Oaxaca city trip report (inc spanish school)
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Nov 18, 2012 4:05 AM Last Post By: CharlieTuba
Nov 8, 2012 9:32 AM
Oaxaca city trip report (inc spanish school)I have posted a couple of other reports on here on our trip so far and this is another in the ´series´ from Oaxaca city.
We started in San Augustinillo on Oaxaca coast at about 8am. Took a cab to the ´crucero´at San Antonio (50mxn) and then jumped on the next bus bound for Puerto Escondido. I think the bus to PE was about 20mxn each and took about 1hr.
From PE, we took a minivan from somewhere a few blocks behind the ADO - just walked up and bought a ticket for the next van (150mxn pp). I can´t remember the name of the company but they are in the LP. There is a good (popular) taco stand just up the street from the agency, we grabbed some great munches there while waiting...
I saw a lot of people noted on here how ´bad´ that minivan journey is in terms of sickness. The driver was really gunning it and the road is a quite hairy... so I can definitely see how you can get sick. Luckily we didn´t, but yes...if you are prone, take something beforehand (and maybe avoid those tinga enchiladas) :)). I was mildly horrified by the state of the tyres on the van too which were - I would suggest - far beyond their normal working life. Not especially comforting but I only noticed once we arrived :) i hope the same cannot be said for the brakes....
The van took about 8 hours in total including a short stop somewhere in the mountains for some food and a slash.
We stayed a couple of nights at Hotel Las Golondrinas (600mxn) which is a few blocks northwest of the Zocalo. Good location, nice clean rooms. Enjoyed sipping beers (if a little expensive at 30mxn) in the zocalo and watching people wonder by. Sure there are a bunch of hawkers/beggers/musicians of varying talents but none of them are that persistent, so it doesnt feel too hasslesome.
After a weekend of wondering around we enrolled into a couple of weeks of spanish school at Amigos Del Sol. I have to say that in terms of organising / communication they are very good. They arranged a homestay for us during the first week, the host senora picked us up from the school after the first day.
The homestay experience was intense, not just because our spanish is in it´s infancy, but because the house was slightly out of town in San Felipe del Agua (30min walk to centre), so the location is something to be aware of when choosing to stay with a family IF you are interested in seeing the centre as well. They were very warm and welcoming and the food was excellent, but the location made it a bit difficult sometimes.
So after a week of schooling and umming and arring conversations with the family, we decided that we´d carry on with school, but move into the centre for the following week. Amigos del Sol arranged another place in the centre and we opted out of lunch and dinner so that we could eat out a bit more.
In terms of eating, we found the best food (as usual) in the busiest places and where there are locals. So that was in the mercado, or torta stands (one in particular one block to the west of parque juarez... GREAT)
We tried la biznaga (twice) and although the atmosphere was good I couldn´t help but think the food was a bit ho-hum. The LP recommends Tortilla Horns stuffed with hibiscus but to be honest I found it a bit ill-concieved. - the tartness of the hibiscus cutting right through anything else which was there. The main of Mil Cumbres (beef tips, chorizo and peppers) was excellent though, so was the wine, and the mezcal... so not all bad :) We did give it two attempts so it obviously wasnt terrible.
There is EXCELLENT pizza at a place on the corner of Allende and Alcala. I can´t remember the name but we ate there twice and both times the pizzas were superb. Best so far this month.
Also quite good was Don Juanito on the corner of Bravo and Garcia Vigil. It feels a bit like a chain (and is decorated a bit like Nandos) but it´s OK value and the food is consistent.
For trips we were totally bowled over by Monte Alban. Personally thought it was much more interesting than Teotuiacan (sp); in a more impressive spot, quieter, less hawkers, more shade... we really enjoyed going there. Didn´t bother with a tour just jumped on a bus (45mxn return) and paid the entrance fee. Great.
We also visited El Tule (combine with a trip to Tlacolula market on sundays or to Teotitlan del Valle to buy some wool products), all of which were worthwhile and cheap. We saw tours offered to them (combined) but we found it suited us better to take collectivos or busses out to those places.
Had planned on staying longer in Oaxaca and visiting some of the Mezcal places, Mitla and Hierve El Agua, but my wife has had to temporarily return to the UK for a family emergency, so we had to hot-foot it back to the DF sharpish for her UK bound flight.
We will continue our trip when she gets back here next week.
I sense this report has been written in a rather rambling fashion so I will take the opportunity to sign off.
Nov 8, 2012 9:47 AM
1Thank you for this!
We hit La Biznaga twice as well. Perhaps we too were a bit seduced by the atmosphere :)
We took the tour to Hierve El Agua. It included a visit to a rug weaving place in Valle, as well as Mitla, Santa Maria del Tule and a Mescal distillery so we felt it was good value though I cannot remember the price. The first stop was the carpet weaving. Quite a good demo of dying and weaving. But since it was first we had to have our carpet purchases at our feet for the rest of the tour. The tour company has a place on the side street across from the Santo Domingo church. (I think that is La Constitucion) The guide was fluently bilingual and really made things interesting
Nov 9, 2012 7:54 AM
2Sure there are a bunch of hawkers/beggers/musicians of varying talents but none of them are that persistent, so it doesnt feel too hasslesome.
I find people watching to be the most fascinating part of any visit to the zocalo, whether in Oaxaca or elsewhere. Last time I visited, August, I listened to a young woman and her sister serenade the tourists with some songs. I was curious, and for the price of my unsolicited 2 MXN donation, talked to one of them and found they were singing in the Mixtec language. I noticed that they had little luck raising funds from the richer tourists sitting in the cafes (I was sitting in the cheap seats along the garden, no beer service there). I thought it was a real pity noone else took the trouble to talk to them and experience some of Oaxaca's rich cultural diversity.
Nov 9, 2012 5:01 PM
Nov 10, 2012 11:24 AM
4i don´t object at all to a few pesos for a rendition of the theme from the lionking on the panpipes - far from it... that´s great. but the guy who walks around blowing some whistle type device which sounds like a screaming cat gets a bit tiresome after about 3 secs.... the zocalo is great for people watching apart from that dude :)
Nov 10, 2012 1:59 PM
Nov 12, 2012 12:06 PM
Nov 18, 2012 4:05 AM
7If you are still in Oaxaca City and like live music, try the Nueva Babel. Usually a singer/guitarist there seven nights/week, art students who'll draw your picture for a cup of coffee, bawdy half-cocked guys singing along with the band.
Also, I had a great experience with Amigos del Sol, and the director set us up with perfect accommodations a few blocks from the zocalo in a quiet neighborhood near some great taco stands and everyday things we needed.
Oh BTW, that screaming cat is a jaguar--part of the experience so I bought a couple, but they are annoying. I think the jags play a part in Mexican folklore...
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