La Mariposa Travels: Chiapas, Mexico

Today is a little different than my standard posts as I thought I would share a look into my travels throughout Mexico. While there’s absolutely no way I could ever really explain life there (you have to go experience it!), hopefully this will at least give you a taste of it. Today I am sharing photos from a few locations around Chiapas, Mexico.

Hoy les muestro algo diferente en el blog que no consiste de moda y mi ropa. Quería compartir mi viaje a México, y hoy les muestro parte de mis viajes en Chiapas, México. Aunque las fotos no son buenas en demostrar la vida allá, espero que les aprendan algo y que les gusten. 

San Cristóbal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas- Globos at Night

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

The first part of my trip was spent in Chiapas, Mexico, a southern state in Mexico with a lot of rural areas. We spent half of our time in mountain communities, and the rest of the time in San Cristóbal de las Casas, which I thought was an adorable town. It is quite populated in the state, and a big attraction, without a doubt. These balloons and papel picado decorations were hanging down on a majority of the streets in the central shopping and eating area. Imagine if every town had decorations like this all year- how beautiful! I think the city pride and decorations are my favorite attractions throughout Mexico, because they make walking around so enjoyable.

La primera parte de mi viaje a México la pasé en Chiapas- el estado más sureño en México que consiste en muchos pueblos pobres y rurales (pero lindos no obstante). Pasamos parte del tiempo en las tierras altas, y parte en San Cristóbal de las Casas (una ciudad grande en el estado). Estos globos y el papel picado adornaban muchas calles del centro de San Cristóbal, y los adoraba mucho. Imagínense si tuvimos decoraciones así en las ciudades- de todos colores- me encantaría :) ¡Lindo, lindo! 

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

San Cristóbal de las Casas

San Cristóbal de las Casas

San Cristóbal de las Casas

Something I really loved while in San Cristóbal de las Casas was the beautiful sight of the colorful houses all lines up. Each street was full of new patterns and combinations, my favorite being the pink and blue mixes :) You’ll notice that, while the colors are beautiful, infrastructure and housing isn’t exactly up-to-par. There are many political reasons for that, unfortunately, but at the same time, I think the rustic touches give the town charm. I find it similar to Boston- old houses and uneven pavement from years and years ago, but it is still adorable. I will also add that there was a lot of fun shopping here in San Cristóbal. We didn’t have time to do much browsing because the schedule was packed, but I did notice colorful textiles while walking around.

Algo que adoro de Latina América, especialmente en San Cristóbal, es la visión de tantas casas vivas, de varios colores. Se notarán que las casas y las infraestructuras están viajas. Hay muchas razones políticas por eso, pero, creo que los toques rústicos son bonitos. Me hace pensar en Boston también, ya que está súper viejo, con casas del siglo 1800 y aceras desniveladas, sino tienen mucha personalidad. También les comento que había lindas tiendas en San Cristóbal para compras. No tuvimos tiempo para ir de compras, pero las mantas me llamaron la atención mucho.

San Juan Chamula   San Juan Chamula

chamulaiglesia

Chamula, Chiapas

Our visit to San Juan Chamula was the first visit to an autonomous community within Mexico. Everything from health care to police officials and religion stay within the community, which is pretty incredible. This view of the church doesn’t do anything near justice for what’s on the inside. I wasn’t allowed to take photos indoors, though, so I can only explain a bit to you. The church has no pews for sitting- it is full of candles in every possible spot and greens on the floor. People gather and spend hours in the church praying and giving thanks on the ground- a lot of thanks, more than asking or anything else.  I wish I could explain how breathtaking it was to enter this beautiful church and see the flickering light everywhere- up, down, and all around. Also, the importance that the religious system has on the community is powerful- it really unites them and guides their decisions.

