Zen Recreations

Day 2

Teotitlan del Valle, Mitla, Matatlan and Mezcal

Teotitlan del Valle   9 AM- 12.30 PM

The one aspect of Oaxaca which will never cease to amaze you on your tour is the wonderful and delightful traditional crafts on offer in the markets and in the very structures and architecture around you. Teotitlan del Valle is renowned especially for its decorative tapestries and intricate rugs. Made on hand looms, mostly with locally sourced wool and dyed with natural, traditional dyes. Even though tourists flock here for the authentic craft, it is small and retains ancient customs and ways as well as bursting with modern Mexican culture. Teotitlán, 37 kilometers outside of Oaxaca, sits under the shadow of El Picacho, the mountain where, legend has it, the Zapotecs were born. The town has been Zapotec for 2500 years and Zapotec is still the primary language. This little area at the foot of the mountains offers further exploration of the Zapotec era.

Mitla  12.30  PM – 2 PM

We continue the day by visiting San Pablo Villa De Mitla and the intriguing Zapotec archaeological site. Just 28 miles to the south east of Oaxaca City, the area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers a fabulous chance to take a step back into the ancient past and 16th century Mexico with its awe-inspiring mosaics,  stone carvings and religious architecture.

Matatlan - Mal De Amor Restaurant 2 PM- 4 PM

Come with us to Matatlan and to Mal De Amor Restaurant and we will show you how Mezcal is made!  No doubt you will get your first chance to try the unique alcoholic beverage yourself!

A great accompaniment for lunch in Matatlan is a glass of the delightful Mezcal – and not only are we going to savour the taste but we are also going to learn about the process for production - and afterwards you have a chance for tastings again!

The Zapotecs, ancient people who mainly inhabited the Valley de Oaxaca, considered the agave plant a gift from the gods because of its uses but also because its “arms”, or leaves which reach up towards the gods and the fact that it can grow in soil where most plants cannot. Consequently the art of making Mezcal from this plant is something that has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. Firstly, the agave plant takes 6 to 30 years to mature before it can be harvested; not forgetting this duration increases with the altitude. Mezcal is made from the piña or heart of the maguey plant. When you taste Mezcal you are drinking the spirit of the desert. Myth states that when a lightning bolt cooked the centre of an agave plant the delicious juice was released. It quickly became regarded as the elixir of the gods and was reserved for holy men and priests. The first documentation of Mezcal is dated 1619 after the Spanish invasion. As well as bringing their own distillation technology the Spaniards were also looking for something stronger than another agave based alcoholic beverage – pulque.  Lucky for us, Mezcal was born.

Two million litres of Mezcal are produced annually in Mexico. There are Mezcals especially made for your stomach or your head but your typical Mezcal is used for healing as well. It’s believed to cure hypertension and diabetes, and is also considered an aphrodisiac. “Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también” – “for everything bad, Mezcal, and for everything good, as well” goes a popular saying. You have to take the first sip into your mouth and hold it there as long as you can. You let it burn until you think ‘Why am I doing this?’ when you swallow it opens up the taste buds. Mezcal is between 45 – 55% proof.

Mezcal is much like Oaxaca cuisine which is so interwoven with the country’s centuries-old cultural traditions. On Nov. 16, 2010 Mexican cuisine was the first in the world  to be recognized by UNESCO  as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Bon appétit, at Mal de Amor traditional cooks who keep the flame of Mexico’s ancient culinary excellence alive  tease the senses as colours bounce energetically with a whole new level of flavors.  Melted cheese with grasshoppers, agua de Jiotilla, chilaquiles in yellow mole with tasajo (beef jerky). Hierba santa, or sacred leaf. This green is used extensively in southern Mexican cooking. It has a unique lemony, licorice taste and it’s believed to cure just about everything including rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, digestive disorders and skin conditions. Pumpkin seeds, the thickening agent for the mole (pronounced Moh-LAY) sprinkles our cooking with flavorful and gastronomic spices and as wonderful as you can imagine. Replete and reflecting on travels past, and journeys to come we head back to Oaxaca.

Return to the hotel at 5 PM - Evening free