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Amatenango Chiapas

Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas

En route to Comitan and los Lagos de Montebello, this town is found along the Pan-American Highway south of San Cristobal de las Casas. Driving around the village of hard-packed dirt streets, visitors may see more chickens and dogs than people. But in the backyards of many of these modest houses, the Tzeltal Maya women produce an unusual type of pottery. Although styles have become more varied and sophisticated over the years, the women still teach their daughters to produce simple yet charming ceramics baked over an open fire. Unglazed doves and simple pots are the traditional motifs, although today you'll find utilitarian and decorative pottery in the shape of jaguars, roosters, and other animals. Many of the women work on commission for area hotels or other regular buyers, but they may have some pieces for sale to drop-in shoppers. Brightly painted piggy banks, plates, bowls, and animal figures are sold for extremely reasonable prices at a roadside co-op at the entrance to town. You might also stop off to pay a visit at the single nave, 18th-century church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. Corn and other crops are grown in the broad valley surrounding town.

How to Get There

Catch any southbound bus from San Cristobal de las Casas, as the town is right off Highway 190. The distance between San Cristobal and Amatenango del Valle is 37 km (23 mi).

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