San Juan Chamula fue el primer pueblo autónomo que visitamos en el viaje a Chiapas. Todo- la asistencia médica, la policía, religión, etc. es controlado adentro del pueblo.  Y esta iglesia es central en el pueblo. Afuera, no demuestra mucho, pero adentro, está increíbleeee. No les puedo explicar (y no pude sacar fotos por sus reglas). Al entrar, hay miles de velas por todas partes. No hay bancos, entonces la gente se siente (con Coca Cola) en el piso y reza. Más que rezar, dan gracias por lo que tienen. La vista de la luz parpadeante por todo el pisa y paredes me impresionó muchísimo. Y aprendimos que  tienen que limpiar el techo de la iglesia tres veces cada año por el humo de las velas. Nunca se cierre la iglesia- ningún día, ninguna hora. Increíble, porque es una parte fuerte de su sociedad y religón tienen un impacto fuerte en las decisiones que toma la gente. 

Local Healer in San Juan Chamula

Our visit revolved around the Mexican Healthcare System, so we visited a variety of towns and organizations to see their manner in taking care of citizens. It is very common in the Chamula town to visit a local healer for health care. Depending on the severity of sickness, a healer will use a live chicken (very severe) or eggs (not as bad), along with posh (an alcoholic drink) as part of the healing process. This was probably the most amazing 15 minutes to witness in SJC. My mother and sister both work in standard hospitals that use western medicine, so it was very eye-opening to see such a different form of healthcare. I had only experienced alternative medicine once (in Mexico when I got parasites), but it was nothing like this. I still can’t believe I got to witness the healing first hand.

Nuestra visita a Chiapas tenía que ver con el sistema de salud pública, entonces visitamos a muchas organizaciones y clínicas de aprender sus maneras en cuidar a la gente. En Chamula, fue común visitar a una matrona y/o a un curandero. Dependiente en la enfermedad, los curanderos usan o un pollo (que matan después) o huevos para sacar la enfermedad del cuerpo. Ver la curación en persona fue una experiencia genial, especialmente porque vengo de una familias de enfermeras que trabajan exclusivamente con la medicina occidental. 

Local Healer in San Juan Chamula

Local Healer in San Juan Chamula

The big black coat is a part of the customary Chamula wardrobe. Black sheep (or lamb?) are used to make the pieces (women have skirts made of this as well) and it can take over a year to make one item. They’re very pricey and stiff to the touch, but perfect for the rainy and chilly temperatures. It isn’t necessary to wear this coat, but it is very customary, so many men wore this same look throughout town- a white shirt, black coat, and jeans. Many women wore skirts from the animal skin as well. It is not worn as a fashion statement at all, but to me, it seemed to be a status statement, as they require so much work to make and obtain, and a way to show one’s alignment with the Chamula lifestyle. There are tons of other textiles made in Chiapas, so I did want to snap a picture of them while we were walking out to continue our travels (see below).

El abrigo negro es parte del atuendo normal en Chamula. Está hecho de la piel de ovejas negras (creo- o borregas) y puede durar un año en crearlo. Cuesta mucho, y las mujeres también lo llevan, en faldas. No es de moda sino demuestra un estatus social (por el trabajo y costo de obtenerlo) y un acuerdo con las creencias de la vida Chamula. Hay muchos tejidos hechos en Chiapas, y se los muestro abajo. Son famosos por todo México, de hecho, y la manta que compré en San Miguel de Allende fue hecho en Chiapas.

San Juan Chamula Textiles

San Juan Chamula Fruit Vendor

San Juan Chamula Fruit Vendor

I don’t know why, but I loved this fruit stand so much. The oranges and pineapples were so beautifully stacked! During the early morning, this cart was completely full. I came back a few hours later, and look at it- there was a big line for fresh oranges! Our students bought some and we munched- the fresh fruit in Mexico is divineeee :)

Me encantó esta carreta de fruta! La vi por la mañana, llenada de naranjas y piñas, y al regresar por la tarde, casi no había fruta. La fruta aquí está increíble- como era en Ecuador también. La ventaja de vivir en un clima tibia y caliente, no?

