Mercado del dia Zaachila & Culture Night 20 Nov 2014

Mercado del dis Zaachila means (I hope) that today is market day in the small town of Zaachila. We hopped a collectiva to get out there. If you haven’t ridden in one – basically a collectiva is any mode of transport that follows a set route, and you hop on and off as you need, but only on that specific route. It can be anything from a taxi to a truck!

Our first chore this morning was walking up to AeroTucan to purchase flights down to Puerto Escondido – we had originally planned to rent a car and drive down to the coast, staying in the rain forest along the way. However, after we stayed an extra day in Mexico city for Grant’s recovery we all thought it might be easiest to just fly down there. Vivian and Wilson were all for that, particularly as Vivian gets a bit carsick and that long trip along the ridge of the mountain would be a challenge. She thought it would be much easier to fly …. until she saw that we are going to be on a 9 passenger plane … ha ha – Vivi certainly has risen to a lot of challenges this trip – she’s a trooper though and both she and Wilson have been amazing at this different sort of trip.

On our way down to get the collectiva we saw so many cute kids – all dressed up as either Revolutionaries, caballeros (cowboys), Abuelitas (indigenous women) or Pancho Villa (hero). I did manage to get a couple of cute photos. Today is their national day of celebration of independence and all the preschool and primary school children regularly do this.

all ready for celebrating Independence Day

all ready for celebrating Independence Day


She was so cute, and happy to have her photo taken.

She was so cute, and happy to have her photo taken.

The market was fascinating. All the indigenous folk come in from the mountains to do their shopping, and their selling. So many fruits, vegetables, chickens, nuts, weavings, pretty much anything you can think of. They even have a lumber section – you can buy your firewood, or charcoal or even building material.

Most stalls are maintained by women, but there are a fair share of men doing the job also - you could buy anything here!

Most stalls are maintained by women, but there are a fair share of men doing the job also – you could buy anything here!


It was easy to imagine these old gals meeting up every week to chat.

It was easy to imagine these old gals meeting up every week to chat.


I've never seen black corn!

I’ve never seen black corn!


Every display is so enticing.

Every display is so enticing.


Chicken or turkey for dinner?  It doesn't get much fresher than this.

Chicken or turkey for dinner? It doesn’t get much fresher than this.


Picking up the weekly load of firewood.

Picking up the weekly load of firewood.


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So delicious. Following dinner we went to a percussion concert – 6 amazing performers – all free.
[caption id="attachment_2501" align="alignnone" width="584"]Percussionists - amazing. Percussionists – amazing.


The most incredible aspect is that you are listening to such brilliant music in an incredible venue – all of a sudden you look up and the ceiling is elaborately finished and you realize you are in a first class art gallery!

And then – imagine our delight when we realized the opera house was hosting a free Shastikovich concert – I tell you that cellist had magic fingers and brought the audience to tears.

We attended a free Shastikovich concert here - stunning building inside and out.

We attended a free Shastikovich concert here – stunning building inside and out.

The inside of the dome. The inside of the dome.[/caption]
no flash allowed - but you get the idea of the grandeur no flash allowed – but you get the idea of the grandeur[/caption

Perhaps most Mexican of all was that throughout each concert we could hear the chants of protestors and the beat of their drums while indoors, in these incredible locations, it was a different world.

Things are heating up in Oaxaca – the protestors are all still here – and are setting up camp in many of the streets. It is hard to imagine in Canada that people would just arrive, string tarps across the streets and set up a tent underneath it – on major streets! Obviously they feel very strongly that it is time for a change.

Tomorrow we are off to En Via – this tour will take us to the homes of 3 separate women, operating on micro loans to help sustain their families, and hopefully break the line of poverty.

No Way Jose – 19 Nov 2014

That became our refrain today.

Grant and Wilson trying to take seriously whatever Jose/George/Jorge has to say!

Grant and Wilson trying to take seriously whatever Jose/George/Jorge has to say!

Yesterday – at the botanical gardens – we met a guy, who we thought was associated with the gardens – his name is Jose, or George, or (horhay) – who knows. Anyway, he presented like he was part of the garden group, and then offered a tour to Teotitlan del Valle (weaving village), El Tule (2000 year old tree), Mitla (archeological ruins), and Hierve el Agua (calcified waterfalls). All this for the princely sum of 100 pesos each. Too good to be true??? Not a doubt. We would never have undertaken such a tour if Grant wasn’t as experienced as he is at all these places.

Massive trunk of El Tule

Massive trunk of El Tule

In the morning, at the appointed time, there was Jose – not quite with the same vehicle he presented yesterday, but an adequate Ford escape. Some other guy was driving. We got in the car and wondered where on earth Jose was. Then we heard rustling. Jose was in the back cargo area, sitting on the straw. :o) Only in Mexico …..

Our first stop was at Arbol del Tule – this massive tree is more than 2000 years old and literally dwarfs the cathedral next to it. The town itself was so clean and quiet – quite beautiful.

