Oaxaca - celebrating life

Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hostel Santa Isabel

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Thursday, July 15, 2010

After bidding farewell to Elfi who was travelling north for a while and making some plans to meet up again in Honduras in a few weeks time to do some diving together, the 2 amigos once more made our way to the TAPO bus terminal in Mexico City...4 stops and 3 pesos each (15p) away on the metro system. The underground trains run on rubber wheels guided by a metal framed track making it so quiet it can bearly be heard above ground. Our bus headed south out of the city through miles and miles of sprawling favellas stretching off into the distance up the sides of the surrounding mountains. It was actually really nice to take a bus during the day for once and make the most of watching beautiful mexico go by outside. We arrived in the city of Oaxaca around 6 hours later at 8 o'clock and jumped straight into a cab for the centre and found a reasonable hotel before it was too dark to walk around with all our bags on us.

The next morning we made our way to the historical centre in search of a good coffee and found a european style cafe selling huge cinnamon buns and blueberry pastries. After a stroll about the squares and cathedrals we went to a hostel round the corner from where we were staying to see if we could get a room there and save a couple of quid. They had a nice room on the first floor surrounding a big open courtyard like so many of these old colonial buildings do so we took it. Upon moving in we realised that our room was directly above the showers below and next to the showers were the toilets and between the back wall and the beginning of our bedroom floor was a 6 inch gap. You can imagine the odourly delights we were treated to during our stay.

We spent our time wandering around the narrow streets and so many markets selling local crafts. Oaxaca is described as one of Mexico's most vibrant cities and the villages surrounding it have become famous for producing the best crafts and contemporary art in the country. In particular brightly painted wooden fantasy animals called alebrijes were for sale everywhere, and at times like this it would be nice to indulge in the shopping a bit more and not have the worry of carrying something around in our already packed bags for the next 6 months. The city is also full of big open plazas and some fantastic art galleries in old colonial buildings, and we had a look around the Instituto do Arte Graficas de Oaxaca which is inside a beautiful house donated by the artist Francisco Toledo and had a cool exhibition on dedicated to the migration of central american people. In the evening the Plaza de Santo Domingo in front of a beautiful 16th century church was packed full of local people dancing to a live brass band. We asked someone what the celebration was and he replied very matter of factly "we celebrate life". Apparently they do this every night of the week and we saw people drinking tequila and mescal straight from the bottle and not one of them were slowed down even when a huge thunder storm came over! As if Oaxaca does not already have enough going for it, it is also famous for producing the best hot chocolate, accompanied by sweet bread to dunk in it, and of course it would have been rude to not give this a try as well. So much for going to Mexico and losing weight...the food in this country is amazing and we cant seem to get enough of it.
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