Mexico City

Sadly, if we are in Mexico City we are near the end of our trip. Some of us have already been here on previous trips. While here, we will be staying at Hotel Metropol very near the downtown and very close to the famous Parque Alameda.  Here we see it at night. It is huge! In the lower right-hand corner of the photo you can see the dome of Bellas Artes, the main theatre in Mexico City where they perform the Folklorico Ballet. If you have heard of the ballet and wish to go, we can attempt to get tickets for Sunday morning.

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Check out this YouTube of Ballet Folkloricohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45KAm_pUEFE

The main two events today will be travelling to San Angel Bazaar, a short bus ride from Downtown. We will have time to walk around on our own and see the incredible items for sale.

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Grab a cold or hot drink, buy a snack BUT don’t spoil your lunch as we will be visiting the world famous Xochimilco for a boat ride on the canals while enjoying lunch and trying out more beer and tequila, if you have not already had enough! Karen will remember this very well!!! LOL

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All in good fun….but we never miss a chance on our trip to DF to come back here and unwind…

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Back to our hotel where we will have time to relax and sober up (LOL) before setting out to explore Mexico City in late afternoon. This evening…???

Tomorrow you will have an opportunity to either attend the Ballet or head off with Sergio to the National Anthropology Museum before heading back to our respective homes… For others you may choose the historical ruins in the heart of Mexico City – Tenochtitlan or just walk around the main square again …the second largest in the world! Its not always as busy as it looks in this photo!

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Side Trips in Puebla

Today in Puebla we will be taking a few excursions. One of our excursions will be to San Pedro is one of two municipalities which make up the city of Cholula. San Pedro is home to what is considered to be the main plaza or square the city, called the Plaza de la Concordia. In the morning, this plaza of Cholula is filled with vendors selling typical street food, sweets and handcrafted toys for children.

The main archaeological attraction, the Great Pyramid of Cholula is actually in the municipality of San Andrés Cholula, marking where that part of the city begins.

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The most important religious institution in San Pedro, and the second most important after the Sanctuary of the Virgen de los Remedios on the Great Pyramid, is the San Gabriel monastery. This monastery was established over the site of the destroyed Quetzalcoatl Temple in 1529 and one of the largest Franciscan monasteries in Mexico. It was established first in the city, because this was the power center and the Franciscans had a limited number of monks in Mexico. The complex consists of a large atrium, a main church, a cloister area, and two important chapels which face the atrium area. Its architecture is rococo style Gothic.

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Time for Talavera…we will also be visiting El Parian, the main market.

Three blocks from the main square of the city of Puebla sits the popular Parian, the best option for buying traditional crafts from the State of Puebla. Set up in the old San Roque square, this space has more than 100 stalls offering crafts from different regions throughout the state. It is open from Monday through Sunday, therefore, there is no excuse not to visit it.

During your stroll down its corridors you will find beautiful creations in talavera – a type of ceramic with colorful drawings – made into decorative plates, vases, glasses, tiles, trays, wall hangings, mugs and clocks. These beautiful crafts come from the capital city of Puebla, as well as from the cities of Atlixco, Cholula and Tecali de Herrera. Be sure to take one home!

A note about buying talavera!

Talavera is a type of maiolica earthenware, distinguished by its white base glaze. Authentic Talavera pottery only comes from the city of Puebla and the communities of Atlixco, Cholula and Tecali, as the clays needed and the history of this craft are both centered there. All pieces are hand-thrown on a potter’s wheel and the glazes contain tin and lead, as they have since colonial times. This glaze must craze, be slightly porous and milky-white, but not pure white. There are only six permitted colors: blue, yellow, black, green, orange and mauve, and these colors must be made from natural pigments. The painted designs have a blurred appearance as they fuse slightly into the glaze. The base, the part that touches the table, is not glazed but exposes the terra cotta underneath. An inscription is required on the bottom that contains the following information: the logo of the manufacturer, the initials of the artist and the location of the manufacturer in Puebla.

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On the Road to Puebla

Hopefully, sadly, we are leaving Oaxaca City for the drive to Puebla, more or less a four hour trip.This destination brings us back towards Mexico City which will be our departure point on Sunday.

For a quick overview follow this link Puebla City. Having read the historical info, here is a little more on this city with one of the most beautiful central squares in all of Mexico!

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FYI…the high and low temperatures for February are around 23.9 (75) and 6.2 (43)!! The main square features plenty of restaurants, the cathedral and more Italian Coffee shops than you can count.

Our hotel has an excellent location right on the square! Hotel Royalty seen below.

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During our first night, Sergio will lead us on a brief walking tour of the downtown. Time permitting we will make a visit to The Rose Chapel –

When it was finished in 1690, the Rosary Chapel or Capilla del Rosario in Puebla, Mexico was proclaimed as the eighth wonder of the world and ten days of celebration accompanied its opening. It is still considered a preeminent example of  Mexican Baroque architecture.  The chapel was the inspiration of Friar Juan de Cuenca and was meant to promote the Dominican order’s cult of the rosary, and to be a tool of conversion for the indigenous. 
Rosary Chapel puebla

The evening will be free after our little tour. Enjoy the many sidewalk cafes and music on the square!

Oh, I almost forgot about the mole poblano – Puebla’s gift to the world…

Mole

The spicy-sweet, sienna-colored sauce is the preeminent holiday dish in this small colonial city 85 miles southeast of Mexico City. Housewives line up with buckets of ingredients they are prepared to be crushed to a paste. Through the rotary grinders go mulato, pasilla, and ancho chiles; spices like anise and coriander; sesame seeds, almonds, and peanuts; burnt tortillas, stale bread, even animal crackers, for thickening; and, for sweetness, brown sugar, raisins, chocolate, and ripe plantains.

