Think you understand mexico? made it to Chiapas yet? Chiapas is the poorest state in the country, and its noticiable from the highway that you have changed states. Gone is the high grade tarmac - hello to unmarked lane collapses on steep hillsides, poor rural villages of bamboo, mud and tin rooves, women and men in traditional dress (this place is home to many indigenous groups), different languages, a lack of power in places, and a return of needy beggars and children selling all sorts of handicrafts, shoe shine, working as cleaners etc. when they should be in school. The state also happens to be one of the most beatiful, from waterfalls such as agua azul, parks such as simeron canyon, and amazing handicrafts including pottery, textiles, woolen toys, jewlery and leatherwork.
We began our stay in Palenque, visitng the agua azul waterfalls and then palenque ruins. From there it was on to Tonina, near the town of Oscinosco for more ruins. When we stayed near the ruins, we were invited to a 4 year olds birthday party nextdoor, which involved pinatas, football, cakes, jelly, and lots of traditional mexican sweets. Then it was on to San cristobel, where al worked and chris shopped and went back to school, and we visited mountian villages and markets in the mornings. And then the amusement of our family run hostel - which was not particularly well run (no soap or loo paper, bed bugs, and we had to complain to get hot water on to be greeted with comments like 'its a long way up there'; bikes had to be moved in and out each day to leave space for people to walk around and also to enble 2 taxis to get into the parks too; but heh, it had a kitchen!).
We had nearly 3 weeks in San Cristobel. San cristobel was an interesting place to visit but not a place we would choose to live. its a 3 tier economy - tourists, locals with money (running posadas, etc) and then indigenous people. The kids do a better job selling crafts than adults, so they are put to work in the tourist zone, which means any time you are not in your hotel, you are mobed by people trying to sell you stuff, including any time you are eating out. The later might sound bad, but at least you can offer kids food (its surprising how many take it). Its better than having a beggar tell you that 3 pesos is not enough (luckily this only happened a couple of times), Some surrounding villages (like Chamula) are very touristy, while in others (e.g. Tenejapa) you become the zoo and locals know how to stare. The markets are crazy but fun, just watch your wallet and don't park your bike on a corner where the crazy taxi drivers will knock it down when they come barreling around. While they do a mean coffee, amazing chocolate (it is afterall mayan in origin), great tortas and haraches, and great pazole, for us, the town was just a little big, and the constant harrasement by kids and sellers and beggars (with targetting based on your skin colour) would just be too much on a permanent basis.
Chris was unimpressed by langauge school (Xalapa Kiosk International teachers were outstanding, so this was a real let down), and unless you want to be treated like a 5 year old (there are 5 rules for this here they are, no we can't use your examples, if you don't understand after I have explained it twice then you clearly don't want to learn) I would not go to Jovel Institute. Perhaps they need more than 2 weeks training in how to teach spanish as a second language... and while they are at it, some training on teaching styles for adults would help too.
We also had some unexpected events during our stay. A BMW convention provided ample eye candy and entertainment, and we got new gloves (mexican made, but really good quality and fit), and helmet intercom (fun fun fun). Then we caught up with a traveller we met in the states, Brian, (who rode his vstrom from new mexico to yellowstone where we met him, then around alaksa, canada and back). Brian arrived with a belgium we call V, but this time without bike; nonetheless we had a nice time catching up and trying to convince V to take up riding.
Things took a turn for the cold in SC (highs of 5-7, and no heating!), and feeling colds comming on we decided to high tale for warmth of yuctan and Belieze. For more detailed descriptions of our time here, check out the diary pages.