Our next stop was at an arts and crafts centre that specialised in making its own Tequila and Mezcal along with selling many sculptures, jewelry, pottery, onyx, replicas of Teotihuacan masks.
During our visit we were shown some local customs. First was a custom of usage of agava (maguey in Mexico).
Agave nectar - a sweetener derived from the sap, is used as an alternative to sugar in cooking. This is used in Mexico and Mesoamerica in the production of the beverage pulque.
People have found a few other uses of the plant aside from its several uses as food. When dried and cut in slices, the flowering stem forms natural razor strops, and the expressed juice of the leaves will lather in water like soap. The natives of Mexico used agave's to make paper, pens, nails and needles, as well as string to sew and make weavings.
We got to try three different kinds of Mezcal, one was from cactus and was very sweet, one was a Mezcal with an almond flavor and was also very sweet, and the last was a more traditional smokey flavored strong type. I think this was a good way to relax the customers, in hope they would spend many dollars!
Then they showed us the various symbolic meanings of the obsidian carved statues and masks they had in their shop. They were all very ornate and beautiful. Some of the obsidian had a gold shimmer inside of them. We were shown many kinds of volcanic rocks and appreciated their beauty when they were dipped in water and held up to the sunlight.
The jewellery was beautiful and excellent quality. But very expensive, often you were looking at ?
$1,000 dollars as a starting point. We had been warned by our guide that silver in Mexico was not nearly as cheap as it once was due to the world wide price increase in silver.
Although this place could be described as a complete tourist trap, we really enjoyed the demonstrations, particularly the taste testing! It was nice to escape the crowds of Mexico city and relax - being driven around from place to place. This was also a great way for us to save time as we were on a tight schedule to fit in as much sight seeing as possible in only three days.