Thursday, December 25, 2008


Market Day in Tlacolula, Oaxaca Mexico

From Oaxaca, we took the local bus for the ride out to Tlacolula, a smaller town in the Oaxaca Valley area. The bus station was in a very seedy, garbage-strewn part of town and was difficult to find in all the chaos, but we managed to find it by asking a lot of questions. We paid the approx. $1 US each for the 20 minute ride and headed out of town to Tlacolula. Along the way we picked up more passengers until we had an over-full bus, then we just passed by the folks waiting along the road.

Tlacolula has the oldest and largest “market” in the valley. Every Sunday, folks from other small villages in the valley, including the indigenous peoples come to buy and sell all sorts of mostly basic goods. Whatever you really need can be found there.

We were looking to buy a couple of handwoven wool rugs made by the Zapotec people of the village of Teotitlan del Valle. I had been eyeing these beauties in some of the better shops throughout Mexico for the last couple of years. I wanted to buy mine directly from the family who wove them so that I could get the most money to the craftsperson and have a chance to meet them personally too.

The “market” is held both outdoors along several streets, and indoors in a large building which houses the baked goods, fresh flowers, food stalls, and more. The most active, colorful, noisy (lots of non-spanish/local dialect spoken), and crowded areas were out in the streets. Want to buy some fried grasshoppers? These chapulines are a local treat. No…I didn’t even try one.

How about a couple of live chickens or turkeys with their feet tied together? We saw several folks walking around the market carrying the chickens hanging upside down by their feet. The chickens were amazingly calm. Why? I don’t know. We think that folks were buying them as breeding pairs as they looked to be a hen and a cock in each pair, and there was plenty of fresh already-slaughtered and cleaned chicken available in the interior market building. But then, if you lived many hours away up in the hills and had no refrigeration, then maybe you DO buy your chickens alive.
Chilies, both fresh and dried were in abundance and their spicy aroma was wonderful! You could even buy meat, vegetables, and the extra large & thin tortillas and they would cook it all for you in the indoor market.

Look at all of the colorful clothing worn by the local women! Where do they buy their embroidered aprons, ribbons and embroidery yarns? Right here in the market of course! No wool yarn though. I kept my eyes peeled for some, but didn’t see any. Is your stone mano (roller) or metate (slab) worn out? In the market you can test drive new, lovely painted metates for grinding your corn. Both pieces are carved from stone and the vendor also sold the bowls for grinding your chilies.

Finally, we found the street where all the handwoven rugs were being sold. Now we had to make the difficult choices – so many beautiful rugs to choose from. We checked out several stalls…looking…looking…and then we saw IT.

Yep. It was the one. The weaver showed us several more styles and sizes and we again found another, smaller rug for our stateroom. Because we were buying two rugs, the price was bargained (gently) down – total cost for these two works of art? About $70 US dollars for two 100% wool handwoven rugs.

What a day! We woofed down a couple of tacos, flagged down the bus again and headed back into the city of Oaxaca to our hotel. Our heads were spinning with all that we saw, heard, and smelled - and still are!

What beautiful rugs. I'm glad you could give the weavers the money directly. I still live vicariously through your blog!
What a wonderful adventure you two are having. the rugs are beautiful. Glad that log did not do any damage. Love seeing all your knitting projects. The Garter Ridge Baby set is darling. Not a member of the yahoo group so I hope you post it some time.
I understand El Saldor is beautiful. Thank you for keeping up with your blog and posting such great pictures to go along with it.
Happy Holiday to both of you.
Nice rugs.... what a great idea to get as close to the maker as possible to purchase. I have neighbors from that area and they always bring me a sarape when they return to Texas. You can see some of them on my Header picture.

btw... when you hold a chicken upside down it sort of hypnotizes them.... but it will eventually kill it. So you have to put it up-right from time to time. Daughter showed chickens for FFA...
What a fascinating post! I love those rugs!
What beautiful photos! You are very lucky to be on such an adventure.
Those rugs are beautiful!
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