Antonio Cuajimoloyas hosts an annual Mushroom Fair.
It seems everyone demands a lot from tourism, particularly
It needs to protect the environment, respect cultural protocols,
poverty and create jobs. This is critically important in marginalized
communities that need employment to create alternatives to migration.
One more requirement -- tours need to be fun! Boring, serious travel
with good intentions is simply never repeated by locals or visitors.
That said, current offerings around the world are up to the challenge.
And Mexico is at the vanguard of grassroots events that welcome
Choosing a good place to spend engaging downtime is a a matter of
being clear about what you enjoy and seeking the options that best
suit you. It's easy to find places to visit in which your visit
contributes to the local economy and conservation efforts.
In terms of planning such an outing, think about visiting a rural
community. The past decade has seen sizeable investments in time
and money creating the infrastructure needed to get travelers off
the beaten track.
Besides figuring out where to go, another good question to ask is
when to go. Here in Mexico during the rainy season the mountains
are verdant and filled with summertime crops.
One of the best examples of a rural town organizing its own event
is that of San
Antonio Cuajimoloyas which has hosted the annual Wild Mushroom
Fair for the past seven years.
‘Cuaji' part of a network (the Pueblos Mancomunados) of small
communities developing initiatives for sustainable use of the forests
of Oaxaca's Sierra Juarez, about a two-hour drive north of Oaxaca
San Antonio Cuajimoloyas' seventh annual event was not a monster
event, but one that attracted about one hundred people.
A sidenote. Cuaji's fair features tasty edible mushrooms, not the
psychoactive variety as found in nearby Huautla
Visitors could hike in the mountains, attend conferences and eat
some wonderful mushroom meals.
The Wild Mushroom Fair has been organized each summer by community
leaders with support from Oaxaca-based enterprises and Methodus,
an organization working on agricultural and rural development issues.
One of the Methodus advisors Gerhard Buttner reports that the community
has greatly improved its guide service over the past few years.
During the fair, more than 100 different species of mushrooms were
identified. Among those enjoying the fair was a group on an exchange
visit from San Miguel Suchixtepec in the Sierra Sur.
Says Gerhard, "The Wild Mushroom Fair is an example of ecotourism
linking with other sustainable community activities. A healthy forest
ecosystem is essential for both ecotourism and sustainable use of
renewable non-timber forest resources like mushroom collecting."
Fairs like the Wild Mushroom Fair give value to forest conservation
in a way that the community, visitors and the forest all win.
Visitors can learn about the forest and the mountains and they can
buy directly from producers. There are rural accommodations, all
giving the community greater reasons to protect these resources.