4 Sep 2011

Oaxaca (wah-hah-kah)

At the risk of sinking into inane hyperbole the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca is the first magical place we have been to so far.


It sits at the crossroads of three valleys (500 kms south east of Mexico City) still populated by bustling indigenous communities (Mixtecs, Zapotecs and Someothertecs) ancient ruins (not the local ladies) and fabulous fabulous food...

Cleaning nopales (cactus leaves)
in the market

In our six days here we have visited several churches, the cultural museum covering just under 12,000 years of human activity in the area, contemporary art + textile + Benito Juarez (more later) museums, the botanical gardens, the out of town hill top ruins of Monte Alban, photography/graphic arts institutes...

and Pam did a cooking course focussing on local delicacies - I had to turn up for lunch and eat the results, tough gig...

making sweet corn cake with caramelised chili

tuna (prickly pear) 

chapulines (crickets with garlic / lime /chili)
Pam still hasn't figured out if they count
as fish or meat, so had to try a
few anyway... crunchy with a lemony twist :)

flor de calabaza (squash flower)

and we ate loads of fabulous new (to us) food in great (inexpensive) restaurants and from the many street vendors, oh yeah.

We also explored the extraordinary limestone waterfalls of 'hierve el agua' (thanks Xabi), the best infinity pool yet encountered.


Unfortunately for the locals we were just two of way too few tourists. Much of what we visited was nigh on empty, which is a real shame as this city and the surrounding area should absolutely be on everyone's list to visit before the large lady sings.

Reasons for us being alone may well include; eco crisis meaning fewer north americans and europeans travelling to these parts, the constant stream of negative news that the western world is dished up of Mexican narco violence (more to follow) and a demonstration in the centre of Oaxaca in 2006 that the local governor and then government tried to violently shut down when 37 people died.

Clearly that was serious (particularly for those who died) but not once have we felt or experienced any moment of danger or even the sense that anything untoward was about to happen, on the contrary the locals have been super hospitable.

All we can say is that we had an amazing time in this beautiful city and we would highly recommend it for a visit if you are in anyway interested in food, history, cultural heritage, textiles, photography, art....to name but a few of the local attractions.

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