The Witchcraft Sonora Market

Are you superstitious? Do you think you are followed by bad luck? Do you suspect your neighbour is trying to poison you? Harbouring revenge over your cheating wife or husband?
Then this is the right place for you then. The Witchcraft Sonora Market. Travel with me to one of the creepiest sides of Mexico.

Just walk with me as I take you to this colourful and creepy Mercado.

I was told about the obscure Mercado de Sonora, filled with occult things and cures for anything that ails you. So in my latest visit to Mexico City I decided add this superstitious stop in my journey. The travel team had already covered the must-see places and things in this gigantic metropolis so I was very keen on looking for the kind of things I like: the strange things.

It looks like a very big market place focused on esoteric items, the ideal place for those interested in mysticism, occultism and hidden wisdom (a term cherished by many).

It was creepy, for sure, but also very interesting and certainly a nice detour from the regular city attractions.

Vendors were friendly and invited us in easily, though they preferred to remain hidden in front of my camera. See photo below.

As we walked by the aisles, vendors asked us questions and offered us all kinds of solutions to our daily life’s troubles. Things like herbs, claws of garlic, water and essences spray, soaps, saints, skulls, ritual pamphlets, anything you can imagine, including the illegal trade of animals.

The Mercado Sonora is home to many religions other than Catholicism. Here I found a wide range of vernacular religions, sorcery practices and other bizarre faiths and convictions. Voodoo is no stranger here either, with all its incredible imagery and rituals.

It got more and more interesting as I walked through it. Aisled are stuffed with witchcraft items, potions, dolls and amulets.

This creepy market offers a wide range of items that serve to fulfil any macabre wish people harbour. The rich variety of products and shamanistic items will feed your imagination. There are stands with skulls, skeleton representations and dubious containers among other items.

People who believe they are being cursed or ill-wished come to Mercado Sonora to have a spiritual cleansing known as limpia. It is a very common practice and not only in Mexico. It’s a process which normally involves the use of incense, singing prayers and herbal items, either ingested or brushed upon the affected person.

 

The Forgotten Mexico: Chiapas

One can never generalise about cultures and countries in general. Least of all those countries with such diversities as Mexico. Chiapas rejoys in its beauty and fantastic colours, however, it is a forgotten side of Mexico whose culture and image has too often been neglected and overlooked.

Mexico is BIG and ethnically very diverse. Migrants from distant lands and the already existing indigenous communities inhabit this country. In fact, the second article of the Mexican Constitution asserts that the country is a pluricultural nation originally founded upon the indigenous peoples.

Chiapas landcapes

Indigenous people are located in many states of Mexico but the biggest concentration is found in the state of Chiapas, south border of Mexico with Guatemala, and Oaxaca.

With chilly pine-forest highlands in the north, sultry rainforest jungles, attractive colonial cities and filled with remnants of the Mayan civilisation. Chiapas nonetheless looks completely cut off from the rest of the country.

It is the perfect off the beaten path destination for those adventure seekers willing to explore the frothy waterfalls and eco-indigenous jungle reserves. But we will explore this side on a second post.

Overlooking San Cristobal de las Casas

Talking about the situation in Chiapas comes with contrasting versions depending on whom you ask. There is strong ongoing propaganda from both the government and the Zapatistas, whose claim on the government’s violation human and constitutional rights of community members eventually culminated in the 1994 Zapatista uprising, but I won’t get into that.

Instead, I will tell you why Chiapas seems and looks so isolated and distant from the rest of Mexico, both culturally and geographically.

Cañón del Sumidero

The Indigenous people of Chiapas

It has significantly underdeveloped infrastructure compared to the rest of the country, and its significant indigenous population with isolationist tendencies keep the state distinct culturally.

Cultural stratification, neglect and lack of investment by the Mexican federal government has exacerbated this problem in several aspects. One of them, is the lack of telecommunication in the mid-south Chiapas where communication system is instead provided by Guatemala (when you book a hotel in south Chiapas don’t be surprised if the dial number starts with +502).

Children I met in Zinacantan, indigenous town in the central Chiapas highlands. In spite of San Juan de Chamula being the neighbouring, famous indigenous and very commercial town in the area, Zinacantan still doesn’t experience the touristic crowds that its neighbour does.

Another aspect concerns the condition of federal highways and cross-state roads.

Cultural stratification, neglect and lack of investment by the Mexican federal government has exacerbated this problem in several aspects. One of them, is the lack of telecommunication in the mid-south Chiapas where communication system is instead provided by Guatemala (when you book a hotel in south Chiapas don’t be surprised if the dial number starts with +502, Guatemala’s international dial code).

The condition of federal highways and cross-state roads are another huge issue in the state, reflecting the oblivious attitude paid to it.

About road blocks. There are periodic road blocks randomly located throughout the state. It is common to find them on the road between San Cristobal and Palenque. They are sporadic and unpredictable, sometimes blamed on the EZLN (the Zapatista movement), and look like simple tree trunks cut off and thrown in the middle of the road (I was not able to take pictures of the one we experienced but Google offers many examples of it).

On the positive note, Chiapas does indeed offer spectacular landscapes, wildlife and the peace you’ll never have elsewhere in Mexico.

Wildlife I found in Lacandona jungle at an eco-hotel dedicated to the preservation of wildlife and tropical animals.

Lacandona Jungle eco retreat is a hotel built purely on palapas, surrounded by stunning rivers and tropical animals. The owner will encourage you not to buy any animal souvenir such as tucan’s peack pendants.

Agua Azul waterfall and rapids
Lake of Montebello