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Mexico, San Juan Chamula

posted Feb 5, 2012, 11:30 PM by Beatriz Posada   [ updated Apr 30, 2012, 1:10 PM ]
    There is this little town called San Juan Chamula right near Zinacantan, and it is one of the most peculiar places around Mexico... let me tell you some of the reasons why this place is so special and different from the rest of the country. Lets start by saying Chamula is one of the largest consumers of Coca-Cola around the world... as crazy as this sounds, Chamula locals are obsessed with drinking Coke, according to my sister, the reason for this is that Coke will fill you up (unlike water) and give you a high dose of sugar to keep your energy levels up... So, it is common for locals to consume it because it keeps them ready for work at a very cheap price. Second, lets mention the fact that Chamula is an extremely interesting blend of Mayan and Spanish culture... Unlike most of our country, Chamula actually kept many Mayan traditions, and refused to give in to Spanish pressure... so much so, that they even were one of the latest towns to succumb to Spanish authority, Chamulans are feisty, they are fighters at heart.

    In the middle of the main square, there's a colorful market and the town's church. If you don't go inside the church you might as well not visit Chamula... it is all about the church. When you get to walk inside of it, this Mayan/Spanish blend is undeniable. First of all, you are walking into a church (which is fully Spanish), then a strong smell of copal kicks in... and then you'll see the candles... SO MANy of them... candles stuck to the floor with wax, thousands of them... all lit by locals that came to ask for a miracle, or a favor, or making an offering. Depending on what you are asking for, the number and color of the candles may vary. Sometimes even killing a chicken inside the church is necessary, and strangely enough I had the chance to witness this myself. So, imagine all of this happening at a regular church? impossible... it would be considered as heresy. It is funny what Chamulans consider heresy in their church: photography.... it is strictly forbidden, and Chamula does not abide by the country's laws, they actually create their own and if they catch you photographing inside, they can send you to jail, or even lynch you. Walking into the church with a hat is also highly forbidden... but check this out, waling into the church with beer is ok... even a cigarette... I love Chamulans... they are their own.
Something else that is cool about Chamula, is that it was the stage for Zapatista rebels, and many of them are said to be from around there... they also have their traditional hard liquor called "POX" (posh?) and apparently male locals love it... I saw many drunk guys that day.... anyways, the list could go on and on about how interesting Chamula is... so why don't you go see it for yourself? you'll love it 

boy near cemetery

lost shoe

papaya selling family

girls playing near a fountain

San Juan Chamula

baby cowboy 

coca cola 

girl wearing traditional outfit... i love their skirts

"gracias dios mio"

the church's fac,ade