I had such a wonderful time in Oaxaca!
If you’ve been reading Countdown to Mexico for a while, you know that I love to knit. I decided that I’d try to find some yarn while I was visiting Oaxaca. The rug weavers in Teotitlán del Valle are expert at using natural dyes to color the yarn that they spin by hand. I didn’t have time on this trip (here’s a link to our visit to Teotitlán del Valle last year) to visit the weavers, but I did visit a store with handmade rugs in Oaxaca city. The young woman running the shop said that she didn’t have any yarn with her but she could bring some for me the next day. I showed her a rug with the colors I liked the best. The next day she brought me a kilo of lovely yarn, above. I am so excited to get started knitting with it – although I haven’t decided exactly what I want to make. I might make some felted bowls, or a spiral blanket that I could felt for the center of the dining room table. I want to make something for the house – but as I decide I still enjoy just looking at the beautiful colors.
Another special experience was the performance of the Guelaguetza at the Camino Real our first night together. Our seats were right up front – below is the video, almost six minutes! I tried hard to make it shorter but I think it’s worth watching! In the middle you might notice some of the Mexico Today bunch dancing on stage if you pay attention…
While in Oaxaca the Mexico Today group were treated to an excursion to the town of San Martín Tilcajete – a Zapotec community of alebrije artists. Our hosts, Jacobo and Maria Angeles, served us an amazing and delicious lunch after a performance of the Dance of the Feather, one of Oaxaca’s most famous dances. (The final dance on the video of the Guelaguetza, above) Jacobo showed us through the studios, explaining how the alebrijes are carved and demonstrating the mixing of organic ingredients to make the various colored dyes. Some of their alebrijes are colored with the natural dyes and some are painted using modern paints. They are all beautiful, though! Jacobo has been a pivotal activist in maintaining Oaxaca’s unique handcraft heritage while fighting off low-quality imitators. Their artworks are lovely – you can see many on their website here.
I took a bit of video of the carving and natural dyes, there are pictures of the painters in the photo gallery at the end of this post.
While on my own for a day after most of the rest of my colleagues had left, I visited Oaxaca’s Museum of Contemporary Art. (MACO) Last time we were in Oaxaca it was closed for renovation – the scaffolding outside was whimsically decorated with Mexican shopping bags! This time I was fortunate to see a fantastic William Kentridge exhibit. He is an amazing South African artist and videographer and his animated films were wonderful. The building is beautiful and I enjoyed every bit of the time I spent there.
I can’t say enough about how delightful Oaxaca is. The people are warm and helpful, the food is fantastic, and there is great art everywhere you look. If you haven’t been to Oaxaca, I recommend that you head there at your earliest opportunity. I know I will.