Weaving Cooperative

Traditionally women stayed at home and cooked for the family but a number of women started cooperatives in the Teotihuacan Valley. In some cases this was because the men had left to try to find a better life in the US leaving the women behind. In this video the cooperative of women is within a single family – a mother with her 5 daughters (no men have left in this particular case – the mother is happily married as is one of her daughters).


Making Candles

We took a trip to the Teotihuacan Valley. First stop was a famous candle maker. Pictures below show the basic bees wax which she heats and pours as she is demonstrating (standing on a rickety chair). It takes her a week to create one of the giant candle sticks you see here.

Flowering Tree

I don’t know what the name of this tree is but  I was told that it has few leaves, flowers and then remains pretty much bare until it flowers again.

Folk Dancing at the Quinta Real Hotel

First some history of the Quinta Real Hotel.

It was built in 1576 as the Convent of Santa Catalina. The nuns were forced to leave in the mid-1800’s due to the reform laws that were meant to limit the ownership of land by the Catholic Church. It then became municipal offices until 1972 when it was restored along with the help of the “National Institute of Anthropology and History” to become the Quinta Real Oaxaca Hotel.

Friday night we went to watch Oaxaca Folk Dancing at the Quinta Real from 8 different areas of the state of Oaxaca. Included was a buffet dinner. While we were waiting there was a wedding party going up the street outside and once the dinner started two gentlemen played the Marimba. The Marimba is similar to a xylophone. It has a wider range allowing two people to play in this case. Here is a video: BEFORE THE DANCING.

I did some video of parts of 6 of the 8 dances and shrunk them down to a few minutes. The Video is here: FOLK DANCING.

Hierve del Agua

Hierve del Aqua means literally “boil of the water”. It appears like this place is a hot springs but in fact the water is just bubbling up under pressure. It isn’t hot at all.

The water springs up in several places – cordoned off – I assume so no one impacts the flow – or falls through.

There is a fairly long walk down from the parking lot. Then you see the pool fed by the spring water. The pool sits on the edge of a cliff and people swim in the pool. Some take selfies at the edge of the cliff – probably not a good idea since it is about 500 feet down.

There are actually two locations. The other one requires an hours hike to get there and back. We didn’t have enough time to do that and see the rest of the site properly so just took a photo from a distance.

Both sites appear to be waterfalls but it is more like a dribble. The water is heavily laden with minerals and when it dribbles over the edge of the cliff and dries, it leaves behind what appears to be a petrified waterfall.

Mitla Archaeological Site

There are two major archaeological sites in the Oaxaca area. The largest, Monte Alban, was at one time the political centre for the Zapotec people. On our day trip we stopped at a smaller one in the town of Mitla. This one was more important to the Zapotec people as it was the religious centre. The Zapotec Indigenous people still number around a million, many of whom still only speak their own language. Monte Alban and Mitla had their heyday around 1200 AD but the Zapotec can be traced back thousands of years.

One impressive thing about the Mitla site is the elaborate mosaic fretwork made from small finely cut stones fitted together without mortar.

The site has not been restored to any extent and it would have been much more impressive if it weren’t for the fact that many of the stones were hauled off to build the adjacent Catholic Church.

Artifacts mainly from Monte Alban include very intricate pottery and jewelry.


Rug Weaving

Next stop on our day trip was a family-operated rug weaving business. Rugs are made from wool and dyed from local plants – sometimes seeds ground using traditional grinding stones. Some colours are created from others by adding various things like citrus. When you turn the rug over it is identical on the other side – so you usually turn it over every 6 months for minimum wear.

Rugs are designed by father and son with motifs that have indigenous meaning.