Over the winding 2 lane road we drove down the maintains to the Pacific coast. Just before the coast we turned off and followed the coast at a distance going south. There is a gap in the maintain range which results in a strong wind blowing from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. There are many warning signs. During our drive it was not too bad. Many wind farms dot the landscape. The climate has turned humid and hot. Everywhere there are large mango plantations. In the garden of our host, Rodridgo, in Zanatepec there is also a large mango tree. Before we left the next day, he gave us several to take along. Rodridgo is an English teacher who originally opened his house up for couch surfing cyclist but later also for Overlanders. We were the only one staying overnight on his large grass field that day. Unfortunately it was a Sunday so he had all types of family things to attend so we only had a short chat with him.
From Zanatepec we drove inland to Tuxtla Gutierrez. This large city is at 450 m but still felt warm and humid. From here we drove up the mountain to look down in the “Canyon del Sumidero”. Deep below us, you saw the river boats speeding up the canyon and large vultures floating in the sky. While driving on to another viewpoint, we heard some strange noises coming from underneath the camper. We tightened some loose hanging items under the camper but the noise continued. It became so bad that we decided to stop at the side of the road. We later tried to reach the next parking place but although the engine is running we couldn’t get power to the wheels. At this height there was no phone reception so we asked bypassing traffic to call for a tow truck. A German Overlander came by with a large truck and they towed us to a bypass a bit further up the mountain. There we waited till after sunset and were just getting ready to spend the night when a police car and tow truck turned up. The camper was loaded on the truck and they drove us down the mountain to the nearest VW mechanic, Elio, who we found in iOverlander app. We camped in front of his workshop. Rudy had worked out by then that the left CV joint had failed (again). Elio set to work the next morning to remove the CV joint. When it came out it was clear what had happened: One of the 6 bolts, holding the CV in place, had broken off. The other bolts became loose and at one point the axel disconnected from the motor and we could no longer drive. Fortunately nothing was seriously damaged and with some new bolts and grease everything was put back together. At the end of the day we could drive on to the river cruise boat launch parking area in Chiapas de Corzo, some 10 km further up the road. We spent the night under the large mango trees at the boat launch. There was a strong cool wind blowing from the river into the camper. Both of us had a good sleep that night.
The following day we took the cruise up the river through the gorge all the way to the power dam which actually raised the level of the river so that the boats could make the trip. Along the way we saw several flocks of birds skimming the water surface getting out of the way of the boat. On the side of the river the guide showed us some crocodiles and at one point monkeys in the trees. Although the rock is limestone there were not many places with “dripping rock” features.
From Chiapas de Corzo we started the 41 km climb up to 2100 m from 450 m. The town of San Christobal de las Casas lies just over the top of the rim in a large valley. It is one of the most native towns in Mexico. We did expect to see more people dressed in traditional clothing but I guess modernisation has also arrived here. This was particularly clear when you see almost everybody walking around with a smart phone. We found a hotel with an inner courtyard where we could park the camper and rent a room. It is a lot cooler at this height which made wandering the narrow cobbled stone streets a lot more enjoyable. The town was started in 1545. The buildings around the main plaza however did not feel that old. Maybe this was due to the earthquakes the town had suffered over the years and the buildings had not been restored in the original style. Still we spent some present hours wandering the streets, sitting in the different plaza’s and enjoying the street food. I don’t know why but we could only could find one of the churches open.