After spending some time at Mitla, our guide took us farther into the mountains to give us a glimpse into the lives of villagers in the area. Some of the poorest residents of Mexico live here, in small huts or adobe houses. Despite the poverty, the villagers are friendly and welcoming to tourists. This is mostly because it’s just the way people are in this part of the world, but also partly, I suspect, because some of the area’s economy is based on the visitors who come to see the mountains, springs, and other natural features of this beautiful part of the country and to hike the many mountain trails in the area.
We saw a lot of villagers during this part of the trip, and I started to feel like I was getting a much better idea of modern life in Mexico, even though by American standards, life in the Oaxaca mountains might not be considered modern. A lot of the things we take for granted just plain don’t exist in the small, rural villages of this area, and even if they did, some of the people who live here might not be able to afford them. It’s a very simple way of life.
Many of the people who live here are descended from the Zapotecs who populated the area hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Some of them still do the same type of work as their ancestors, such as farming, weaving, and pottery. We were able to see a number of examples of this, such as one man who was herding goats.
I asked the goatherd if it would be okay to take his picture. When you visit Mexico, especially in some of the more remote areas, it’s very important to get permission from anyone whose picture you want to take. You should probably do that with anyone in any location, to be honest, because some people might not want to be photographed. But people in Mexico consider it very disrespectful for a tourist to take their picture without asking, because they aren’t sure whether the photographer plans to exploit them or even make fun of them.
In addition to the people going about their work, some of huts and houses were interesting to look at. One of them had a number of gourds on its roof, probably to dry them out. It was definitely an unusual sight.
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