"Oaxaca, Mexico:

An Expatriate Life"

Writing by Stan Gotlieb

Pictures by Diana Ricci

A forested area on the road to Apoala with moss growing from the trees

Santiago Apoala : a photo album by Diana Ricci

**Click on an image to see enlarged photo**
Apoala is a small town about 25 miles northeast of Nochixtlan on an unpaved road. The route to and fro is a scenic one, mountainous, varying in vistas from forests (we were there in February and the dried up leaves of the deciduous trees were displayed in reds and yellows), to dry scrub lands. Even the soil changes from light tan dust texture to dark brown agriculturally rich-looking dirt, and is often plowed for a milpa. The closer we got to Apoala, the soil changed to a consistent red or adobe color. It seems like only the agave plant survives in that.
You do not need road signs to find Apoala. You just follow the road until arriving on the very top of the highest cliffs where you can look down at the bottom of the “bowl” and see a scatteriing of houses and well trimmed agricultural plots. It is a lovely, appealing sight.

Following the road down the cliffs makes one wonder if it is wise to continue but there is no going back so down and around you go over a bumpy but clearly traveled road.

Walking around the town, there were many interesting plants and lots of vistas with the cliffs in the background.

The town itself has one paved road which contains the tourist hotel, a couple of small stores, a municipal building, a church, and a school and a library.
There are signs to educate the residents, all 300-400 of them, about health and about maintaining and respecting their natural resources.
There is a small industry of basket weaving, although walking through the town we were only able to find one elderly lady who was working in her doorway and willing to sell us a sombrero. At the tourist hotel, however, they were supplied with many-colored baskets of all sizes. This woman is weaving as she walks.
Tourists go to Apoala for its natural assets, mainly a waterfall, and caves, none of which we could enjoy because they would take lots of tough hiking over a narrow descending rocky trail to get to any of them.
The tourist hotel is a owned by the town. The people who work there perform “tequio”, that is taking their turn to volunteer their services for the community. The hotel has the only telephone in Apoala and the ladies who were working their at the time readily took messages or were able to call people to the phone.
This is the hotel staff, Elvia on the left and Rosalba on the right. They are also the maids and the cooks in the hotel, which was the only place to eat in the town.

 

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