Incredible the way this 2000 year old tree dwarfs what is a really large cathedral.

Incredible the way this 2000 year old tree dwarfs what is a really large cathedral.

Back into the car and off to Teotitlan del Valle. This town is well known for its weaving. The Zapotecs that live there work all the weaving in the age old traditional way. We learned about how they first card the wool before spinning it, then dye it with all the old fashioned methods, using bugs and plant materials for colour. Just a couple little cochineal bugs create a deep maroon colour – add a little lemon and it is orange in colour, add a little limestone and it is purple! Walnuts to deepen brown, other herbs and plants to create greens, and the indigo plant for blue. Wouldn’t you know it – our driver had taken us to HIS house. His wife did weaving demonstrations for us, and another guy was working on a much larger loom. The weavers family had 2 children – ages 4 & 1 – pretty cute playing there. The four year old has decided that he doesn’t want to go to school, he would rather just weave and has his own loom already.

A perfect red - the cochineal bug provides the perfect base to create so many shades in the red family.

A perfect red – the cochineal bug provides the perfect base to create so many shades in the red family.


You can really see the lack of tourism with fear of travel in Mexico. They explained how so many of the indigenous people are suffering, along with the larger tourism aspects. Needless to say, Vivian and I were sucked in and each bought a rug …. in spite of the fact that we will be back in this village on Friday.

Vivi and Wilson with their weaving purchase - joined by the matriarch and patriarch of the home - Raoul is the one who ended up driving us to Mitla and Hierve de Agua.

Vivi and Wilson with their weaving purchase – joined by the matriarch and patriarch of the home – Raoul is the one who ended up driving us to Mitla and Hierve de Agua.

Just a sample of a few of the colours used in the weaving - all made with natural elements of their life.

Just a sample of a few of the colours used in the weaving – all made with natural elements of their life.

Our next stop was Mitla, and our driver stayed with his family while his father (Raoul) drove us on to Mitla. This archeological site was occupied as recently as the 1500’s by the Zapotecs. Once the Spanish arrived that was over, and they proceeded to destroy the site in order to build another cathedral and attempt to convert the natives to Catholocism.

Mitla - it is amazing how vivid the red is, and so easy to imagine how impressive this whole place looked at it's prime.

Mitla – it is amazing how vivid the red is, and so easy to imagine how impressive this whole place looked at it’s prime.

We had intended to carry on to Hierve el Agua – a calcified waterfall just beyond Mitla. Jose pointed out road closure signs and said the whole road was closed. Grant didn’t quite believe this, so he checked at the archeological site with another guide who said that no, they couldn’t close off the road to the village …. it was just the new highway wasn’t open yet.

The roof of the cathedral behind the ruins.

The roof of the cathedral behind the ruins.

So when we got back to the car and Jose said that we were going back to Oaxaca because the waterfall was closed, Grant pointed out that no it wasn’t – we just had to take the other road. Poor Raoul (who kept calling Jose George) had apparently only been contracted to take us to Mitla and back to Oaxaca.

It was another couple of hours on the road before we got back to Oaxaca. And let me tell you – what a road. Up and down and up and up and up and around some more. Eventually we snaked our way through roads with Jose having to tell Raoul every turn to make as he hadn’t been there since he was a small child. Honestly it was well worth it – those calcified waterfalls were incredible – such an amazing sight. Hope my photos do it justice.

An ancient version of an infinity pool - although you sure would NOT want to go over the edge in this - not sure where you would end up.  The calcified water is so green, and a very rich site against all the mountains.

An ancient version of an infinity pool – although you sure would NOT want to go over the edge in this – not sure where you would end up. The calcified water is so green, and a very rich site against all the mountains.

I don't know how far down this goes, but if you slipped at the top, nothing would stop you …. and you know there is nothing to prevent you from slipping!

I don’t know how far down this goes, but if you slipped at the top, nothing would stop you …. and you know there is nothing to prevent you from slipping!

Standing on one of the calcified areas, with more of the falls in the background - can you tell how nervous I am to be standing there?

Standing on one of the calcified areas, with more of the falls in the background – can you tell how nervous I am to be standing there?


The entire mountain ranges behind the falls seem like they are the perfect frame.  Such a remote area, and there are little villages everywhere dotting those hillsides.

The entire mountain ranges behind the falls seem like they are the perfect frame. Such a remote area, and there are little villages everywhere dotting those hillsides.

Raoul literally coasted back into town on gas fumes as he had no idea he was heading out to the falls. We had many a laugh as Grant and Raoul joked about making Jose push. First gas station we saw, we treated Raoul to some gas – he certainly put in the effort for it. We all kept saying “No way Jose” when he would try to tell us something ….

In the end, the tour was more than worth the money we paid for it – so interesting and entertaining!

Tonight on our evening walk down to the zocalo we noticed that protestors had arrived by the busload, so so many – so we skirted those areas on our way back home. Safely tucked in to a very quiet neighbourhood.