Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Day of Textiles in Teotitlan del Viaje

I am really enjoying all of the people I'm living here in Oaxaca.  Xochi is from Austin, TX, and she is in Oaxaca to learn how to make natural dyes.  Her teacher, Beto, was kind enough to invite us to his studio in to a town called Teotitlan del Viaje.  We saw his amazing studio and learned about the process of dying wool and making rugs.
Awesome studio
These looms are really old and really cool.
These rugs take months to make.  Since I have little to no patience, I would fail immediately. 
All of these fibers are dyed naturally, not synthetically
Spinning wool
On our walk to another studio we passed these walls.  This one says, "To a life free of violence"
How do you say catfish in Spanish?  El pescado de gato?!  I hope so because it's FUNNY! Also, I love this mural.
There is a weaving studio here, but I was more fascinated by this woman making monster tortillas.
If you don't think this kitten in a frying pan is cute then you're just crazy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Small Town Charm

Yesterday two of the artists that I live with and I went on a rural excursion.  We paid Jesús, our fantastic taxi driver, to take us to three small towns.  After a long adventure through very windy mountain roads we arrived at the hot springs pictured below.  This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
View from the top of the mountain
Now THAT is an infinity pool! 
The water was luke warm at 10AM 
I loved this color palate and pattern.
Next, we decided to travel to Mitla to check out some ancient ruins.  On the way there we slowed down to check out a very pretty horse and the man standing next to him asked if we wanted to know how he made his Mezcal.  Duh, of course we do!

Crunching on sweet, smoky agave and sipping Mezcal from a gourd.  This is totally my kind of mid-afternoon activity.

The mezcal workshop
I found this lady out back and told her that I loved her colorful kitchen.  She was very sweet.

 Our next stop was Mitla, where we visited ancient ruins.  There is evidence of human settlement as far back as 0-200 A.D.  After the fall of Monte Albán, it became the most powerful nucleus of the Zapotec culture, flourishing from 950-1521 A.D.  Beside walking the grounds we even went underground into the funeral tombs.  We had to crawl through stone tunnels on our hands and knees and it was very humid but worth it.
North wall
Look at those intricate patterns!  Amazing!
Lastly, Jesús took us to Tule, where there is a famous massive tree.  I was hungry at this point so I wasn't really caring all that much about a tree but some chorizo quesadillas fixed me right up.
Alright, I admit...that it a Big. Ass. Tree.  Wikipedia says that this tree has the stoutest truck of any tree in the world, measuring 119 feet in circumference, making it slightly larger than the Giant Sequoia.  The best scientific estimate says that it is between 1400 and 1600 years old and local Zapotec legend states that it was planted by Pechocha, the Aztec god of wind. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Very Oaxaca Birthday

Maybe it's just my Only Child Syndrome kicking in, but I think birthdays are VERY important!  Come on, people, it's YOUR day; it's all about you!  My love for birthdays definitely comes from my loving family.  When I was little, my grandmother used to make me personalized chocolate birthday cakes that were decorated with Barbies, Care Bears or whatever else I was interested in at the time.  On top of that, my mom (also known as the best kindergarten teacher to walk the earth) always planned impeccable birthday celebrations for me.  Whether it was miniature golf, roller skating, or pin the tail on the donkey at our house on North 25th Street, she always went out of her way to plan an amazing party for me.  Now that I'm older and I realize that my birthday fell right before the school year began, I appreciate her efforts even more.  I'm sure it stressed her out to plan these parties but she did it anyway for her one and only!  Thanks, Mom!

Today, on my 30th birthday, I traveled from Puebla to Oaxaca.  I can already tell that this city is very much my style and I'm really excited to spend the week here.  Oaxaca has a fantastic reputation for food and as a lover of all gastronomical endeavors, I set out to treat myself this evening.  There have been a lot of changes in my life over the course of the past year, and as I ate my birthday dinner alone I couldn't help but enjoy the company immensely!  I didn't feel lonely for one second, instead I felt grateful to be doing the things that I love: traveling, teaching, eating, and interacting.  My waiter also told me in broken English that when I smile it's like magic.  He was certainly not older than 23, if I grinned widely and gave him a high five.  30's the new 20, baby!  Still got it! HA!  Here are some highlights from my birthday meal at La Biznaga.  I definitely researched this place on Food and Wine's website prior to my arrival in Oaxaca because I am a really big dork.

I ordered the mushroom soup because I read about it online.  It came to me in pieces... 
But look at how gorgeous it was once I put it all together and ate it!
Tuna seared rare in a green chile sauce
Cincos hermanos chocolate cake with a delicious guava sauce and a glass of Malbec 
I'm going to have to stop by again before I leave, everything was quite tasty.  Next time I'll go for the house mezcal!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Last Day in Puebla

I will be leaving Puebla tomorrow and heading to Oaxaca for about a week.  I am sad to leave this lovely city that I have become so familiar with, but I am also REALLY excited to check out a new city!

Today I walked around Puebla for about five hours.  First, I hit yet another new market and then just enjoyed the scenery.

Very much like Reading Terminal Market, but cleaner.
I was running short on cash so I couldn't afford the fish soup!
Instead, I sprung for the shrimp soup.  I had just enough cash for this and a tip.  I left sweating after eating this, it was spicy and delicious.
Pretty architecture, as always.
I love the hand painted tiles on these buildings.  Why doesn't my house looks like this?!
Goodbye my dear Puebla, it's been real!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lunch at a Stranger's House in the Woods

This is Ursula's house.  She is of German descent but was born in Mexico and has lived here for most of her life.  I really enjoyed her home.
This homemade tzatziki was killer and I practically ate a whole loaf of bread as an excuse to have more of it. 

Javier serving homemade Chiles en Nogada
As usual, I could have probably eaten four of these. 
Good company.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Day in Cholula - Climbing a Pyramid and Exploring a Market

Today I took a taxi to Cholula which is about 30 minutes from my house.  It was highly recommended by my housemates and certainly lived up to my expectations.
My first stop was the Pirámide Tepanapa.  You enter on the north side and walk through these awesome tunnels.  I am thankful that I am not claustrophobic because the tunnels seemed to fit perfectly around my body and the top was just inches from my head.
Need a workout?  Run these steps!
These steps were killer, too, but the view of the volcano was worth it!
View from the top!  I love a rich, colorful landscape.
The pyramid is topped by the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, which is a symbol of conquest.  I can't believe I was all the way up there!
After climbing the pyramid in the sun, I was HUNGRY!  I found this place that was recommended in my Lonely Planet book. 
I haven't had much seafood since I've been in Mexico so I asked the waitress to bring me a seafood surprise.  She was kind of concerned about my request so I narrowed it down and asked her for her favorite fish dish.  This is what she brought me.  The fish was fried perfectly and I got a complementary glass of white wine, too!  And the company of a drunk that I cursed at a few times, but that's a whole other story.  Conveniently, he was quite familiar with the string of English obscenities that I threw his way.
This cathedral was established in 1529.  It is humbling to be in the midst of such old architecture.  These beautiful tombs are from the late 1800s.
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And then, just when I thought it might be time to chill out, drink a beer and head back to Puebla, I stumbled across a market!  There is really nothing that I love more than exploring new markets!!

Favorite market picture for obvious reasons!