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Cold at last - San Cristobel de las Casas and Oaxaca |

After weeks of stifling heat, relentless mosquitoes and humidity where the only thing to be done in the midday heat is find some shade and read a book (tough I know), San Cristobel, set high in the mountains was a welcome relief. A fire was lit in the hostel every night and blankets were provided to keep us warm (fleas an added extra).

I visited the Museum of Mayan medicine and took a tour to nearby highland villages, which are run autonomously by the Mayan people. Here superstition and an extensive knowledge of natural medicines blend seamlessly, with an alarming tendency towards waving chickens and eggs over everyone and everything to absorb the evil spirits, whilst at the same time using ancient herbal remedies which have now well-documented healing properties.

The Church, though with some ostensible Christian elements, is filled with Mayan chanting and squawking chickens protesting, if they but knew it, of their imminent demise as sacrifices.

It is a culture that has come under attack time and again, but has managed to survive Spanish conquistadors, economic and political discrimination and now the evangelisation attempts by diverse Christian groups with large investments of money to bribe the indigenous peoples.

My final stop is Oaxaca, where banners and political graffiti as well as road blocks dominate the main square after recent teachers strikes and protests. Despite the unrest, the people are friendly and the cobbled streets, cultural museums and art galleries proved a pleasant place to wile away my last few hours before my flight back home.

Locations Visited: Oaxaca

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