Somewhere along your handicrafts route, you must take a serious look around MARO, Mujeres Artesanías de las Regiones de Oaxaca (Craftswomen of the Regions of Oaxaca) (204 Cinco de Mayo, tel./fax 951/516-0670, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. daily). From behind the Cathedral, walk uphill, first passing Independencia; one block farther, at Morelos, turn right, continue a block and turn left and walk half a block uphill to MARO, on the right.
Here a remarkable all-Oaxaca grassroots movement of women artisans has gotten the government to pay the rent for a building, where they sell their goods and demonstrate their manufacturing techniques. The artisans are virtually pure native Mexicans from all parts of Oaxaca, and their offerings reflect their unique effort.
Hosts of gorgeous handicrafts—wooden masks, toys, carvings; cotton traje (native clothing) such as huipiles, pozahuancos, quechquémitles; wool serapes, rugs, and hangings; woven palm hats, mats, and baskets; fine steel knives, swords, and machetes; tinplate mirrors, candlesticks, and ornaments; leather saddles, briefcases, wallets, and belts—fill the shelves of several rooms. Don’t miss it; better still, do a major part of your Oaxaca shopping at this store.