Monthly Archives: April 2015

Oaxaca – Part II

Hello again and welcome to OnVallartaTime! In my last post I promised to show you the markets of Oaxaca, and I will. But first, a bit about what we have been doing over the last week.

It’s hard to believe, but we only have a few more days here in Vallarta. When we first arrived in late October, five and a half months seemed like a very long time. Now we are wondering where the time went! At the moment next November seems like a long time from now, but I bet when it arrives, our return to Vallarta will be here before we know it.

We have been spending a lot of time planning our exit, making phone calls to get services, car insurance, etc. reinstated back home, arranging for transportation from the airport, and generally making sure everything will be in order when we get back to Oregon.

This last week we have been figuring out how best to make sure the clothes, sheets and towels and other things we are leaving will be OK. We have heard that it’s so humid over the summer months that there’s a lot of mold and mildew, so we have been working on protecting our stuff. We have also arranged for our cleaning lady to come every two weeks to clean and to air out the apartment. Lots of details, lots to remember, but I think we’re on track.

We have also been doing quite a bit of fun stuff, too. All the ukulele guys and our wives had a great time chartering a 42-foot cabin cruiser for a tour of the bay — ukes on the water! Our friends from the beach, Bonnie, Lorne and Bruce invited us to dinner at a beautiful villa they rented in Conchas Chinas (immediately south of Vallarta) with their entire family. And, of course we have been taking advantage of our last days here by soaking up Vitamin D on the beach.

Now, back to Oaxaca. Markets are of course a Mexican tradition going all the way back to prehispanic days. The Spanish, upon entering Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City) remarked on the amazing variety and availability of goods in the open markets. Even though there are American-style supermarkets in Oaxaca, they are a comparatively recent innovation and the market tradition is still very strong. My friend Susana shops sometimes in the supermarket near her house, but mostly for the convenience of its extended hours. She prefers the small Mexican-style market nearby because she has personal relationships with the vendors there, and feels she can get personalized service as well as a good deal.

Just about anything anyone would want or need can be found in the markets, from meat and vegetables to dairy products, liquor, shoes and clothing, fine handmade goods, hardware, small appliances, you name it, it’s there somewhere. For this post I have tried to capture the colors and the vibrancy of the markets in the pictures I’m sharing.

Oaxaca has several markets, but the major downtown ones, near the Zócalo, are the Benito Juárez market and the 20 de Noviembre market, both in giant buildings that take up a whole block each, across the street from each other. Let’s start there.

imageA meat stall. Check out the variety available, and the hanging strings of chorizo. I can only show a representative sample of what’s available; for example, at this market there are probably 20 such meat stalls.

imageSome medicinal herbs.

imageA huge pile of dried chiles in a spice store.

imageA liquor stall, heavy on the mescal, a Oaxaca regional product.

imageChicken, anyone?

imageBeans, seeds and grains, plus specialty items.

imageThese are fancy embroidered regional dresses; the one on the left is a Tehuana-style dress from the Ithsmus of Tehuantepec, one of the regions of the State of Oaxaca.

imageFruits and vegetables.

imageThese are grasshoppers, a delicacy in Oaxaca, fried (or toasted in a comal or pan) and often prepared with salt, chile and lime. They are good, very flavorful. There are three sizes here. I prefer the smallest ones since the legs aren’t so raspy.

imageA bakery.

imageThis is a dairy products stall. The white balls are the famous Oaxaca cheese, quesillo. It’s flavorful string cheese strips rolled into a ball.

imageThis man’s guitar and singing were a nice addition to the background sounds of the hustle and bustle of the market.

Now, it’s off to the market in Tlacolula (Tlah-co-loo-lah), a town about 45 minutes from the city. On Sundays, the town hosts the largest indigenous market in the three valleys of central Oaxaca. We went with Susana, her daughter Carmina and Vidal, Carmina’s boyfriend.

imageThe main street of Tlacolula becomes the market every sunday, essentially a long strip of stall after market stall, shaded by tarps.

imageOh boy, more grasshoppers! Note the traditional dress, a common sight here.

imageA close-up of the grasshoppers. These appear to be fried and salted only, without chile.

imageBaskets, including a cradle. The round things stacked on the table are the ends of chocolate stirrers, to prepare chocolate the traditional way.

image Huaraches.

imageFruits and vegetables of all kinds.

imageThis is a side building totally devoted to bread of different types.

imageThis is pan casera (pan-bread), with the wonderful Oaxaca bitter-sweet chocolate inside.

imageSusana and Peggy at the market.

imageA flower stall.

imageCarmina and Vidal.

imageThe town church is alongside the market, which spills over into the churchyard.

imageThe interior of the church, cool and serene.

imageSusana by the buganvilla near the church.

imageMe in the same spot.

imageA pretty little garden behind the church.

On the way home from Tlacolula, we made two stops. The first was at the village of Teotitlán del Valle, where the entire town specializes in the famous Oaxaca woven wool rugs and other articles. The other stop was to have lunch and see the Tule Tree, the tree with the largest circumference in the world.

imageThis is a row of shops in Teotitlán del Valle, where they sell the woven wool items.

imageWool rugs. These are woven on a hand loom using traditional dyes.

imageMore rugs.

imageThe famous Tule Tree, on the church grounds of the town of Santa María del Tule. It is a Montezuma cypress, with a circumference of 42 meters, the largest in the world. It is 1400-1600 years old.

imageThe tree dwarfs the church, which is actually quite large.

 That’s it for Oaxaca, I hope you enjoyed it!

One of the things we enjoy most about living in our apartment is taking advantage of the beautiful, large terrace. I sit out in the sun with my coffee every morning, and every evening Peggy and I have a relaxing happy hour enjoying the cool breeze and the view. The sunset last night was fabulous, so as a couple of parting shots, this is what we saw.

imageLooking west toward the ocean; the sunset on the beach must have been fantastic.

imageThis is the view directly in front of us as we sit on the terrace. It’s one we never get tired of.

Well, it’s time to end this post, the last of the season. OnVallartaTime will be taking the summer off. Thank you for following this blog, and may you all have a great spring and summer. We’ll see you again next fall!