Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Oaxaca city in the state of the same name is set in the valley of the Sierra Madre del sur mountain range. The historic centre was declared a UNESCO world heritage site due to its vibrant colonial buildings. Oaxaca is very rich in culture and tradition, very typical Mexican. It is also artistic, revolutionary and poor.
Oaxaca is known all over Mexico and the world for its Cuisine; mole, quesillo, tlyuadas, not to forget the chocolate and mezcal. Chef come here to study the art of Mexican cooking.
Year round you can be walking down the pedestrian streets and be overtaken by a parade with 10 foot high puppets. Oaxaca is known for the Dia del Muertos (days of the dead), Noche de rabanos (night of the radishes), Christmas is a month long ordeal with fiestas and fireworks everyday. There is also Semana Santa and the Guelegetza in July, but these are just the big ones!
There are many budget accommodations in the city. I find the best ones are north of the Zocalo near the Santo Domingo Church. Its not so busy and your close to a lot of funky pubs and bars. The pedestrian street Acala is close by and the Santo Domingo church where the youth hangs before a night in the town.

There is lots to see in and around Oaxaca. Famous Zapotec ruins on Monte Alban can be reach by bus, taxi or tour. There is also the ruin of Mitla, the petrified waterfall Hierve el Agua and Sierra Norte mountains to hike in. Oaxaca is also famous for handicrafts and art work. The city is dotted with small villages that specialize in a particular craft such as black pottery, woven rugs, alebrijes (mythical wooden painted creatures) and mezcal. All are a short collectivo ride away.

A seven hour bus ride through the windy mountain roads from Oaxaca is tropical paradise. The Oaxacan coast, much less developed than most other Mexican beaches. Here you will find Surfers nirvana Puerto Escondido where surfers test their skills on the famous pipeline. There is a hostel in town and plenty of cabanas near the beach. I enjoyed Cabanas Edda. The night life is on the beach. Want to learn how to surf everyone from your hostel to your waiter offers lessons. It is not the best place for swimming though with the strong undertow and smashing waves. Instead head further along to Mazunte or Zipolite. Both have very quiet beaches offering cabanas and hippy vibes.

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