Mexico: Oaxaca City and Area
January 1, 1970
It is an early Sunday morning when I reach Oaxaca City in Mexico. So early, that I’m not even able to check in at the hostel. Instead, I leave my bags at the reception and start strolling the streets of the city. I watch how the light from the sunrise colours the already multi-coloured houses, how small groups of people starts making their way into the streets of Oaxaca and how the salesmen start setting up their small shops.
I find my way down to Zocalo, the cathedral and busy plaza of Oaxaca City. Life is already happening here. With a coffee and a newly squeezed orange juice, I watch how a band set up their instruments and how a bunch of people is preparing to do some kind of run. After breakfast, I find a beautiful spot in the morning sun. What a good way to start the day!
In all, I found that Oaxaca is a city where you never know what you might get. Mostly, it is sleepy but all the sudden without warning, you bump into a street or plaza where life is just happening. People is dancing, music is playing and food stands are ready to sell you anything from tamales and corn to hamburgers and fries. Then you turn the next corner and silence is all around you. This is what makes Oaxaca City fascinating.
My favourite place in Oaxaca City is the food market Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Here I make my way down to the barbecue stands, find a table and the waiter shows up with around teen different plates where you can choose what you want to eat with your meat. A little later, the meat gets served, and believe me, you are in for a treat!
Hierva El Agua
On my second day in Oaxaca, I feel like going on an adventure, so I join two new friends on their trip to Hierva El Agua. This is another thing I love about traveling, how you constantly meet new and exciting people. On this trip, I join Andrea from Hungary and Laura from Ireland. Both girls have been traveling for more than a year, and for Andrea the plan was to travel for no more than three weeks.
From Oaxaca City we take a one-hour shuttle to Mitla where we change to the back off a pick up truck. The truck takes us up into the mountains where the view of the valley is just breath taking.
After a little less than an hour we get to Hierva El Agua. A beautiful phenomena created by nature doing millions of years. The mineral springs here just invite you to go swim and from the pools you got an amazing panorama view of the hole valley. For millions of years the water has been dripping down the sides of the mountains creating what looks like frozen waterfalls. Around the site you will find small boiling pools which is where the place gets its name from.
Oaxaca: Home to The Mezcal
On the way back to Oaxaca City we decide to make a stop at one of the many mezcal distilleries. After all, Oaxaca is home to the famous drink which many locals consider being spiritual. One thing is for sure, it definitely knows how to get you drunk.
At the distillery, we get a small tour and learn about the process of making mezcal. We learn how they are still using horses in the process since they are the one pushing the wheel around squeezing the cactuses and we learn that some of the cactuses are not mature before the age of twenty years or more. After the tour we get to taste six different mezcal before making our way back to Oaxaca City.
What really strike me on this tour to Hierva El Agua and the mezcal distilleries, is the roughness of the nature. Oaxaca is definitely something else than its neighbour state Chiapas. It’s dry and full of cactuses and beautiful mountains.
With the feeling of being in good company, I do another day tour with my two new friends from Hungary and Ireland. This time we go to the ruins of Monte Alban which is only a couple of kilometres outside of Oaxaca City. It is easy to get there by shuttle and the views from up there over Oaxaca City definitely makes the trip worth the effort.
The Hippie Town of Mazunte
After four days in Oaxaca it is time to move on. A six-hour shuttle drive through stunning mountain passes takes us to the coast of Oaxaca. Our first stop is Mazunte. A lazy, hippie town created by mountebanks.
We check into a unique and different experience. We tried booking a cabaña online before coming, but instead we got told just to show up. When we get there, there is no cabaña. Instead we get showed to a platform on top of a hill with amazing ocean views. Here we get a hanging bed, almost a bed made into a hammock with nothing more than a mosquito net to cover us up.
My favourite thing at this place is waking up in the morning to the most breath taking sunrises over the ocean. The calmness and quietness of these mornings can’t even be put into words. One thing is for sure, these sunrises definitely make up for the primitiveness of the place.
In Mazunte, we spent most of our time hanging out on the beach, we visit the small turtle centre of the city and get some good seafood from the street kitchens.
Zipolite, The Place to be naked
After two days in Mazunte, we feel that it is time to move on in search of something more lively than what Mazunte had to offer. We find everything we are searching for in Zipolite. We even find naked people everywhere. Apparently, Zipolite is famous for its nudist beach, and after a topless warm up walk down the beach and two beers, we are ready to have our nudist debut, and to be honest – it feels amazing! Who knew how free being naked on the beach in full daylight can be.
But if daylight gets all the naked people to come out, then night time definitely knows how to get the party people going. Even though, Zipolite is a small town, it still got some amazing parties combined with just the right kind of vibe and atmosphere. And if the parties are not enough, they even got a circus show going on every Sunday at Sativa, and if you are lucky, as I where, you might even spot humpback whales from the coast.
Zipolite is definitely one of those places where you keep postponing your day of departure.