We decided to stay on for longer than originally intended and see some of the things that are in the vicinity. So on Monday morning we were picked up at the hotel by a tour bus and taken to Tule tree which is the world biggest diameter tree and is around 2000 years old. It was quite impressive but we weren't allowed near it to give it a hug. We then moved on to Teotitlán del valle, a community that specialises in making woollen rugs from natural dyes. We were given a demonstration on carding the wool, spinning, which Jill tied her hand at, and the different colours that could be achieved with Indigo, moss, marigold and of course cochineal. This little beetle lives on a cactus and depending if mixed with Lime (acid) or baking soda (alkaline) will colour things from bright red to purple as Jill's hand shows. We then watched a carpet being woven before being offered wares to buy. Next stop was Mezcal factory. The sword like cactus is first cooked on a stone lined pit for days. It comes out all soft and sweet, after which it is cut up into smaller pieces and crushed and the juice is drawn off, which is lovely and sweet, and thrown away or fed to the donkey that pulls the stone. (shame I thought it was the best bit) The fibres are then put into a white oak barrel where hot water is pored over them and left to ferment. This fermented liquid is then distilled more than once and the resulting liquor taste like paint stripper. There are 4 kinds from right to left: - Just out of the still (rough as rats). Year old with worm in it (bit smoother). 5 year old (getting to be drinkable) and the 8 year old which wasn't bad. They also mix it with fruits to mask the taste, and we were told it was good on Ice cream. Slightly the worse for wear we piled back onto the bus and headed to Mitla, the ancient city of the dead, which had some amazing stone pattern that were made from individual pieces and not carved. The larger stones are not held together by mortar, but just very finally worked. The tomb chamber were underneath the main living structures.
Wednesday arrived after we had had Tuesday off where we wrote the blog and posted the GPS back to the UK by DHL to be fixed, and we headed down town to pick up the tourist bus past piles of grasshoppers to Monte Albán, the Zapoteca policital and culture centre from around 500 BC until 800 AD when for some reason not known it was deserted. It is on top of a very large hill and all the water had to be carried up to the site. The site gave great views of the Oaxaca valley below and the scale of the site was very impressive. Pictures say a thousand words so here are some pictures. The round stone design is very unusual.
We then had an interesting ride down into the Oaxaca Valley and on the walk back to the Hostel Jill brought herself a carpet which she has sent home.