Capulalpam de Mendez
Walled by the mossy emerald wash of soaring canyons and rugged mountains, Capulálpam de Méndez is a distinctly cool contrast to the humidity of the Centro District, within which Oaxaca de Juarez (the state capital) lies. Fringed by the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca mountains within the North-East of Oaxaca state, there are few towns that can boast such verdant natural beauty or diverse biosphere in the South East Mexican region, and it is for this that Capulálpam de Méndez now enjoys status as one of the only Pueblos Magicos towns of Oaxaca – inducted onto the program in 2007.
Borne upon light mountain summer breezes, the scent of gladioli and orchids fills the senses as soon as you enter the municipal district of Capulálpam de Méndez. Orchard plantations of peach, pear and apple trees line the winding approach to the town – its church peaks barely visible above the centuries-old canopies. This lush, vegetative sprawl has had a great impact on the touristic allure of Capulálpam since for the last forty years, it has developed an acclaimed reputation for medicinal advances. Its natives have long experimented with holistic and herbal practice (a fact long acknowledged by natives of Mexico) however it is only through the advances of tourism that the world is now enlightened. The OMJSJO (Organización de Médicos Indígenas de la Sierra Juarez de Oaxaca) is a very recent project founded by indigenous healers of the town to protect and promote the practices of holistic healing. Located just off the Avenida Juarez in the center of the town, the field project is both an outpatients clinic and an education facility, to which visitors are welcomed warmly for an insight into old traditional holistic practices.
Off the beaten track of tourism, Capulálpam retains a harmony and peace ideal for a romantic rendezvous. Couples flock to the town on weekend retreats, keen to benefit from the alleged cleansing properties of the Sierra de Norte mountain air and hike the altitudinous foothills some 2,040 feet above sea level. Panoramic views can be found from every aspect of Capulálpam de Méndez, however the best are considered to be from the belfry of the Parroquia de San Mateo. San Mateo's 18th Century organ is the second oldest and largest in Oaxaca, after the behemoth feature at La Catedral de Oaxaca, Oaxaca City. Of key note too are the ornate wooden retablos guarding the pews of San Mateo's main nave. Each figure (around 2 feet in height) resembles a religious scenario or vision unique to the region and are among the oldest, best preserved examples in Mexico. In accordance with custom, the bells of San Mateo are rung out each morning at 7 am, said to be a motion of thanksgiving for the blessing of a new day.
Continuing the traditions of old, the Capulálpam authorities have maintained that no street vendors should be allowed to display their wares or set up shop within the central kiosk of town. Engulfed by a multi-level garden of hexagonal flagstones and raised shrub beds, the kiosk is a popular resting point for locals to watch the world go by. At midday, it isn't unusual to hear mariachi music drifting through the trees of the kiosk, as the local band strikes up for those on their lunch hour. Life might be slow and uneventful in town, however the surrounding landscapes of Capulálpam are teeming with adventurous possibilities. The development of tourism has allowed for the building of self-contained wooden lodging cabins within the immediate surrounding forest, alongside with a number of wildlife education centers. From here, visitors can soak up the wild side of Capulálpam and the magic of its natural wonders.
Attractions & Things To Do in Capulálpam de Méndez
Parroquia de San Mateo – the central Dominican church for the entire Capulálpam parish, Parroquia de San Mateo bears a wealth of artisanal relics from the 18th Century. The 14 sculpted wooden retablos depicting various deities are considered some of the best preserved in Mexico, as is the San Mateo organ – shipped in from Spain sometime during the latter half of the 18th Century. Open: Monday – Friday, 10 am – 4pm.