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Huaymax: a Maya village and mission

Located on the edge of "cruzob country," the former independent Maya zone near the Yucatan/Quintana Róo border, the little visita mission of Concepción Huaymax was an early victim of the 19th century Caste War. Until fairly recently, its crumbling belfries, fire-blackened choir beams and weed-filled sanctuary proclaimed its long abandonment.

Huaymax started life as a dependency of the Franciscan mission at nearby Ichmul. The primitive Indian chapel, the arch of which can still be seen (below left) was expanded into a church in the 1700s, whose nave was covered by a steeply pitched, thatched roof and faced with a stuccoed limestone facade with elegant, "moorish" side belfries.

Although still missing its roof, the church has now been stabilized, cleaned up and reclaimed by local evangelists, who worship beneath a ramada - now metal instead of thatch - in front of the sanctuary, much like the Maya Christian converts of the 400 years ago.