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Erowid Extracts #7
Introduction: Oaxaca Issue
by Earth & Fire Erowid
Nov 2004
Citation:   Erowid E, Erowid F. "Introduction: Oaxaca Issue." Erowid Extracts. Nov 2004;7:1.
Oaxaca (wa-HA-ka) is a Mexican state stretching from the Pacific Ocean along its southern coast to mountainous highlands in the north and tropical lowlands to the east. We recently had the opportunity to visit the Oaxacan highlands for a two week trip that included a week-long conference (Mind States) and a week of travelling in the area.

These two weeks were the longest we had been away from our work on Erowid in the last nine years of its development from an obscure home page to whatever it is today.

For nearly a decade we've spent our "vacation", if one could really call it that, at Burning Man in Nevada. Although certainly different than our daily work, Burning Man had become about as restful as a week of hard work at a psychedelic trade show: enjoyable, but not relaxing. This year, we wanted to do something different.

We left things in the capable hands of trusted crew members and went on our merry way. We did a surprisingly good job of letting go while we were gone: no logging in from internet cafés to tinker or check email. (OK, Earth checked a couple of times to make sure the site was still up and running, but that doesn't count.)

Simply put, our trip was fantastic and satisfying. In addition to attending the conference, our reasons for going included taking a breather from our desk work on Erowid, getting away from the rattling U.S. political situation, and getting a chance to do some travelling. Although hardly a surprise, it's clear that the concept of a vacation is a little alien to us. Offered the choice between a few days relaxing on a sunny tropical beach and taking photos of Agave fields and cacao vendors, there wasn't a moment's hesitation for either of us.

This issue of Erowid Extracts is a little different than usual. We decided to share some of our adventures and the results of our research from Oaxaca.

Like many cultures around the world, Mexico has a long, rich history of psychoactive use, stretching back millennia to the earliest records and archaeological artifacts. Mexico and Central America have a much more varied array of native psychoactives than Europe. These include powerful entheogens such as Psilocybe mushrooms, peyote, and Salvia divinorum as well as the more everyday psychoactives like Agavebased alcohols, chocolate drinks, hot chiles, and a number of as-yet- undocumented plants and herbs. Two weeks was barely enough to scratch the surface, but we had such fun trying!

The day-to-day psychoactives are often overshadowed by their more forceful cousins and yet they constitute so much of the world's experience with intentional mind alterants. We wanted to take this opportunity to spend a little time collecting and summarizing information about them.

Aside from the several thousand emails waiting in our inboxes for replies, everything ran smoothly while we were gone. Thanks for being patient if we were slow to respond.

We hope the articles about Oaxaca in this issue help give a sense both of our trip and of some everyday psychoactives available in the region.