The 7 things I love the most of Oaxaca


1. Foodies Paradise

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One has not tasted Mexico without first enjoying a frothy, steaming chocolate in a red mud jug; in short, without having satisfied their ancestral hunger in Oaxaca.

It is very likely that the most exquisite dishes, as unique on the planet, have their origins in southern Mexico, and more specifically, where pre-Hispanic civilizations saw the birth of agriculture 10,000 years ago, near the archaeological sites of Yagul and Mitla , in the Tlacolula Valley.

UNESCO named the region as one of "the cradles of civilization", specifically, of the civilizations of Mesoamerica, such as the Mayas, the Zapotecs, the Teotihuacan, Aztecs and many others.

Since then, in this multi-ethnic state, densely populated since millennial times, they have never stopped preparing the sacred foods. To make matters worse, many of those delicacies have been merged with international cuisine, and now we can find in the traditional markets from the tamale wrapped in banana leaf, the yellow, to crepes with quesillo and pumpkin flower. Bon Appetite.



2. Archaeological sites

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The lso dreamed time travel is possible in Oaxaca. The first settlers of the central valleys arrived 10,000 ago and settled in the cavernous system between the cities of Yagul and Mitla in the valley of Tlacolula. After thousands of years of occupation, these clans with a nomadic lifestyle began to tame the plants that become the basis of the American diet. After discovering agriculture, it begins the greatest cultural revolution ever seen in the human race in this side of the planet, which lead to development of the all civilizations in the Americas. These caves are now considered World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

The most important cultures  in this region are the Zapotec and the Mixteca. Both built impressive cities from the pre-classic period until the arrival of the Spaniards, and they collaborate for centuries. One of the most important is Monte Alban built at 1.900 meters above sea level and in different mountain peaks. If you come to the south, take the time to explore the first tax state that dominated 20 other nations, each with its own language and culture as the Zapotec rulers. See the stelae and lintels carved with the glyphs and accounts of the Mayan calendar, developed five centuries earlier by the scientists of the Cerro del Jaguar. It's worth it, really. But also go to Mitla, the City of the Dead, the last Prehispanic Metropolis, defeated by the Spaniards and not by time, like the previous one.

You may want to visit, also, the huges Monasteries at the Rockies of La Mixteca,or in the town of Cuilapanm de Guerrero and Santo Domingo in the capital of the region. This one is the most important of all of them, because it hosts a museum where you can find the "Treasure of tomb 7 " exhibited, the most important collection of pre-Columbian goldsmiths in America, and comparable to the Egyptian treasure of Tutankhamun.



3. Capital City: Oaxaca de Juárez

I love a city for which one can lose walking 365 days a year, without more trouble than a sun shining in summer and the rainy season that lasts a couple of hours in the afternoon and dissipates in two hours maximum . The night refreshes daily.

On foot or by bicycle, I travel with profane ecstasy the most important of its 29 churches: the Minor Basilica de la Soledad (patron saint of Oaxaca), the Cathedral, La Compañía, Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

In the latter, which belongs to one of the most glamorous conventual groups of Novohispano, he entered his former convent, which now houses the Museum of Cultures, of which I recommend room 3, where the treasure of the tomb is exhibited 7. After this visit, you will clearly appreciate the mastery and the value of Mixtec art.

When we get hungry, we will go to the Juarez market for a tejate and for a few black mole tamalitos with roasted grasshoppers, to a side, on November 20, where there is also pan de cazuela. Back to the Zócalo, we will sit and listen to the marimba and if a Calenda passes, a kind of musical parade, with botargas and typical dances, we will go after them, until we finish the mezcal.




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4. Beaches

I declare myself a fan of the Oaxacan Coast. I love Huatulco Bays for its wide, well-laid streets, its hotels for all budgets, its friendly people, the food to ask for.

They glare at me with their virgin, intimate beaches, whose access is only maritime.

Likewise, it is a delight to stay near the beach of Santa Cruz, where there is a café with a kiosk where they play trova every night and the breeze smells of the sea.

For the most daring travelers, we have two options: with or without clothes. Zipolite is the quintessential nudist beach, if it's really hot. Puerto Escondido is a paradise for surfers.

