Close to the Guatemalan border, San Cristobal at 2,000m does not feel particularly tropical. The colonial town attracts a lot of foreign visitors and many have settled as expats making a pretty and lively town heavily populated by native Mexicans wearing village-specific clothing.
The most famous village to visit is San Juan Chamula where the locals threw the Catholic priests out in 1969 and took over the post-Conquest church with a strange mix of Christian idols, a vast sea of candles, chicken sacrifice, shamens, sugar cane spirits and a floor covered in fir needles. Photos are strictly forbidden. It’s also quite volatile; they lynched the mayor here in the summer.
The Zapatista Army (the EZLN) took over various local towns during an insurgency in 1994. The guerrillas are still active though their main visibility is in a couple of slightly bizarre giftshops in San Cristobal which sell a range of revolutionary embroidery and masked dolls.
We took a collective taxi (after a hour of looking for it) to a town called Tenjapa higher in the hills and lost in a cloud of drizzle. The attraction was the weekly market and the village dress code. Almost all the women wore a particular skirt and some of the men wore some spectacularly colourful costume. Since we were stared at constantly we didn’t get a chance to take photos.