Despite the recent controversial video, promoting the Guelaguetza that was deemed racist and offensive for displaying a master vs. servant attitude between the affluent light-skinned tourist and the indigenous people of Oaxaca, the festival this year was another huge success in Oaxaca City, Mexico.
Now that La Guelaguetza is over, tourists may be wondering what to do next. The government of the state of Oaxaca has done an outstanding job at promoting tourism in the state and most recently, eco-tourism in the outer regions of the Sierra Juarez.
But what about visiting a small town that has yet to be trampled by tourism? Zoogocho is one of many small rural communities in the Sierra Juarez called pueblos, where you can still see how the original people of the region carry on with their everyday lives.
By taking a five hour bus ride to the town, you will see the magic behind it all as it swirls in and out of the majestic Sierra Juarez which proved too much even for the Spanish conquistadors to dominate at one time. If you take the correct vintage American-made Blue Bird chicken bus, the last bus stop is the town of Zoogocho.
The town boasts of a couple of small mom and pop shops selling necessary items, a small restaurant, a cyber shop to get your internet fix and rooms for rent right above the internet shop. However, don't count on those rooms being available during the town's celebrations.
Every year, around the third week of August, the deeply Roman Catholic community celebrates the festivities of their patron saint, San Bartolome. That week, you will find food vendors and small shops selling everything from crafts to foods to common goods.
Music from the town's regional bands pop in to surprise foodies just as they're sinking their teeth into that delicious taco, grilled chicken or delicious torta. For those that love to dance, the town's open square space in front of the church is where all the action takes place.
The festivities end August 24th with a couple of invited artists to liven up the evenings. One of the invited artists this year will be "Los de San Pancho", formerly known as "Los Caminantes". The group was wildly popular among the Spanish-speaking Latino community in the U.S. in the 80's and 90's. They have promised to play their oldest and best hits like "Supe Perder" and "Amor Sin Palabras" for everyone who attends.
How to get there:
Inside the second class bus station in Oaxaca City head over to the last ticket stall on your right side and look for "Autotransportes de Pasajeros Benito Juárez". There are only two chicken buses that head to Zoogocho as it is the last stop. Check departure times closely . One leaves at 8am and the other at 3pm during daylight savings time. From Zoogocho to Oaxaca City, there are only two buses departing the town at similar times. Be careful to check departure times carefully and don't hesitate to ask if you're confused.