Wednesday, January 14, 2009

San Cristobal

Back in Mexico we headed to San Cristobal, a little town located in Mexico´s poorest state Chiapas. San Cristobal was the town that is a central part of the Zapista movement and was temperally taken over by leftwing rebels in the 1990´s.

The state is home to 13 indigenous tribes, each with the own unique language, tradition and dress.

The City is about 2500 metres above sea level and much colder than anywhere else we have been. The streets are wide, brightly coloured and feel more Mexican than anywhere else we have been in Mexico (if that is possiable)- a million miles from the tourist havens on the Yukatan Peninsula.

Here the men wear cowboy hats (not a sombraro in sight)and have moustaches. The people are amazingly friendly and patient with our basic Spanish. Our vocab is expanding daily and I even think I had my own conversation yesterday... well two sentances in a row... a massive improvement.

After a lazy day exploring the coffee museum, town square and watching the forgetable new Keanu Reeves flick at the local Cinepolis we organised a bus trip to some indigenous communities located about 20 kilometres outside of centre.

The first group we visited were Catholic in faith and traditionally flower growers by trade. Here we sampled some fresh tortillas and beans for breakfast and tried their home brewed medicinal rum ... more like metho than anything else to my unsophisticated palate.

Next we visited a community that belived in poligomy and whose faith had roots in both Christianity (brought to them by the Spanish colonists) and part on their ancient beliefs... I felt privledged to be able to share it but also some what voyeristic too.

The group utilise the Catholic church, a massive white wash structure errected in the town square sometime in in the 1700´s as a place to pray for they sick and offer their sacfrices. According to our guide, the group do not belive in traditional medicine- instead they offer 5 days of prayer to the gods (said in church)and on the 5th day a live chicken is slaughtered.

Families cluster together on the floor (there are no pews) covered in pine needles and repeat prayers for their relatives. Occasionally they pour the medicinal rum onto the floor as an offering all whilst lighting hundreds and hundreds of candles.

It is a stunning place, feels spiritual and has a wonderful inviting energy.

Outside the church is a run down square with a cross covered in green tree branches and a market selling fruit, embroided goods and barefoot children begging for your loose change.

It was a humbling experience.

Siging off- your KP


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