South Mexico: Palenque
When I was an intern at the Barceló Huatulco Hotel my manager gave me 4 days off. Just enough time for me to take a bus and visit the highlights of Southern Mexico. What I didn’t know was that it was a risk area of Malaria, so I didn’t have any pills for Malaria. Luckily for me the mosquitos don’t like me, so everything turned out fine. During this weekend my friend and fellow intern Tessa accompanied me.
I guess I could say I didn’t really prepare for my trip, hence the malaria. Also, San Cristóbal is situated in a rather mountainous area, 2120m above sea-level to be precise, thus jeans and pullovers are advised. Jet all I had with me was one sweater and nothing but shorts. Good to know that there are a few shops in town. There are plenty of hotels and hostels though! Our taxi took us to the cutest family hotel just a few blocks away from the square 31 de Marzo. This square is full of shops and cafes where you can try the local coffee. I walked around and entered a beautiful Cathedral which took from 1528 till 1815 to be build!
Downtown I found many small travel agencies offering tours around the area. After some comparing and negotiating I booked a few trips. I then walked to Cerro de Guadalupe with a stunning view. Takes a while to get there though, as you have to walk up several flights of stairs. My favorite street is the: Real de Guadalupe. The food varies from typical Mexican Tlayuda’s to extremely tender Argentinian steaks.
Our Palenque tour took us to the waterfalls of Aqua Azul and Misol-Ha. Unlucky for us the rain and mud turned the waterfalls into Aqua Chocolate. But I was told the water can be gorgeously deep blue! So make sure to pack your swimsuit! However I wanted to see the Ruins of Palenque. We arranged a guide that could tell us everything about the site. That 200pesos was more than worth it. He told us that the Maya’s build the temple in a way that the sun would let them know when it was time to saw and reap! Also the painting would lit up in December to make it look like the priest could talk to the gods. To please the gods the people had to offer parts of their crop to the elite living in the Temple. The way our guide explained the story made it seem like a religion created for the elite so they could live wealthy. The temples had steam baths and toilets which is quite impressive when you think about the fact that the ruines are from 100 B.C. . The reason Palenque is still that well preserved is because the Maya’s left before the Spaniards came. Legends says the Maya’s heard about the inhumane conquest of the Spaniards and jumped off a cliff in died in the Sumidero Canyon
After my trip to Palenque I took a boat tour trough the Sumidero Canyon. I saw the cliff where the Maya’s died. Let me tell you, that is one large cliff. But that’s maybe because I’m Dutch so I come from a country where everything is flat. But I also saw a lot of nature. I saw many birds, crocodiles, spider-monkeys and Quatrillo’s (super small monkeys).
Chamula & Zinacantán
One of the strangest and therefore interesting religions I have seen so far can be found in these two villages. These villages are known for the Tzotzil people. You can recognize the Tzotzil by their colorful clothing style combined with leather. You can see them walking in San Cristobal also. Their religion is a mix with Catholic and ancient Maya beliefs. They do not believe in doctors or medicine but in healing through prayers alone. Imagine someone gets sick, or has a problem, that person has to go to the priest. The person explains the problem and the priest gives him a recipe to get better or release him from his sins. The recipe always consists of candles in different colors with different meanings, a hard liquor called Posh, Coca Cola, and either a chicken or some eggs. The bigger the problem, the more Posh and Coca Cola that person needs. In the past the Tzotzil used a differend drink made out of corn, however that had to stay in the ground fro 3 weeks and Coca Cola has the same effect. Coke makes you gassy, and if you burp a spirit leaves the body finding its way back to heaven. During the prayer, the chicken or the eggs are balanced above the candles, the Coca Cola and the posh. After that you drink the Posh and Coca Cola and kill the chicken. The disease or problem is then absorbed by the chicken and is going back to heaven together with the soul of the chicken and the person is healed. I saw one of the prayers, it was very interesting, yet very sad for the chicken…
Photo’s have a very bad quality because all I had was a underwater camera.