This trip was a much-needed holiday after working one too many weekends for the past few months. And Oaxaca was exactly what the doctor ordered!
We spent 4 nights and 5-ish days in this lovely town mostly eating our way through it and exploring the city's amazing culture and rich history.
We stayed at Hotel Azucenas which was pretty close to the city centre. I wrote a review on them here. It was good enough for what we were after which was nothing fancy, just a nice, clean place to rest in.
We took a midnight flight from Chicago which meant we didn't really get any decent sleep since the flights were pretty short. And I had been awake since 6am the previous day and working...so you can imagine how exhausted we both were when we got there. It was perfectly sunny but not too hot. Even though I would've preferred to start exploring, we both just had to sleep for a few hours so our first day didn't begin until about lunch time.
The first day was spent mostly getting acquainted with the city. We just walked around for hours, stopping here and there to look inside churches, eat, have coffee or hot chocolate (which is the thing to drink here) do a bit of shopping.
Oaxaca, at least the city centre, is a small-ish city filled with streets like this...
It's really postcard-pretty!
It's not so obvious in the photos but all the buildings are pretty small and the highest they'd be is 2 storeys. All the streets run one way and the atmosphere is so relaxed! Even during the week, it had the air that everyone was on their way to brunch.
I read a lot about Oaxacan cuisine and how amazing the food is. So much so that well-known chefs such as Rick Bayless come here often and his restaurants are highly inspired by the local cuisine.
Here's us sampling some of the local fare.
We also did two full day tours to see the historical sites of Monte Albán, Mitla, Hierve el Agua and others.
Hierve el Agua is the famous "petrified waterfalls" which is a rock formation of calcium carbonate and other minerals from the water springs. The view from the cliffs were amazing!
We then went to Mitla, an archeological site that was hugely important to the Zapotecs. The geometric fretwork is truly impressive when you realize that each piece is individually placed like a puzzle!
One of my favourite parts of the tour was visiting a master weaver in Teotitlán del Valle. His name is Nestor Perez, a Zapotec and a third generation weaver. Nestor kindly explained to us how rugs are made in this area. The process is incredible. All the dyes are natural - from using cochinilla, an insect that grows on cacti (looks like mold) which the colour carmine (red) comes from to using marigolds, pomegranate seeds etc.
He also showed us how the rugs are hand-woven and this specific piece his uncle is working on is a commission which will take around 3 months to make...weaving for 10 hours every day! The price tag is $5,000 which is hefty, I know. However, given how much work is put in to create this one of a kind piece, I say it's worth every penny.
The second day of touring, we headed to Monte Albán.
On our last day, we just hung out and I spent a few hours taking photos around town.
One thing I loved about this trip was how absolutely everybody spoke to us only in Spanish. It forced me to get over my fear and just converse. It turns out, all those years learning Spanish in college plus the Portuguese I know is still all in there and we managed! What's funny is that in all the travels overseas Patrick and I have done, almost everywhere else, people address him first but in Mexico, entirely different story. Anyone we talk to, faces me and without missing a beat, just starts talking in Spanish. What can I say? I blend in better! Ha!
Thanks for best time, OAX. Hasta luego!