Head north from Puerto Escondido  along Highway 131 and you enter the homeland of the Chatino people, who have lived quietly in their remote mountain hamlets longer than anyone can remember. Long neglected and little studied by historians and anthropologists, the Chatinos are now increasingly learning of their distinguished past and appreciating the value of their traditional language and customs.
In the old days, the only reason most outsiders ever came to Chatino country was the miraculous Virgin of Juquila, celebrated every December by adoring crowds who overflow Juquila’s  dozen-odd hotels and bed down in doorways, cars, buses, and the surrounding mountain forest, just to push their way to within 50 feet of the tiny, frail, beloved figurine.
Nopala  people tell another story altogether. Theirs is the former domain of the great Chatino kings, whose history is just beginning to be uncovered by scholars. Nopala is also an important center of coffee production, surrounded by dozens of fincas cafeteleras, which in February and March harvest and roast a trove of fragrant beans for local, national, and international consumption.
An important consequence of the fincas cafeteleras is that they’ve sparked a renaissance of ecological awareness throughout Oaxaca’s entire southern Sierra. Many growers have found markets for their produce among environmentally-aware European and North American buyers, who prefer to buy coffee organically grown, without pesticides and herbicides, just exactly as the local growers have done since coffee was first introduced among Chatino people during the late 19th century.
Encouraged by their contacts with outside eco-activists, certain coffee farm owners and other ecologically aware local entrepreneurs have begun to offer tours, food, and lodging to visitors, who are trickling into Nopala  in ever-increasing numbers.