted to experience the region of Chiapas and get to know a different way of life from what we experienced this past winter in Baja California. We intentionally picked a Mexican city that has less of an expat community and chose a rental that was removed from the tourist areas.
Unfortunately in doing so we neglected to research how family friendly the city would be. A mistake that we will be sure not to make in the future! While San Cristóbal de las Casas offers so much in terms of super friendly people, wonderful culture, and a great night-life (for the older crowd), we found that it falls very short as an enjoyable city to experience with children.
There were very few places for the Younger Fives to get out and play. The only functioning playground that we did find was a good distance from our house. The streets surrounding our rental, while safe, were littered with garbage and a never ending supply of dog excrement making it impossible for the kids to play on the block. There was a field behind our rental apartment where the kids really enjoyed spending time. However, 9 times out of 10 times the gate would be locked, which just added to everyone’s frustration. In addition the sidewalks of San Cristóbal de las Casas are very narrow and the streets always full of cars. This made walks through the city unenjoyable for us all as the car fumes made the kids sick, and we were a bundle of nerves trying to keep the kids out of the path of cars.
So, needless to say after living in San Cristóbal de las Casas for just a week we were all pretty much ready to throw in the towel. However, with a fully paid month-long rental this just wasn’t an option. So, instead we sat down together as a family and brainstormed how we could make things better. And in the end the process of sticking-it-out and working together as a family to come up with fun things to do ended up being a great experience for our family. While we probably spent more time inside this past month then we have since the kids were very young, it was fun to divert our attention with board games and World Cup soccer as a change.
Most importantly our time in San Cristóbal de las Casas made us appreciate what it means to live in an area with a lot of green space and very little pollution. We all came to fully realize how spoiled we have been living so close to nature in many of our past rentals. This past month again reminded us of how much we have to be thankful for as a family. Part of this adventure is finding out how other people in this world live and experiencing new areas of the world for ourselves. While everyone was excited to move-on from San Cristóbal de las Casas, we will all take with us the many lessons that we learned this past month.