I wrote about Tlacotalpan out of sequence. After our trip through the mountains, we arrived at The Oaxaca Learning Center guesthouse owned by our Tlacotalpan host’s friend Gary. He is an American who has lived in Mexico 18 years and started the Learning Center five years ago to tutor local students. Most are from low income families and from a school system that is much like our inner city schools.
The center is staffed by other students and volunteers. It operates seven days a week and serves over 100 students. It is financed by the rental of two small rooms and an apartment, as well as some donors. Our room was small but comfortable and opened onto a pleasant courtyard where some of the tutoring takes place.
Breakfast was included, fresh fruit, granola, and yogurt, a nice change from eggs and black beans and tortillas that is the usual fare at restaurants.
Oaxaca is quite a contrast to the other places we’ve stayed. It is much more international with quite a few Americans. I finally found a bookstore where I could by a decent Spanish-English dictionary and throw away the one I’d brought with me which was useless. I found about one out of five words I looked for.
One day we took a small tour bus for a day trip to some interesting sites. Despite being jammed into the far back seat, especially difficult for Max who was by far the largest person on the bus, we had a good time. We saw El Árbol del Tule, supposedly the “stoutest tree in the world”, greater in diameter than the largest Giant Sequoia.
We saw the process of making mezcal, (tequilla is mezcal but all mezcal is not tequilla) sampled some and of course bought a bottle. Another stop was at a weaving village where we saw how wool was processed and dyed with different plant colors. Our final stop was Hierve el Agua, (Spanish for “the water boils”). It is set of natural rock formations that look like waterfalls. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierve_el_Agua