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WEEK 13

Chiapas

semi-overcast 17 °C

Chiapas week 13

We left Merida a bit earlier than we thought we were but luckily I noticed in time to not miss it. We arrived at the restaurant Ricosoldo early but we're let in just before opening time. Olga didn't show up in time to eat with us but she did take us to the bus station. The front seats turned out not to be a good choice but since the bus was not full we were able to move.

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There were blankets and pillows provided along with personal screens to watch a movie. I started but ended up reading instead and sleeping early. We arrived in Villahermosa around 4:00 am and thought we didn't have to far to go. It turned out not to be 12 hrs but more like 14. We got in at 9:30am and went straight to negotiate a taxi to the town called where we catch a boat ride to the canyon called. It was a two hr ride but the falls were all dried up. We did see some crocodiles and some heron. It was a hot day but with wind on a boat it didn't seem too bad

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Upon returning to the town we were offered a ride to San Cristobal de las casas for only 70 pesos (6$). So we took them up on it. It tuned out to be a small tour bus that had a few left over seats. After a lovely mango palleta we were on our way.

The hostel was ready to receive us and the room was huge

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We walked around the town as we were close to where it is all happening. We ate a delicious meal at this funky restaurant called Cocoliche : delicious chicken coconut soup; and we were glad of something warm as the weather was cooling down. Something we weren't quite used to after the heat of the Yucatan.

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The next day we had our adventure to San Juan de Chamula. The colectivo combie at 15 pesos was a bagain since the trip took 45 min. What a spectacular place the street entering the town was lined with vendors the length of th sidewalks and all around the square. We were told do not photograph people but there were some ignoring this. They believe that part of their spirit is taken away by the camera. If you are seen taking any photos int he church they will take your camera or phone and destroy it. Every Friday during lent there is this ceremony outside the church. It was something out of some novel we were experiencing. As you entered the church you were struck by its uniqueness. The mix of Christianity and native beliefs is outstanding. The pews are all gone from the inside that is lined with boxed in statues brought here by the spaniards. The floors are covered in pine needles and lit candles. It was so unbeleivable . While we were inside the procession of the people we had seen outside entered with their lovely incense and statue We came out of this incredible place in awe of what we had experienced.

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Another wonderful day exploring San Cristobal. We wandered the street s and came upon a cafe called Frontera where we had a coffee. Only to later discover it is the number one restaurant on Trip Advisor. When we came out we went to see where this piano playing was coming from. There was another empty cafe with a gentleman playing. A woman stopped to ask him to play certain pieces. We continued walking towards churches as there are so many very different ones all over town.

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With a bit more research on the Internet we suddenly discovered that Saturday nights, the locals sell tamales from their homes ; you find where they are by a red lanterns outside their door. We thought best to check this out and with the recommendations of the Hostel manager we went to one not too far. Ahead of us was a local Mexican lady buying bolas that are made with corn husks but we are partial to the ones in banana leaves. We requested one with saffron but she brought us one with mole; but I quite liked it even though I was not a mole fan in the past. Upon the suggestion of this local lady we ate ours in the home of the cook; this was so we could order more as she knew we would like them. Ceci opened her door to let us into her home where we sat at her table while chatted. I shared with them a maple candy. What a wonderful discovery just in time and the cost was only $2.10 Canadian. (Yes that was the price for both of us ) For three tamales and atole made from fermented black corn boiled with milk an the put through a strainer then she adds sugar and red food coloring.

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Another incredible day. We headed off to find a 'collectivo' to Zanacantan and since we heard that the market ended at noon we thought it best to scurry off to the collectivos which ended up being a taxi. Upon arriving in the village after a winding 40 min drive. , wr came upon nothing like it. What struck me here over the other towns we had seen is how much the men were also dressed up. The market was a bit small with tarps and a few tables set up beside the church. Then suddenly I look up and notice this sea of purple and red entering the church all with palm leaves being held high. So we hurried over to see the procession of people entering the church.

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Once they had all entered the church we returned to the market and came upon two lovely ladies that we started up a conversation with, about back strap weaving tools and if they had any for sale. They invited us to their home in a village away from there to show us how to do it. We looked at each other and said why not. What do we have to lose. We love these adventures to the unknown! They arranged for a taxi to take us and off we went. We had no idea where we were going except that there is a lake in this town. It turned out to be Navenchauc. Watching them set this up was really something. I wish I was better at expressing myself. We entered this tiny house where the two sisters lived with two other sisters and their three kids; two girls belonging to one and a son belonging to the other. They pulled out this piece of wood and sone cotton yarn and started making the warp then took it off the wood and set it up with other pieces of wood. I was taking lots of video but did I take some when Alexis was working away. No!! I can't believe I missed this. What was I thinking? Will Alexis ever forgive me?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4zYDUEaMC4

Once we spent two hrs with them a few of them had to run off to mass while we packed things up and Alexis bought the whole thing from her and we walked off to town. She told us if we had anyone else that would like to learn to please let them know as we now have her home phone and cell. If anyone would like to learn how to use a back strap loom and are planning a trip to Chiapas I have their contact information. We walked off in awe with one of their looms all wrapped with the work started in a bag for just 500pesos. (That is less than 50$). It is hard to explain what we had just experienced. It had been such an honor to be in their home and having them show us how to do it. I felt very emotional as I left the town; as I was going up the winding roads back to San Cristobal. I reflected on these lovely people and how they live with their traditions intact despite the rest of the world and its changes. I equate it to the Massai in East Africa. They embrace certain things that are convenient such as a cell phone but continue to dress as they always have. Allowing us to spend this time in their home was really incredible to say the least. This is something I will never forget!

Back in town we stopped off to change our ticket to Oaxaca for tomorrow. We made a mistake and forgot that we were overnighting to Oaxaca. All is good we got a days worth back from the hostel and will keep the plans in Oaxaca.

On our last day in San Cristobal we wandered around looking for things we had not done but there really was only on thing and that was to visit a woman's cooperative where we met some lovely shy ladies who are weavers and it turned out the scarves we chose were the ones their village does. We didn't want to put them on the spot and see if the ones we chose were their work! We took this trolley around the town to see if there was anything we missed but it turned out we had covered it all. With the traffic being so bad we were able to sneek some photos of the people on the street

There should be many more photos here but after an hour of trying to get them loaded I am giving up! Maybe I will get them in later.

Here are the photos I wanted to add.

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Posted by OhUiginn 19:58 Archived in Mexico

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Wish I could be there. The colours are magnificent.

by sharon

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