An Adventure in Oaxaca
This feels like such a big post to tackle - how to begin? Oaxaca was an incredible trip. So incredible. It surpassed even my already high expectations and ended up being one of the best trips I've ever had! Jess
and I fell in love with Oaxaca pretty much immediately. The weather was fantastic, the people were friendly, the streets were charming, there's a sense of creativity and community everywhere, the colors, the markets, the plants, the cobblestone streets. Oaxaca is just bursting with charm and character.
Our b&b was no exception. We stayed a Casa Colonial which was a very charming and cozy home for our four day trip. The staff and guests were so friendly and the grounds were decorated to the max with handicrafts from the region. Not to mention the beautiful gardens, verandas, library, and courtyard. Most of the other guests were staying for 2 weeks - 2 months, and I could see why they would.
Jess and I wandered through the city admiring the constant blasts of color, vibrant flowers, churches and cathedrals, beautiful crumbling textures, street art, people, and a never-ending supply of old school VW Beetles, haha.
We browsed the city's markets and the plentiful shops along Calle Alcalá and Cinco de Mayo, full of Oaxacan artwork and textiles. We saw baskets full of the famous fried grasshoppers, but didn't dare...
We hung out in el Zocalo - chatting, people-watching, enjoying the music and festivities.
On Sunday we visited a couple of nearby villages. Each village in Oaxaca specializes in a particular craft, whether it's wood carvings, wool weaving, or black or green pottery. Several of the villages also have enormous, bustling markets on the weekends. We visited San Martín Tilcajete and Santa María del Tule to see the wood carvers and visit the stoutest tree in the world.
San Martín was definitely one of the most awesome highlights of our trip. We visited the workshop of Jacobo Angeles, a well-known alebrije artist (and incredibly nice guy), who gave us the entire run down of the process, from harvesting the Copal wood, to carving it down with a machete & filing with smaller knives, to rinsing the carving in water/gasoline to kill any pests, letting it dry in the sun, and eventually painting with either natural or acrylic paints. It was neat to see his demonstration of the natural paints, made from copal wood, limestone, lemon juice, etc.
He even made me a painting as part of the demonstration, one of my most prized possessions from the trip.
Jacobo told us about the roots of making different alebrijes according to the tonalpohualli
& aztec calendar, where you use your birth date and year to determine your animal companion/protector (somewhat similar to the Native American birth totem
system!). Jacobo told me that my protector is the iguana, and Jess' is the deer. Interesting! I haven't yet, but I can't wait to dive into a little more research on the subject.
After visiting Jacobo in San Martín, we ventured over to Santa María del Tule - the home of a really, really wide 2,000 year old tree (Árbol del Tule). Tule was a lovely little place with lots of beautiful, well-manicured gardens. The flowers were so vibrant, and the shrubs were trimmed into different animal shapes, which reminded me of Edward Scissorhands, haha. We stepped into the church and basked in the divine smelled of fresh cut flowers, which decorated the place fully from top to bottom.
And the tree! Goodness. It looked like 50 trees combined into one trunk!
We also made time to check out the botanical gardens
within Oaxaca City, which are only accessible if you sign up for a tour (to ensure the gardens stay well-maintained and undisturbed). The tour was super informative, though considering the hot midday sun, also a bit on the lengthy side, so by the end of it I was ready for a huge bottle (or three) of water! But it was really neat to see the variety of plants and learn that Oaxaca is one of the most botanically diverse places in the world. I also saw a really plump black bee with iridescent wings that still sticks out in my mind. It was a gorgeous little bugger!
On our last day in Oaxaca we ventured out to the Monte Albán ruins. We were warned several times by different folks that the sun was super intense there and that there'd be no shade. "Make sure you go in the morning!" But we got there, pleasantly surprised that it felt super fantastic outside. Lucky us! Monte Albán sits at the top of a mountain, ~7,000 in elevation. The view looking down at the city from there was amazing. It was so very quiet, and with a gentle breeze was blowing, it felt very peaceful and calming. That is, minus the giant steps we climbed to see the south side of the ruins. (There are some very fit older folks who visit Oaxaca! We saw many of them beasting up the steps like it was no big deal. Props.)
And I have to share this beautiful view I got as we were flying out of Oaxaca; you can see Monte Albán in its entirety so clearly!
Lastly, here's a collage of my little Sea Elf who got to venture around Oaxaca with me! He had an awesome time seeing the sights, making new friends, dressing up, shopping. Haha :)
Jess and I took sooo many photos on the trip - it was tough narrowing down which ones to post. So, if you feel like you want to see more, go check out Jess' post
on our trip to Oaxaca! She has lots of different photos up. :)
If you haven't been to Oaxaca... GO! It's amazing. I can't wait to visit again and again.
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