Rosa de Zinacantan (part 2)

Walking through the main square of Zinacantan, you can see the church of San Lorenzo Mártir.  It is one of the more than 50 temples affected in its structure by the earthquake of the September 2017. Restoration work continues, meanwhile a roof has been improvised to house the Saints, some of them as old as the church itself. The bells continue to ring three times a day, this is the custom and cannot be changed.

It is August and the preparations for the celebration of San Lorenzo Mártir, patron of the town, have begun. The saint represents local people’s hope for a better life. “Are you going to come?” Rosa asks me, “the Church is full of flowers, all of them come from here; there are so many flowers that even a single one would not fit in any more. The whole village gathers there. There is a group playing music all day and it gets very cheerfull, you will see…”.

I am back to Zinacantan on the following days and I get surprised by the sea of ​​colors of the regional costumes. People proud of their traditions, wouldn’t miss the festival. I am astonished by Mayordomos* dressed in festive traditional clothes, dancing in a slow pace, with a chin in their hands in front of the church. (*Mayordomos are religious authorities granted to the honorable village leaders).

The interior of the temple is full of smoke. The smell of copal permeate clothes and senses and it is full of flowers. Even the saints are dressed in traditional clothes! Colored flags on the vault say ” Viva San Lorenzo Zinacantan!”

The musicians with violin, harp, accordion and twelve-string guitars perform music that is back to those times when Spanish was not known in this area. Placed in a corner of the main nave of the church, they transmit peace and joy with mystical songs. I approach one of the mayordomos, who is carrying his baston and red bandana wrapped around his head. I greet him with respect and I stop next to him to observe the rituals. He expains me that the song that is all around is called the Bolom Chon: “The song is about the jaguar that lives in the jungle. Bolom is a jaguar or tiger, that takes care of the souls and in dances during the festival”. It feels that devotion and faith envelop the place out-of-the-real, stopping time for a moment.

Since then, I become friends with Rosa and her family. Every time I have the opportunity to visit Zinacantán, little by little, I learn more about tradition, simbols and customsof the village.

Some years after Rosa’s health is severely affected. Her daughters have to take care of the family business. One day, when I return to visit them, I do not find Rosa. Her daughter Antonia tells me: “She is no longer here… She left to meet her grandmother, they are resting together on the top of the mountain, her soul is now the guardian of the village…”