Your first stop in district capital Ocotlán (pop. 20,000, 26 miles/42 km south of Oaxaca City) should probably be the interesting trio of family workshops run by the Aguilar sisters, Irene, Guillermina, and Josefina. Watch for signs reading “Aguilar,” on the right, on the outskirts, about a quarter mile (0.4 km) on the Oaxaca City side from the town plaza.
Their creations include a host of fanciful figures in clay: vendors with big ripe strawberries, green and red cactus, goats in skirts, and bikini-clad blondes. The workshops are open 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily.
The main Ocotlán attraction (unless you’re lucky enough to arrive for the big fiesta on the third Sunday of May) is the huge Friday market. Be sure to get there in the morning.
Drivers could get there by heading straight south out of the city, arriving in Ocotlán by mid-morning. Spend a few hours, then begin your return in the early afternoon, stopping at the sprinkling of crafts villages along the road back to Oaxaca City. Gasoline is available at the Pemex gasolinera, on the highway, on the north edge of Ocotlán.
Bus travelers could hold to a similar schedule by riding an early Autobuses Estrella del Valle or Autotransportes Oaxaca–Pacífico from the camionera central segunda clase, then returning, in steps, by bus, or more quickly by taxi, stopping at the crafts villages along the way.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition