Oaxaca is one of the 31 free and sovereign states of Mexico. It is pronounced Wa-HAH-Ca.
The area is best known for their prominent indigenous population, diverse culture and delicious cuisine. Oaxaca is divided into seven regions : La Cañada, La Costa, La Sierra, La Mixteca, El Papaloapan, El Istmo, and Los Valles Centrales. Each region has its own dialect, distinct culture and traditions. One of those important traditions is La Guelaguetza. It is pronounced gay-lah-GHET-sah. Guelaguetza is from Zapotec, a pre-Columbian civilization, and means offering, caring, and cooperation. Each July, the different regions of Oaxaca gather at a sacred plaza built by the Aztecs and perform their distinct regional dances. They also present offerings to each other, including fruit and sombreros.
Chiapas is also one of the 31 free and sovereign states of Mexico. It is pronounced Chee-AH-Pas.
Chiapas has a strong Mayan culture and is extremely biodiverse. The region is blessed with jungles, beaches, mountains, wetlands and coastal plains. I have not been to either of these regions, but I plan on going sometime soon. In the meantime, I was able to get a taste of their distinct cuisine and rich culture at an event this weekend. The event showcased artwork, jewelry, food and textiles from 20 of the 31 free and sovereign states.
The event was held at a large pavilion in Querétaro. Here are a few shots I took while browsing the different booths.I was also able to try different flavors of mole. Mole is a complex mixture of various chiles and spices. My favorite was mole with tamarind. It was semi-sweet and spicy.
I bought my first traditional Mexican outfit at the festival. The vendor came all the way from the Chiapas region. 😀 All of the fabrics were so beautiful.It was hard to choose a favorite.I was also lucky enough to arrive on the day of the Guelaguetza performance. Dancers from the seven regions of Oaxaca came all the way to Querétaro to perform their traditional dance. This was their first performance at the pavilion and I think the staff underestimated the projected attendance.We were packed in like sardines, but everyone was in good spirits.
Here is a compilation video of the different dances that I saw. 😀
In keeping with tradition of Guelaguetza, various offerings were thrown into the crowd during the performance. These gifts included oranges, bananas, guava, sombreros and even pineapple. It was a fabulous day full of culture. I am now very anxious to travel to these regions and dive deeper into their rich culture and enjoy more of their food as well. 😀 Until then.