We leave the city of Oaxaca in two days. Oaxaca is the capital of the the state of Oaxaca which is located in the southern part of the country. The city itself is up in the mountains at over 5,000 feet. Oaxaca is a colonial city known for food, (especially mole), art and especially Mezcal, an alcoholic drink made from the agave plants that are ubiquitous in the area.
Our journey brought us into the mountains of Mexico for the first time this trip. We had a couple of road options and of course, we choose the “old highway” that twists and turns into the hills. The old highway is being replaced by a new toll road between the city and the quaint beach town of Puerto Escondido and as such, has had limited repair in recent years. We didn’t mind because that also meant there was less truck and tour bus traffic.
It was a fun road with scenic views for the whole 160 miles. Yes, less than a tank of gas for us but it would take us seven hours to make the trek.
The road was actually in better condition than I remembered it from past years. We stopped at our favorite Tlayuda spot for a sort break. A Tlayuda is a type of Mexican pizza specific to the Oaxaca area. It’s made on a crisp tortilla like crust about the size of a pizza. You can read more about it HERE.
Just outside our table was this dog, he was pretty happy not just having a bone but the whole leg!
I made a short 2 minute video of our ride and uploaded it to my new YouTube channel if anyone is interested….
The rest of this post will be about our time in the city of Oaxaca. So….. since it’s a motorcycle blog I’ll try to keep it short and just to the highlights. However, I really don’t want to diminish what a fantastic city it is and I think everyone should try to visit the city of Oaxaca.
We arrived on a Friday and learned right away that weekend weddings are a HUGE deal in this city. There were many weddings going on and each wedding gets their own parade down the street. This parade was directly in front of our hotel.
The bride and groom are obligated to dance with the parade. All the relatives join in, along with some people that I suspect were just bystanders. Someone else follows with a bottle of mezcal and fills up small cups that everyone has. A true festive atmosphere.
As a musician, I loved the trombone player marching with his helmet in arm.
We explored the blocks around our hotel which was close to El Centro (downtown). It’s an incredibly beautiful place with wonderful people.
For dinner we stopped at an Italian place that had live music. This guy from the US sat in with his mandolin. He was pretty good!
In the main park was a marimba band, they were awesome. Check out the “young” man showing off his dance moves.
Even the street players were pretty good.
At one point we climbed up to a mirador to get a Birdseye view of the city of 300,000 people.
We were glad for the weekend to explore our surroundings but we had two weeks more booked. I was enrolled in Spanish school that was every week day for 4 hours a day plus homework (yuck). Deby spent her time exploring the city. On of the days she arranged for a personal cooking class in our hotel with our new friend Gloria. It was a little funny because our cocina was very basic consisting of one fork and an old serrated knife. Gloria, only spoke Spanish and since I was in class Deby and Gloria managed in sign language and with the help of Google Translate on their phones. I came home in time to take a few pictures.
Dinner was served. Gloria joined us for mole rojo, chicken and arroz. Basic but delicious.
The day’s blurred on and I’m really summarizing here. On our second weekend we took a tour bus to a place we rode our motorcycles to once before and loved it, Hierve el Agua. It’s basically a petrified waterfall that you can hike around and sit in infinity style pools at the top.
I mean, these are pictures from just my iPhone. It’s an awesome place. There were lots of warnings like this…
We were with a friend from Spanish class who took this picture.
This is her standing on the edge…..
On the way back we stopped at a village where you can only live there if you are a weaver, yes really. We had a demonstration on how the color dyes were made using natural ingredients.
Deby found a vest she couldn’t resist buying. A big deal since space is so valuable on the motorcycles.
We stopped at a mezcal distillery. Always trying to out do the Tequila competitors, they don’t put a worm in the bottle, they use a snake! We didn’t try any of that.
Most nights when it cooled down we went for a walk in the neighborhood. Always, we saw interesting things.
You could get almost anything here… probably helped to know a few spanish words.
Every night there was some activity in the square across from our hotel. Mostly they were groups practicing but we loved the show. Check out this dog wanting to get in the act.
Here’s Deby at our favorite tlayuda spot.
During the day we often walked exploring some surrounding neighborhoods. Many of them were full of huge murals. Deby is joining the parade here.
The weeks blurred by… I was pretty consumed with my studies at the “Spanish Magic” language school, and dutifully got right to homework after class.
I have to wrap up by talking about our hotel. We learned that most of the guests were ex-pats who had been coming to this same hotel for decades. By now they were in there “older than us” years. Every day at 4:00 it was Happy Hour. We spend most days with them and it was one of the highlights of the trip.
This is just a few of the poolside happy hour crowd. The guy flashing the peace sign is a retired emergency room doctor from a small town next to Mazomanie, WI where my brother Kevin lived. Some of the women at the hotel had a small singing group and they practiced in the afternoon. It was fun to listen to.
This was one of the very rare times we stayed at the same place for two weeks. It really took that long to get to know the city. I now understand why our new happy hour friends have been coming here for decades. There is so much to see and do and I feel like we just scratched the surface but we were starting to get a better feel for the culture. Ahhh Oaxaca, we will be back.
So, we leave this weekend for the state of Chiapas. It will be good to be back on the bikes. My Spanish is slightly better than when we arrived and I now have a huge notebook of things to study. That should hold me over until my next visit to the Spanish Magic language school.
More to come….
Donn and Deby