Oaxaca’s Newest Eco-Tourism Destination: Teotitlan del Valle

Yesterday morning, Jan (pronounced Yahn, as in the Dutch version) and his grandson Damian, age eleven, rode over on their bicycles from the other side of town to deliver some indigo dyed cotton woven on a back-strap loom from Guatemala. I’m sewing a jacket for Janet, Jan’s wife and Damian’s grandmother, out of this cloth in trade for a beautiful piece of old skirt fabric Janet sourced some years ago from a trip there.  It was seven thirty in the morning.

Jan_Damion Bicycle

Beautiful day for a bike ride, Jan announced, as I came out to answer the bell on the front gate. Indeed, the sun was up, there was a breeze and it was still chilly. The day proved to warm up to ninety-three degrees fahrenheit, but he was right. It was a beautiful day at that moment.

Great bikes, I said. I borrowed mine, Jan said. We got Damian’s at the Teotitlan del Valle municipal museum. The bike costs three-hundred pesos a day to rent, and we got a multi-day price.  Comes with a helmet, too, Jan added.  I noticed the bike was a brand new Trek. Sweet. Damian had a huge grin on his face. He’s on vacation for a week.  Today, the family is up in the mountains for a few days with Bob and Jose, who also live here.  Jose offers guided trips, including visits to off-the-beaten path villages, and speaks fluent English.

I heard that there is a new plan to develop Teotitlan del Valle as an eco-tourism destination. In addition to the bicycle rentals, I’m told there will be paddle boats for rent at the reservoir above the village. Maybe they are there now!  Or, they will get there in time for the rainy season when the reservoir fills up.

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In the meantime, the all-terrain bikes give visitors and residents alike a great opportunity to explore some of the dirt roads and paths that go into the hills above the reservoir, as well as the workshops of weaving artisans who live along the bumpy cobblestone streets and unpaved roads that wind and twist through the village.

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Whether you come to Teotitlan del Valle for one day or several, this eco-tourism bicycling option gives you another view of a very special place.

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Other options include shopping at the daily village market, open from 8:30 to about 10:30 a.m., visiting the historic church and adjoining archeological site, using foot power to walk the trails instead of bike, birdwatching, eating at several great restaurants or drinking an espresso (three locations to choose from), and just getting away from the pace of the city. This is definitely the slow lane.

Want a self-guided map of Teotitlan? I offer a hand-drawn map for purchase that shows you the locations for the museum, church, reservoir, two comfortable B&B’s, and studios of several weavers who work in natural dyes. Contact me to order.

 

6 Responses to Oaxaca’s Newest Eco-Tourism Destination: Teotitlan del Valle

  1. Eco-Tourism? Reservoir? What changes in the little village of Teotitlan del Valle! Some decades ago I spent a whole day sitting up above the village watching to see if I could figure where carved stones were being illegally dug up! I have a number of natural color, local wool textiles purchased there, including one by artist Isaac Vasquez.

    • Hi, Dudley. Yes, indeed, times they are a changin’ — Zapotecs continue to innovate and adapt to economic (and political) circumstances. In the effort to increase independent tourism to the village, which has dropped off considerably in the last ten years, this new approach to economic development is taking place. It will definitely bring changes to this serene village, to the good and otherwise. Thanks for writing. You likely got a textile from Isaac Vasquez when he was just discovered! He and the late Arnulfo Mendoza Ruiz are among the most famous of Teotitlan del Valle. There are many excellent weavers here, too.

  2. Hello Norma,
    I can almost feel the sun and the cool fresh breeze on my face while reading your blog. Teo is a very special place and you present it so vividly. Hope to see you again at the end of the year!

  3. I love being ‘with you’ in the village and can’t wait to get there. I have asked prospective tour members to follow your blog. Your words and images bring Teotitlan to life with the small details of daily activities that surround the lives of people that ‘do’. Besos!

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