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 then by 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 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 Juárez 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 and had cold-despite-microwaved tlayudas for lunch—perhaps our single unimpressive meal we have had during our trip so far. The we 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.