The Chamula Experience

Yutniotic holds a special place in our hearts and when Rise Now asked us if we knew of a school where they could built a playground we immediately thought of their middle school.

Today was the playground’s inauguration and, as usual, going to Yutniotic was an experience.

After wandering around San Juan Chamula and thinking we had gotten lost, we made it! We’re late and everyone is waiting for us to start the ceremony. Molly is invited to participate along with our friends from Rise Now. There are candles lined up in front of the President of the PTA and we see a chicken and a rooster (not a good sign for these animals in this situation). One of the student’s dad prays in Tzotzil as the candles are burning and another group of fathers is playing music. Fireworks go off, the ceremony has started! There is dancing, praying, music, fireworks, pox (posh, a VERY strong corn-based liquor) and Coca-Cola. The poultry meet their end and are sacrificed to the Earth. After a few more fireworks, the ceremony comes to an end and more pox is passed around. Keep in mind it isn’t even 10 am, yet the pox has made various rounds among the fathers of the PTA.

Once the ceremony ends, we meet in a classroom with Rise Now’s volunteers, the music is still going, and chicken soup is enjoyed. It’s time to head back to the office (don’t worry, we didn’t drink pox and can drive!).

We get lost on our way back and end up taking the old road back to San Cristobal until our plans are changed by a tree in the middle of the road. That was obstacle number one. We try to find another way to get home and are told we can take a dirt road back, we choose to return to San Juan Chamula and thanks to kind strangers’ directions find a road that can take us back. That is until we’re stopped because they’re about to blow up rocks with dynamite! That was our second obstacle. Lucky for us it goes off quickly without much noise or debris and we safely make it back to town.

What a morning!

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