Testing of mezcal
You will be able to try Mezcal “Tradicion Don Lucio” in the same shop. Don’t think I liked it– in my opinion Russian vodka is more delicious than Russian samogon (or Mexican mescal) and effective, haha!
The fermentation of agave juice dates to pre-Columbian times. When the Spanish conquerors arrived 400 years ago, they taught distillation techniques to Mexico's Indian people.
Once a backyard brew of dubious origin, mezcal's claim to fame is the cactus worm in the bottom of the bottle.
Now that mezcal has become a government-certified alcoholic beverage with strict standards about what goes into the liquor, distillers have been forced to clean up their act.
Under the new law, mezcal can contain no less than 80 percent agave, making it purer -- and arguably more potent -- than tequila. Although tequila is also made from agave, it can legally be diluted up to 49 percent with sugars and water.
Because Oaxaca is one of Mexico's poorest states, and because it produces 60 percent of Mexico's mezcal, it has a huge stake in mezcal's success abroad.
Production of Mezcal
Mezcal, or mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of Agave americana) native to Mexico. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl metl and ixcalli which mean 'oven cooked agave.
By distillation, a spirit called mezcal is prepared; one of the best-known forms of mezcal is tequila.
From the very beginning I suspected that mescal is something like Russian “samogon” or distilled beverage, or spirit as an alcoholic beverage containing ethanol that is produced by distilling (i.e., concentrating by distillation) ethanol produced by means of fermenting agave.
Monastary of OXACA
Next to the Temple of Santo Domingo on the corner of Alcalá and Cinco de Mylies the Ex-Convent, now home to the Centro Cultural Santo Domingo housing the Regional Museum.
The massive structure of this 16th C. convent is flanked by the Temple of Santo Domingo, the entrance plaza and an extensive desert botanical garden presently under construction.
Long hallways, some stark and shiny with centuries of thick white paint, others decorated by frescos and other ornamentation, lead the visitor past cell after cell converted into display rooms for an enormous collection of pre-columbian and colonial artifacts from the area, as well as exhibits of popular indigenous culture.
In each room are computer display screens, rather than guides, that walk you through each exhibit, providing additional
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
The annual pilgrimage to Juquila.
Every year in december there is a huge pilgrimage to the little mountain town of Juquila where the most important saint of Oaxaca is located.
That is the "virgin of Juquila".
Most people who travel to Juquila do so by bicycle and they bring home pictures of the virgins that they buy next to the chapel where she is located.
Some people buy huge pictures and mount them on their back and do the 200 kilometer bicycle trip back to Oaxaca with the picture on their back.
Some people also do the trip by foot and many travel in the support cars that follow the thousands of cyclists and assist them if they have mechanical problems.
It´s really a spactacle to watch and i was deeply facinated by it.
- Road Trip
- Religious Travel
No, I'm not referring to tipping in restaurants but tipping if you take photographs on the streets-- if you see someone adorned in colourful traditional costumes sitting on the streets, be mindful that they will demand/ask that you pay them a tip after you snap a photo.
Eg. This picture!
A wonderful tradition
The variety of traditional dress worn by indigenous Mexican women is truly fabulous, much of it very particular to a group or even a village. Although most women these days wear either a simple version of their traditional clothing or standard European style clothes, it's still possible to see women wearing beautifully embroidered and woven clothing of stunning design. Fiestas invariably see women dressed in their best finery. The villages of the Valles Centrales de Oaxaca are particulary noted for the wonderful variety of the traditional dress worn by the women, with many villages having a style that is particularly their own
Much of what is worn today as traditional dress has very ancient origins though the arrival of the Spanish saw changes in many places as the Catholic priests thought much of the indigenous dress was indecent ( the huipil was then a sleeveless tunic worn over a wrapped skirt - it was open at the sides and simply held closed by a sash around the waist). European-style blouses and skirts were introduced and indigenous clothing adapted to what we see today.
The dress worn by the woman in the photo here is particularly interesting - not only for the shape and style which is typical of the villages of the Tehuantepec Isthmus of Oaxaca, but also or the colour of the cloth it is made from. The deep reddish-purple is obtained from two threads in the weave - the warp being indigo and the weft purpurpa obtained from a shell fish ( the same dye that created the royal purple of Rome and Byzantium), very hard to obtain and nowadays rarely used except by those who cling most strongly to the old traditions. I was delighted to see it among all the bright embroideries of the more usual dress of the women from this part of Oaxaca.
The brilliant colours and complexity of the women's dress is set off beautifully by the simplicity of the mens' dress - white cotton shirts and trousers, red belts and huaraches (sandals) topped off with a woven palm hat.
