Travelers who head far enough along Highway 131, which branches west about 22 miles (35 km) south of Oaxaca City  through the Valley of Oaxaca ’s southwest side, are in for more than just one treat. They pass some of Oaxaca’s most productive farmland: lush fields and pastures that in summer and fall appear like a verdant carpet reaching to the foot of pine- and oak-studded mountains.
Zimatlán (pop. 25,000), the capital of all this, appears simply as a workaday farming town, with a modicum of strictly local-style services. Zimatlán’s pace quickens, however, on Wednesdays, when the town market overflows with a flood of Zapotec buyers and sellers from the surrounding mountains.
Excitement peaks during the eight days around January 15, when folks celebrate the unique Fiesta del Dulce Nombre de Jesús. Keeping by their traditional ways, townspeople enjoy old-fashioned events including processions, a big everyone-invited barbecue, jaripeo, and the Danza de las Plumas (Feathers) and Danza de los Jardineros (Gardeners), plus a pelota mixteca (pre-conquest ball game) tournament.