About two months ago during training I went with the environmental education group to a center for "ecotecnias", permaculture and environmental education in Huixquilucan, near Mexico City. We spent an entire week at the center where we all realized that ecotecnias, like estufas lorenas, are complicated things to build and that Mexico actually does get cold, especially at 3,000 meters. I also learned that the center had a partner center in Oaxaca - the state, not the city - and that was my answer. I could travel to Oaxaca if it was with work. But how do I convince my new work place, SEMARNAT in Puebla, that a six-hour trip - each way - to Oaxaca is worth their time as well as mine?
Apparently, its not as hard as I thought. My counterparts at work, like me, enjoy traveling. And when we started working on the development of a center for training in ecotecnias in Puebla, I suggested we go to the center in Oaxaca for a visit to a model center. My counterparts jumped on the idea and within a week all three of us were on the highway at 6:30am, heading to the center about 60 kilometers from Oaxaca city. http://www.grupedsac.org/portal/index.php/en/demonstrations-centers/itt.html
|Pico de Orizaba|
|Mountains along the highway.|
|Deep cactus valleys.|
|Adobe building with natural ochre paint.|
|The art of a dry toilet.|
After our visit, we headed to Oaxaca city to spend the night. Before heading back to Puebla the next day, we spent a little time touring the historic city center. Oaxaca is a beautiful colonial city in the center of a large fertile valley. Its historic architecture was painted with colors that you can only find in warmer climates. It's central zocalo was lined with vendors, selling beautiful ceramic pottery, paintings, and clothing. Oaxaca is famous for its alebrijes, or ceramic figures of creatures with features from multiple animals, some real some fantastic. Its market was crowded early in the morning; meats, fruits and vegetables filled the stalls. I walked by women making blue tortillas, loaves of golden bread, giant pink pigs feet, mounds of white cow stomach, orange chickens piled high, crates of dried chilies in various shades of red and purple, stands with tropical colored fruits, and buckets of mole of all the colors of the rainbow.
|Oaxacan hot chocolate.|
The city isn't all just pretty colors, though. Less than four years ago it was the home to a brutal fight between protesters, anarchists, the state police, and eventually the federal army. During a routine protest by local teachers, the governor ordered the state police to attack, killing several of the protestors. The protestors eventually took the city from the state police and held it for several months before the federal army was sent in to win it back. The city was shut down for nearly a year.
A new governor took office the day before I arrived; it was the first change in political parties in over seven decades. Although political graffiti covers nearly every building, the hotels and restaurants are filled with tourists, and the markets are bustling with shoppers, both local and from abroad. The crickets were alive and well, at least until we arrived. The beautiful colors of Oaxaca have largely returned since the violence ended, but there are still many subtle tones of grey left over from memories of the not too distant dark past.
|Fruits and vegetables|
|Fruits and vegetables|