Huatulco Life was inspired by people with a passion for Huatulco and the Mexican lifestyle. It is a place to find out more information about the region and enjoy the beauty of the Oaxacan coastline through the photo gallery. From time to time, other interesting tidbits about Mexico make their way into the pages of this blog. Enjoy!

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Friday, July 29, 2011

5 Days in Oaxaca - Day One

Oaxaca City Diary by Renée Netzel

We have just returned from spending five days in Oaxaca City...what a great place!  How Oaxaca has stayed below the travel radar is beyond me.

Picture a flight on a little 13-seat airplane climbing over the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains with layer upon layer of green slopes and billowy clouds nestled between them.  Now imagine cresting those jungle covered peaks only to reveal an expansive fertile valley dropped between these large mountains flanking the perimeter.  Somehow, you can imagine what it must have been like thousands of years ago when the great ruin of Monte Albán marked the first true city of Mesoamerica.

Oaxaca is arguably the most colonial of all of Mexico's cities and certainly the main centre of Oaxaca is representative of this.  Sitting at 1,550 m above sea level, the climate of Oaxaca is very envious indeed.  Warm sunny days with little humidity give way to cooler evenings providing a very comfortable environment.

After dropping our bags at the wonderful and welcoming Casa de las Bugambilias, we had a leisurely bite of breakfast, and then we were off to explore! We decided to head towards the nearest church dome visible from our street - the church and former monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. There was a ceremony being held inside so our exploration of this particular monument would have to wait...but there was plenty more to see. We continued our stroll through the historic central district, stopping at various stores along the way filled with local artisan crafts, paintings, and handmade textiles. Eventually we found our way to the Plaza de la Constitucion, also known as the Zócalo

The zócalo has been the heart of Oaxaca City for nearly 500 years. There are activities for all ages in the plaza, which is why this area has always been a social place. Sitting on benches, parents watch their children run after their globos (large tube-shaped balloons) and plastic helicopters. Vendors around the zócalo sell a variety of odd & colourful balloons, plus corn, chapulines (fried grasshoppers) and fruit. Friends gather on the benches to discuss the latest chisme (gossip) or sit at one of the shoe shine stands scattered around. At the center of the plaza is a kiosk surrounded by small fountains and towering trees. The zócalo itself is bordered on two sides by a sizeable church (la Catedral de Oaxaca) and a government building (el Palacio de Gobierno). Its other sides are lined with numerous open-air restaurants, hotels and shops, drawing both Oaxacans and tourists alike.

 And it was here that we sat and watched with fascination...Mason enjoyed a cold beer and I enjoyed a famous Oaxacan hot chocolate. Yummy! Of course, it wasn't too long until the dark clouds rolled in, typical at this time in the afternoon during the summer months. Luckily we were already sheltered by several patio umbrellas as the rain started pouring down and people everywhere scrambled for cover.  In the end, the bad weather didn't last for long and eventually we made our way back to the B&B. After a little unpacking and relaxation, we finished our first day in Oaxaca with dinner at La Olla, a great restaurant next door who happened to be featuring a special tasting menu of Mezcal and Mole samples...the perfect way to start our trip!

Visit the gallery for more photos from day one...

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