Arcotete is a recreational area four kilometers outside of San Cristobal de las Casas on the road to Tenejapa. Getting there is easy, just walk up Guadelupe street until you get to the cathedral, take the road to the right around it and keep going. Around a half hour out of town there will be a big sign for the park and a turn off to your right. After a kilometer and a half of walking down this gravel road you will get to the river and the great stone arch. To take a taxi, just flag one down leaving town in the direction of Tenejapa, and ask the driver to take you to the intersection of the road for Archotete, and walk the rest of the way. The driver should do this for 25 pesos. If you want the driver to take you all the way there, this will require a little negotiation, as they don’t seem too keen on driving down the gravel road. If you do this, expect to pay double or triple the price stated above.
Entrance to Arcotete is 10 pesos per person.
The story goes that a French soldier named Jean Francois d’Arcotete took a leap off a great rock arch over a river to his death below. The cause for this was, of course, a broken heart. The rock formation now bears his name.
This is the legend. Regardless of fact, Arcotete today now has vastly more couples kissing and lounging about on the side of the river than jumping to their doom below. Though there is conspicuous concrete ledge that sticks out over the canon that is neither fenced in nor has any protective apparatuses around it. “It’s a good spot for someone to kill themselves,” Chaya commented, unknowing that this was precisely how this place received its name.
Arcotete is what should be referred to as an outdoor recreation area. It is full of families, friends, and lovers sitting by the river or in the lawns drinking beer, and, many of them, getting pretty drunk. The scene is often joyous, with mobs of buzzed Mexicans yelling and screaming and bouncing in groups of five, six, seven, or more like complete idiots on the plank board bridges that are held up by a single steel wire. There are signs saying not to jump on the bridges and to only go a few people at a time, but the vacationers and day trippers seem to be in too much of a rage of giddy joy to read. Perhaps this was how Jean Francois d’Arcotete actually fell to his doom.
Arcotete is a place to relax and enjoy the scene before you. There is a large rock archway that was once a cave that the river eroded a path all the way through to the other side, and some hiking trails. The place is beautiful, but is not a place to go to cultivate quietude, but, rather to enjoy in full with your family and friends.