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Allison: Tour Day

February 24, 2009

Since the trip to Monte Alban wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend we set off with the rest of our group to tour the area surrounding Oaxaca City. We left at 10:00 in two vans heading out to the countryside…

The first site was the Tule Tree found in Santa Maria el Tule 12 kms from Oaxaca city. This cypress tree is approximately 2000 years old, 40 meters high and 42 meters (140 ft) in circumference. We were sad to see it fenced off, bet it would have looked amazing in a natural setting.

We stopped next at Teotitlan to visit a family of rug makers. It is a craft they have been carrying down through generations. These are some of the finest rugs in the Oaxacan Valley. All the wool is natural, hand spun and dyed from natural materials. They used plants, bugs, powder from pollen, lime and seeds found around the area for producing dyes

Another short bus ride and we arrived at Mitla, an archeological site (not nearly as stunning as Monte Alban) but with beautiful stone carving and detailing. Although the structures themselves were not very intriguing, we found some great jewelry stands nearby and bargained for a few pieces for ourselves.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant next to a Mezcal Factory. Mezcal is a Mexican liquor which is similar to Tequila, however differs in that it is made from the green agave cactus instead of the blue used for Tequila. First the cacti were baked in a fire for 2 or 3 weeks brought in to the barn to be ground up by a mule wheeling a large stone over the large pine cone-shaped plants. Next the grounds were set in large barrels to begin the fermentation process. It was then distilled and collected in clay pots to be taken indoors and bottled.

Last stop: a petrified waterfall and natural mineral spring on the mountain side. The drive up the mountain was unbelievable. Our van driver gave us quite the ride driving fast around the curves and along cliffs of the mountain, but he knew what he was doing… I think. In any case, we saw some stunning views from the van into the valley and the crazy ride was worth it once we got there.

Sadly, my camera ran out of batteries after we arrived to the springs. These springs had formed natural pools of water perfect for taking a dip. It had been rumored among the group these were natural “hot” springs. But it was quite the opposite – these pools were very cold! But we swam in them anyway and had a fantastic time. This was by far, the highlight of our whole trip to Oaxaca so far.

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