My family have always told me that Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Even though none of my family is from Oaxaca, since the state is part of Mexico, they said it was bounded to be beautiful. Well, after spending a month in Oaxaca, I can safely assure my parents were right. The art was beautiful, the parties were amazing, and the food was excellent! However, I was able to find and participate a special tour of the state that the locals offered. The tour showed the natural environment Oaxaca had, which was amazing to me because I have never experienced such environment. Also, the tour also took us to historic sites which were important to Oaxaca and its history. The tour was an all-day event, and it consisted of visiting the world’s widest tree trunk, the factory in which the famous alcohol beverage known as Mezcal is made, a town called Teotitlán del Valle, an archaeological site in Mitla and a pool located on top of a mountain.
The Tree of Tule (El Árbol del Tule)
The Tree of Tule is the tree that has the world’s widest tree trunk with the diameter measuring around 38 feet and the whole tree circumference around 138 feet. The tree is located on a town called Santa María del Tule, and it was the first stop of the tour. What fascinated me about the tree was the fact there were natural carvings on the tree, and those carvings resembled to animals. One carving looked liked a lion’s head to me, but it can vary to other people. The tour guide told me the tree has been around over 2,000 years, and it is a wonder around the world. If the carvings were made naturally, it is just amazing that they looked like they were man made. I guess that proves that there are still unknown wonders about mother nature. Plus, I wonder if there is a deeper meaning behind the tree and its carvings.
Mezcal The King of Matatlan (Mezcal El Rey de Matatlán)
The second stop of the tour was to a small factory in which Mezcal was made. It was the place I spent less time in because there wasn’t much to show. However, it was interesting to learn how they made the famous drink. The factory and its products are 100% from Oaxaca, which is important to its people. The drink is made from the same type of plant that produces agave syrup and tequila. The heart of the maguey plant is squeezed to extract juices and is combined with water. Then, they are fermented to last for decades. They produce so much that they even have horses to help them process the plants when there are large amounts. Also, the older a bottle was, the darker its color was. I bought a bottle to share it with family back home. What did surprise me was the fact years ago, Mezcal was considered as a peasant drink. Years later, when the upper class noticed the drink was amazing, they started to promote it as a rich drink. This is concerning because it shows that with money, values could change in a culture.
Teotitlán del Valle
The third stop of the tour was to a small village called Teotitlán del Valle, and it is known for its handmade textiles. I saw that the locals there had hand-operated looms and most of its wool came from their sheep. The color came from natural substances, such as insects and plants. The designs in the textiles are incredible and hard to believe it was man made because the designs were so complex. The reason they were able to create such designs was because they have been creating textiles at such a young age. I even saw a child working on a loom and doing an excellent job! It is part of their culture and they feel like others can’t replicate their designs. From all their textiles, their rugs are known much more throughout Oaxaca. It was fascinating to see small children creating their textiles and being happy doing so because I can’t see myself doing textiles as a passion or job. It showed me how people from different cultures have different forms to being happy, and we shouldn’t judge another culture in the way they live.
The fourth stop was to Mitla, which was the home to the Zapotecs. The Zapotecs were an indigenous tribe that existed before the conquest of Spain to the Americas. The site had small pyramids still intact although most of it was ruined, a lot of ancient writings on the walls and burial temples. There are many theories on what the purpose of the place was, but one thing for sure is that it was an important place for the Zapotecs. I’m glad the site wasn’t completely ruined, and I was able to see and touch the buildings the tribe created thousands of years ago. A Catholic church was built next to the ruins, which showed how the Spaniards influenced the place. There are still current Zapotecs members that live near the area. It is unfortunate that many of them don’t remember much of their traditions or how we can’t fully understand the writings. Although it is a beautiful place to visit and has a fascinating view, it is difficult to understand the true purpose of the place and will have to rely on multiple researchers.
The Water Boils (Hierve el Agua)
The final stop of the tour was to The Water Boils (Hierve el Agua), and it was the best part of the trip for me. We had to drive up a mountain, and it was located on San Lorenzo Albarradas, a town located in the middle of a mountain range. From driving there, to being there and leaving there, I was truly amazed on the beautiful view we had of the mountains. Once we arrived at our location, there was a pool in which people can swim and see the mountains. The pool was probably around 8 to 10 feet deep, and the water was at a descent temperature; it wasn’t too hot or too cold. What made it more special was that the pool was naturally made! It just showed me how nature can be more creative than us, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. In this last stop, I was able to reflect my time during Oaxaca. Just by seeing the mountains, it made me realize how amazing and beautiful this country was, or should I say my country. I can’t believe I denied being associated with this nation, but then again, it may have been to social pressure on being an American. Well, I’m here to say that you shouldn’t be ashamed of being who you are! If you are multicultural, you should embrace it because it means you are blessed to have more than 1 world. For me, I am proud to be an American and proud to be a Mexican as well. I shouldn’t waste the opportunities I have or would have, and I am glad I was able to finally set free my other culture. I am grateful I was able to do it in Oaxaca, and I’m hopeful to come back to not just Oaxaca, but to my beautiful Mexico.