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San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan villages

Church of San Juan © Rob Young
Church of San Juan © Rob Young

These two highland villages are the home of the Tzotzil people, descendants of the ancient Mayans, and some of Mexico's most traditional indigenous communities. San Juan Chamula is a centre for religious festivals. The main attraction is the church where, every Sunday, men in loose homespun white woollen ponchos and women in embroidered finery congregate for the weekly market. The typical dress of the Zinacantan villagers is a red and white striped poncho decorated with tassels and a flat, round hat decorated with ribbons. The countryside is dotted with crosses and offerings dedicated to their ancestor gods or the Earth Lord. Visitors should respect the local traditions and customs; villagers can be unfriendly and are wary of tourists. The best way to visit the villages is with a local guide. Photography is forbidden.