Written and submitted by Michael S. Lewis
Traveling in Oaxaca gave us yet another reason to love Mexico. The state offers beautiful mountains, high deserts, amazing beaches and bays on the Pacific Ocean, small towns filled with incredible artists and a vibrant capital city that has something for everyone.
Singing the praises of Oaxaca could fill up a book, so I would like to offer our Top Ten list of things about Oaxaca.
10. Visit Mitla – The stonework on several of the structures is impressive and not to be missed.
9. See El Tule – This beautiful old tree in Santa Maria de Tule, east of Oaxaca city is simply stunning. It is considered to be more than 2,000 years old and is surrounded by one of the most immaculate gardens we have seen in Mexico.
8. Enjoy the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca – Set in the former monastery next to Iglesia Santo Domingo, this museum is captivating for its grandeur, but noted for the jewels on permanent display. The pearls, jade, silver and gold were recovered from one of the tombs at Monte Alban, the Zapotec site outside of the city.
7. Watch Huatulco grow up – Huatulco, planned and built by FONATUR, Mexico’s tourism development agency, may end up being one of the best-planned communities in Mexico, if not the world. We were impressed by the tranquil atmosphere of the town and the beauty of the bay areas.
6. Buy a molcajete – Two regions in Mexico specialize in molcajetes, the Mexican version of mortar and pestle. There are a few shops that sell them along 20 de Noviembre on the outside of the market. They are around 100 pesos, probably too heavy for checked luggage, but perfect for the trunk of the car. Once you have a fresh salsa made in one, you won’t want it any other way.
5. Eat as many moles as possible (red, yellow, black) and see how many ways you can eat squash blossom flowers (soup, appetizers, quesadillas)
4. Visit Mercado La Merced – Great produce, meat, cheese, chiles, flowers, and food stalls.
3. Take a cooking class with Pilar Cabrera – The chef/owner of La Olla and the director/teacher for La Casa de los Sabores will captivate you with her knowledge of local food, charm you with her easy-going manner in the kitchen and slay you with the lunch that she and your class will produce.
2. Visit San Martin Tilcajete for Alebrijes shops – One of the best is owned by Jacobo and María Angeles, where you’ll see the amazing figures being made.
1. Stay and eat at Villas Carrizalillo in Puerto Escondido – They have amazing views, outstanding service, a perfect location, and a relaxed, elegant ambiance. At their restaurant, Espadin, there is a menu to die for, with skilled preparation to match. Sunsets from the restaurant high above the Pacific are addicting.
Enjoy Oaxaca. We did!
Michael S. Lewis
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