The People's Guide To Mexico

Impressions of Mexico
Living in San Cristobal
San Cristobal, What's it Like?
The Best of Mexico

There Is Another Side To Chiapas

Letter from Robert Rivas-Bastedas

Published January 2001

Hola Carl & Lorena,

I stumbled into your site almost by accident. I'd like to say the presentation and easiness is surprising and welcoming.

The content, though, I found to be interesting yet offensive in ways. In particular Luis Barton's impression of our area. It leads readers to believe that Chiapas and rural Mexico are highly dangerous, unhealthy and precarious areas, unsuitable for living let alone traveling.

I don't mean to say that the Mexico described by Barton is nonexistent. Yet, I do feel the need to point out that there also IS another Mexico. A Mexico of warmth and respect, of hard working people trying to turn this country into a cleaner and safer place. There are many cities, and many places in these cities, where locals and travelers can find safety, relaxation, comfort and cleanliness.

True, Mr. Barton´s description is not fiction, nevertheless, I must stress and underline his lack of description of the other Mexico, the better Mexico that is also out here, the Amigo Mexico.

Saludos cordiales,

Roberto Rivas-Bastidas

Carl Replies:

Roberto: Since you obviously live in Chiapas and probably have a strong affection for the area, I understand why Louis Barton's article might not appeal to you. However, I really don't believe that Louis misleads the reader when he describes his own experiences there. I know from my own experiences in Chiapas, as well as from reading Mexican newspapers and other websites, that Chiapas cannot be considered "perfectly safe" or crime free.

Ironically, Louis Barton returned to Chiapas after his first difficult trip there. In fact, I believe he continues to have a strong attraction to southern Mexico -- but as he himself admits, his luck as a traveler seems especially bad.

If you are familiar with our book, The People's Guide To Mexico, you will understand that we don't try to portray Mexico as a perfect, idealized place. Over the years, our readers have often commented that they actually felt better prepared to travel in Mexico because our book (and now our website) honestly discuss problems such as crime -- problems that we all know exist everywhere in the world, not just Mexico or Chiapas.

As you correctly point out, there are many fine people working to make this a better, safer place. In fact, if you look carefully at our website, I believe you'll see that most of the letters and articles we publish do emphasize the best side of Mexico. But, other than Barton's material, we don't yet have much on Chiapas -- would you like to offer another view by writing something yourself? As someone who undoubtedly knows Chiapas well, perhaps this would be a good opportunity to show our readers "the other side of the coin"?

Again, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. On behalf of our readers, Lorena and I hope that you will accept this invitation.

all the best, Carl

Lorena adds: I’d also like to hear your experiences and advice. For example, what is it like to live in San Cristobal? Is it reasonable easy to find places to rent? What would be some average modest and higher end rents? Electricity? Are there good schools for children? health care? etc?

Roberto Responds:


I considered your invitation to place and article in your publication and honor, but I feel that other travelers' experiences are better suited as opposes to a resident's . So, I contacted a friend with extensive travel experience and with several visits to and through Chiapas. I asked her if she would agree to place her most recent writing on her most recent trip to Chiapas, I will also send you something about what it’s like to live in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Impressions of Mexico by Louis Barton
Living in San Cristobal de las Casas, by Sage Mountainfire
San Cristobal, What about living There, by Robert Rivas-Bastedas
The Best of Mexico

©1972-2002 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens