Vamos a México! // Oaxaca mi corazón // Part I

Hi friends, I know it’s been a while since I have posted but I’m back now with lots of great stories from Mexico. So let’s just get  going!

Before I went abroad to start my volunteer program, my organization Kulturweit  organized a 10 day preparation seminar, and they told us that after 2 months into our time we would have another short seminar. Our seminar was scheduled for the 22nd – 26th of  May. Lina and I decided to fly to Mexico a week prior because we wanted to take advantage of the fact, that Kulturweit is paying for the flights (honestly who wouldn’t?). So we flew from San Jose, Costa Rica to Oaxaca, Mexico on May 11th. We only had the first two nights booked in Oaxaca de Juárez, the capital of the state Oaxaca. Without lots of planning we started our first days of travel. We explored the small capital by foot, just wandering really. The town has a beautiful colonial architecture, lots of cute little cafes and shops, and lots of street art as well. We immediately fell in love  with Oaxaca and made plans of opening our own cafe there one day. So who knows what the future might look like..

For sunday we spontanously booked a 1 day tour for 20€. First we went to Santa Maria del Tule, where we got a look at the thickest tree of the world: “El arbol del Tule”. The diameter of the stem is 14,05 meters and the tree is 2000+ years old. Well that was definitely a fun stop haha. Next stop was a traditional Zapotec weaving site, where the owner explained the process of weaving and the creation of the colors with natural resources like tumeric, trees, lemon etc. We also got some time to shop, and Lina bought a pillowcase, sadly I didn’t buy anything and now I regret it. Next we went to “Hierve el agua” which translates to “the waiter boils”. It is a set of natural rock formations that resemble cascades of water, so it kind of looks like a waterfall. The site also has natural pools and two artificial pools where people can swim, but they look really natural as well so I didn’t even notice that they were built by humans. To me this place was the highlight of the tour. I was standing at the edge of the cliff with my feet in the water looking into a  huge valley surrounded by gigantic mountains that seemed endless. I think it might have been one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. After exploring Hierve el agua, the next stop was Mitla. Mitla is the second most important archeological site in the state of Oaxaca and most important of the Zapotec culture. It was built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and the architecture is mostly Zapotec and Mixtec. The site represents the Mesoamerican belief that death was the most consequential part of life after birth. The Spanish arrived in 1520 and built a monastery next to it and unfortunately also destructed parts of Mitla and used the site for their own benefits. It was a very interesting place to me. We finally had lunch close by (we were starving!!) and afterwards we went to the last stop of the day – Mezcal tasting. Mezcal is distilled alcohol made from the heart of an agave plant, also called piña, and is a traditional mexican beverage. We got a short tour around the site and tested different types of Mezcal. And trust me it’s so strong. It is also mainly produced in the state of Oaxaca. So I asked myself: What is the difference between Mezcal and Tequila?

Here’s what I’ve found out:

  1. Tequila and mezcal are produced in different states of Mexico (though there is overlap).
  2. Tequila can only be made, by law, with one variety of agave:  the Blue Agave.  Mezcal can be made with upwards of 30 varieties of agave, though most are made with the Agave Espadin.
  3. The production process for mezcal is different from tequila which leads to a distinctly different flavor profile for mezcal.

That was the end of the tour and let me remind you that this was only 20 per person!! We truly enjoyed our two days in Oaxaca de Juárez and we literally fell in love with Mexico the first day we’ve been there. We even got to witness a wedding celebration outside of a church. And not without reason is the old town of Oaxaca de Juárez part of the UNESCO world heritage since 1987. Sadly we didnt’t have time to visit the famous Monte Abán site, but we are already sure that we’re coming back sooner or later, eventually to open up our cafe..? If you want to know more about the scientific, cultural and historical background of the sites and more, check out the links I have provided down below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierve_el_Agua

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitla

http://mezcalphd.com/2012/08/tequila-vs-mezcal/

https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/latin-america-and-caribbean/mesoamerican-indigenous-peoples/zapotec

 

Thank you for reading. Hasta luego!

//Olivia

 

 

 

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