Teotitlán del Valle
March 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
To escape Oaxacan city life (and hopefully the heat of the city), I organized myself a Couchsurfing stay in Teotitlán del Valle for the weekend. I’m not sure that I got away from the heat, and the CS experience was debatable, but it did let me tread around new dirt paths, so I’m content.
I caught a bus from Oaxaca to Teotitlán del Valle, being dropped off in front of the main church just as a miraculous cloud passed overhead and shed half a dozen (sadly, literally) thick drops of warm water that evaporated before they even reached the ground.
Still, I pretended that it was a downpour and sought shelter inside the church, whose creepy stillness was mildly helped out with piles of Easter flowers everywhere and a hand-painted dome:
From there, I went off in search of my Couchsurfer, whose address was rather difficult to find in a town with no street names or house numbers. The destination was only stumbled upon because I saw a couple of kids my age (the only ones that weren’t little kids or old people) yelling through a gate to a mysterious señora. It was the only sign of life in the entire village. So, I decided that I had nothing better to go off and, as soon as they left, walked up to the same metal gate and yelled to the señora. I mentioned the name of the CS, she said yes, and I was admitted entrance to the farm that would be my home for the next two nights.
Basically, it was a big courtyard with a lot of corn and sheep:
And a couple of tractors and pumpkin peels scattered about. The family that lived there was, like every inhabitant of Teotitlán del Valle, in the rug weaving business. So, I learned about cochineal, a bug that lives on certain cacti that, when ground up, produces a powder that you can mix with various ingredients to get different colors that is then used to dye the wool, which will eventually be used to weave the rugs.
(I ended up dying my hair with it instead, and rocked a pink-and-purple hairstyle for a few days before it washed out.)
Other than learning about wool and attempting to fix tractor shafts with rubber tires so that the corn kettles wouldn’t backfire and amputate our heads as we ground it up to make corn flour, my days were spent soaking my feet in a little stream (hallelujah, cold water) and walking up and down the road that leads above town:
There wasn’t much there, other than cactus:
And, amazingly, like an oasis in the middle of the desert, a pond:
Which looks cool and inviting, and I got so excited to jump into it, but it was more warm and muddy than anything else. So, disappointment, and back to dangling my legs in the stream by a couple of larger pebbles.
The last day, before heading back to Oaxaca, I did climb up to the top of the mountain, which was a zig-zag path up, up, up. Minimal shade, but worth the view at the top, in the company of a steady breeze and a family of large birds that swooped down mere feet away from you.
And so, dustier than when left, I hopped on another bus that would take me back to the coffee shops and art museums of Oaxaca- whose presence was even more appreciated after the weekend outing. Home, sweet, home.