I must say I am the most "alive" when I'm in the villages and interacting with the people. I love to see how they live and I'm always delighted to learn something new about the beautiful people of Mexico. This village was no exception.
Walking to the "new"church on a street I passed these black sheep right in the village - isn't it a pastoral scene? And look at how they have put the fence together! One of the BIG impressions of Chiapas was the use of so much wood and that it is so forested. Although I did read that the jungle has lost 80% of its trees - darn.
I wanted to include this picture because thos black sheep are a huge part of the economy of Chamula. The men wear these shirts of black wool (notice how fuzzy they are) and the women and girl children wear the black fuzzy skirts. Kiddingly we referred to them as the "fuzzy people". Actually when the rains from Hurricane Arthur came to San Cristobal on Friday and Saturday I would have liked one of those black fuzzy shirts to keep me warm.
The "elders" or officials of the town were in the church when I arrived and were helping to move statues and tables. I couldn't resist this photo, but' if you notice, I almost always take the photos of the people from behind so as not to compromise their belief that photos steal their souls.
I purposely didn't crop this photo because I wanted you to see how large the church yard in front of the church is......the Spaniards did this purposely because initially they didn't allow the "savages" into the church - only the Spaniards. Almost never will you see a church without a large front churchyard. It still makes me mad and sad that the people were treated so badly. BUT on to the experience of being inside the church.
First of all when trying to enter, we were stopped and it was necessary to have a 30 peso ticket to enter (only for tourists) and again, this is used to maintain the church which is no longer associated with the Catholic diocese. So, that accomplished, I stepped into another world. A spiritual world that was full of incense, smoke, candles for as far as the eye could see on the floor and chanting by the people. It was surreal, moving and incredibly beautiful.
Groups of people had tapers (thin candles), candles in glass containers, bottles of cold drinks and sometimes food displayed on the floor where they kneeled to pray. No pews in this church - everything, with the exception of the statues were on the floor. The statues of the saints were encased in glass and wood nichos on tables and there must have been several hundred statues.
I managed to step around and through people, always being careful not to disturb anyone to wind my way to the front altar. It was a continuation of all I had seen before. The chanting was private by each group but the groundswell of the rhythm was mesmerizing. I had recently read articles on Bhutan and I thought, wow this could be anywhere in Asia..........
As I left the church I literally had this loss of energy and sinking feeling and had to go get something to drink and sit down. I was shaking. So were many of the people in our group and I don't know what THAT was about.............
While sitting and having an orange drink these two little boys came up and were hungry and wanted food...........of course I bought food for them.........I saw a lot of hunger in Chiapas among the street children and couldn't resist any hungry child I saw. Some got food and one little girl got an ice cream cone from Burger King - I wish you could have seen her smiling face. It reminded me of Creel where the children were not only hungry but cold. I'll never forget that and I still send "Coats to Creel" every year. Behind the boys you see the market which was mostly fruits and vegetables BUT I managed to find a few artisans and I did help the economy of Chamula.
One of the few photos I took from the front, but I couldn't even see this woman's face and I loved her radishes. Wonder if she knows about the "night of the radishes" in Oaxaca? Ha.
Heading out of town, beautifully displayed on a wooden cart on the street, was platanos, lychees and tuna, which is the fruit of the nopal cactus. The beauty of the displays made in the mercado could put merchandisers in the US to shame............You'll see what I mean when I post some photos of the mercado in San Cristobal.
By the way, upon meeting each other in Chamula, people greet you with "How is your heart?" not how are you? It is a very, very spiritual place!