Tea Travels: Visting Colorful Oaxaca

Oaxaca

Jordan, our Assistant Textile Designer, in Oaxaca

Travel has always been at the heart of Tea. It’s what drives the inspiration behind each and every design we create. As such, it’s only appropriate that we give our hardworking employees time off to go on their own worldly adventures. We offer them an annual international travel stipend to help offset costs. Upon their return, they write a blog post to share their trip with all of us (and all of you). Today, we’re highlighting our Assistant Textile Designer, Jordan, who recently went to Oaxaca, Mexico. She’s been to Mexico many times, but only recently went to the very colorful state of Oaxaca. Read on to learn more about her trip.

As you may have seen in our Instagram stories, I recently went to Oaxaca, Mexico. Although I have been to Mexico many times, this was my first time traveling to the southern state of Oaxaca. My husband and I chose to go there because of its colorful and vibrant art scene, as well as its world-famous cuisine (both of which did not disappoint).

 

Oaxacan art

A relic of an ancient pyramid now integrated into the side of a church

 

In Oaxaca, art is everywhere. Just by walking down a quiet street, you can run into an artist’s workshop or gallery. I would recommend not only visiting the city’s countless museums, but also going to artist collectives. They allow you to see, firsthand, the artist’s process and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. One of the best parts of my trip was visiting an artisan in their space.

During our trip, we went to the small village of Teotitlán de Valle. Only recently has this town been opened to tourists (previously, you could only get to the village via a mountainous path). Once we arrived, I met an artist named Josefina and her family at their home. There, they showed me their craft of organic dyeing and weaving.

Oaxaca artisans

The process of organic dyeing and weaving

 

Josefina demonstrated how to create dyes from the natural materials found in the family’s backyard, including roots, seeds, and the cochineal insect that grows on cactus paddles. When squished, the bug releases a bright magenta hue and shows up vibrantly in wool designs. Everyone in the family helps out, including Josefina’s children. They clean, comb, and spin the wool. Josefina’s husband then uses the dyed wool at the loom to weave rugs. He creates traditional patterns that date back hundreds of years and reflect the natural elements that surround him (seeds, water, land, etc.).

Oaxacan art

Left: Oaxacan Painted Pottery. Right: Oaxacan Embroidery at the Textile Museum

 

Finding and meeting a family-owned handicraft business like Josefina’s made visiting Teotitlán de Valle even more special. Weaving is only one example of a handicraft Oaxaca is known for. Traveling to different parts will lead you to villages specializing in pottery, embroidery, and many other crafts. With the help of a guide, getting around the surrounding parts of Oaxaca is easy and accessible.

Oaxacan tortillas

Freshly made blue corn tortillas

In addition to handicraft, Oaxaca is known for its unique dishes that wonderfully fuse its indigenous roots with a modern, elevated restaurant scene. From the Oaxacan string cheese to the more interesting chapulines (fried crickets), Oaxacans love to blend flavors and textures. Surprisingly, one of the best food experiences we had in Oaxaca was eating a quesadilla. It sounds simple, but the Oaxacans have really nailed the art of making the perfect quesadilla. We ate at a restaurant called Intanoni, which is known for its corn. All of it is organic and stone ground on the premises. From there, the chefs make delicious tortillas by hand, stuff them with strands of Oaxacan cheese, then cook the quesadillas on top of a comal (Mexican stove) until the tortilla edges are crispy and the cheese inside is perfectly melted. Wash it all down with an ice cold limónañada and you have, in my opinion, the perfect lunch.

I would go back to Oaxaca in a heartbeat. The only thing I would do differently is stay longer than five days. I would love to visit all of the handicraft villages surrounding Oaxaca to discover even more of the colorful art that makes visiting Mexico so special.

Feel inspired? Check out more stories like this on our Instagram @teacollection.

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