My friend Chris is visiting from Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Guadalajara within a few days after my son and daughter-in-law returned to New Mexico. And, I’m returning to the USA on March 27, just a few days after Chris goes back home to Guad. So, its a whirlwind of getting ready to leave and sightseeing with Chris. I am returning to some of the same places I was the week before with the kids. It’s funny how even with a return visit to someplace I’ve already been, there is always something new to see.
Here’s what was on the agenda with Chris:
- San Pablo Villa de Mitla Archeological Site — We went on Saturday. Admission is free on Sundays if you are a permanent resident or senior. Otherwise, the entry fee is 90 pesos (about $5) per person. There is a new entry process. You wait at the gate at the back parking lot and they let groups of 10 into the site about every 15 minutes. A goodly amount of time to devote here could be more than an hour. I suggest you read up on this historic Zapotec religious site before you go. I also like to go early in the morning to avoid the midday heat.
2. Bia Beguug Weaving Studio with Arturo Hernandez Quero and his son Martin, operate this designer home goods weaving studio where amazing cloth is made on the flying shuttle loom. This is the go-to-place for tablecloths, napkins, bedspreads, throws, and shawls — many of which include natural dyes in cotton and wool.
3. Lunch at Mo-Kalli. Except when we got there, the comedor operated by traditional cook Catalina Chavez Lucas was closed! Strange for a Saturday. So, our alternative was to have lunch at Comedor Mary at the Tlacolula Market. Here, owner Elsa, carries on the tradition of her grandmother Mary, with delicious, clean and safe-to-eat traditional food, including some tasty Mole Negro and Mole Coloradito. Cost is about 200 pesos per person. Even though food is already prepared, please be patient; it can take a few minutes to get served.
4. Sunday Tlacolula Market. This is our weekend go-to tourist attraction in the Tlacolula Valley. If you go on your own, we have a map available for sale to guide you. We got there early, by 10 a.m., and it was still packed. I’m still wearing a mask in densely populated areas, and the narrow aisles of this market makes me cautious. I bring along a rolling shopping cart. Our purchases included a clay flower pot from Tlahuitoltepec, bars to make hot chocolate, locally grown and roasted peanuts, chicken gizzards for the dogs, a painted enamel gourd filled with flowers to gift, limes, a stainless steel strainer, carrizo baskets for packing my mezcal to take back to the USA, a clay bowl from Dorotea and the Red Clay Pottery Women designed with holes to use for strawberries, an armful of lilies, an embroidered Catrina doll handmade by Armando Sosa from Mitla.
There are plenty of handcrafts here of varying quality: clay mugs from Atzompa and Tlapazola, shawls, scarves, aprons, handwoven rugs, jewelry, blouses and dresses, hammocks, woven palm baskets and colorful plastic totebags. Need an extra suitcase? You can get that here, too. If you are a local, this is where to get everything you need to eat and run a household.
You might want to eat lunch at the market by buying a piece of raw grill meat or sausage, cooking it over the open flame along with onions, tomatoes, wrapping it in a tortilla smeared with a ripe avocado. Or, you could take a moto-taxi tuk-tuk like we did to make our way to the kitchen of traditional cook Evangelina Aquino Luis at her Cocina Tradicional Nana Vira, where we had higadito, chiles rellenos, and Mole Coloradito with grilled lamb, washed down with a Victoria beer and melon water. Dessert anyone? Nicuatole, of course.
Then, we came home to rest!