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Wednesday, April 19th, 2017   3:57 pm |  Category:   Retirement locations, Travel   |   Add Comment
Author:   Alison Armstrong posts: 7 Author's
9. San Juan Chamula:
Just six miles from San Cristobal de las Casas is the township of San Juan Chamula, home to the fiercely independent Tzotzil Maya ethnic group. Every Sunday a market fills the open space in front of the church. Hundreds of Tzotzil from the surrounding villages descend on the town to shop and socialize, and to visit the church. San Juan Chamula is the main centre for some distinctive spiritual practices, combining pre-Colombian religious beliefs with the Catholicism brought by the Spanish Conquistadores. Entering the church is like entering another world. There are no pews. The Chamulans pray on their knees on a floor carpeted with pine needles before rows of candles, and Shamans perform healing rituals. The rituals involve coloured candles, eggs, and occasionally the beheading of a chicken. It is an entirely authentic scene dating back hundreds of years. Photography is strictly forbidden.
10. Rio Secreto:
Wearing wetsuits, a life jacket and a miner’s helmet we follow gentle slopes of slippery stone and narrow passageways until we are more than 65ft underground. We are in the channel of an underground river that has carved out a system of caves over thousands of years. It is known as Rio Secreto, the secret river. There is no light save for our headlamps and our guide’s small flashlight. We wade through the shallow river of clear brilliant blue and green water, finding ourselves in huge magnificent caverns of stalactites and stalagmites. We move forward through the river system, at times having to squeeze through narrow passageways with only our heads above water, at times having to swim, always emerging into another expansive cavern. And then we are standing in shallow water in a wide, open space and we all turn our lamps off. In uncompromising darkness, so dark we cannot see our hands in front of our faces, we listen – to the drip drip drip of the water from thousands of stalactites hitting the water below, to the far off squeaking of bats, to the soft lapping of the water. I feel the moist air on my face, and the chill of the water, and smell the earthy smell. It is a moment of aching beauty.
Rio Secreto is located in the state of Quintana Roo near Playa del Carmen.
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