Teotitlan Del Valle, MX Felix Wong

Well, today (Day 3 of our Oaxaca trip) I did not expect to be given shots of mezcal consisting of 50% alcohol by elderly Mexican men and (subsequently) their esposas. Nor did I imagine that I’d be having a conversation with a recent Cuban immigrant named Yoaquin about the best way to cook crickets, nor watching him and Sarah dance the Cuban salsa. Then again, I should not be surprised to be doing any of this while traveling with Sarah, who is absolutely not bashful about talking with just about anyone, anywhere, as long as the person doesn’t look like Charles Manson or is drunker than a pirate. Even crashing parties is (apparently) not off-limits with her.

The original reason for heading to Teotitlan de Valle—which is a one-hour, eight-peso (US$.62) ride from Oaxaca del Ju├árez via second-class buss—was to visit one of the numerous rug makers there and learn about weaving. We did do this with our new Indonesia friends Weimar and Jujun whom we met at our hostel, stopping by a rug shop called El Encanto. Here a couple ladies showed us how to spin yarn from ladas (sheep) and dye fibers with flowers, indigo, bark, and cacti-habitating insects. They also demonstrated how they make tapetes (rugs). The tapetes were so beautiful that each of us ended up purchasing one or more.

Then we hiked up to the top of a hill in the hopes of eating at a place called Casa Sagrada. Unfortunately, it was more of a bed-and-breakfast that only catered to visitors with reservations, but at this location we enjoyed panoramic views of Teotitlan. Afterward we hiked back down to the pueblo, had cold-despite-microwaved tlayudas for lunch (perhaps our single unimpressive meal we have had during our trip so far), and then talked with Yoaquin-the-Cuban and stopped by the fiesta where a live band was playing and we were given shots of mezcal.

Instead of hiking 2.5 miles back out to the highway where we came from, we took a three-wheeled, golf-cart-sized tuk tuk that felt like riding in a tin can powered by a leaf blower. After surviving that noggin-rattling ride we intended to hop on the next second-class bus that stopped by, but was almost immediately offered a ride in a 5-seat taxi that was “only” 80% full. That story is here.

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A person with a plant in his backpack on the autobus de segunda clase on our way to Teotitlan de Valle.Teotitlan del Valle is about an hour bus ride east of Oaxaca.A house on the outskirts of Teotitlan del Valle.Teotitlan is famous for tapetes (rugs) that are woven on hand-operated looms from locally-produced wool and dyes.Ojudju trying to spin yarn on a spinning wheel.  It was harder than it looks.Dyes were created from local plants such as these marigolds.At El Encanto, we were given a weaving demonstration on this loom.The rugs on the wall took six months to create working full-time, five days a week.  They required about five spools of yarn.House with cacti.A local named Yoaquin who had moved from Cuba two weeks ago rolled up on a Cannondale M300. Here's Sarah talking with him.Yoaquin with a bird perched on his fingers.Marching down the street through downtown was a procession tooting sad music to commemorate the passing of a local a couple weeks ago.We hiked up to a Bed & Breakfast called Casa Sagrada hoping to get some lunch. It turned out that we needed reservations, but there were outstanding views of Teotitan there.Felix, Widhar, Ojudju, and Sarah outside of Casa Sagrada.Crosses and what looked like a manzanita outside of Casa Sagrada.Preciosa Sangre de Cristo ChurchBicycle outside the church.In town we ran into Yoaquin (whose wife runs a weaving shop) again and talked with him for about 20 minutes.  Here he is doing the Cuban salsa with Sarah.We crashed a fiesta for las posadas. Some men gave us shots of mezcal, and then the women gave us some too.Older ladies dancing while a loud band was tooting horns.Sarah with a shot of mezcal given to us by the ladies.We took a tuk-tuk (three-wheeled taxi) back to the area where we were dropped off the bus earlier in the day.

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