Thursday, January 30, 2014

4 of the 70+ types of birds at the lagoon

Heron, Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Magpie

Manieltepec Lagoon

Local fisherman in his panga; a rookery and nest; the river connected to the lagoon; our lunch spot on a sandbar adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto Escondido scenery

The view from the cliffs above the beach, a gorgeous sunset during drinks and dinner Wednesday, and a spectacular sunrise Thursday as we head out for birdwatching on Manieltepec Lagoon. They speak for themselves, no?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

The alarm sounded at 4:30am, and an hour later Juan the taxi driver whisked us off to the Oaxaca airport where we boarded a 14-passenger prop plane, an Aero Tucan Flight. We traveled across the Central Valley, over the mountains ringing the city, through the sunrise and a mountain pass and the clouds to the south, finally coming to rest on the tarmac at the tiny Puerto Escondido airport on the Pacific Ocean, 45 minutes later. Another 10-minute taxi ride, then we alit at Quinta Lili where we have 2 of the 5 available rooms for the next 3 nights. This beautiful place is run by a bi-lingual Mexican woman who was an electrical engineer in Mexico City for 10 years, then moved to Puerto Escondido to help her parents run their two lovely B&Bs. It's hotter and humid here, so we're reading books in the shade, jumping into the swimming pool to cool off every hour.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tlacolula Market

Sunday we took a taxi to the Colectivo Station, a form of shared-ride taxi in small, old cars. The price, 20 pesos (about $1.50) per person, is based on 5 passengers and traveling non-stop to a common destination. Bob always sits in the front with the driver because he has more leg room and David, Lynn and Cathryn fit better in the back seat. This time a 5th passenger, a young Mexican woman, jumped in beside Bob, and he ended up squished in the middle front seat on the bump.
The Sunday Market at Tlacolula is enormous, sells everything from food to clothes, furniture and animals, and we spent 4 hours wandering and eating. The first photo is not a joke: a device to contain a chicken while you remove its' head. The second photo shows double-yoked "trees" to pair and guide oxen while plowing, and the third a typical vegetable stand. The last photo shows two indigenous women (there are 16 indigenous populations in the State of Oaxaca) in traditional attire, something the women still routinely wear today.

Ethno-Botanical Garden

Friday we took a 2-hour tour of the Ethno-Botanical Garden in Oaxaca. Focusing as much on the history, cultural uses and significance of trees and plants as their biological names and characteristics, we found it interesting. The Pipe Organ Cactus grows so rapidly as to serve as fences and walls in many places. Pear, Barrel, Ocotillo and many more were present, all native to the Central Valley of this area, and creating a lush Cactus Museum here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Teotitlan, in and around

The village of Teotitlan (see previous post) is in the mountains an hour from Oaxaca, with lovely views. Its' roads are cobblestone and often very steep. The village is clean and tidy, and the residents exhibit a strong sense of community and industry, many working 12-15 hour days, 6 or 7 days each week.

Rug-making in Teotitlan

Friday we went on a tour of 6 micro-financed businesses sponsored by the Cultural Institute of Oaxaca. All loan recipients are women living in the mountain village of Teotitlan an hour from Oaxaca. Teresa and her sister run a small restaurant and sell rugs after cleaning and carding the raw wool, then spinning and dying the thread before weaving the rugs on a loom in their 4-family home. Their mother Donna makes and sells chocolate. This particular business was featured in the Travel section of the Seattle Times in October 2013. "En Via" is the micro-finance arm of the Cultural Institute which also engages in community development and education, teaching Spanish to non-Mexicans and business classes to micro-finance loan recipients.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oaxaca Market

Thursday we wandered the largest market in Oaxaca offering everything imaginable including foods on both a retail and wholesale level. Always surprising to us is the number of live animals for sale in such markets, including parakeets, rabbits, chicks, roosters, turkeys, puppies and more. There were very creative uses of flowers. We bought only bananas, onions and peppers but enjoyed the people watching and cultural observations.


We'd planned to tour the Botanical Gardens today, but on arrival found the entrance blocked by guards allowing in only some people, men in suits and their wives (legislators, we think), carefully screened as they entered the gate. Outside hundreds of trucks and moto-taxis lined the nearby streets, with people and police milling around, marking another day of protests. The sign says "In Support of the Legislative Work of the Senator". No clue to which Senator they refer. Streets were back to normal 3 hours later.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Arrazola y San Bartolo

Tuesday we took a day-long van tour (Monte Alban addressed in prior post) with a small group of Mexican tourists to a studio of alebrijes, a form of wood-carved, painted figurines famous for their colorful, detailed work; and a second studio in San Bartolo Coyotepec to see unique black pottery. The man in the third photo is 80 years old, the president of his village and highly skilled in making ceramics.

Seeing the sights

Tuesday we joined a van tour with 6 Mexican tourists and 2 French people. Monte Alban, a mountain-top village at one time believed to have supported 35,000 Zapotecans from 400 BC to 800 AD, was our first stop. Impressive and beautiful place and culture, except for the part about human sacrifices.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Settling into Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a tidy place at 5,000 feet elevation in the mountains, a mid-sized, middle class colonial city. After settling into our comfortable 3-bedroom house adjacent to the Centro Historico, we took care of the business of getting groceries and purchasing airline tickets for our flight to the coast next week. After that, it was all fun and exploration. The Zocalo (central square) is leafy and busy, with benches, shoe-shiners, food vendors, crowds of pedestrians and lots more. Everything is colorful, including the food, clothing, toys and anything for sale.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Sunday night Bob and Cathryn arrived in Oaxaca accompanied by his sister Lynn and her husband David, our frequent travel companions in the U.S. and internationally. After texting with daughter Mackenzie to learn the Seattle Seahawks won the game we missed while flying, so are headed to the Super Bowl, we hit the streets in search of a beer before bedtime. We stumbled upon a wonderful festival in a church courtyard, complete with astonishing pyrotechnics, a band, and larger-than-life papier mâché figures, celebrating an unknown (to us) saint. Great way to begin our 10 days here. X

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Bob and Cathryn

Bob and Cathryn
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Bob and Cathryn

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Ready for Adventure