Having been a potter for 30 years I search for ceramic creations wherever I visit. In this case I found Amatenango, a village southwest of San Cristobal. No tour companies go there so I was very lucky that my friends from home in Playa del Carmen were visiting this area at the same time and had rented a car.
When climbing the 300 steps the first morning I had seen a hillside of colorful houses and we happened to pass them on the way. Also local fruit stands lined the road as we got away from the city where we found peaches, pickled hearts of palm and canned quail eggs. Matt Weatherbee’s GPS directions led us to a cliff where the road simply ended. One can see the intended highway below in the lower right hand corner of the photo below. As Matt was attempting to turn the car around (with a stick shift and steep incline) a family came to their front porch to watch and this very helpful man explained a much safer route. But his face says, “No, no not down that embankment!”
We did arrive in Amatenango to be greeted by stall after stall along the highway with ceramic wares spread in front. Spotted jaguars in all sizes and chicken vessels are featured. They are all hand built and pit fired to hardness then painstakingly painted with acrylics. The artists all seem to be women with many young girls helping as apprentice painters and sales agents. I did purchase several of these, especially the green covered vessel in the photo above.
At 3:00 almost every afternoon at this time of year huge black clouds roll in and there is a brief downpour. On the way home we experienced this. Also the only gas stations were shelters on the side of the road with plastic bottles of gasoline and a siphon. Lodgepole pine trees were abundant so produce boxes that were made nearby were stacked high along the road as were wooden dog houses and children’s hobby horses.
The final photo we saw briefly on our return to San Cristobal, a huge metal sculpture of a woman in traditional dress creating a chicken pot.