Pascale's journal - Puebla to Oaxaca
04 February 2010
I drove the next day to Tehuacan ( Bruce came down with a throat
infection and Francois too, but milder ). We stayed at Hotel Kaisers
Lautern at $800 pesos a room. Bruce and Francois saw a doctor who came to the room.
It's noon and we're waiting for our laundry to be ready. As they don't
have a dryer at the hotel, we left with wet socks !
We drove to Oaxaca, capital city of Oaxaca state, which is divided in 8
regions with 16 different ethnic groups. We stayed at Mision de Los
A guide came to our hotel and ride with us to see the biggest Tule
tree in Mexico at Santa Maria del Tule, a rug making place and Mitla's
Temple. The Tule tree was 2000 yrs old. It's a type of Cyprus tree. Near the city of Mexico where there are Tule trees people believe that if they bathed in the river where the roots are it will cure them from their diseases.
On the way there, we saw a statue and mural about Benito Juarez who
was president of Mexico from 1855-1872. Mexico is celebrating a
bicentinario because in 1810 Mexico became independent from Spain.
The rug making place was at Guelaguetza, which means HELP in Zapotec.
The children in the school learn Spanish and Zapotec.
At the Tapetes ( rugs ) making place ( Father and Son ), we saw the
process of dying the yarn. First, they use Amole ( root ) to wash the
sheep's wool in the river. When it's dry the card it. Then, they spin
it the old fashion way like Sleeping Beauty to make the thread. It takes 8 hrs to make 1 kilo of yarn.
The colors are made with natural ingredients :
Green : Pomegranate + limestone crushed ( at home baking soda
instead of limestone )
Ocre : Tumeric root ( Kurkuma )
Green gold : Pericon
Beige : Chamomille
Indigo : Amil fermented 2 months and works with oxidation
Orange : Paprika, Henna, achiote, cochinilla, pipil Huizache or
Dark red : Cochinilla ( a worm that lives in Cactus )
Dark Orange : Cochinilla and lime juice
They can get 350 different colors. They have different size looms. The
wider the rug the more pedals the loom has. They make the design first
on paper, then they paint the pattern on a paper template and they thread sometimes with the template under the thread ( made of cotton and wool ) in the loom. We bought a small rug for the boat with a Zapotec design.
We visited Mitla (950-1521 AD ). There was a beautiful stone design
Temple Zapotec dating from 1100 AD. They took many stones from that
Temple to build the church nearby. After that, we visited a small
Mezcal making place. Mezcal is a liquor made from agave cactus similar to tequila. It is about 80 proof. Francois had his first taste of Mezcal without knowing it. He filled his tasting glass under the spigot thinking it was going
to be sweet like the cooked fruit of the agave, but no was he
We bought Mezcal with the worm ( Gusano de Maguey ) in it.
We had dinner at the Asador Vasco on the Zocalo. Every Mexican town or
city has a Zocalo ( main square ). Oaxaca's Zocala : Plaza de Armas ).
I came down with a bug in my stomach, so we cancelled Monte Alban for
today. Instead, we took it easy. After I saw a doctor, we started with
the Basilica de Soledad ( Virgin of Solitude ) Oaxaca's patron saint.
The Virgin statue inside is decorated with 600 diamonds and topped with
a 4lb gold crown. Her vestments are encrusted with pearls. The
concave facade, projecting forward from the building is unique in Mexico religious architecture ( open 7am-2pm and 4-6pm ).
Then, we had lunch on the Zocalo (town square). After lunch,we went to the Cathedral on the Zocalo. The Cathedral was originally erected in 1553, had to be extensively rebuilt in 1730 after a series of earthquakes and fires, which explains its solid walls and asymetrical towers. It has a Baroque facade and a bronze altar which was crafted in Italy. ( open daily 7am- 9pm ). The boys wanted to buy Quetes (rocket fireworks), so we drove through Mercados for a while without any luck.
We finished our church tour with the most magnificent church of Oaxaca and possibly of all of Mexico : Santo Domingo. The majestic Mexican Baroque temple began being built in 1575 and was completed later the same century, being consecrated in 1611. The facade of the temple was started at the beginning of the 17th century in the Renaissance style right at the forefront of the Baroque era. In the uppermost part is the shield of the Dominican Order and the symbols for faith, hope, and charity. The towers were finished in 1660 and are 35m high.