Christmas in Oaxaca
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Oct 3, 2013 8:05 PM Last Post By: lotusland2
Sep 13, 2013 9:57 PM
Christmas in OaxacaI'll be in Oaxaca with a friend for about 5 days at the end of December (Dec. 21-26). A few things we definitely want to do are seeing the Noche de los Rábanos, visiting Hierve El Agua, spending a day alebrije shopping, one day sightseeing in the city itself and possibly visiting Mitla and Yagul, if time allows.
Right now, the plan is this:
Dec. 21, Sat - Arrive in Oaxaca by bus
Dec. 22, Sun - Hierve El Agua (+ Yagul?)
Dec. 23, Mon - Oaxaca + Noche de los Rábanos
Dec. 24, Tue - Alebrije shopping
Dec. 25, Wed - Mitla? + Oaxaca sightseeing
Dec. 26, Thu - ? + Night bus to Tapachula
There are a few questions I'm hoping you guys can help me with:
1) What would be the best day to visit Hierve El Agua? My guidebook makes it sound like it's difficult to get there on weekdays, because the pickups or combis take a long time to fill up. Is that still the case during the holidays? Should we visit on a Sunday, Dec. 22 then? What's the best way of getting there from Oaxaca with public transport?
2) I might not have time to try them all, but I'm considering trying all 7 moles while we're there. I'm looking for simple, authentic versions - not some famous chef's "interpretation" of a mole or some fancy version invented for tourists - and preferably for under 200 pesos, if that's reasonable. Any restaurant recommendations for any of them?
3) What would be the best way to ship a box of alebrijes to Mexico City from Oaxaca? (Reliable + cheap... Time is not an issue as long as it takes no more than a few weeks.) Also, if I end up buying some pottery in Atzompa, is it going to end up in pieces if I try to ship it in a box?
4) I'm not sure what to expect there during the holidays. Is there a day when we should not go alebrije shopping to San Martín Tilcajete and Arrazola, because some family workshops might not be open to visitors? Are the archaeological sites in Mitla/Yagul closed on certain days? Is there anything happening in Oaxaca that's worth seeing during the time we're there?
5) Any hotel recommendations for under $50 a night for a double with private bath? I'd prefer a hotel that is no more than a 10-15 minute walk from the zocalo and the 2nd class bus station, but reasonably quiet and preferably with wi-fi in the rooms (although the wi-fi is not absolutely necessary).
Thanks in advance for any info!
Sep 14, 2013 7:46 AM
Sep 14, 2013 8:42 AM
2When I went to Oaxaca a few years ago, I took a day trip to Hierve el Agua, El Tule (big tree), Mitla and one of the weaving villages from one of the many tour companies in Oaxaca. I generally prefer to do such things on my own, but it really was the best way to see all of those things in one day. It wasn't crazy expensive and it was more efficient than worrying about bus schedules and such. BTW, Mitla wasn't all that impressive, especially if you've seen Chichen Itza, Coba, etc. Taking a tour will also leave you much more time to simply walk around Oaxaca.
Sep 14, 2013 8:46 AM
Sep 14, 2013 8:49 AM
Sep 14, 2013 11:28 AM
5I live here in Oaxaca and there have been some changes in the last few years.
Last year I had a group here and we visited Monte Alban about the 27th of Dec. I had never seen so many people. The buses were parking 2 km down the road and there was a line of 50 people just to get in. I had taken groups there for years and often over Day of the dead, and I had never seen it like that.
That said. Go early -
I would consider going to Hierve el agua on Christmas day. Everything else is closed. Not a good day for any shopping. I will ask a couple of tour companies as I walk by next week and ask if they will be doing tours that day. I'll post back here. Certainly do Yagul with this. Very easy access. But I am not sure if any of the sites are open on christmas.
The two main alejebries villages are on opposite sides of town. You might want to choose - each has an advantage. Arrazola tends to be a little less expensive and very creative artists. San Martin has a very good artist Jacobo Angeles. He promotes himself and the village very well. At his restaurant by the town, he often has very very nice "group" sales where he brings in many talented local people. The restaurant serves terrific food and often over holidays they have local dancing and singing. He has an interesting web site. I also like an artist Vincente Hernandez and his sister. They are on the right side with bright blue doors about half a block before before the church when going into town. They are lovely people and the compound is very interesting in that it is still very Mexican and not turned into an American shop. Everything will certainly be open the sunday before xmas.
The radish festival is great but such a crowd. Start waiting in line about 1 or 2 - it is very well organized.
