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for innocent children, blue or green for adults, black signifies old age, and the ones with
rounded tops identify a Mayan.”
I mentioned syncretism. Victor took offense and said, "Son Cathólicos! Con sus propios
gustos. (They are Catholics! With their own preferences.)"
We drove into Chamula, parked near Templo San Juan and entered the church. It was bril-
liantly lit with thousands of candles. Photographs were forbidden. There were large pic-
tures of saints around the church, and many groups seated on the floor were clustered here
and there, conducting their own services. Shamans and healers had replaced priests.
It was a special province. A resident priest was not allowed. Victor said, “Only visiting
priests are allowed to come for baptisms.” John the Baptist and saints were venerated here.
Believers sat cross-legged on the floor and were staring and self-confessing into mirrors.
Shamans conducted rituals with live chickens. Evil spirits were coaxed from the ill, and
the suffering transmigrated into a chicken. Later the chicken was strangled. There were
traditional herbs, Mayan medicines and psychic cures.
Coca Cola bottles stood out incongruently. Victor said, “Worshipers drink Coke and
tequila and bring food. The food and drink nourishes the gods and saints. Mayans believe
in reincarnation, and the gods passing through need energy for their long journeys. Coke
helps the believer to burp out, to purify himself from evil spirits.”
We left the church. Victor said, “Take a walk through the open-air market. It's very color-
ful. We'll meet at the van in thirty minutes. Then drive to Zincanta for lunch.”
The market was a shambles and a rainbow of colors.
Expenses: Tour: Chamula and Zincanta $15, meals $24, Hotel La Noria $30, Total: $69.
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