Playtime in Chiapas


I love seeing our kids come alive when they’re doing something adventurous. Favourite memories I have of them:

– For Carmelo it was climbing onto the roof of the hostel we were staying 

– For Giselle, her face beaming with pride as she stood on top of a tower that was rusting and had no guard rails.

– For Kenzo it was sliding down the big concrete slide by himself

– For Lui it was taking his new ball to a field so he could kick it around

Here’s some of what we captured when we were at play in Chiapas

Climbing in Dangerous Places

We stayed in a hostel where we had access to the roof. The kids loved playing there possibly because of the danger of falling three stories. Carmelo helped Kenzo to climb around because he wanted to copy Carmelo and Giselle. I loved the responsibility Carmelo showed in ensuring Kenzo feels independent and making sure he’s safe, even if it means instructing Giselle to assist in certain ways.

There was also a ladder that was once used for a flying fox. It was nerve racking climbing it because there were no guard rails and the thing was rusting. In New Zealand, it would’ve been fully fenced off as a hazard. But we had full access to it and we climbed up to the platform. I was so proud of Carmelo and Giselle for overcoming their fears and getting to the top. Personally, my spine kept tingling and I was keen that they get back on solid ground but I said nothing because I was in awe of how they were facing this challenge.

Giselle absolutely loved being able to stand freely on that platform with death only a few inches away. She was so confident climbing up and back down, which I found harder because I kept looking down and noticing the rusty joints of each rung of the ladder 🙂

The Playground of Iglesia De San Cristobal

We found this playground at the top of the Iglesia De San Cristobal hill. Kenzo and Lui loved it because it was the first playground we’d seen in a long time. There was also a tower that used to be part of a flying fox which Carmelo & Giselle climbed up. It had a rusty ladder that was nerve racking to use because it felt like the thing would fall apart with too much weight. The view from the top was the best I’ve seen of the city but definitely sent tingles down my spine since there were no safety nets or harnesses or guard rails and we were very high up. It was definitely challenging but I’m so glad we did it.

Playgrounds in San Cristobal De Las Casas Centro

There are no outdoor playgrounds in the historical area of San Cristobal but you will find many family friendly cafes and restaurants, some of which have a playground inside. Yik Cafe, one of the franchises, often had a a courtyard for Kenzo & Lui to run around in and one had a playground. Other restaurants had a type of kids corner. All restaurants we came across were family friendly and were happy to cater to little ones including the more upmarket restaurants.

Playgrounds of Cafes and Restaurants

In the suburban areas outside of the historical area, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes that have great outdoor areas for play, often including a trampoline, slides and swings. Our favourite was across the road from the Cinepolis in a cafe called Cacao Nativa. They had slides, swings, a trampoline, grass area for playing soccer and even a set of concrete slides.

Giselle had won a mini basket ball in Orlando and it was confiscated at customs in Cuba because we forgot to put it into check in – think of the ball as Lui’s comforter, he would carry it everywhere if he could 🙂 It was a while before we picked up another ball but in Palenque I found a NZ3 mini blue soccer ball which he loved. He reminded us to take it anytime we told him we were going to a playground. 

Playtime at hotels

Palenque hotel had great facilities for families. Being located right by the jungle, we could hear loud howler monkeys as we played tennis, watch colourful birds pass by the pools and see iguanas and other lizards on the hotel grounds too. 

The main pool was too deep for Kenzo and Lui so we went to the “baby pool” which had “slides”. Actually this was an adult pool that had inbuilt lazy chairs in the pool. Kenzo kept using the chairs as a water slide 🙂

Having the facility to play tennis allowed Carmelo and Giselle to practice their racquet skills and the free bikes meant we all got to refresh our cycling skills.

Grutas de Rancho Nuevo and Orquideas Moxviquil Playgrounds

When we visited the caves (grutas) at the ranch (Grutas de Rancho Nuevo) we were surprised to see a playground of swings and slides, assuming that this was simply a place to walk through caves and to ride horses. The best part of this playground was a super long set of concrete slides. We watched for a few minutes to work out how to use them. It was a very simple process. At the bottom of the slide was a selection of flattened plastic 2L bottles. You pick one, take it to the top, sit on it and slide down!  It was so much fun. We quickly worked out how to slow ourselves down and allow ourselves to speed up. There was also a kiddy version which was half the length for the younger kids to be able to slide by themselves.

When we went to Orquideas Moxviquil in Oja de Agua, we saw another set of slides and tried out these ones. They were definitely better suited for younger kids. Kenzo was able to go up the stairs by himself, carrying his bottle, and then slide down on his own.


Home Playtime

In one of our Airbnb’s we had a backyard with grass!! This was a big deal for me and Carmelo since it was the first time we had our barefeet on grass since we had left New Zealand. That’s nearly three months! I savoured it. 

Kenzo and Lui loved being able to run around the backyard playing hide and seek with toys. We used that space to light fireworks since Mexico sells them in abundance at the markets and over Christmas and New Year they are being sold at street corners. 

Mexicans love their piñatas and often have one for Christmas so I decided to buy one. Unfortunately we were all too sick on Christmas Day to whack it but a few days later when we were all feeling better, we smashed it. Interestingly, their pinatas have a clay bowl to hold the sweets and goodies which makes it a much harder object to break than the paper mâché pinatas sold in Auckland.

The Guilty Pleasures of Zoning Out on Devices

As for home playtime, we had a lot of access to TV’s with HDMI cables and high speed internet so we lazed about on our devices whenever we weren’t sightseeing or in hunter-gatherer mode (ie finding food for the family). This meant zoning out on Paw Patrol or a Playstation or catching up on Steven Colbert. Everyone was happy during this phase and it still allowed us to connect with each other when we felt the urge.

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