Mexico Part II: Christmas Eve in San Cristobal de las Casas and Chamula

Now you can see how our Mexico trip progressed...
[Start in Mexico City - finish in Playa del Carmen]

After three days in Mexico City and the surrounding area, we flew to Tuxtla Gutierrez. The temperature increased about 20 degrees F. The airport was at a higher altitude, but over the course of the next week we would descend to near sea level. We were picked up by our new guide, Raul, a very pleasant man who was very knowledgeable on Mexican culture and history - and was particularly good at recommending restaurants and dishes.

[Cañón del Cañón del Sumidero] 

He drove us to Cañón del Cañón del Sumidero, where we were taken on a boat tour of the canon that he compared to the fjords in Norway. We experienced some slight racism when getting on the boat by a local who was unhappy that our guide had us wait for him on a bench toward the front of the line, and proceeded to tell us that "the boat should only have Mexican blood". The man then ran to the front of the line in hopes of getting a better seat but was told to sit in a seat right across from us. That was definitely something new for the Norwegians. Nevertheless, we still really enjoyed the boat tour of the canon. We saw crocodiles ("cocodriles" as our guide said), vultures, and snakes...and tons of waste that had washed down into the water from the neighboring towns after the rainy season. That was quite sad.

That night we stayed in San Cristobal. San Cristobal sits at a high altitude so the temperature was in the 40s and 50s, and there was a little rain. This did not help the three of us who were quite sick with the cold/flu. Tron and Rigmor were too ill to join us for dinner that night, but Marius, Katrine, Odny and I met Raul for a very nice dinner, but Katrine and I both felt too under the weather to really enjoy the dinner. Marius knows that when I turn down dessert, there must be something wrong (haha!).

[The church in Chamula]
The next day we drove to a village called Chamula. This is a Mayan village that we were told "does not accept Mexican authority", thus they have their own police and officials. There is a church, but it only looks that way from the outside. We were not allowed to take pictures inside. Pine needles blanketed the floor, and people were kneeling to place candle formations for their family or friends they were praying for. One man had his mother with him and some eggs. He was using the eggs to cleanse her. Meanwhile, a few feet away was a mother and her children with a chicken used for prayer. The village officials entered the church to do a prayer for Christmas Eve. It was a very interesting sight. As we exited the church, we were rushed by women and young girls trying to sell their crafts. A young girl came up to me before we went into the church and tried to sell me her bracelets. I told her to come back after we got out of the church. Sure enough she saw us and came right back to me - so naturally I had to buy some bracelets. 

That night was Christmas Eve. We weren't all feeling 100%, but it was still "Juleaften"/Christmas Eve, so we got dressed up and walked to a French-style restaurant owned and operated by a French ex-pat. On the way we saw the procession through the main square of the town with a woman dressed as the Virgin Mary and she was put on the back of a donkey. People followed behind carrying candles, banging drums, and singing songs. That was unforgettable...very very neat. We went back to our hotel after dinner and the streets were dead...totally silent.

[Lunch with Christmas music played on the xylophone] 

[Christmas Eve dinner]

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