San Agustín (Etla)
February 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’m still dwelling in Oaxaca and loving it. But, there’s only so much city (no matter how magical it is) that I can do before my feet start craving grass and my lungs need some fresh air. So, this Valentine’s Day was spent hopping out to San Agustín, a little town about 18 kilometers northwest of Oaxaca.
I went with a friend and we decided to spice things up a bit and hitchhike out there. Which I highly enjoy incorporating in my travels, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet in Mexico. So, I was very curious to see how it would work.
After walking out of the outskirts of Oaxaca, we flagged our first car down at a gas station. Older man driving back to el D.F. It wasn’t a long ride; about five kilometers north, but at least it got us out of town and onto the right road. Next car was a Couchsurfer that dropped us off where the road forked off to San Agustín. We walked a bit, and then hopped in the back of a truck that took us to the town. An elderly lady offered to take us to our final destination:
Centro de las Artes de San Agustín (CaSa), an arts center in a restored 20th-century textile mill, now used to host all sorts of artistic exhibitions, seminars, and events.
The space was great; full of hidden nooks and flavour of what it once used to be.
I particularly enjoyed all of the different levels of water pools, so still on their surface, yet gently flooding over to the lower steps.
And the isolation of the place- quiet and hidden from the rest of the world.
Her work is lovely, as it incorporates mostly traditional Mexican attire, but with a modern flair. The exhibition area itself and organization of space was just as interesting to me though, and I applaud the set-up. Definitely not what you would expect to see in a crumbling textile mill in the middle of nowhere of the Mexican hills.
After filling up on some artsy culture, it was time for a hike. We were interested in trailing the river upstream, to see old aqueducts and dilapidated water mills, but we didn’t find that particular trail. Instead, we ended up climbing uphill, into the mountains, with the river far below us. It was a nice walk, but very sunny and a lot drier than I had mentally prepared myself for.
Upon making our way back into town, we looked for the ‘downtown’. It turns out that there really isn’t much in San Agustín, other than CaSa; the zócalo was unimpressive, and the main church received a brownie point only because it had a festive Valentine’s Day ribbon draped over the doors.
Other than that, nothing. (Not even food stands!) Just clusters of signs on the lamp posts:
, and random statues on rooftops:
So, we deemed it time to head back. We walked down the hill from the town, and were picked up by our first vehicle for the return trip: an old, blue tractor which we climbed to the top of and rumbled down the dirt path on. Definitely the most unusual ride I had gotten so far; it even beats the mushroom van that I was crammed into in the middle of Croatia. Then, a quick ride with a local, down to the highway. From there, one long ride with a really nice man that dropped us off at the Mercado de Abastos of Oaxaca; a ten-minute walk from the hostel.
This trip made me realize why I enjoy traveling so much, and fall in love with it all over again. The contact with real people that you would never meet otherwise, and the leap of faith that you need to take, trusting that all is good in the world.
While I had initially planned for one long hike in nature for the day, the thumbs-up adventure and cultural sprinkle were welcomed treats. And we still got our dose of green and fresh air, so I’m more than satisfied with the excursion.