Day 3: San Pablo Villa de Mitla
Mezcal is one reason to visit this town, but the archaeological ruins of the Zapotecs is another. There were artisan stands selling local folk art, Mexican toys, embroidered blouses, and handwoven rugs from the neighboring towns of Teotitlan del Valle and Santa Ana Domingo. We purchased some flutes, made from bamboo, and “sonados”, gourds filled with seeds to make sound, as maracas. We liked how the surface of the gourds were intricately scribed with Zapotec symbols and animals.
We discovered El Mitleno Mezcal distillery by driving on the road to Mitla from Oaxaca. The horse pulling the huge stone wheel crushing the liquid from the agave leaves was hard to miss …and a great photo opportunity! El Mitleno started as a family business in 1980 and has local distribution only. Of course we sampled and courteously bought a bottle. Tip: If you are flying without checked luggage, you will have to give away, drink, or check your new liquid possession as it exceeds 3 ounces and will be enjoyed by a TSA equivalent after their shift!
Santa Ana Domingo
A short drive back toward Oaxaca and across the highway from Tlacolula was Santa Ana Domingo. Most of the town seemed quiet and even the church doors and gates were closed. We asked a woman at a small store if there were handicrafts and she indicated that they were setting up by the municipal building across from the church. It was around noon on a Saturday and there were three vendors with handwoven rugs and a fourth setting up shop. The rugs were beautiful, representing Zapotec themes, birds, and other geometric patterns with a root based on the Zapotec.
Teotitlan del Valle
This town has become one of the most renowned areas for rug weaving in all of Mexico. Forget about finding anything cheap, a very common “gringo” misconception of Mexico …this isn’t a desperate border town… the art here has been passed down and carefully developed by each proud family.
As the climate is rather warm and not suited for raising sheep with heavy fur coats, much of the wool is traded in from higher altitudes. The raw wool is washed and then carefully dyed. The ingenuity in using natural materials to make all of the beautiful colors is remarkable.