August 10, 2015

On the Road and Off the Grid in Oaxaca

Spanish photographer Pia Riverola hits Mexico’s deep and fertile south

  • Written by Alex Tieghi-Walker
  • Photography by Pia Riverola

As someone with an unfeigned interest in the flora of the tropics, Pia Riverola is the ultimate ambassador for the Mexican state of Oaxaca. A uniform simplicity flows through the Spanish photographer’s work of all things topographical, emoted through a palette of halcyon blues and greens. She captures nature with her unique eye and creates visual coherence of an otherworldly existence.

Accompanied by fellow-Barcelonan Alexis P, the couplet travelled some 270 kms through the one of the most Southerly of Mexican territories, a culture-rich ecotone marrying arid desert and luscious highland. The biodiversity of the area was perhaps most visible in the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden. “You develop a real appreciation of the different uses that the plants here have,” explains Pia. Not restricting themselves the natural world, the duo also visited the Casa Wabi Foundation, a wodge of Tadao Ando-designed concrete and straw functioning as an arts project space for the local community. We spoke to Pia about their adventure through haute utopia:

Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden
“Ecological philanthropy created this slice of green which exhibits a collection of plants as an example of Oaxaca’s biodiversity. This was probably the local attraction that captured our attention the most: five acres of climatic zones are home to Organ Pipe cactii and plants grown from 10,000-year-old squash seeds found nearby. ”

Hierve el Agua
“The petrified mineral deposits form a surreal lunar landscape; the views you get from the main lagoon are beyond incredible. I’ve been here before, but we both were amazed by the vastness of the landscape; the colors blend in together like a painting and the textures are magical. We drank tequila next to the pools until sunrise and hitch-hiked our way back to Mitla in a pick-up truck.”

Hotel Puerto Escondido
“The architecture of the hotel melts in with the landscape; Punta Zicatela was our favorite spot nearby – there is a vast beach with rocks that lead to a beautiful hidden cove where kids go to surf.”

Casa Wabi Foundation
“Just outside of Puerto Escondido, the Casa Wabi Foundation sits between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and was designed as an exhibition, leisure and creative space. It was amazing to see the union of art and nature here.”


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