29 July, 2010

Omigosh, so much fun!

Hola a todos!

Well so its been sometime since I last posted, with a promise of adventures to come. Come they did, and it was an especially good time. Since then I have been working and having more adventures. If I have not mentioned it previously, last semester was quite the busy and stressful one, and a vacation was much needed. Anyway, on to the good stuff.

Wednesday, July 14, I went with my friends Chuck and Oscar to the palanque out in Santiago Matatlan where the mezcal they import to the US and around the world is produced. The fabrica is called Don Tacho, after the owner, and he is a lovely man. We got there around nine, and were immediately offered mezcals. Heh. After a lovely and much needed breakfast, we walked around back to where the mezcal is roasted and fermented. After it is roasted, the maguey is pounded with a huge stone pulled by a horse.

Then the liquid is air-fermented and stored in huge plastic barrels.  In this picture you can see the person taking out the mash after the fermenting process.

 The meeting itself was interesting, as there were these two chavos from Guadalajara were trying to convince the mezqueleros that they needed to modernize, for whatever reason. They were trying to sell this whole mechanized process and admitted within the first two minutes that the process would change the taste of the mezcal. Eck. And of course, with a mechanized process, it stops being mezcal and just becomes tequila, which no one likes nor wants. Objections were raised of course, but who knows what will happen? Hopefully, the history we witnessed that day was resistance to modernization and a preservation of tradition rather then the conversion of mezcal to shitty tequila. Because, above everything else, if they mechanize the production process, the horse pulling the stone and the man taking out the mash will lose their jobs.

Anyway, the next day Chuck, Carolina and I traveled to Mitla to meet with Don Richard for a lecture on Oaxacan archaeology. After a lovely meal at the palapa, from which you can get an excellent view of the cave of Guila Nequitz where they found some of the earliest domestic cultigens, we went to the ruins of Mitla. And got in for free! Excellent.

Unfortunately, it began to pour so we had to jet. At least we got see the best parts of the site. Once the rain had ceased, I took Chuck--Carolina had left to get back to Oaxaca during a lull in the rain--to see other monticulos that weren't part of the formal archaeological zone of Mitla. Most tourists only see the ruins up the hill, the more famous ones, but the modern town of Mitla is actually much smaller than the archaeological town. And the best part? These other structures can be seen for free. So we checked out Patio G, and then my favorite El Magote which is where Megh and I used to go drink beers and watch the storms over the mountains. It was pretty cool. From the top of El Magote you have a view of the entire Mitla valley subarm. Chido.

The next day, after I interviewed the guantero who makes the gloves for pelota mixteca, I went to the Feria de Mezcal, which is a 12 day festival where people get to try mezcal marcas from all over the state. Chuck and Oscar, along with Don Tacho's family, had a stand at the Feria. Chuck, another woman named Blanca, and I got to participate in the calenda which opened the festival. Starting at the Almada de Leon, we walked in the calenda and gave out mezcal to people. It was a good time.

Ok, so that was those 3 days. I promise to post more, including some of the ballgame stuff I have been up to. This weekend, we go to San Jose del Pacifico up in the mountains and then onto the beach. Yeah!

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