Suitcase and World: Topes y Oxchuc.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Topes y Oxchuc.

As described in the opening sentence of Moon Travel Guides, "Only a handful of the thousands of travelers who pass this vibrant Tzeltal Maya village ever stop."  We were one of those thousands and so Oxchuc was not a memorable visit for me especially since I saw it from the vantage point of a passenger in a car that was whizzing its way through town.

But, it does hold some memories and for this reason, deserves a small posting on my blog.....that and I really want to post up the videos I shot :-)

We left San Cristóbal de las Casas early this morning and after a long day's drive, arrived into Palenque this afternoon.  The distance between the two towns is not great but the road between is chock full of speed bumps.

Francisco warned us that in this part of Chiapas, the topes or reductor velocidads (speed bumps) are generally placed where the road passes through a town or village to slow down cars where there are people around.  He wasn't kidding!  Most certainly makes sense to use speed bumps to slow down passing traffic but it seemed like some towns and villages take the whole speed bump thing to another level by not only installing speed bumps of varying sizes but by also placing them in clusters, not far apart from each other so before you could speed up again you had to slow down.  Though we were riding on a paved road the entire time, it was a very slow and at times, very bumpy, ride!

Enterprising kids take full advantage of the slowing down vehicles, setting up food stands alongside the speed bumps.  As cars brake, they run up to the car windows with their offerings in hand.  That's how I ended up with an ice cold bag of coconut juice!



Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico and you could definitely see the poverty reflected in the ramshackled buildings that made up the small towns and villages, most of which are inhabited by various Mayan groups.

 It's too bad we weren't able to stop in Oxchuc because today was market day and I know that all of us would have loved spending time wandering through it.   Farming is the way of life in Oxchuc and its surroundings and apparently, women have the duty of selling the chickens.  There's no rule that you have to sell your goods inside the market space so we passed by quite a few women, with birds in hand or on the sidewalk, negotiating a sale!

As with many Mayan towns in Chiapas, the women still wear the costumes that identify their cultural group.  Francisco pointed out that for Tzeltal women, their native costume is a long huipil over a black skirt.   The distinguishing design of the Tzeltal huipil is that it is white with vertical red (or purple) stripes.  Both the huipil and the skirt are usually hand woven cotton.  The women carry a large cotton bag, draped across their shoulder that holds their personal items.

As we passed through Oxchuc, I turned on my camcorder to record the ride.  Oh, and when I said "Oxchuc", Francisco replied "Bless you".  That's a bad joke.  *groan*.