Out for a walk at La Punta (The Point) near Lima, Peru.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? On the bus from Lima to Huaraz, Peru.

Where are they going next? Huaraz, Peru on Friday!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rug weaving, alebrijes, and pickpockets!

Most of the villages around the city of Oaxaca have specialty artisans. We visited two of them on Friday.

Our driver Omar showed up with a fancy 20 passenger van that we had booked for 9:00am. The van with bilingual driver rents for 370 pesos ($20 USD, $26 CAD) per hour. Omar can be contacted at oaxacaexperiencetours@gmail.com.

Divided by 11 people, the price becomes quite reasonable!

First stop was the Casa Cruz where they do hand spun wool rugs.

Ruth and I had visited here back in early March last year, so we knew the group would enjoy this visit.

Our host Maria Luisa explains how they naturally dye the wool.

They make all the colors from natural sources!

She showed us how they make some of the colors.

Her husband, master weaver Fidel Cruz.

Pretty detailed stuff!

Sorry, not allowed to show you any of the photos of the finished products. Prices range from 2,500 ($131 USD, $174 CAD) pesos to 25,000 pesos, with many in between! The larger pieces take up to two months to complete.

Next stop was the alebrijes artists in the village of San Martin Tilcajete. As we had done last March, we took the group to world class artists Jacobo and Maria Angeles

I'm not an artsy fartsy kind of guy, but the work that these people do is absolutely amazing.

The wood comes from a special type of tree. When it is cut for a carving, the wood is soaked in gasoline to kill any insects. Then, after being hand carved it is left to dry for up to a year. Then, any cracks or imperfections are repaired, and it is sent to another department where it is hand painted, with very intricate detail.

Being hand carved.

The carving is then painted.

It can take up to four months to paint a larger piece.




Carved from a single piece of wood!

How does anybody have the patience to spend a couple of months painting this kind of stuff?




Ruth, in the gallery with the big jaguar.

The jaguar took two years to complete, and recently was sold to a Mexico City businessman for $40,000 USD.

This piece was done by one the the students here!

We had a really good visit to these two places, and then it was time for some food. There are a lot of tourist restaurants in the area because a lot of tour groups will stop at the artisan places and then go for buffet style lunches. We didn't want this.... we wanted a typical local type of place.

So we asked Omar, and he said he knew just the spot... the market at Ocotlán.

We have eaten at many market stands in Mexico, and it's the best place for local, inexpensive food. So we thought that was a great idea.

We got into town and it was really busy, when Omar said he had forgotten that it was market day! Not a problem, but it was just busier than normal.

We were walking through the crowded market stalls when a young guy kind of butted his way in front of me. I had been following Denise, and she had her small purse over her shoulder, but it was mostly resting on her back as she was walking. I noticed the young guy crowd right up against her, which was pretty easy to do since it was so crowded anyhow. But, I saw out of the corner of my eye his hands go right for the zipper on her purse! I grabbed him by the arm, hard, and glared at him. He was probably just 15 years old or so. He said something that I didn't understand, but he had a bit of a shocked look on his face, and I let him go, saying "no tocar" which means "do not touch", but I couldn't think of what else to say or do. I kept walking, but looked behind a couple of seconds later and he was gone... vanished.

Omar got us seated at Frida's Comedor.

Seated for lunch at Frida's Comedor.

You can see that Frida's is all flowery, whereas the other food stalls are kind of plain. And the other food stalls have menus, but Frida's does not. I thought this was kind of odd, but market food is always inexpensive so I didn't think anything of it.

Then, after we ordered, I started to notice some things. Like the only people eating at this stall were gringo tourists who had been brought there by their local tour guides. Then, I noticed the sign that said (in English only), "Thank you for your tips" with the jar underneath. It would not be normal for a Mexican to tip at a market food stand, so why put it in Spanish??

The food was okay... typical market fare, but we've had better.

When it came time to pay the bill it was 120 pesos per person! Now, I admit that we had not asked prices... lesson learned on our part. But we had not asked prices because we know how much market food costs... it should have been no more than 80 pesos per person.

For example I had chile rellenos with rice and beans. This dish should normally be no more than 60 pesos, and I actually walked to one of the nearby stalls and asked, the same dish was selling for 40 pesos there!

I don't like being taken advantage of as a tourist, and I let Omar know that we were not impressed. He definitely understood my point. But, we paid the bill and let it be. I also let Frida know that we were unimpressed.

Oddly enough, Frida's Comidor is listed on tripadvisor. Guaranteed there are no others from the Ocotlán market listed there, but that's because Frida obviously has some kind of gig going with the local tour guides.

Good for her, but I have already left my one star review!

Anyhow, Omar now knows that we are travelers, not tourists. and he understands the difference between the two.

Back at Oaxaca Campground, we had a short nap then I went and had a shower. Oaxaca Campground has the best showers we've had in Mexico so far this year! Loads of hot water, and nice rainfall style showerheads. 

This bug was on the floor outside the showers.
Is it painted alebrije style??

I am up early this morning and on my way by bus back to Puebla to pick up Roy and Sue and their campervan. Latest word is that Roy continues to improve and they are both ready to rejoin the group. We look forward to having them back!

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14 comments:

  1. The alebrije works of art are just spectacular. It takes a lot to tempt me to buy but that would do it. A replica of the bug would make a nice pin for my jacket. Great tour!

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    1. They sure are, we loved seeing them and being able to see the work involved in making them, it really is incredible. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  2. Those art pieces are amazing, very talented people

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    1. They are fantastic! We love what they do here and how they are teaching students the special techniques in order to keep the craft alive and well. Definitely very talented people!

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  3. Replies
    1. You are welcome, glad that you enjoyed it! :-)

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  4. I remember these artists from your trip last year. Just incredible. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. It would be hard to forget these guys, the work is absolutely stunning. Glad you enjoyed this post as much as last year's post. :-)

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  5. In a crowd, never ever carry your purse on a shoulder, with the purse slipping toward your back! Rather, over your head, and under an arm, with the purse resting on your tummy ... and one hand on the purse! I hope you told Denise. The guy you grabbed went on to some other unsuspecting tourist.

    I love those exquisite alebrijes.

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    1. Denise did have the purse over the shoulder and around her neck. She has travelled quite a lot in places where you need to be cautious of pickpockets but she had let her guard down and says she knew better and should have had the purse in front. The good thing was that even if they had gotten into the purse they would have gotten very little because she was following our suggestion to only carry what you think you might spend and nothing more and having no valuables that you aren't willing to lose in it.

      Guaranteed she will be much more aware today when we are in another very busy market.

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  6. Ladron is a word we have heard and used. Thief! I would have called the pickpocket a ladron along with the no tocar. Although, the words change in each region, we would have to listen in context to hear the local slang for a new word.

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    1. That is the first time we have heard that term, but you are correct that is a thief. We will have to try to remember that word, not that we ever want to have to use it. :-)

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  7. As I scrolled through each picture, I kept thinking, "This is the best one" and then I would see the next and have to change that thought. ALL of them were beautiful and truly works of art worthy of any gallery or museum.

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    1. Lol, yes, those alebrijes are stunningly beautiful! It would be very hard to pick out a favourite.

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