Curiouser and curiouser
You see them everywhere, in craft shops and markets, museum gift shops, laid out on blankets in parks and the streets of Oaxaca - alijebres - fantastical carved and painted animals, some quite recognisable, others very strange creatures indeed.
They're carved from the local copal wood, and what was once a small group of carvers from just two villages has grown to a veritable industry with hundreds of families employed in the work in villages all over the central valleys of Oaxaca. Of course, with so many people involved, the quality varies enormously, but that does not mean to say that you will only find the best work in the most expensive shops - you may well find work of amazing quality being sold in a market or on a street stall, you just need to look.
Whole families work at this - the men usually doing the carving, the women the painting. The
alijebres of Oaxaca have become a major folk art, the best pieces being avidly sought by collectors from all over the world. You cannot miss seeing them for sale wherever you are, but the best way is to visit some of the carvers in their homes. The villages of San Antonio Arrazola and San Martín Tilcajete are no more than 20km from Oaxaca, and are easily accessible on a day trip from the city. You could take a tour, but getting there by public transport or taxi will give you more time and freedom than being trotted around behind a tour leader. Please be mindful of the fact that you will be visiting people in their own homes
Bugs? To Eat? Really?
Chapulines, or grasshoppers are a common sight in the streets of Oaxaca. Don't look down, you wont find them there. These grasshoppers are food...for people. On most street corners in Oaxaca, and especially near the central market, you'll see mounds of these brightly colored bugs, cooked and ready to eat.
You can get tiny "baby" ones or the large and chewy grande-sized versions, but they all prepared the same way.
Cooked in chile and lime, they're crispy and bright red. In the raw (alive) state, they are your typical green grasshoppers.
Crunchy, like corn chips, with a chile-lime-salt flavor. The bigger ones are chewier with a mild, but odd flavor.
- Food and Dining
- Arts and Culture
Not in Belgium, not in Switzerland, no, it's Oaxaca where Chocolate is the most present.
In and around the market Mercado 20 de Noviembre there are plenty of chocolate shops, cafýs, and places where they produce chocolate. You can taste the sweetness just by walking by!
Most places let you taste the light and dark chocolate, to drink or to eat, for moles, with cinnamon, with almond and and and.
There is nothing better on a cold winter morning!
- Food and Dining
The days before Christmas are wonderful in Oaxaca.
There is a very special atmosphere, somewhat expecting, somewhat waiting, preparing for the big days... but you can't see or feel the stress you have in Europe.
Here, it's all about buying food and presents and a tree and doing this and that, it's all relaxed in Oaxaca, it's celebrating and enjoying yourself.
There is a music festival on, with all kinds of concerts at night time or early evening around the zocalo, in churches and other locations. Most of the events are free!
Then you have the market.. with lots of balloons and very special food, mostly sweet stuff, they only sell around Christmas. This was one of the most beautiful markets I've ever seen!
And finally you get to see the Noche de los Rabanos -the night of the Radishes, the 23 of December. They take these huuuge radishes (they only grow near the airport and are never eaten but only used for that night) and carve astonishing figues into them, like faces or nativities. Unfortunately I only saw pictures coz I had to leave to San Cristobal the evening before. But that's one reason why I have to go back, and then it's going to be Christmas in Oaxaca!
Student/Teacher demonstrations at the Zocalo
There was some sort of teacher/student protest going on during the very same day I arrived to Oaxaca (May 31, 2001). The protestors where just seating down around the Zocalo. I quickly took refuge inside the Cathedral, which makes for an interesting stop on any trip.
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
The best cultural tip that I...
The best cultural tip that I could give is just to wander around the central plaza. There are usually lots of little shops and street vendors that will sell you anything Mexican. It will give you a good feel of what Mexico is like without having to worry about any kind of crime!
A must at the city is the...
A must at the city is the ex-convent of Santo Domingo, now turned into an incredible museum of the history of the state of Oaxaca. A beautiful building, visit the courtyard for a great natural exhibit of desert plants.
(photo insert) Local kids...
(photo insert) Local kids with amarilloThey are warm, hospitable people, and foreigners will find themselves welcome in their country. Here are some basic phrases that may come in handy.
Where are the toilets?
¿Dónde están los servicios? ***
Do you speak English?
¿Habla usted inglés? ***
I don't understand.
No entiendo. ***
My name is ...
Mi nombre es.../Me Ilamo... ***
I don''t speak Spanish.
No hablo español. ***
Can you help me please?
¿Me puede ayudar? ***
How much is it?
¿Quanto cuesta? ***
My key please.
Mi llave por favor.