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Mexico: Days 1 and 2

by Kathy 8. May 2009 14:37

<< 2009 Journeys: Mexico | Day 3: Oaxaca; Monte Alban in the Heat >>

 

Finding Our Groove in the City of Oaxaca

 

Over the years, Ben and I had both heard that Oaxaca was a beautiful place, with lots of art and friendly people. We decided to spend six nights in the city so that we could have sufficient time to explore the area.

Our plane arrived after dark; we easily navigated the airport, found the taxi payment booth, and bought an inexpensive ticket into the city of Oaxaca. This taxi system eliminates the need to haggle over taxi prices after a long flight. After a short ride to the central historical district, we arrived at our bed and breakfast inn, Casa Ollin—it was clean, comfortable, and very affordable. We tipped both the taxi driver and the hotel assistant, but we hadn’t quite solidified the exchange rate in our heads (we had recently traveled to India, where there are many more rupees to the dollar than pesos to the dollar); let’s just say that both the driver and the hotel assistant received ten times more money than we had intended to give them, and both Ben and I received a good laugh (after the initial shock). (Ahhh, those hard lessons . . . .)

Here is the breakfast room at Casa Ollin; Sofia and Clara, in the background, provided us with a wonderful breakfast each morning.

The sitting area next to the breakfast room had a small library of books on the artwork, history and sights in Oaxaca. Sebastian and Genevieve liked to read the art books while Ben and I lingered over our coffee.

On our first morning, we headed out toward the center of the historic district. Our inn was in a quiet residential neighborhood, and we could walk to many places. Here are Ben and the kids at the front door.

Genevieve and Sebastian head down the street.

The city streets were very clean; however, Genevieve commented right away on the graffiti that seemed to be everywhere, much of it colorful.

Near our inn is a pedestrian street that runs all the way to the zócalo; the children had a nice safe area in which to run.


We visited the Santo Domingo de Gúzman church, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the entire central historical district of Oaxaca, which has many colonial buildings).


The children enjoyed playing hide-and-seek in the plants outside of the church.

The artwork in the city was wonderful, and tucked away here and there to surprise us.


The colors of the buildings were beautiful.

We came across these two men working hard to remove posted billboards from this building (it looks like they have had a lot of experience).

Nearby was the recently restored Casa de la Ciudad, which had a huge aerial photograph of Oaxaca displayed so visitors could walk on it. Here are Genevieve and Sebastian in the Casa.

We had read about the aerial photograph in a guidebook; despite the Semana Santa crowds in Oaxaca, we were the only ones at the Casa, and we had to ask one of the guards to direct us to the photograph (it was upstairs). The photograph was huge, like a large map, and the children enjoyed finding our location on it.


We finally arrived at the main zócalo area.

The children did not find a playground, but Sebastian did a bit of climbing around the base of the General Antonio de Leon statue.

We then wandered over to the Museo del Palacio, which had an interesting exhibit on the history of slavery in Latin America. Here are Ben and the children in front of the museum.

The museum also had a pair of murals by Arturo Garcia Bustos, a disciple of Frida Kahlo, depicting the history of Oaxaca.

We had lunch at one of the many outdoor restaurants along the zócalo; the food was surprisingly delicious. We were approached by many vendors during our meal—selling wooden objects, food items, artwork, pottery, clothing, scarves, and more; we continually said "no thank you" until Fernando, the woven bracelet vendor, stopped by our table. He had created name bracelets, and we were surprised to find one with the name "Sebastian" on it (something that rarely happens in the United States)—apparently, the name Sebastian is fairly common in Mexico because there is a Saint Sebastian in the Catholic church.

Here is Sebastian with his new bracelet:

Fernando did not have a bracelet with Genevieve’s name; however, he quickly created one for her—we were amazed at the process, and we learned that Fernando has been doing this for 20 years (and that he lives outside of Oaxaca with his wife and 3 children, ages 4 years, 2 years and 4 months). (Ben and I speak enough Spanish to have basic conversations with people, and I am grateful for Fernando and the many people who spoke very slowly to me and had patience with my stumbling communications).


There were many balloon sellers at the zócalo.

After lunch, we walked over to the chocolate factories on Mina Street; we stopped by the Mayordomo shop, where we received a free spoonful of a thick fudge-like chocolate. We discovered that the chocolate in Mexico usually has a bit of cinnamon in it. We bought several small packages of chocolate candies and happily munched away while watching the workers grind chocolate with cinnamon and other things for candy and mole sauce.


On the long walk back to the hotel, we enjoyed looking at the colors and fabrication of the old buildings—just beautiful.

Back at the hotel, the children went for a swim in the pool—the water was a bit too cold for me, but the kids had a great time splashing around.

We had heard from other guests at the inn that the "tourist trolley" provided a nice 50-minute ride around Oaxaca, outside of the historic district, up into the hills to the old aqueduct and back. We were told that the trolley picks up at a certain corner, so off we went. We found the corner, but there were no signs. We asked a traffic officer, and he said we were in the right place, but he didn’t have any information about how often the trolley comes. Here we are at the beginning of our wait.

We people-watched; is there any better form of entertainment?

After half an hour, we asked the guys next to us if they were waiting for the trolley too. They said that they worked for the trolley, and it would be coming soon. So we waited some more.

It finally came, and we piled on.

The tour took us through the pretty streets around Oaxaca.

The spoken tour consisted of a recording that we could understand bits and pieces of every now and then. I wish that I could have understood more. We stopped briefly at this fountain; around the perimeter were statues of women from the different regions of Oaxaca.



We also stopped briefly to see the old aqueduct, which was built in the 17th century.

A view of the trolley:

We ate at a bustling Argentinean restaurant tonight. The kids are really great about trying new foods and experiencing different tastes. The food was quite good, although Genevieve still talks about the "many, many, many" bones that she and I picked out of our bowls of fish soup. Here are Genevieve and Sebastian toasting to our first day in Oaxaca:

Our walk back to the hotel passed by the Santo Domingo church, which turned out to be quite a lively hangout for people in the evenings.

<< 2009 Journeys: Mexico | Day 3: Oaxaca; Monte Alban in the Heat >>

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

Bhutan
   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Kanglung
   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
   Wangdi Phrodrang

Bolivia
   Caranavi
   Guanay
   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Llica
   Potosí
   Queteña
   Rurrenabaque
   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
   Baja California
   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
   Balsas
   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
   Tarapoto
   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
   Portimao
   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin