Tag Archives: guacalote

Another Tlacolula Market Sunday: Guajolote Shopping

We didn’t set out to buy two cute, baby guajolotes. It just happened. An impulse purchase, you might say. My impulses tend to center around clothes, jewelry, or maybe a larger than necessary size ice cream cone. My Zapotec neighbors, on the other hand, covet what they can add to their barnyard.


Where I live in Oaxaca, one sign of a woman’s wealth and independence is how many pigs, goats, guajolotes, or chickens she owns. Raise them to plump and they convert to pesos in a year or so. Pocket money she can do with as she pleases.

What is a guajolote, you may ask?

This is a pre-Hispanic wild turkey indigenous to Mexico, named by the Aztecs, and preferred to domesticated turkey by locals in the know!


I had no particular goal in mind on Sunday, my last day in Oaxaca until June, but to pick up some little clay dishes made in San Marcos Tlapazola for my sister. She uses them as handy soap dishes. Some people use them for salsa.

The ladies of San Marcos ply the market with bundles of little clay vessels and figures wrapped in their rebozos held close to their bosoms. They also set up shop on the street, displaying platters, clay pitchers, tortilla griddles, and other kitchen essentials. I’m especially fond of their primitive figures.

Guacalotes-4 Guacalotes-3

My neighbors had no particular goal in mind either. We wandered for a while. Then, they went shoe shopping. We stopped for nieves at my favorite Tlacolula purveyor Nieves Rosarita, one of the many stalls that line the street near the Banamex bank ATM.

Nieves means snow in Spanish, is like ice cream but with less cream and more intense flavor. My favorite is Besos de Angel with cherries, nuts, and fresh grated carrots. Truly yummy.  Especially when topped with tuna aka the fruit of the nopal cactus, not the fish. Next, we followed the abuela through the labyrinth to find the seller of Atzompa green pottery, and finally began to make our way out of the market back to the car.


Then, there they were. Love at first sight. None of us could walk away, though I must confess we tried. I even reached out to touch their silky smooth feathers. After a heavy bargaining session, not one, but two guajolotes had a new home. We could tell by their chortles and cries that they needed to be together and this was, in part, a guilt purchase, too.

On the way to the car, many people stopped us along the way in envy. Envy is when another admires something you have and then asks, how much did it cost. The humble reply is to always understate the value. This is not a boastful culture.


As they settled comfortably on the lap of their new owner in the front seat of my car, I reached out to stroke their long skinny necks. Their eyes closed and they fell asleep on the ride home. Definitely a first for La Tuga and me!


A Walk in the Campo–Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca Countryside

A day in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, is not complete without a walk in the country.  Today was one of those glorious days with a bit of overcast and briskness in the air.  A perfect day for exploring the campo.  We are surrounded here by 9,000 ft. to 12,000 ft. peaks, rich agricultural land and abundant water stored in the reservoir just above the village.  Farmers are turning over the earth and preparing for early spring planting.  Flowering trees are in bloom everywhere.  It is hard to imagine it is nearly Thanksgiving!

Along the ridge road I got a great view of the village church and then zoomed in closer for a more detailed shot.

After seven intensive workshop days it felt good to stretch and walk for miles. The yellow wildflowers amid dried cornstalks caught my eye.  I stopped in at my friend Annie’s for a shiatsu massage and hiked down to the river bed that feeds farmers fields throughout the village.

Just as I was wondering how I was going to cross this rushing stream, I found the footpath of flat stones in the stream bed.  I carefully picked my way across careful not to lose my balance.  No wet camera in my future!

Fieldstones separate one farmer’s plot from another.  I looked up to see the sacred mountain Picacho where Zapotecs have a shrine at the peak.

A well by the river gives farmers back-up to water their animals.

Adornment on the back side of a house along the riverside.  Sculpture, don’t you think? And as I was trying to figure out where this path would take me (my destination was up the other side of the hill to the main road), I came across this sign — used to darken the room but definitely a roadmap for me.

Thanksgiving, anyone?  These are not domesticated turkeys though.  They are indigenous poultry called guacalotes.  These two got their feathers ruffled as I passed and squawked some, too.  I definitely disturbed their afternoon siesta. The great news is that I discovered a new path with easy to navigate, switch back concrete stairs half-way up the hillside.

This side of the river, along upper Av. Juarez, is more populated with houses spilling down the hillside from the main street.  Behind this blue gate will be a patio and magnificent views.  You would never know it from the street side.

In the distance, I could see the next town of Macuilxochitl and the distinctive outline of its church.

Steep, narrow alleys lead from the main road to houses built into the hills above.

By then, it was just after 4 p.m. and  I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  Thankfully, Restaurante El Descanso was open (until 6 p.m. unless there is a family celebration).  Mari was carrying out dinner to her husband Fidel.  It looked so good that I ordered the same.  It isn’t on the menu so you have to say, I’d like a platillo de Fidel!  Incredibly delicious.  With beverage, my bill came to under 100 pesos.

On the way back to Las Granadas B&B, I stopped to admire a neighborhood altar before starting to pack and move to friends in the village for the next several days.

You should know I traveled solo and made my way through the countryside safely, passing people who greeted me and I them with a buenos tardes, a smile and a nod of the head.  Most of Mexico is very safe, as safe as the place where you live — perhaps more so!