It was an 8 hour bus ride from Mexico City to Oaxaca, but it was so so worth it. It’s a melting pot of Zapotec and Mixtec cultures, and original colonial buildings. Compared to Mexico City, the pace of life was so slow and relaxed, and all the locals were so friendly and happy.
They take a lot of pride in the chocolate and coffee in this region, so of course the first thing I had to do was get myself a cuppa and find out.
It was pretty good. Pretty good, but no Auckland flat white 😉
The markets were next on the list, and it was finally time for me to try that classic Mexican delicacy – fried cricket.
Honestly, just tastes like the spices they put on. Nothing even remotely gross about it… however I draw the line at eating a fried cockroach. You can’t convince me that any amount of cooking would make those things safe!!
Of course it wasn’t all edible bugs, there were plenty of safer food items too.
There was an meat section which was all well and good, nothing too dodgy about that… except for the seafood section. We’re 11 hours from the coast on slow, winding roads, and those prawns have been sitting out in the hot Mexican air for about 6 hours now.
Yeah, that’s a hard pass on that one.
In the main square there were performers and musicians everywhere. I watched an amazing family band – dad on piano, son on guitar, and 12 year old daughter on saxophone. She was incredible!! Just down the path an orchestra was going nuts, there were food stalls and balloon sellers everywhere – just a normal Oaxacan Sunday.
The next day we headed out for a guided tour. I hadn’t been on a package tour yet, but our hostel (Hotel Casa Nina) had incredibly cheap tour prices. Turned out to be a great move – they packed a lot into one day.
First up was a tour of a textile village. They farm merino sheep and produce wool products using only hand processes, and colour them with all natural plant and animal dyes.
They gave a really interesting explaination of the whole thing and walked through the different dye ingredients. To get one of the blues, they dry and crush a certain type of beetle, and then add lime juice to it. That kind of thing always amazes me. I mean who was the first person who figured that out and why?!
The kids in this village learn to weave from an early age. One of the boys was 7 years old, and runs home from school each day to get back into his weaving. Couldn’t help but think of that Flight of the Conchords episode…
After the weavers was a mescal distillery. It was pretty interesting, but the unlimited free “samples” was probably the best part!
Our last stop was by far the best. It’s called Hierve el Agua, and it’s a petrified waterfall. Not the scared type, but the type made over thousands of years by limestone and mineral deposits:
The waterfall itself is completely stunning. It’s set high up in the Oaxacan hills, and from a distance really does look like flowing water. If that wasn’t enough, there was a very small set of limestone terraces that you could swim in:
Absolutely worth the trip out there, and the $7 I paid for the whole day!!
As the sun was setting we arrived back into town and in true Oaxacan fashion there was a parade down the street. We asked the bus driver if he would let us out to join in, and he said no problem!
There was a brass section and drummers, lots of fireworks, and a bunch of dancers with fluffy hats. I love this place!!