No sound truck this morning so I got a little more sleep. The bus was here at 9:00 AM and Carol Ann and I were early (a rare occurrence) so got a front row seat on the bus.
The first stop was the village of Teotitlán del Valle between Oaxaca and Mitla. This village has over 100 rug weaving families. We went to “The Bug in the Rug” gallery of Isaac Vásquez Garcia and Jerónimo Vásquez Garcia, master weavers and designers. Their family was the first family of weavers in the village and are well known (or so I was told). They use all natural colors to dye the wool and they weave very colorful classic and modern designs. Their rugs are also color fast and very soft to touch (much softer than rugs we saw by other weavers). Carol Ann and I bought a small rug ($3,000 pesos – around $250 US) that will be signed by the weaver and delivered to the RV park tomorrow.
Next on the agenda was the village of Mitla where in the 16th century the Spanish destroyed the Zapotec temple and built a church on the site in an effort to convert the Zapotecs to Christianity. It was a sort of “my god is better than your god” kind of move. The remains of the original building contain many designs and symbols, including several fragments of the original red murals on some of the walls.
We ate lunch much earlier today than yesterday (thankfully). Like yesterday, it was also a buffet with many different Mexican dishes (no Tex-Mex). La Choza del Chef (near Mitla) was the name of the place. It was very good and some of the waiters spoke very good English. I don’t know what the prices are like as this meal was included in the tour package.
It seemed only fitting that after lunch we would visit a chocolate “factory”, La Tradición in Tlacolula. When we walked in the chocolate aroma was almost overwhelming. This was a place were you could select the ingredients and amounts of chocolate beans, sugar or Splenda, plus other ingredients such as coffee beans, almonds, and cinnamon for example. Your “custom” chocolate recipe would then be blended, ground, and packaged for you to take home. The chocolate is customarily used for beverages but I suppose it could be used in cooking. Sugar is one of the least expensive ingredients so the sweeter the chocolate, the less expensive it is. Less sugar means a greater percentage of chocolate, which makes the end product more expensive. Carol Ann bought several packages of two different blends.
While in the chocolate shop, Gloria told me that a Telcel store was across the street. As you know, I have been trying to get my Telcel cellular modem to work for about two weeks now. I ran across the street to the small walk up counter/store front. There I met Oscar, an extremely amiable fellow who spoke excellent English. He asked me where I was from and then went to his computer and Googled Nacogdoches, TX so he could see what it was like. I told him about my problem and he called Telcel support and then worked some magic and made the thing work so that I now have internet wherever I have a Telcel cell signal (which is all over Mexico)! Thank you, Oscar.
Now that we had our chocolate fix we headed for Oro de Oaxaca, one of the better Mezcal distillers in the state. They recently moved their operation closer to the tourist area and built a nice tasting room and shop. We were shown each step in the production of Mezcal and I now have a much better understanding of Mezcal. You have to be careful where you buy your Mezcal. If you stop along the highway at one of the many “home brew” operations you may very well get some bad stuff. It may even be mixed with some methanol, which is poison (really, it can make you go blind, hence the term “blind drunk”). These small places have no quality control and their product varies from batch to batch. The better distilleries have a consistently better, and safer, product. Oro de Oaxaca uses 100% agave (Maguey). Since I don’t really care that much for Mezcal, Carol Ann purchased a bottle of “FruitiCrem” (cream of the Maguey cactus), which is similar to Bailey’s, except that Mezcal is used instead of Irish Whiskey. They also had other flavors such as coffee, almond, pecan and others that I was not familiar with.
The day was still far from over. Next stop was the museum on the second floor of the Santo Domingo church in Oaxaca. This is where many of the treasures discovered at Monte Alban are on display. There was jewelry of jade, gold, and silver plus cups and bowls made from translucent stone. One of the most interesting objects was a human skull that had been decorated with pieces of jade.
On the walk back to the bus we stopped at an ice cream shop where Eugene, our guide, bought everyone ice cream. I asked for vanilla and the clerk told me that the vanilla had prunes it! I told her thanks, but no. Then I saw one that looked like vanilla so I asked her what the flavor was. It was vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs, which sound a lot better than vanilla with prunes. Carol Ann and I each had one and it was very good.
We got back to the RV park about 6:30 PM and our laundry was waiting for us, minus the jeans and a few towels. Eugene called his wife and asked her to check with the laundry. He will be back here in the morning with everyone’s rugs (and hopefully the rest of our laundry).
Tomorrow is a free day but since we still have no car I don’t know what we will do. One thing we must do is find a super market because we are running low on food. Plus there is a potluck supper tomorrow and we need something to take other than cereal!