TRAVEL / MEXICO
OAXACA PART II+ DIARY
We've already talked about how Oaxaca started blowing our minds ever since we landed at the airport. And after checking in at the most incredible boutique hotel and going to Hierve el Agua, we thought it couldn't get any better than that, but it could, and it did.
Oaxaca is so culturally rich in history, cuisine, art and design, and the town itself is so vibrant and colorful that you struggle trying to focus on just one thing. Just walking down the Zócalo we were getting distracted by all the glorious smells from the street food, the mexican melodies that kept filling our ears, and our eyes were busy admiring the incredible architecture. We couldn't understand how this charming town could have it all! We have been to many "pueblos mágicos" in Mexico, but this one is another kind of captivating.
Much like the town, the food will have you amazed. Even us, that we are Mexican, were shocked at the many variations that we were discovering- The tortillas were not like the tortillas we were accostumed to (in Oaxaca you find both blue corn tortillas and yellow corn tortillas and some are quite massive), We grew up knowing only one kind of Mole, and did you know that there are 7 types of Mole you can find here? The tamales that our grandmother used to make looked so different from the Oaxacan tamales! They were wonderful to discover, and even better to taste. Much of our trip we were busy trying all the many typical dishes, and discovering just how vast our culture can be. Chapulines (grasshoppers) are a staple food here, and we tried them with quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese) and Huitlacoche (fungus that grows on corn and is a delicacy in Mexico) That dish was out of this world! And we even found out that you can get grasshoppers as a pizza topping!
You can get a shot of Mezcal, an authentic tlayuda and try one of the different moles anywhere you go, but we did have our favorite restaurants while we were here, and we want to share these with you.
At the top of our list and for a modern take on Oaxacan cuisine: La Pitiona, Los Danzantes, Casa Oaxaca and Zicanda.
We also enjoyed a couple of meals at our hotel Azul Oaxaca, which we highly recommend if you want a lovely, serene dinner spot.
For the best street food, you can't miss going to the 20 de noviembre market! Sit at one of the food stalls and order an authentic tlayuda, or an empanada with yellow mole! Or if you are into the sweet, try the typical hot chocolate with egg-yolk bread or a "tejate" (Pre-hispanic maiz and cacao drink). Get to see the many different takes on quesadillas and enchiladas and indulge on the spicy salsas! Don't be scared to try it all!
And if you have space for dessert, then you cannot pass on trying the hand-made ice cream. Such interesting flavors: roses ice cream, kiss ice cream, burnt milk ice cream, prickly-pear fruit ice cream and more!
They are all so different from anything we have ever tasted before. The "kiss ice cream" has secret ingredients, and we couldn't figure out what it tasted like, but it was spectacular.
We also visited a couple of museums, recommended by friends and family.
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
They are all within walking distance and are a good way to relax and also get to explore the town.
We also made it to the Jardín Etnobotánico, which is not simply a botanical garden per se, but rather an art piece. It was designed by renowned local artist Francisco Toledo, and it is meant to be a Garden where plants merge with the Oaxacan culture, hence the name Etno (ethnic) Botánico (bothanical). Wonderful project and so instructional not only on plants but also on the history of Oaxaca.
We ended our trip by visiting the Monte Albán archaelogical site. It was unbelievable to see these ruins, since they are so different from all the pyramids we've seen elsewhere in Mexico. One of the most interesting things about Monte Albán is the amount of carved monuments of "Danzantes" (dancers) which showcase figures of men dancing. The figures are said to represent sacrified prisoner victims. A lot of archaelogists have found Monte Albán to be one of the earliest cities in Mesoamerica and clear evidence of the power of socio-political and economic dominance that the Zapotecs had.
There is so much inspiration one can find in this place. The textiles are so beautifully hand-crafted, if you are not mesmerized by the rug weavings, the traditional clothing, the pottery, and artisan crafts, you will by the natural surroundings. Oaxaca is home to the largest tree in the world (Tule tree) the width measuring 119ft. This cypress tree is around 2,000 years old!
This place has been called the land of the 7 moles, the land of mezcal, the gourmet heart of Mexico, etc.. To us it was a place to feel deeply connected with our heritage, and it was pure magic.
One of our top destinations in our beloved Mexico for sure!
To stay at the same hotel we did click here: HOTEL AZUL OAXACA
to book your flight to Oaxaca click here: FLIGHTS
Cynthia & Amanda