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Zinacantan Chiapas

San Lorenzo Zinacantán, Chiapas

Along with neighboring towns such as San Pedro Chenalho, San Juan Chamula, and San Andres Larrainzar, Zinacantan is famous for its intricately woven (and embroidered) cloth produced on back-strap looms. Flowers are a main motif here, and flower-growing is a major source of revenue for the community. Farmers in the municipality grow and export carnations, roses, chrysanthemums, and other flowers. People from the area are said to have traded with the Aztec nation; the name Zinacantan derives from a Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs and others) word meaning "place of bats."

Most visitors today come on a half-day trip combined with a visit to neighboring San Juan Chamula. Each guide has a relationship with one home-based workshop/showroom or another, and leads his charges there. Items for sale include sweaters, gloves, and shawls; embroidered goods like placemats, napkins, and table runners; variations on shawls, blouses, and other typical apparel; and the alcoholic drink pox in a variety of flavors. A wonderful part of most tours is a stop at the simple backyard kitchen where tortillas hot off the griddle are served. Often it's just pox or hot coffee along with the yummy, handmade tortillas served with a bit of salt or salsa. On a recent tour, however, we sampled as many hot tortillas as we could handle served with chorizo, avocado, sour cream, fresh cheese, and salsa: it is one of the most delicious and satisfying meals I had on my three-week Chiapas visit.

After eating we wandered over to the main church, dedicated to Saint Lawrence. As in neighboring San Juan Chamula, photography within the church is forbidden. Sunday is one of the best days to visit, as families are out and about dressed in their best clothing. Local custom dictates that women wear a shawl when leaving the house, and even little girls wear the traditional shoulder covering and wraparound skirts embroidered in striking bright colors on a dark background. Although there's not a lot to do here (there's a small museum that hasn't been open on days I've visited), Zinacantan is a colorful small town and definitely worth a visit.

Festivals

Fiesta de San Sebastian (Feast Day of St Sebastian), January 18 through 20; Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross), May 3; Feast Day of the town's patron Saint, San Lorenzo (St Lawrence), August 10; All Saints and All Souls Days (November 1 and 2); Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12).

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