Friday, January 22, 2010

Part 2

And day two in Oaxaca was a long day, we grabbed a tour van, which we thought was transport only - again a lack of Spanish played in this, it wasn't too bad though. Our 1st spot was a giant tree in a church court yard, C thought it was amazing I was more interested in the wedding that was happening in the church, everyone, the entire wedding party, the family, and all the guest followed a marching band all the way through town to the church, after the guest went inside the bridal party followed once they where all inside a guy started letting of fireworks and bungers in the church yard, which seem strange to me as no one but him could see them - everyone was inside the church I assume having the ceremony. But I learnt during my time in Mexico people will take any excuse to use fireworks, they where everywhere and it was a rare night we didn't hear any.

After the tree we visited the highlight of the day for me a small village famous for their rug making. They showed us the complete process, from combing the wool to spinning, dying and weaving. It was so great to see particularly the dying process - our favourite dye came from a little white parasite that grows on the cactus, when you squash it on your hands you're left with a red die. this is where it gets tricky, the die reacts to the PH levels in each individual's skin so everyone gets a slightly different red. When you drop a few drops of water on the dies it changes colour, it will change colour again with lime and limestone, each giving a different colour - it was amazing. You can get colours ranging from deep red through to orange, yellows, and even purples this way. After the demonstration it was shopping time, and I admit I walked away a little broken hearted as we simply couldn't afford to buy all of them. We narrowed it down quickly picking 2 rugs with traditional patterens (copied from local Zapotec and Mixtec ruins) one in grey and white the other in reds and purples, made from the parasite. I couldn't decide it was 2 hard so the decision was handed to C and he picked the red one. I still wish we had been able to afford both of them, but maybe next time.

After that we went to Mitla, an amazing ruin covered in the best geometric patterns I loved it, they where only small but they would have to be one of my favourite ruins, they stand out as different and the detail in the design really was something. Across the road from the main ruins was a Spanish church that was literally built on top of the temple, with some of the original still standing behind it. This was not the 1st or the last time I was totally blown away by what the Spanish had done when they conquered Mexico. They hadn't simply moved in and started their own rule they had calculatingly gone through Mexico building on top of traditional import sites, and imposing not only their rule but their religion and way of life of the local people. But I truly loved how Mexico now incorporates all of it's ancient culture along with the Spanish culture into a very unique blend.

After Mitla we took a rather bumpy ride into the mills to some mineral springs. The springs has left mineral deposits over the years, and the rocks appear as a waterfall, running down the edge of the cliff. The view was breathtaking and it was freezing, I had go buy myself a Nanna wrap to keep myself warm.

Back in the van we headed to a Mezcal factory, well the back of someones house anyone, they took us through the process - similar to tequila but they smoke the plant rather than steam (which defiantly comes across in the taste). Than on to the tasting, personally the anejo (aged) was the nicest, not unsurprising also the most expensive. They also had a range of fruit infused mezcals that where amazing such a rich strong flavour, very sweet and tasty.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


So after our trip through the mountains we found ourselves in Oaxaca at night fall without accommodation, again. The honeymoon planning had been C's job, unfortunately planning isn't really C's strong point, I thought this would be fine allow for a bit more flexibility in where we went and when. Unfortunately arriving in a foreign city where you speak only the most minimal of the language and understand even less without having accommodation prebooked was something that C found fairly stressful too. He felt a bit of a duty to look after us over there and worry about these things I guess, leading to stress when we didn't have accommodation sorted out. So after a frantic search, with C making a number of phone calls and trying to get by with his very limited Spanish, we found a small (English speaking!) BnB within walking distant of everything, and we could get down to the business of exploring.

Personally Oaxaca was a big highlight, we saw heaps, got out of the city and explored further afield, took in breathtaking ruins, and its a great center for art and culture. So we managed to pick up some really nice pieces.

We didn't have enough time in Oaxaca we could easily have spent a week or 2 exploring, so we each picked 2 things we each wanted to do and got straight into it. We started with a trip to Monte Alban, amazing ruins atop a mountain with 360 degree view of the surrounding country. It was breathtaking. We'd arrived at opening time so we had the place mostly to ourselves, it gave the place an unearthly feel. It was a much smaller site than Teotihuacan and hadn't been as restored as other sites but the location and layout was great for imagining it in its hey day. We covered the site pretty easily in 3 hours than headed back to the city to check the place out. It didn't take me long to realise I didn't have enough room in my bag. Oaxaca and the surrounding areas have some amazing hand crafts including, the most amazing black pottery I've ever seen, hand dyed and woven rugs - everyone of which I wanted, cheap leather, cool silver (everywhere in Mexico had cool silver), Mezcal by the barrel, and contemporary art.

I think I'll wrap up this post here still heaps more to tell about Oaxaca but that will have to wait for another day.

oh and photos, check back for them I'll add them in

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cerveza, Tequila, Mezcal and Cocktail-y goodness

So for this post it seems only fitting that I hand over to C.

So, the drinks in Mehico have been plentiful, cheap, tasty and, well, tasty.

First the beer, or cerveza as those in this part of the world call it. Having only a limited selection of mexican beers available at home, it is fairly easy to think that they are all light-as-water summer drinking lagers like corona. Indeed, a lot of them are, and they go down very nicely indeed while sitting on the beach in mid-30's warmth. But there are a lot of other far more interesting brews available too. My favourite would have to be a beer by the name of Bohemia. It's quite a full flavoured job, more reminicent of an Australian beer, yet with that nebulous and undefinable super-refreshingness that Mexican beers seem to have in spades. There have been many more goodens - here is a partial list of sampled brews - Sol, Corona, Dos Equis, Pacifico, Tecate, Buchanero, Bohemia, Modelo and the list goes on. Did I mention that it is pretty difficult to find a beer costing over about $1.50 at almost any place over here? How about $5 for a six-pack of corona? Yep - strike another one up for Mehico.

We have sampled quite a few cocktails over here, but the most noteworthy one that Brooke and I have gotten into is the Bull, or the el Toro Bravo. It consists of a beer, into which is placed a shot of rum and some lime juice, a lime and that is all. It is very tasty.

We have also tried plenty of tequila and mezcal. Mezcal turns out to be astoundingly nice - it is like a smoky tequila. We did a tour of the Jose Cuervo distillery, where we learnt a fair bit about tequila and the processes that go into making it. We tasted some extremely nice tequilas - they bear almost no resemblance to the tosh that destroys the nights of underage teenagers everywhere. The good stuff is remarkably smooth and subtle - so we bought a bottle of the 'special family reserve', and will open it for a special occasion. We've also picked up 2 bottles of Mezcal, an Anejo (aged) and a fruit flavoured.

Anyway, no photos for this post - you all know what an alcoholic beverage looks like.

we survived the vomit comit

So to make our way from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca we had 3 options, fly (in a 13 seater plane - very $$$) catch the bus for 8 hour the long way round, or catch a van they nick-named the vomit comet through/up the beautiful winding mountain highway for 5 hours. We opted for the vans. And where rewarded for it, the scenery was amazing and no one on the bus was sick.

We'd heard and read a lot of stories about the van - how winding the road is, that it would making the best traveller sick, so just prior to getting on we each took a travel sickness tablet, lucky neither of us really needed it - we don't normally get car sick and while it was definitly the windiest roads I've been on neither of us had the slightest bit of sickness.

Not the best photos I know but they where taking out the window while hurtling around the mountian