Is it possible to find sunshine and warmth on a cold, rainy day in San Cristobal de las Casas?
Yes, by walking through Bela’s front door!
After having a serious “disagreement” with my brother Don over whether or not to evacuate the then “Tropical Storm Carlotta,” I arrived in San Cristobal all alone on a very gray day. Talk about a vibrational shift! My body had followed the evacuation route, but my soul was still back on that sunny sea coast! Having split up for separate buses out of Potchutla and needing a little “space,” I didn’t really want to show up where Don was staying at his friend Cisco’s, so I had no particular place to go. I quickly jumped on Trip Advisor before my 11:30pm overnight bus departed, and wrote down the address of the #1 Top Ranked B&B in San Crisobal de las Casas based on traveler reviews, “Bela’s.”
What I couldn’t have known from that quick online search was that there was no signage for Belas. Just a house number on a small tile next to a beautiful wooden door trimmed in cobalt blue, midway down a very quiet street. When the taxi driver pulled up, I argued in my desperate attempt at Spanish, “No es un hotel!! Es CASA!!” I couldn’t know at the time just how right I was. This was NOT a hotel. It was a home!
The taxi driver was visibly irked at me, but sped off to circle the block for a second attempt at finding my “hotel.” Finally, he pulled up for a second time at the door marked #2 at Dr. Navarro, got out, opened the trunk, and proceeded to dump my 68 lb. “traveling office,” (along with the person attached to it, ME!) into the street, and sped off in disgust. I dragged my dead weight bag and body across the street and rang the bell….twice. Finally, a friendly face opened the door.
“Hola Buenos Dias! Do you have a reservation?”
“Uhhhh….regrettably no! I am in a difficult situation without a plan.”
“Well come on in anyway!”
The second thing I had not considered is that being a B&B, there were only five rooms. I was lucky to get the last one available.
The third thing I had not realized was that Bela has a three night minimum. I was a bit put off by this at first……and then I stayed six nights! 😉
I quickly realized the rationale for the three night minimum when I crawled into bed and felt the soft, fleece bed linens and cozy, comfy duvet. Then I opened the beautiful armoire to find my very own fuzzy robe that was “like buttah!!!” Too much transient traffic would not allow such luxuries at an affordable price. Although I intended to head out sightseeing, the rain, the ramifications from the overnight bus, and all the comforts of home netted me one good afternoon nap!!
This 3 night minimum requirement netted other benefits as well, and that was getting to know the other patrons. Of all those staying in Bela’s home, my six night stay was the shortest. I met the nicest people there! All staying for a while, either doing volunteer work, or studying Spanish. We enjoyed each others company so much that we all shared a big Italian dinner and wine together one night in the quaint little restaurant nearby, Napoli.
The minute I walked through the front door of Bela’s, the lush, flower-filled garden caught my eye, and I was drawn in. Her small courtyard is reportedly host to three different species of hummingbirds (ergo the beaded hummingbird at the end of my room key chain.) The only guaranteed way to see these hummingbirds, I found, was to put my camera away. 😉
Even the breakfast at Belas was “sunshine on a cloudy day,” as the brightly decorated glass enclosed dining room welcomed the guests each morning with a cozy fire in the chiminea. Bowls of fresh fruit, bananas, papaya, mango, served with natural yogurt and Bela’s homemade granola was just the “staple.” There was also fresh squeezed juice of the day, and homemade banana bread, scrambled eggs, or “huevos Mexicanos” on offer.
Bela’s house is only a block and a half from the long pedestrian walkway leading straight into the heart of San Cristobal, and she is a wealth of information when it comes to recommending tours, walks, or restaurants.
An added bonus to the B&B is the lovely Teresa, who offers a dream-state 90 minute massage upstairs in her warm little studio for only $425 pesos (that’s less than $35 USD, folks!! For ninety minutes!) Teresa has the touch of an angel. Don’t make the same mistake I made by waiting until my last two days. Go early so you can go often!
I plan to return to Chiapas one day to study Spanish, hopefully in the not too distant future. I already know the direction home…#2, Dr. Navarro. Or just follow the sun…