Oventic- The Zapatista Village

Zapatista Village

Zapatista Rebel Village, Chiapas, Mexico  Zapatista Rebel Village, Chiapas, Mexico

Zapatista Village

During the same day we visited the Chamula town, we later went to Oventic, the Zapatista Village. This really made for the most influential and eye-opening day. It was a total overload in a great way! The Zapatista Village is one that is also autonomous (as much as possible) from the government, but quite poor at the same time. As the sign shows, they are a rebellious town. It also states that the town rules, and the government obeys- in other words, the people are to be in charge. We requested permission to visit and learn about their health system over a month before coming, and were lucky enough to be let in and to experience their life style. I don’t have many photos because rules were pretty strict, but I will try my best to explain with what I do have.

El mismo día que visitamos a SJC, también fuimos a Oventic, a visitar al pueblo Zapatista. También es un pueblo autónomo, y pobre que sufre. Pedimos permiso al entrar más que un mes antes de venir, y por suerte, nos permitieron entrar. Las reglas sobre la fotografía son estrictas, entonces no les puedo mostrar mucho, pero les explicaré lo que aprendí. Ese día fue lo más increíble de todos los día en todos mis viajes- les juro. 

Zapatista

Zapatista Rebel Village, Chiapas, Mexico

It was very important that we didn’t take any photos of the people in the village, above anything else. In case you haven’t seen, the Zapatista officials wear full, black face masks- all you can see are little holes for eyes, which is intimidating. And if I am being completely honest, it was sort of a depressing visit. First off, it is located far off in the highlands, where it was a little gloomy and rainy (so we made head scarves to stay warm and dry). Secondly, I never did find out how many citizens live there, but it can’t be over 1,000 (at most!). There’s a lack of resources for the people,too- very limited food, no vaccines in almost five years, a hardly any health equipment- and an overwhelmingly uptight sensation when walking around. However, we are talking about a group of individuals that are so motivated and committed in their beliefs that they have developed their very own community, to live those beliefs out. So who cares if it is gloomy, it is an astonishing movement that they’re taking and huge precedent. The wording on the house above says “Together we’re fighting for for a better world.”

Fue súper importante no sacar fotos de la gente en el pueblo. Los zapatistas llevan máscaras negras que cubren la cara completamente- me intimidaron un poco, de verdad. Y, de ser honesta, el pueblo fue un poco deprimente. No había mucha gente, ni recursos, ni comida. A la vez, la gente de esta comunidad tiene tanta motivación para vivir sus creencias, que ha creado un lugar exclusivamente para su mismo. Me impresionó muchísimo al pensar en esto- la fuerza de aisladarse del mundo para ser aútentico a los morales.Zapatista Village

Zapatista Rebel Village, Chiapas, Mexico

Zapatista Rebel Village, Chiapas, Mexico

The village was small but suitable with their own health clinic and school. It was close-ish to San Juan Chamula, which is why we visited in the same day. If you’ll notice above, the artwork is beautiful and bold. Every building, inside and out, is painted- by hand- by citizens of all ages. I really appreciated how freely the community was able to show expression and decorate the town with visual arts.

El pueblo fue pequeño, pero casi completamente autónomo. Esta ubicado en las tierras altas, y allá hace nublado (como se notan en las fotos). Se notan, también en las fotos arriba, que todo está pintado y decorado en el pueblo. Y está pintado a mano- increíble, no? Agradezco mucho que la comunidad fomenta los artes visuales para demostrar sus reglas y creencias. 

Jaltenango

Jaltenango, Chiapas Mexico

Jaltenango, Chiapas Mexico

Jaltenango

Part of our time in Jaltenango was in the actual town, in between our other visits. I didn’t have the right lens to capture this, but I wanted to try to get a picture of Gracia buying some frozen fruit (it comes in a plastic bag, like ice-cream or a popsicle… sort of?). There were vendors and little eco-taxi’s (which are small carts- like golf carts- that are about $2 to ride) all over town, which was full of fun colored homes.

Pasamos parte de nuestro tiempo en Jaltenango en el pueblito, entre las visitas a clínicas. Intenté a sacar una foto de la fruta congelada que compró Gracia. Estaba súper contenta al comerla jaja. El pueblo también tenía lindas casas, aunque todo que vi estaba viejo y pobre.

