Oaxaca Mexico February 14, 2017    We left our boat to have the bottom painted in Tapachula and drove to Oaxaca (9 hour drive).  We passed through Tehuantepec on land this time, and we saw the the largest installation of solar powered wind generators we have ever seen.  It went on for miles on both sides of the highway.

It has been 9 years since we visited Oaxaca; we were excited to be able to revisit this lovely city.  We rented a house owned by an American couple outside of the downtown area; it was nice for Sushi to have a yard and for us to relax after a busy day exploring.  The caretaker lives on site; they take care of the owners' dogs and cat.  Sushi wanted the cat to run, but it was not afraid of her.

Oaxaca is in a valley with an elevation of 5,000 ft. 

It has a lovely downtown; it's easy to walk to great restaurants, parks and shops.

We visited several excellent restaurants in town, two of them being Los Danzantes and Casa Oaxaca.  The mole was delicious and the mezcalini cocktails were incredible.  Mezcalinis are served with finely crushed ice, mezcal and fruit being the main ingredients.  So good!

 

Oaxaca is well known for their wool rugs, made with natural dyes (color is derived from nuts, bugs, plants).  Teotitalan de Valle, a pueblo outside of the city, is very famous for their hand loomed organic rugs.  We drove out to the small village for a look.  We bought the blue rug below from a family store called Linda Zapoteca.  Wish we had room for more!

On the way home, we stopped at Don Agave, one of the many mezcal producers in the Oaxaca area.  Oaxaca is well known for producing mezcal,  though it is produced in various parts of Mexico.  There are many producers of mezcal on the camino de mezcal (mezcal route) outside of Oaxaca.  We learned that mezcal is produced from many different types of agave, and that tequila is only made from the blue agave.  The process begins by harvesting the plants, extracting the piņa, or heart, and cooking the pinas for 3 days in pit ovens of hot rocks.  The underground roasting gives mezcal its smokey flavor.  Then they are crushed and mashed, traditionally by a stone wheel turned by a horse and then left to ferment with water.  There are many types of mezcal, and like tequila, there are the white and gold variations, young, and aged. 

Pat did the mezcal tasting and they served fried, salted chapulines (fried grasshoppers) alongside.  He liked them....crunchy!  Me, not so much....but I like the mezcalinis served in some restaurants!

We visited the Tlacolua market on Sunday.  It is one of the largest in the central valley of Oaxaca....and yes, it was huge!  There were many things to buy: household items, clothes, food, live turkeys, rugs, baskets, rocks, clothes, art, you-name-it....they've got it!    It was a lot of fun.

The region around Oaxaca is famous for different types of art.  There are villages each producing something unique:  animal wood carvings, rugs, black pottery, green pottery, weavings, etc.   We decided to vist Aztompa because we read about the famous potter who lived there, Dolores Porras.  She was invited to visit the United States on many occasions to demonstrate her work, and there is now a documentary of her life.   Aztompa church is pictured below.

We asked in the village where we might find her house.  We did not realize she had passed away in 2011.  Her son, Rolando, and his wife reside in the family home, and he carries on the pottery tradition (along with giving art classes for children in the village).  Her other children also are involved in producing pottery.  There is a beautiful mural on the family home.

Rolando, her son, was very welcoming.  He is so proud of his mother, and he is determined to pay tribute to her and to carry on her work.   Below is a photo of her, one in her youth, and in the last year of her life.  She is shown here with her mermaid pottery.

Rolando and his family made this altar in her honor.

There is not a lot of Dolores' work available for purchase.  We bought a fish vase made by Dolores Porras, and a beautiful green bowl with a frog on it created by Rolando.

It was another 9 hour long drive to get to San Cristobal de las Casas, our second visit to this lovely, rustic town in the mountains.  So different from other places in Mexico!  We love the car free walking streets with many shops and restaurants. 

We rented a cottage outside of the city for two nights, but we had to leave due to the owner's barking dog.  We found a lovely place in the middle of the town called Kukurutz.  It is a compound comprised of eight apartments, all very large, with a beautiful garden, pond and sculptures.  A Swiss woman (her daughter describes her as "an original hippie") came to San Cristobal many years ago, and and opened a school.  She then turned it into a school for students who wanted to learn a craft, such as carpentry, construction, etc. and the students built the apartments.  Her daughter now runs the place.  We loved it....pet friendly too!

We had a lovely patio overlooking the garden.

We had a delicious lunch at Casa Lum, tortilla soup and ceviche....and terrific sangria.

We celebrated my birthday at Restaurant Lum, located inside a hotel....the setting overlooking the water was beautiful.  We arrived early and had the whole patio to ourselves.  Pat had the mahi mahi and I had shrimp skewers, with lemongrass creme brulee for dessert, yum! 

It is time to head to our house in Merida; we will stop overnight in Villahermosa and arrive the following day.  My Mexican four year temporary visa will expire in May, so we need to stay in Merida until I receive my permanent visa.

We arrived in Merida on March 4.  While I got settled, Pat went to Tapachula on March 13 to get the boat put back in the water; it will stay in the marina until the fall.  We had a couple of house showings in March, and we were happy to receive an offer to purchase the house.  The house will close on May 23.  Although we enjoyed our time here, it is time to move on.  This time of year, some orchids and plants are in bloom in our garden.

 

 

From Merida, I flew home to San Francisco to visit family.  My son, Armand, has a new girlfriend, Amita, and I enjoyed my visit with them both.  My mom is doing well for her 90 years, and my son visited her at her assisted living center. 

Before leaving Merida, we took a trip to Isla Mujeres to practice our scuba diving.  We enjoyed our dive with our private instructor.

 

 

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