What better souvenir to take from a mercado than a natural resin used by indigenous Mexicans since times immemorial as incense during special occasions?

Ocote, or pine, resin is often sold in plastic bags, in a granular state, just as it was scraped from pine trees, where it had oozed from wounds and hardened.

copal resin in its traditional packageCopal resin, from a southern-Mexican tree called Protium copal, is the more highly prized of the two, and is often sold as a small mass neatly wrapped in a reed package such as that shown at the right, which is about two inches long.

Both resins are often mixed with pine-wood shavings. When the mixture smolders, a dense, sweet-smelling smoke results, the odor that accompanied so many rituals and rites of the ancient Maya and Aztecs, and even today may occur in churches where the believers have long memories, and know a sacred odor when they smell it