Zinacantan is an Indigenous village outside San Cristobal. We recommend you tour this village with a guide (we suggest Alex and Raoul Tours). In combination with a tour to San Juan Chamula it will take about 3-4 hours. Just meet up with Raoul or one of his members at the cross in front of the church in San Cristobal. Be there any time between 8:45 – 9:30 in the morning and you can join in with a group. What is really impressive about this tour is that they are so respectful of the villages you are going to visit. We really enjoyed our time with Raoul Jr, and loved the way he interacted with the elders of the villages.
Zinacantan is similar to San Juan Chamula only in that it is an autonomous village, exempt from the taxes, rules and laws of Mexico. This village is supported by the flower industry, and arriving in the village you see miles and miles of greenhouses, sometimes on the most impossible slope and you have to wonder about the logistics on managing those. Flowers are evident everywhere! They are all over their clothing and the buildings. It is such a colourful village. I wish I had been able to take photos inside the churches – they were absolutely beautiful with archways of flowers and banana plants. Slightly different from Chamula, these churches had altars and a few pews. Behind the altar though, was an astonishing array of flowers. You simply can’t believe the colourful display.
We were in Zinacantan during festival days (no accident, you know Grant looks up all this extensively!)
All the guys with black painted faces are panthers, the beak guys with corn in their mouths are crows, and well…. the others are jaguars. The panthers climb that stripped tree, with the dissected squirrels (real ones, but stuffed) and throw them down to the hunters who race around trying to collect them. We waited for hours, but no one ever seems to know when something is actually going to transpire!
If you have time on your vacation to tear yourself away from Mexico’s amazing beaches, we heartily recommend you go inland …. the culture, food and sights you see are well worth it.