Oaxaca: A Shopping Bonanza for Visitors

Mexico has always been a bargain, but it is even more so today.  The peso is hovering between 12 and 13 pesos to the dollar.  This region is famous for its textiles — gorgeous backstrap handloomed garments made by indigenous women in local villages using the finest cotton and natural dyes, incredible filagree silver and gold jewelry crafted with perfection by masters who have learned from the generations before them, extraordinary wool tapestry rugs that have been dyed with natural plant materials.  All about 20 to 30 percent less than they were six months ago when the peso was stronger than the dollar.

Yesterday I did a bit of lookie-loo sightseeing in the upscale shopping area around Santo Domingo church and found a gold and silver filagree ring inset with white sappires at Oro de Monte Alban (on Gurrion) for $317.  Last year the same ring sold for over $450 USD.  For me, it was eye candy and I did not buy, but if you’re coming to Oaxaca to take home something very special, this could be it!

I also met with Brigitte, a French emigre, and friend of my sister, who has been living in Oaxaca for 15 years.  She is a jewelry artist silversmith and creates beautiful 925 silver pieces employing wax molds that are carved with traditional Mixtec, Zapotec and Aztec designs.  Her studio is Kanda Jewelry Workshop in San Augustin Etla and she can be reached at 951-521-3100 in Oaxaca or send her an email to make an appointment for a showing at: Kandamex@yahoo.com Her work can be found in high end galleries around town, but you can buy direct at a substantial savings.  Brigitte will be happy to meet you for an Agua Fresca at La Olla, too.

At Amate Books, you might want to pick up a newly published paperback by photographer Christopher Stowens, titled The Carvers of San Martin Tilcajete, a Directory of Artesans.  It sells for $180 pesos.  The photographs are lovely and it is an excellent guide to some of the more accomplished woodcarvers of this village off the Ocotlan highway.  A map to the carvers houses/workshops is included.  Contact cstowens@gmail.com for more information.  A sociology professor at Benito Juarez University told me recently that San Martin Tilcajete is at risk of losing its carving traditions because of the deline in tourism, so if you want to do something beneficial to support the local economy, make a visit there!

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