Spring 2013 Brand Boot Camp – San Cristóbal de las Casas, San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán

Posted by | July 12, 2013 | Destination Freedom, Mexico | No Comments
San Cristobal de las Casas

The following images are from the Spring 2013 Destination Freedom Brand Boot Camp which took place March, April and May of 2013 in Cancun, Mexico. We took three members through the program and mentored them while they built their brands and websites. In mid-March we had a week-long adventure tour with Snail Adventures as a team-building exercise  and to give the students a much-needed break from the Spanish and brand building classes five days a week. Don’t forget to check out the first leg of the journey from Cancun to Merida, the second leg of the journey from Merida to Palenque, and the third leg of the journey where we stopped at Misol Ha, Agua Azul and Ocosingo.

We are currently accepting deposits for the Winter (November, December, January) program. Click here for more info.

Whirlwind. That’s the best way to describe the previous leg of the journey as we made our way from Palenque to San Cristóbal de las Casas. After an afternoon of travel, being sidetracked for a few hours in a beautiful hostel on the side of the road just outside of Ocosingo, and finally making our way up the windy, tope-covered road, we eventually landed in what is (as of this writing) my favorite town in Mexico.

We all hit the hay pretty early that evening and got up the next morning to head out for a cultural trip to the villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán. But before that point, we had to get some coffee in our veins, some breakfast, and of course some mandatory photos!

Destination Freedom group in San Cristobal de las Casas

Cris and Tim in San Cristobal de las Casas

Dave in San Cristobal de las Casas

Destination Freedom group in San Cristobal de las Casas

First up, we met up with our tour guide, Cesar, who explained a little bit about what we would be seeing for the day and the fact that we wouldn’t be able to film or take photos of much of the village life below in Chamula. This is because the shamans and the people themselves have a fear of cameras affecting their spirits and souls, a common belief shared by many native cultures around the world.

Which means that, while I would have loved to share them with you, we didn’t get to catch any of the wilder moments on film or camera, such as the chicken getting its head cut off inside of the Catholic-built church (they have a mixture of Catholic and shamanic beliefs as a result of the Christians trying to force their religion on the people over the years) and the shaman/priest spraying the kneeling, praying supplicants with fresh blood, the white and black candles lit on the floor for good and bad magic, the rituals inside the shaman leader’s home, or his many wives and the shrine.

Even so, we were able to take some photos from outside the buildings as we were walking around. It was a bit damp, and pretty damned cold, but we were able to keep the blood pumping with plenty of walking and exploration.

Destination Freedom group in San Juan Chamula

Destination Freedom group in San Juan Chamula

Destination Freedom group in San Juan Chamula

The more interesting of the two villages, at least from my perspective, was Zinacantán. It’s a little further down the road than Chamula, and the people here are more Catholic than shamanic, and they are not afraid of cameras and videos. Cesar took us to a little home where the family had set up shop to display and sell their hand-crafted goods. Everyone bought something small.

The women stay home and work on weaving as well as cooking food and drying out flowers, while the men themselves work at the greenhouses in the village. The main production for the village is flowers, which is evident in the many floral patterns in the weavings of the women.

Corn is, of course, a primary food source for the people of the region, but we aren’t talking GMO modified crops here. Instead, this is pure organic produce, completely cultivated and harvested by hand. As we were leaving the home we were invited to eat some fresh tortillas filled with freshly-ground pumpkin seeds seasoned with a little bit of salt. Pure deliciousness! (See the video below for some nom nom nom action!) 

Weaver in San Juan Chamula

Destination Freedom group in San Juan Chamula

Woman making fresh tortillas in San Juan Chamula

Corn in San Juan Chamula

After we finished, it was time to head back to San Cristóbal for evening dinner and bed. The following day was a free day for everyone, since we weren’t leaving until the late afternoon to head to Campeche in an overnight bus. Cris and I headed out into the city for some exploration of the local market and the sites, while the rest of the crew went about their own business.

San Cristobal de las Casas

Cris and Tim in San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

Cris in San Cristobal de las Casas

Here in centro you can clearly see the love of flowers in the area, as the whole park is laid out with floral arrangements. On top of that there are plenty of activities going on: we saw a wedding at the gazebo (check out the dates!!!), there were people playing chess and some live music that a couple of elderly women were dancing to in the early afternoon.

Cris in San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

Musicians in San Cristobal de las Casas

Dancers in San Cristobal de las Casas

Cris in San Cristobal de las Casas

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the final episode of the series as we make our way to Campeche for a few hours of downtime on our way back to Cancun to finish off the tour. Check out the video below for more behind-the-scenes details and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more juicy travel goodness!


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About T.W. Anderson

T.W. Anderson is the founder of the Marginal Boundaries brand. He is the writer, editor, videographer, photographer, and social media guru alongside Cristina Barrios, the other half of the brand. In his spare time, he is the creative director of the Saga of Lucimia, a forthcoming MMORPG from Stormhaven Studios, LLC.

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