Mexico Bound - Winter 2007 travel blog

Mitla street

Mitla ruins

Mitla vendors

fanciful animals

Ken with trimmed agave

2,000 year old tree

Tule cemetary

Tule municipal building


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making the blouses

There's so much to see and do in the Oaxaca area, we decided to focus on just a few things and really enjoy them, rather than trying to do it all. There's just no way. Many of us headed toward Mitla. Some were interested in the ruins there, but Ken is ruined out. Our tail gunner's wife has been wearing the prettiest blouses and she told us that she got them in Mitla, which is the center of the textile industry. That sounded worth investigating. Actually, it was pretty hard to avoid those ruins. They occupied the highest point in town. The Spanish in that politically correct approach they had to their colonies, built a church right on top of what used to be a local religious complex. The local weavers and seamstresses take advantage of the tourists who pour in to see it and sell their wares right around the church/ruin complex. We've seen lots of vendors selling embroidered shirts, blouses, dresses, etc. everywhere we've gone, but in Mitla, the women who made these garments were the same women who were selling them. Their personal pride in their craftsmanship was obvious and each woman added her own design touches to the garments. In some shops the table runners and rugs were being woven right on the spot. No middlemen in this operation. There were so many shops and the prices were so good, I must confess that some of us went a bit overboard. No need to do laundry anytime soon.

On the way to Mitla we passed numerous mescal factories. The agave plant is raised for seven to nine years until it is ready for harvest. The leaves are lopped off and it looks like a giant artichoke. The agave globes are tossed into large fires and singed before the juice is squeezed out of them. Then water is added and it is heated for the fermentation process. Agave is also used to make tequila, which skips the burning step of this operation. We stopped to do some tasting, just as you might in a vineyard. Mescal tastes like diesel fuel to me, but various flavors are added like cocoa, chocolate, apple, and almond and you end up with a tasty brew. After we bought a bottle, the purveyor threw in mescal shot glasses on a string so we could walk around sipping with our hands free. The factory where we stopped had a charming garden and served lunch. It was a Napa Valley experience.

We also wanted to spend some time in Tule, where we are camped. Standing in front of the 2,000 year old tree next to the church there made me think of all the events that had happened here over those many years in a way that the ruins have not. A young woman in a gorgeous orange dress was getting her quincinera photos taken in front of this picturesque spot. The whole town was attractive, neat and well organized in a way that many Mexican towns lack. We walked past open air restaurants were families were enjoying a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Much of the cooking took place over charcoal on wok-like pans were tortillas were heated and all sorts of mysterious contents sprinkled on top.

While I'm not sure we'll ever schlep our RV down here again, Oaxaca is on the list for another visit. We needed more time here.

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