Wednesday, February 27, 2008

San Juan Copala

Last week I went out to San Juan Copala, a small (very small) town in the Triqui region of western Oaxaca. I caught a suburban out of Oaxaca around 6am on Wednesday morning and took a 3 hour ride (mas o menos) to Tlaxiaco a town in the Mixteca region of western Oaxaca. Once there I met a fellow researcher and after a quick breakfast in the market we hopped on another van for a ride on some very twisty mountain roads. After about an hour we jumped off of this van and hopped in a small truck for the ride to San Juan Copala. On the drive there we passed this sign advertising their annual fiesta.

After some confusion about where we might stay that night we finally dropped our things off in the municipal president's office and began wandering around the small town. San Juan Copala recently declared itself an autonomous municipality (they are still figuring out what this means to them apparently) and since this declaration, according to the researcher I was with, the violence in the town has subsided.

We walked through the market set up for fiesta below.

The picture below is the newly painted church in the center of the small town. I wasn't able to take pictures inside the church which was unfortunate because it was a truly fascinating blend of the catholic religion and some alternative religious activity. The floor inside the church was covered in sawdust and women were walking on their knees from outside the church to the altar. Against the walls were a number of people reading tarot cards for those interested in knowing their fortune. We went up to the altar at the front and received a blessing.

The town is really small, I was told the population is about 500 or so. The woman in the picture below is wearing the traditional Triqui huipil but I believe she is from the Triqui alta region as her huipil contains more white in it than is included in the huipiles the women from the Triqui baja wear. San Juan Copala is located in the Triqui baja which is the region plagued with inter-ethnic violence between the MULT and the UBISORT and now an offshoot of the MULT, the MULTI. See some old posts for more information regarding what those acronyms stand for.

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