Travel/Culture: – Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexico has always been good to me.

Church and Plaza Santo Domingo
Church and Plaza Santo Domingo

I’ve visited a variety of places from bustling and busy Tijuana to what used to be known as the sleepy fishing village of Barra de Navidad to the resort towns of Cancun & Playa del Carmen. I worked at one of the Club Meds in Mexico years ago. Never had a bad time or gotten sick.

A restaurant in al centro
A restaurant in al centro

Last week I returned from spending ten days in what is considered to be “the most diverse” state in all of Mexico.  Ten days in vibrant Oaxaca (pronounced wah-hah-ka) is definitely not enough time, but it is just enough time to know that I want to go back.  It was wonderful.

A typical stroll
A typical stroll into town

A friend was house sitting another friends spectacular house high up on a hill with a 180 degree view and invited me to stay.  At the time she told me about it I was considering going to Las Vegas to run a half marathon along the strip at night while listening to rock bands (for something different) but I made the wiser choice.

Many, many of these arches
Many, many of these arches (arquitos)

Before I came to Oaxaca (a UNESCO world heritage site) I thought I knew everything a lot about Mexico.  I was expecting to hear mariachis everywhere and get a plate of chips & salsa delivered to our table as soon as we sat down at any restaurant.  Not so…although you can.  Instead we listened to a combination of Cuban, Jazz, Salsa, Argentine Tango, Classical and a 12-piece brass orchestra visiting from Belgium which took place in the dazzling Macedonio Alcala theatre – all gratis.  Every night there is something different to take in and lots of puppetry, fireworks and dancing.

Monte Albán, built by the Zapotecs, is one of the country's most important ruins.
Monte Albán, built by the Zapotecs, is one of the country’s most important ruins.

So much activity goes on in the town centre amidst local artisans selling their wares, craft shops and street markets.  All the cuisine we had was unbelievably top-notch.  I heard this to be true but had to find out for myself.  The only thing I did not sample were the worms and grasshoppers that are considered delicacies there (I’ll leave that for the locals and was not so brave even to try the crunchy ones).  I might need a whole bottle of Mexcal before doing so.

The inspiring rock formations of a petrified waterfall at Hierve el Aqua.
The inspiring rock formations of a petrified waterfall at Hierve el Aqua.

Here is what else I found besides an amazingly wide variety of food – stunning architecture, rich cultural traditions, important ruins, a great little *Spanish language school where you can sit outside in a garden setting for your lessons, a soft temperate climate (which allows you to sit outside) and Oaxaca’s specialty spirit, mezcal,

I'm not sure I can do this
I’m not sure I can do this
There are many little tasting spots called "mezcalarita's" around town
Many little tasting spots  (mezcalerilas) around town

which is made from dozens of types of agave (unlike tequila, which is made exclusively from blue agave).  Another thing is that you don’t want to have too much of that.  Don’t ask me how I know that…somebody told me. I think it can make you hallucinate.

So I don’t know everything about Mexico but I’m willing to learn.  This is a place I’d like to further explore with a side trip to Huatulco. Not to mention brush up on my Español .  Hasta la próxima vez!


Have you been?



Photos: d. king (double click to enlarge)

*SchoolOaxaca Spanish Magic

Link to my Oaxaca board for more photos on PINTEREST (which I will keep adding to):