If you didn’t have this  for lunch then now is the time and this is the place! You cant say you have been to Puebla until you have tasted the chicken mole! To be on the safe side you MIGHT want to have the sauce on the side the first time…LOL.

You will definitely sleep better if you have some mezcal before going to bed…hahaha/

 

 

In for a real TREE-t today!

Santa María del Tule is a town and a municipality in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is part of the Centro District in the Valles Centrales region. It is located 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) SE of the city of Oaxaca on Highway 190, passing the city and ruins of Mitla. The town and municipality are named for the patron saint of the place, the Virgin Mary and “Tule” comes from the Náhuatl word “tulle” or “tullin” which means bulrush.

The town’s claim to fame is as the home of a 2,000-year-old Montezuma cypress tree, known as the El Árbol del Tule, which is one of the oldest, largest and widest trees in the world. Its gnarled trunk and branches are filled with shapes that have been given names such as “the elephant,” “the pineapple” and even one called “Carlos Salinas’ ears.”

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Nearby is the second of two historic sites we will see in Oaxaca – Mitla. Mitla is the second most important archaeological site in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, and the most important of the Zapotec culture. The site is located 44 km from the city of Oaxaca. However, what makes Mitla unique among Mesoamerican sites is the elaborate and intricate mosaic fretwork and geometric designs that cover tombs, panels, friezes and even entire walls. These mosaics are made with small, finely cut and polished stone pieces which have been fitted together without the use of mortar. No other site in Mexico has this.

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 These are both wonderful sites, but no doubt some of you will find the rest of the day more exciting as we visit the local weavers and stop by a mescal brewer.

Santiago Matatlán a.k.a. “World Capital Of Mezcal” is a town and municipality in Oaxaca in south-western Mexico. The municipality covers an area of km². It is part of the Tlacolula District in the east of the Valles Centrales Region.

You’ve probably tried tequila but what about mezcal? A drink of amazing variety and complexity, mezcal is handcrafted in Oaxacan villages. The artisanal production ensures that each batch has its own unique flavor, not including the worm…LOL.

Mezcal with Lime

A thirty-minute drive from Oaxaca city, Teotitlán del Valle (teoh-teet-lahn dehl vah-yeh) was the capital of the Zapotec culture during the 11th and 12th centuries. The Zapotec community here is world-famous for its colourful weavings (called laadi in the local Zapotec language).

Wool Rugs

Not to worry, there will be time for a very special lunch today!!

 

Cuilapan y Zaachila

This side trip takes us into the heart of Oaxaca state to the villages of Cuilapam and Zaachila. Note that quite often in Spanish the n and the m are substituted so you may see an alternate spelling of the former as Cuilapam. For more information on either of these sites please follow the links.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuilapan_de_Guerrero

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_de_Zaachila

Zaachila is known for its wonderful market as shown in this YouTube video –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtAk7RkD9Jc Another highlight here is the dance of the Zancudos (stilt walkers). Here is a brief introduction – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2X8N37-Fm8.  The village is also known for its plumed dancers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXoZRE572Rk

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While travelling today we hope to stop for lunch in Zaachila at a very famous restaurant!

Tomorrow we head out to Monte Alban, an ancient Zapotec capital and archaeological site with a spectacular mountain top location overlooking the valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico.

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See you soon…Vaya con dios amigos!

Ocotlan & Coyotepec

It indeed is going to be a busy day with the drive from Oaxaca City to these smaller pueblos in the area. After San Martin Tilcajete we will be off to either Ocotlan or Coyotepec, depending on the direction we are going this day. You might recall that Ocotlan is where we hope to see a third generation blacksmith produce exquisite swords and knives of various sizes.

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The ancient and well-chronicled Old World knife-making technique is still practiced in the town of Ocotlán, by Apolinar Águilar. The master craftsman fashions knives, machetes, swords and much more, using only recycled materials. He demonstrates the use of his wood and skin bellows, stone and mud hearth, and a series of hammers, chisels, and other forging tools he himself makes to his exacting specifications. His products range from letter openers, to hunting and butchers’ knives, to turkey carving and cutlery sets, to martial arts weapons, and custom collector pieces. Even the fine finishes of the blades and handles are creating naturally, without the use of chrome or nickel, varnish or lacquer.

Although the video is in Spanish it gives you an overview of the manufacture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqhIx5gCuKk

COYOTEPEC

Barro negro pottery (“black clay”) is a style of pottery from Oaxaca, Mexico, distinguished by its color, sheen and unique designs. Oaxaca is one of few Mexican states which is characterized by the continuance of its ancestral crafts, which are still used in everyday life. Barro negro is one of several pottery traditions in the state, which also include the glazed green pieces of Santa María Atzompa; however, barro negro is one of the best known and most identified with the state. It is also one of the most popular and appreciated styles of pottery in Mexico.The origins of this pottery style extends as far back as the Monte Alban period and for almost all of this pottery’s history, had been available only in a grayish matte finish. In the 1950s, a potter named Doña Rosa devised a way to put a black metallic like sheen onto the pottery by polishing it before firing. This look has made the pottery far more popular. From the 1980s to the present, an artisan named Carlomagno Pedro Martínez has promoted items made this way with barro negro sculptures which have been exhibited in a number of countries.

Must be time for lunch by now…especially if you are carrying those shopping bags…lol

Next up one of the most outstanding ruins Monte Albán is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in the Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán Municipality in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.