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Visiting Zincantan village- Textiles and Pox

Updated: May 21, 2020

Less than an hour’s drive from San Cristobel de la Casas was the village of Zincantan. We stopped outside a house and the minute we stepped out of the van, we were approached by locals selling amber necklaces, earrings, rings you name it.

We walked into what was a room with a large colourful shrine with nothing else in the room, not even a chair. The floor was covered with fresh pine needles which represented good luck and something to sit on. The shrine dedicated to various saints, it had animal’s statues, many colourful flowers, candles and lights. Everyone on the trip was local and very few tourists.

The host greeted everyone in Spanish, and continued to explain about the shrine in Spanish. We stood there dumb struck trying to figure out what everything meant, we were lucky to have met a local girl from Mexico City who spoke English and was able to translate as much as she could.

I later found that this shrine had a mix of Paganism and Catholicism which is quite popular in villages like these as they go back in Mayan Pagan history.

If you’re reading this and wondering what Paganism is, it can’t be simply explained, but I will try my best. Paganism, is an earth centered belief system, that all humans and animals are created equal, they all serve a purpose, including nature, the sun and moon, dark and light.

If something harms none, then do it.

Pagans don’t believe in one god or that they belong to a religion.

We walked into the next room full of textiles from cloths, tops, dresses, trousers you name it. The items are handmade by a mobile wooden weaving loom that is strapped on the persons back. Although we found the prices a little expensive considering they were being bought at a village, it was even more of a reason to buy from there as it helps the community.

Most of the designs on the pieces of clothing had flowers and leaves, and looked quite traditional. We were then allocated a shop assistant that brought a local traditional outfit for each of us to try on.

Dressing like a local wasn’t for me at all, but it was definitely fun seeing all the different traditional outfits on everyone. The layers that went into the outfit had me walking like a giant colourful ball.

The traditional Pox drink (pronounced Posh) made from sugar cane, wheat and corn was handed out in little shots. Posh has a lot of Mayan Tzotzil significance and it started off as just fermented corn, before the wheat and sugar cane were added, which now gives it a smoother taste...

In Mayan times and still, Pox is believed to ward off bad spirits. The burn from drinking the alcohol was thought to be the sensation of evil spirits leaving the body and the body’s temperature rising to a warm feel was the soul filling up the emptiness.

Learning about Pox was quite interesting. Nowadays outside villages it is believed that drinking Pox strips you of any walls and make your true self visible, because you, like anyone else, are the same.

So rather than cheer and say ‘Salud’, they say ‘Hala Ken' which means “I am another you, you are another me”. Which is really the truth behind alcohol in our times.

We were then taken into the kitchen for a quick bite of corn tortillas and banana made by the children. The kitchen was a typical one found across Mexico until today. The Corn tortillas I have to admit are not for everyone. After 3 days in Mexico and having corn tortillas, I am unable to even smell it anymore.

Soon after, that we headed to San Juan Chamula village, where the things you see there cannot be unseen.

If you're heading to Mexico, you may want to check our other posts, or contact us on info@wanderich.com:


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