I arrived 5am in the morning, and grabbed a taxi to my host Alejandros place. I didn’t have money on my phone to call Alejandro to open the door, so I had to put in the Swedish number in the phone, and then I lost my mexican phone card, maybe in the grass, or in my backpack, haven’t found it yet. Well well. Btw, one thing in general I’ve noticed about mexico, is that no taxi driver has a gps!! I have no idea how the hell they manage to find their way everywhere.
Alejandro has a very nice little house who he shares with his room-mate Karim. In the morning when they left for work I walked downtown, it’s around 15 minutes walking to get to the Zocalo. Chris and Santiago had told me that there where good tours departing from the hotel ”Gala”, close to the Zocalo, so I started to look for it. On the way I talked to a woman whose name was Elda, I thought it was beautiful name actually, I told her the swedish meaning of it and she liked it a lot. :) Also she liked my scarf from desigual, because it has like round knit circles, and she works with that – decorating clothes, so she got some inspiration. :)
After walking around the center, through the markets, I found the hotel, got in and asked about the tours. ”When do they start?” ”10 am”… it was 9.57… haha. The guy at the hotel desk made some arrangements and calls, and some minutes later, a van came and picked me up at the hotel. I didn’t really know what was included in the tour, but it was nice.
The van had place for like 15 people, and we started by visiting Tule, which has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world. There are older and taller, but not stoutest. It’s a Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), or ahuehuete (meaning ”old man of the water” in Nahuatl).
After that, we went to Teoticlan del Valle, The name Teotitlán comes from Nahuatl and means “land of the gods”. It is known for its textiles, especially their rugs. They are all woven on hand from wool from local sheep. They dyed it with natural pigments . Like the red colour, comes from an insect that grows on the nopal-cactus, which they let live there about 3 months before they carefully peels them off and dries them in the sun and then crushes them in a stone-thing to get the red colour. With lemon juice they change the tone of the red. The rugs are woven in traditional designs, and takes around 3 weeks to make one in a smaller size. It depends if there are curves instead of rectangles, how small the pattern is and how many colors it has. I really fell in love with some of the rugs and also some of their clothes. Of course, they don’t have a webpage or a webshop, and I can’t bring this with me now, but one of the girls in the valley had an e-mail so I’ll try to get in contact with them later to work something out. :)
We also visited Mitla, which is the second most important archeological site in the state of Oaxaca and the most important of the Zapotec culture. It is a very well-preserved site (10.000 years) because of the dry climate. There is original red painting on the walls too. We went into a room inside the temple and it has really cool decorations inside too, must have taken so long time to do that!
We visited a Mezcal-fabric there too. It’s a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant. Mezcal is typical in Oaxaca. They let the maguey plant ”cook” in an oven underground for like 3 weeks, then they smash it, put it in a big container, and it comes out distillated. This is the original method which they still use. Very cool.
There is a saying here regarding the drink: ”para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también” (for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well). I bought one Crema de Maguey with the taste of capuccino, which has a similar taste to baileys. :)
We ate dinner and had a buffé where there was typical oaxacan food, I couldn’t eat that much of it, and it was quite expensive too for my taste, but well. I ate natillas as a desert, and they were reaaaally good, so lets say it was worth it ;)
The last stop we made was at Hierve el Agua (means ”the water boils”), about 70 km east of Oaxaca city. Hierve el agua is a set of natural rock formations who are created by fresh water springs. It has a lot of calcium carbonate and other minerals. There are some waterfalls that have been petrified, because of the excess of the minerals are deposited there. The view was amaaaazing. So calm and cool. I could have stayed here for a whole day. It’s a pity I didn’t bring swim clothes, I could only wet my legs.
UPDATE: The tour costed 200 pesos, but along the way you have to pay the entrance fees (around 100 pesos) and the lunch buffet (150 pesos). You can also count in buying something from the markets, the mescal fabric and teoticlan-rugs. :)
I came back around 18.30 to the Zocalo, went home and spent some time with my hosts. Alejandro took me to a street stand where they make really good Tlayudas, which is a typical Oaxacan food made of a toasted tortilla covered with beans, lettuce or cabbage, avocado, oaxaca cheese and salsa. We had it at a street stand close to the Zocalo and hotel Gala. I also tried the typical chocolate drink here, Chocolate-atole, yummy. :) So cool! I love couchsurfing! :)