Cuetzalan is a magical town located in the state of Puebla, just a few hours from Mexico City. This town almost untouched by the modern world, is steadily moving towards sustainability and autonomy.

Produced and Directed by Ryan Yoshimoto
Produced by Gabriela Rocha-Caballero
Music: “Amor” Yoshimoto Music

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The Township of Cuetzalan in Puebla, Mexico.

Cuetzalan is a magical village, almost untouched by the modern world, that is steadily moving towards sustainability and autonomy. It is located in the state of Puebla (183 km), just a few hours from Mexico City (300 km), in a cloud forest, in the Sierra Norte region at the nexus of mountain ranges of the states Puebla, Veracruz and Oaxaca. It is a center of many indigenous cultures, but primarily of the Nahuas (descendants of the Aztec empire whose language is called Nahuatl).

The Nahua peoples are thought to have originated in what is now the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They split off from the other Uto-Aztecan peoples (Uto-Aztecan is a Native American language family consisting of over 30 languages and the Uto-Aztecan homeland is generally thought to have been somewhere in the Sonoran Desert, which encompasses Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico) and migrated into central Mexico at some point around 500 CE. They settled in and around the Basin of Mexico and spread to become the dominant people in central Mexico. Some important Mesoamerican civilizations were of Nahua ethnicity, for example, the Toltec and Aztec cultures, as well as the Tepaneca, Acolhua, Tlaxcaltec, Xochimilca, and many more.

Tosepan Titataniske is a cooperative that was formed 34 years ago in Cuetzalan, in response to long history of discrimination, the loss of farmland, and the attempts to destroy their native culture, language and beliefs.

Today this cooperative has over 8,000 members and cultivates organic coffee, thanks to a technique of mixing crops for both cultivation and soil protection.

Tosepan Titataniske is determined to set and maintain a fair price for the farmers of Cuetzalan and the surrounding areas through different strategies that maintain the economic sustainability of the cooperative’s members.

One strategy is the employment of agro-forestry, whose rich biodiversity allows the co-op members to harvest coffee, and other products all year round. Coffee, however, is still the central crop, and the rich taste of the Tosepan Brand originates on verdant hillsides tended by cooperative members who are educated in agro-forestry and organic agriculture techniques (their main buyer country is Japan). Other products raised by the cooperative are organic Raw Honey, Raw Sugar and Pepper as well as other bio-diverse products (their main buyer for these is the European Union).

Sustainable Tourism is another of their strategies of business diversification. When they realized that agricultural crops alone couldn’t sustain their ventures, the cooperative leadership decided to build a guesthouse and use it to stimulate eco-tourism in the area. In their process of building the resort they traded information with Japanese experts in bamboo cultivation, working together they established bamboo groves to supply sustainable and climate-appropriate building materials. Using this bamboo, they built a three-story lodge and cabins scattered throughout the compound boasting green building innovations like recycled water and reclaimed stone for pathways, overlooking a dramatic vista and offering full hotel’s services provided by local residents and members of the co-op.

Profits from their collective ventures go into projects like:

  • A Cultural Cooperative for children and teenagers that is dedicated to maintaining and preserving their culture and traditions
  • A Free Montessori-Tosepan preschool
  • A Training Center dedicated to preparing their members for eco-tourism, agro-forestry and other sustainable careers
  • A nonprofit local Bank that provides micro-loans to initiate new projects
  • A Cooperative lead by women
  • A Sustainable Building Cooperative

In Cuetzalan, every project or program works with the human sustainability mind set, with the goal of maintaining their environment, culture, stable economy and improving their quality of life. Living a simple, abundant and safe life.

Cuetzalan’s beauty is characterized by sloping cobbled streets and numerous rustic buildings, handicraft markets as well as numerous stalls selling every-day necessities. As a tourist attraction, the town also has archaeological treasures, churches, convents, waterfall, caves, and a few bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Cuetzalan is a living dream.

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