by Peter Trinh
In my last article, I talked about all the circumstances that led me to this new endeavor and how that place became San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. Today, I will share what makes this place special and is such a good place for my new endeavor.
Geographically, San Cris, as it is called locally, is nestled in the middle of a wide mountain range, so it is significantly harder than normal for foreigners and commercial interests to get to.
Politically, the majority of Chiapas is controlled by an indigenous group called the Zapatistas, who currently enjoy unofficial autonomy from the Mexican government. In 1994, they stormed the central plaza where the state’s capital building was located; and violently took control. There are complicated reasons that necessitated this approach; but to this day, they remain a controversial topic, with the majority of the population of Chiapas and the visitors in favor of the group.
Energetically, there are many shamans who perform constant spiritual work to protect the valley that San Cris is located in; on all four sides in the mountains above. Nearly all of the locals and the majority of foreigners there have a similar set of attitudes that support the indigenous, the local economy, natural beauty, and the activists.
Economically, Chiapas, the state, is also the poorest state in Mexico, where the average income is just $1000 MXN per month ($53 US Dollars). This limits the commercial appeal and therefore foreign owned enterprises in (and attracted to) the area.
Finally, small scale, grass roots, community, and spiritual based living is the most resonant and practical way to live in this area. Anything else turns out not to work well.
There are large street-art murals occupying entire walls of buildings dotting the town; each have a significant message to share; and each are connected to each other to form a larger message. They are painted by Zapatista artists and influence the solidarity of this place.