Jaltenango, Chiapas Mexico

Jaltenango, Chiapas Mexico

Most of our time in Jaltenango was spent in clinics or hospitals. To get there, we had long commutes in buses and trucks, driving for 60 minutes up and around mountains (only one person got sick!). Partners in Health (an organization that started in Massachusetts!) brought us to a community in the mountains where we learned again about the health care, which consisted mainly of one doctor and some midwives. Pretty wild, right? That’s it! That is where the above pictures come from (and I realize they don’t really show just how high in the mountains we were, but we were hiiiigh and far away from others). It was mind-blowing to see a full community living in such an isolated area. It just goes to show how much extra “stuff” we live with, that we don’t really need (like all of my 80 pairs of shoes or a coffee shop on every corner!). At the same time, it was saddening to see what they lacked that we all do need. It was hard to leave these places without helping- just imagine!

La mayoría de nuestro tiempo en Jaltenango fue pasado en un bus, viajando a las clínicas de salud en donde aprendimos mucho. Manejábamos por horas en las montañas para llegar a los destinos- y valió la pena, sin duda! Compañeros de Salud (una organización que fue fundado en Massachusetts) nos llevaron a una comunidad en las montañas, súper aislada de otras comunidades. Su asistencia médica consiste en un médico, y unas matronas. Increíble, especialmente comparada con el sistema que uso yo en Boston. Fue genial ver una comunidad tan rural, viviendo sólita sin mucho apoyo. Demuestra que, de hecho, no necesitamos tanto- tantos cafes, tantos zapatos, tanta califación, tanto lo que sea. Al mismo tiempo, me impresionó mucho ver lo que faltaban- que fue mucho. Fue difícil salir sin dar más apoyo- imagínense! 

Botas en Jaltenango, Chiapas Mexico

Jaltenango, Chiapas Mexico

Nino en Jaltenango, Chiapas Mexico

Jaltenango

Continuing off my previous point, there wasn’t much in these areas. Children found ways to play with small toys or out with nature (but not the barbed wire- he didn’t touch that!). They were too cute to not include here, and I snapped their photos while I was waiting in line to clean my plate from a bucket outside of the house. So distinct from my style of living, which I appreciate experiencing so much. I think it is really important to see other areas of the world- not just the fabulous resorts, but how life is in all parts.

Como dije, no había mucho en estas áreas. Los niños jugaban con la naturaleza y unos pocos juguetes. Son lindos, no? Los miraba mientras que esperaba mi turno de lavar mis platos en la cubeta afuera. Eso también fue bien distinto a como vivo, y agradezco mucho la oportunidad de vivir por unos días- aun unas horas- así. Creo que es muy importante ver la vida en otras partes del mundo- no sólo en centros turísticos, sino la vida diaria.

San Cristobal de las Casas

We spent a few hours in San Cristóbal again before leaving town. It’s clear this is where people go when visiting, and I recommend you all visit some day! I like how you can vaguely get a sense of the mountainous area in the background of this picture, and imagine how it is lined up, right next to town. I really wish I would’ve had a bit more time in between our trips to document the location more, but since I didn’t, I guess that means I will need to return! Also, I didn’t find Anahí (a Mexican pop-star who is engaged to the governor of Chiapas), who I really wanted to meet haha, so I definitely need to come back (though I don’t know where she even lives!) to meet her, and grab more delicious hot chocolate.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed a hint of life in Chiapas. For outfit shots from the area, type “Chiapas” into the search bar!

-Rach

Pasamos unas horas en San Cristócal otra vez antes de salir. Es obvio que los turistas vienen allá a visitar y les recomiendo que visiten algún día. Me encanta esta foto porque se nota las montañas al fondo, junto al pueblito, llenado de decoraciones. ¡Qué lindo! No tuve la oportunidad de sacar muchas fotos, ya que estuvimos súper súper ocupados, entonces supongo que necesito regresar. Tampoco conocí a Anahí (la celebridad a que adoro) entonces sin duda regresaré a conocerla y tomar más chocolate caliente.

Muchas gracias por leer. Espero que les gusten las fotos de la vida en Chiapas! Para ver mis looks allá, escribe “Chiapas” en la búsqueda.

-Raque