Since it was really cold recently here in Montreal I accepted a invitation to see an Aboriginal Art exhibition at the Mexican Consulate January 23,d. There were tons of photos of Mexico in all its warmth. Even though it might have been in the minus-30s with the windchill factor I felt strangely warm as 1 imagined myself in sunny Mexico.

Whenever you visit another country or place people seem to look for that old world charm. In the case of Aboriginals, if you’re like me you tend to look for that Native old world charm.

The photos and artwork were of Oaxaca City (pronounced wah-HAH-kah) and the surrounding region. This, according to one of my new friends, Manuel Avila, one of the photographers, is one of the most traditional areas in all of Mexico. So much so that the United Nations have given it a U.N. World Heritage Site status. Some of the surrounding villages have an 8,000-year-old history. There are 2,300 archaeological sites in the area and the Natives there are descendents of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians. Long before the Spanish arrived they had built great stone cities.

If you visit you will see traditional life complete with old style markets where a village will specialize in a certain craft or type of art. Native cuisine is always available.

I was told that one of the two must-see sites were these petrified waterfalls. They were formed thousands of years ago and at the top the source of the fall was made into a large spring. Today it is a natural warm water spa. With the winter chills this would be the place to go to soak those bones. The water while not boiling is warm enough at 71 degrees F.

Oaxaca is one of the most biologically and culturally diverse Mexican states. It has over 450 species of butterflies, 4,000 types of plants, six cat species in the forests and is home to endangered species like the spider monkey and the tapir. The World Wildlife Fund says that this is one of the richest and most varied pine-oak forests in the world.

With all this going for it Oaxaca also has a number of famous artists to come out of the region including Miguel Cabrera, Rufino Tamayo, Rodolfo Nieto, Rodolfo Morales, Luis Zarate and Francisco Toledo.

Seeing the photos and artwork, I can well believe it. People wishing to find out more about this region can go to:

Anyone wishing to see the collection of photos can see them at Alebrijes at 4727 St. Denis in Montreal. There will be a showing on February 13. The exhibition is well worth it.