Thursday, June 05, 2008

Zincantan Chiapas

I knew that this trip was going to be an "adventure" but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the surroundings and the people, the sophistication and European feel of San Cristobal and the magnificence of the Sumidero Canyon.
The "adventure" began about 2 1/2 hours into the bus trip to reach Toluca where it was intended for us to catch a plane to Tuxtla Guiterrez, the capital of Chiapas. We were on the toll road and ready to pay the toll and the bus driver pulled over on the side of the road, took off his tie (a BAD sign) got off the bus and ran across 8 lanes of traffic to a "parts" store. He came back and said one of the belts was not good and we could not use the a/c - no problem, we opened the vents on the ceiling of the bus and off we went. However after about another hour, the bus just died and sputtered. The driver did get it started and NOW we were allllllll holding our breaths.
About 20 minutes before we were at the airport in Toluca the police stopped the bus - why we never knew. The driver told the police about our dilemma and they turned on their lights and escorted us to the airport! Can you believe that? We credit the police for the fact that we made our plane............
Interjet is a new (about 1 year old) "no frills" airline that flies only in Mexico and Guatemala. I have flown on planes in foreign countries where I was sure I would die, but NOT this airline. Brand new Airbus A 320, great service, spotlessly clean aircraft - haven't seen anything like it in 20 years. AND the cost round trip, $140 US. Saved us a 12 hour drive and we were there in one hour. WOW!
I have realized as I look at all the photos that this trip is going to be blogged in many installments because I have a LOT to share with you.
We arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas - my expectation was a rustic, relatively small, ..........I was SO wrong. Beautiful architecture, world class restaurants, pedestrian streets, NO other gringos, but mucho Italians, French, German and Norwegians and of course the indigenous Mayans. It is paradise! BUT more on San Cristobal in the next blog.
Right now I want to share with you the village of Zincantan. It is a Tzotzil village meaning they speak a dialect of Mayan and NOT Spanish.
Upon arriving in this village one day with the group, before we could enter the village a fee was charged of each person - something like $2 US - SMART. They use the money to maintain the church and for festivals for the people.
We parked and walked to the home of some weavers of the rebozos worn by the women AND men in this village. Each village greets you with a Mayan cross and they are very firm in letting you know it is a MAYAN cross that is for earth, wind, fire and sky not Christianity...........although they do have churches that are former Catholic churches and some are Catholic churches that they have their ceremonies in on a regular basis.
Trust me, these girls don't wear these only when "visitors" are around but DO wear them all the time. They are SO beautiful but they even wear them when tending sheep or working in the fields.
The "old" tradition was that the rebozos for this village were red but some time ago the women decided they wanted to be more distinctive and came up with the purple, green and navy colors. I have never seen this color combination in any other part of Mexico. So you immediately know that those wearing this color are from Zincantan.
These are the traditional rebozos and the "modern" ones. It takes weeks to weave the background cloth and then embroider the flowers and symbols on them. They are as beautiful on the back as on the front. They sell for about $50US each..........

Here is a woman demonstrating how they weave the fabric on the loom! I think the Mayans hate to wear shoes as much as I do - you'll see what I mean as you see the various villages and the women weaving or making pottery.

The photo above is Patrick our guide and a woman in our group modeling the wedding clothes for the Zincantan. The white dress has feathers embroidered into the dress.
We left the home of the weavers, after they offered us food and ponch, a drink that can change the sound of your voice!
When we arrived at the church we were cautioned NOT to take ANY photos of the church yard, the people around the church or, of course, the inside of the church. DARN because they were playing marimbas in the church yard and the church was exuberantly colorful with more flowers (they grow all kinds of flowers in this village for export) and all of the statues were dressed in rebozos and clothing of the Zincantan people. I've never seen that before.
The sign on the front of the door cautioned that if caught taken photos, your camera WOULD be taken and you WOULD be put in jail! Even those in the group (2 women) who thought that rules didn't apply to them, paid attention.
It seemed like we were back in time 5000 years and a long journey from civilization, but in actuality we were only about 30 minutes from San Cristobal.


Islagringo said...

I wish I had known where you were going in Chiapas! We "did" San Cristobal and the Sumidero Canyon last summer. It was fantastic. I could have sent you some pics and filled you in on what to expect. However, sometimes not knowing is more fun! Can't wait for the rest of this story!

Jonna said...

mmmm, I love it up there. I just wish it weren't so high. I've bought so much of their weaving, different villages and styles but all beautiful. Zinacantan is one of my favorite pueblos around SCC, they are friendlier and not as angry looking as some of the others.

Babs said...

Wayne, I DO believe you have traveled more in Mexico then most! Isn't it a magnificent country?

And Jonna - good to hear from you - since I live at 6400 ft elev. the height didn't bother me......the Mayans are a very introspective peoples because of all of the exploitation and pain they have suffered over the centuries from the Spaniards and the, yes, Americans.........and Mexicans. I know they don't smile as much as other indigenous groups, but they are a proud people. I love their culture. They, the Lacondons, the Tarahumaras and Huichols have attempted to live seperately - not integrate into the Western culture- and the beauty of their ceremonies and folkart reflect that.......

Steve Cotton said...

Keep the pictures -- and commentary -- coming. said...

Wow! So worth the wait. Awesome. Would you move to San Cristobal? Gorgeous weavings, love all the color. So glad you did this.

Babs said...

No Kay, I think I'm where I'm going to be.........BUT that said, I sure do want to DRIVE back and spend time just covering the WHOLE state. Wanna go?

Unknown said...

We desire I'd recognized exactly where you had been moving in Chiapas! All of us "did" San Cristobal and also the Sumidero Canyon final summer time. It had been wonderful. I possibly could possess delivered a person a few photos as well as stuffed a person within on which to anticipate. Nevertheless, occasionally being unsure of is actually more enjoyable! Cannot await the remainder of the tale!

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