Here is a little hotel I would recommend in Oaxaca. Great location - across the street is a little comedor with a nice breakfast.
Buy bus tickets ahead. Last christmas season I had to wait for almost 12 hours to get a seat.
I have written a review of a great hotel in Tapachula, but I'm guessing you have family or friends there or you wouldn't be going.
Sep 14, 2013 11:29 AM
6forgot to put the hotel name in
Hotel El Nito
Sep 14, 2013 12:02 PM
7Noche de los Rábanos is the largest crowd I have seen outside of El Grito at the Zocalo in Mexico City. The Rábabos are in the center of the zocalo and there is a fee to see them. The other genre of sculptures are on the periphery. There will be a line of people wanting to see the rábanos. When I was there, the line extended down the side street for over a block. Get there early to get a table at one of the cafes.
Sep 14, 2013 12:37 PM
8Agreed, the crowds lining up to see the radishes are large, but I don't recall ever paying to see them. It seems to me they remove the sculptures overnight, so no chance to get up early and see them the next day. Agreed too about Christmas Day, everything opens late and not much going on in Oaxaca.
I believe that archaeological sites are open every day of the year. Besides Yagul, Lambityeco and Dainzu are close by. And Atzompa, part of the Monte Alban complex, opened in January and is worth a visit.
I'm sure that the craftspeople wil have their stores open every day during the holidays, prime selling season for them.
Sep 14, 2013 6:39 PM
9I've had several friends stay at Posada Yagul, on Avenida Juarez between Morelos and Independencia, and they were very satisfied with it.. Rates should be in your range, possibly lower - they do vary on special times, eg. Christmas, Semana Santa, etc, so it would be better for you to communicate directly with them for your times.
Simple, clean, friendly, relatively attractive, exceptionally well located. Not as noisy as you might expect being on such a busy street as the rooms are inside the courtyard. See if you can get a room further back if you are especially sensitive to noise.
No charge for the Noche de Rabanos. If you don't want to get up close, you can walk outside the raised ramp and see just about everything, just not quite as well. Agree that you should plan on a lengthy wait, although I've noticed that each year the "show" seems to start a bit earlier, so you could arrive earlier than the official start. However, possibly not all the displays will be put together if you start the round early. It is really jammed, but even so, "vale la pena".
Sep 14, 2013 8:12 PM
10Thanks... That's a lot of very helpful info!
So there is a lineup to see la Noche de los Rábanos? I figured it would be crowded, but I've always assumed that it was an open thing, where everyone could just go to the zócalo and have a look around... When does it usually start and how long before that should we show up?
If Hierve El Agua is open on Christmas Day, we might just go then. I wasn't sure what would be open, which is why I just wrote down sightseeing in the city for that day.
Having said that, I would prefer not to take any tours there. If it will be open on Dec. 25, I would much rather go on our own and hike around the rock formations there. I'd like to have enough time to explore without any pressure to follow a schedule set by a tour company. We might be done in an hour or we might end up spending half a day or more there. We won't know until we see the place. I speak passable Spanish and my friend is Mexican, so getting around on our own is not a problem.
The alebrije shopping might end up being 2 half days - one in each of the two villages. We visited San Martín Tilcajete two years ago and really enjoyed talking to people and seeing their work, so I'm sure we'll try to go back, but I'm also curious to see Arrazola.
We're going to Tapachula in order to cross into Guatemala, where we'll spend the next 10 days or so, before looping back to Comitán in Chiapas. That's why I want to ship the alebrijes we buy to Mexico City, where I can pick them up before flying home from there in the middle of January.
Thanks for the hotel suggestions as well!
Sep 15, 2013 1:36 PM
11...but I'm also curious to see Arrazola.
In that case, before you go try to read "Between art and artifact: archaeological replicas and cultural production in Oaxaca, Mexico," by Ronda L. Brulolte (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012). Fascinating and highly readable discussion of the contemporary lives of craftspeople in Arrazola (and don't miss the ruins of the original sugar-cane hacienda at the entrance to the town.)
Sep 19, 2013 7:36 AM
Oct 2, 2013 11:00 PM
13So does anyone have any suggestions for restaurants that have an authentic & inexpensive version of one (or more) of Oaxaca's moles? I believe that was the only question in my post that nobody addressed.
If I'm feeling brave, I might also try a taco de chapulines... What would be a good place to try those?
Oct 3, 2013 7:05 AM
14Chapulines are more like eating chile-salt-lime peanuts, but with legs. I recommend eating a tlayuda con tasajo instead.
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
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