We rode through countryside and across a small river and up muddy slopes. White-knuckled, I arrived in Chamula an hour later. It looked like rain so I told my guide I'd be taking the bus back, thanks. I don't think I fooled him.
There is a church in the town center, where Toztils perform ceremonies to cleanse their souls and/or to heal their bodies
. Tourists are not allowed to take pictures inside so I will try my best to describe what I saw. There were no pews. The floor was coated in fresh pine needles. Around the periphery were tables on which sat glass boxes containing costumed wooden statues of saints about three feet in height. Each saint had a mirror around its neck, to ward off evil, I suppose. Around the tables were covered with fresh flowers and candles. Outside a chilly wind was starting to blow but in the church the hundreds of candles gave off a warm glow. Groups of four or five people in traditional dress cleared spaces on the floor and placed dozens of candles on the ground in front of them, standing them upright. They sat on the floor muttering incantations to themselves.
In the museum I later learned that these Mayans believe that energy is everything and that everything is energy. They also believe the world is a cube, held up by four pillars. They have incorporated Catholocism into their own religion, believing saints to be incarnations of gods of nature.
Surrounding the church is a huge market, where you can buy anything from fresh fruit to flowers to place in the church.
I grabbed the collectivo home, where fifteen of us fit into a space for eight. The children stood up. The old women slept. I watched a gang of dogs fall over eachother chasing our bus.
Thatīs right. The title says wooden saddle. I decided to take a horseback ride to a little village near here called San Juan Chamula, where over 40,000 Tzotzil Mayans live. The horse ride reminded me that, while I like to think I enjoy riding horses, I really have no idea what I'm doing. I was alone with my guide, a thirteen-year-old boy who enjoyed having the horses run. RUN! I don't know how to stop a horse without making it buck. I would have some pictures for you but I was too busy holding on to the wooden saddle.