The beach of Mazunte offers the most exotic of all the tourist experiences: because there is a center of conservation of the turtle, sometimes, one can go to see this prehistoric marine specimen born.

Or take a yacht with us, you decide.

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5. Handcrafts

What we call today "craftsmanship" in prehispanic Mexico was considered more valuable than gold itself. But perhaps not more than the cocoa they used as currency.

The artisanal universe of Oaxaca, we can divide it in the following way: the ceramic of the Valleys Central, the goldsmith of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the basketry of the Mixteca and the textiles in the Coast. 

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A rather sketchy panorama, to which we must add, for example, the famous Alebrijes de Arrazola or the wool carpets of Teotlitlan in the Tlacolula Valley.

Developed more than three thousand years ago, Oaxacan crafts are now known internationally and their main characteristics are: use of local raw materials, little or no added chemical, help from some simple tools and great manual dexterity developed in small workshops family.

5. Handcrafts

What we call today "craftsmanship" in prehispanic Mexico was considered more valuable than gold itself. But perhaps not more than the cocoa they used as currency.

The artisanal universe of Oaxaca, we can divide it in the following way: the ceramic of the Valleys Central, the goldsmith of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the basketry of the Mixteca and the textiles in the Coast. 

A rather sketchy panorama, to which we must add, for example, the famous Alebrijes de Arrazola or the wool carpets of Teotlitlan in the Tlacolula Valley.

Developed more than three thousand years ago, Oaxacan crafts are now known internationally and their main characteristics are: use of local raw materials, little or no added chemical, help from some simple tools and great manual dexterity developed in small workshops family.

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6. Coffee vs Chocolate

It is necessary to make a parallel between these two drinks of great history. Interestingly, the two enter two different cultures at the same time. The coffee arrives in colonial Mexico in the 16th century, at the moment when cocoa is shaping towards Europe to conquer the palate of all the noble and commoners.

Abyssinian coffee is planted mainly in the Sierra Sur, untangle the populations of Ojitlán and Huatla de Ximénez, in the districts of Juquila and Pochutla. Chinantecos and Mazatecos have produced coffee from height since they have been there, there in the mountains covered by clouds, between orchids and streams.

The fame of the coffee and "the coffees", in fact, does not come from the colony, but from the Porfiriato. It is until then, that the sparkling, smoky elixir of the gods becomes a vulgar Parisian parody of the historical center of the CDMX.

Here in Oaxaca de Juarez, the green colonial Antequera, currently enjoys both concoctions. Coffee is unparalleled anywhere else, as it comes fresh from the producers and they toast it every morning. They grind it, usually, at the moment of preparing it.

The chocolate process is left to your imagination to come and experience it yourself in one of the hundreds of chocolate shops in Oaxaca.

However, the best place to have good coffee is at the Café Nuevo Mundo.

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7. Mezcal

The Mezcal, originally from Oaxaca, is extracted from the more than 30 endemic species of Agave in the seven districts that make up "the Mezcal region". In this same state, 85% of the agave is produced nationwide, with Sprat being the most common agave. The mezcal area in question comprises approximately 11,756 hectares, cultivated almost in its majority in Central Valleys and the Southern Highlands of Oaxaca. The Mezcal is produced by more than 9,500 families in an artisanal way.

In ancestral times, the maguey was raised to deity by Mixtecs and Zapotecs, due to its countless uses, such as drink, footwear, paper, medicine, construction material, etc.

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The fermentation of the agave pineapple, mexcalli in Nahuatl, produced the classic prehispanic pulque. The Spaniards added to the latter a process of distillation in earthenware containers, thus obtaining the coveted Mezcal.

A perfect combination that together with the different varieties of agave and family recipes, results in one of the oldest and most sacred drunkenness in the world.

The fermentation of the agave pineapple, mexcalli in Nahuatl, produced the classic prehispanic pulque. The Spaniards added to the latter a process of distillation in earthenware containers, thus obtaining the coveted Mezcal.

A perfect combination that together with the different varieties of agave and family recipes, results in one of the oldest and most sacred drunkenness in the world.

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