We stopped for lunch where we enjoyed the local cuisine and our first taste of mezcal. Our travel van was getting pretty full but we had more places to go and more things to see. Coming up was a most important stop in the black pottery village of San Bartolo Coyotepec. There we had a demonstration of the technique and its history by Don Valente Nieto, son of the late Doňa Rosa. It was fascinating to watch this 80 year old man produce a vase almost totally by touch as it appears his eyesight is failing.
Our final stop brought us to the rug village of Teotitlán del Valle. In this rug workshop we saw how the rugs are produced. The quality of the rugs and other products are outstanding. Oh, I was sorely tempted many times! It had been a wonderful tour with Alvin Starkman, a very knowledgeable tour guide who added much to the enjoyment of the day.We stumbled out of the van packed down with parcels and eager to do a show and tell.
Next day groups did their own thing, some visiting museums and art galleries. One took in a t-shirt dyeing workshop. Others went to visit an organic market. Some went to visit Monte Alban. The legacy of the Zapotec world comes to us through this magnificent archaeological site. It is of enormous importance because of its economic, political and religious focal point. Firstly, it is important because of its size and also because of its long life which began in about 500 BC and ended around 850 AD. It is awesome standing in these spots and just imagining what life was like and how this tremendous work was accomplished.
The following day found a group of us at a cooking class where we learned about the wonderful art of Oaxaquen cooking. First of all, we discussed the menu of the day and were brought to understand the importance and different flavors of the dried chilies. A short walk to a regional market followed where we picked up the produce for the day. After returning to Casa Crespo, José taught us in short order how to make nine different types of salsas. While busily cooking, we took time to enjoy these salsas with cheese quesadillas and stuffed squashed blossoms. After these appetizers we learned to make two different types of moles, alemendrado and coloradito. These moles were served with chicken and shrimp. Finishing off the meal, we were tempted with home made chocolate ice cream. All in all, this was a wonderful experience shared with new friends.
The next day brought one more wonderful experience. I took time to go a short way out of town with a favorite friend, Mary. What a morning! This was an unforgettable indigenous experience in the ancient ritual of Temazcal or bath house. It was supposed to be a unique holistic therapy for cleansing, detoxifying, and purifying my mind, body, and spirit. I don’t know if this was totally accomplished but I do know that it was an amazing happening which brought calm to my body and soul.
And so our days in Oaxaca passed quickly. Each day included a trip to many shops and after the daytime events ended, hours were spent at wonderful relaxing dinners. The evenings often ended with bridge games and quiet (sometimes) conversation. Some of our group went for an after dinner drink and were surprised to hear the lovely Lila Downs singing. What excitement!
I would urge each of you to take time to travel with girlfriends.