After a long, relaxing stay in Oaxaca, we get itchy feet. Being an architect, Aidan is keen to visit Santuario del Gusano de Seda, an unusual exposed-concrete building housing a silkworm sanctuary in the mountains to the northeast.
Since we set off rather late, it becomes a two-day ride and we decide to camp by a lake just outside Teotitlan del Valle.
There seem to be some valued customs here and we’d heard that we should check in at the town council building. A man waiting outside announces our arrival and invites us to wait on a bench in the shade.
Soon, we hear the ding of a little shop counter bell. Our helper picks up one of two decorated sticks from its place on the wall next to the door and goes in.
Then he returns, hangs the stick back on the wall and tells us to enter. We feel like we’re enjoying a special privilege.
The council sits along the walls of the rectangular room with the mayor behind a desk at one end. He introduces himself and asks a few questions, switching from Spanish to English.
Then the council members speak among themselves in their local dialect while photocopies are made of our drivers licenses. Finally the mayor shakes our hands, “We appreciate you checking in with us first. You are welcome to stay and there is no fee.”
We ride out of the village, past a few donkeys carrying firewood, and pitch our tent overlooking the lake.
Silk Scarves and Frozen Waterfalls
The dirt road northeast is an easy challenge and popular with local riders visiting the nearby suspension bridge. But there aren’t many foreigners here and the locals in Cuajimoloyas start chatting to us curiously as we stop for some food. They warn us that the road toward San Pedro Cajonos has seen better days.
Motorcycles & Gear
1991 Honda NX250
2004 BMW F 650 GS
Helmet: Shoei RF1200
Jacket & Pants: REV-IT! Horizon 2 Ladies, REV-IT! Afterburn H2O, Alpinestars Hyper Dry Star
Gloves: Eagle Rider
Luggage: DrySpec D20 saddle bags, Givi 30L Dolomiti Monokey, DrySpec roll-top dry bag
Camera: Canon Powershot G1X Mark 3, Nikon D90
It’s slow-going, but the mountain air keeps us cool as we slalom around potholes through leafy forests to the Santuario. The young receptionist takes us on a tour, explaining the process that starts with a silkworm and ends with a silk scarf.
We are allowed to watch as two women spin thread and another weaves cloth with a back-strap loom. Of course, Aidan also admires the building itself and we soak up the rooftop views over the towns nestled among the surrounding hills.
Just south of here lies San Pablo Villa de Mitla, a picturesque Pueblo Magico known for its ancient ruins, embroidered textiles, and mezcal. From here, two roads lead to the “frozen waterfall” of Hierve el Agua and we take the more squiggly-looking western route.