Today was a full free day, and thanks to Omar from Casa de los Sabores, we got to go on a day trip out of Oaxaca and to some villages in the east.
We started out the morning at the market in Tlacolula, where we had a group breakfast. Most of us had spicy barbacoa soup, mushroom/cheese/squash blossom quesadillas, and these delicious chicken taquitos topped with everything.
Afterward we went on winding bumpy roads through the mountains to get to Hierve el Agua (boiling the water), the source of what we hoped were hot springs. The place is so named because water bubbles out of the earth, as if it was boiling. Which is to say that it wasn't boiling, because the water wasn't hot. Nevertheless, this pool of collected spring water made for a decent pool. Even better is that it looks as if on the edge of a cliff when there's actually a slight slope down on the other side. In fact, when people enter the pool, water is displaced and starts to flow down the other side, as if a mini waterfall.
After swimming, part of the group went on a hike over to the top of this petrified waterfall (and then wound down into the valley before coming back). I opted not to hike, which was just as well because one part of the hike required clinging onto the rock since there was barely a path.
Instead I sunbathed and ate sandwiches that Cris and I prepped last night.
After Hierve el Agua we made a stop at Mitla, to see the intricate stonework on the Zapotec ruins there. Since not everyone wanted to stop, we didn't pay to go into the more extensive ruins and only saw this very small free part.
Then we went to the village of Teotitlán del Valle, known for its weaving work. We stopped by this one house where one of the weavers offered to explain the process to us. Besides showing us the bases of the different dyes (such as cochineal beetles, which are dried and pulverized, then mixed with substances of different pHs to create colors ranging from orange to purple), he also led us to the courtyard where the largest loom was. Two men working simultaneously to weave a 10m by 14m (33' by 46') carpet. Just in case you ever want one, it's 12,000 pesos (less than $1000!).
After that we wandered around to different shops to peruse the collections of carpets and rugs. Some of us bought the weavings to take home. I got a café frappé and some earrings. Exciting, I know.
Our last stop was El Tule, where the biggest tree in Latin America stands. I think the trunk's circumference is greater than 80 schoolchildren's armspans combined. Too bad we couldn't climb it!
For more pictures of today's trip, see here!