You can see how hot and brown it is - but you do get some great views.
The days that we spent in Oaxaca were, for the most part, very leisurely. This beautiful colonial town is perfect for long strolls, with its Spanish colonial architecture, broad plazas, ancient churches, and delectable food. It feels that there is an equal part traveller or Spanish student for every native Mexican here. As many people are here studying in language schools, it is easy to find people who will converse with you solely in Spanish. So I had lots of opportunities to practice. Oaxaca is also a central location for artists in this area, and many boutiques along the pedestrian drag show this off.
It is easy to take a bus to Monte Alban. There are many companies offering the service. It took us some time to find the one I had read about in the guidebook, taking us through an entirely different part of town, a bit busier, and less touristy.
Monte Alban, like Teotihuacan, was a bit disappointing. It was very hot, and brown. Due to the heat of the sun and lack of rain, the grass you see in many pictures of Monte Alban was nowhere to be seen. Nearly every ruin was roped off, preventing
Alli with a cerveza
This was at the cafe on the zocalo, well worth the price of the food to sit down for a bit and watch the scene.
damage - and visitors. There were two pyramids to climb. Everything else, the tombs, tunnels and palaces, were closed off and you could only see them from the bottom. The restoration that was done was poorly done, in my opinion. I applaud the efforts to preserve the site, but at the same time, Monte Alban loses much of its grandeur when all you see are a few piles of crumbling ruins. We only visited from 11-12:30, and then we were done. It is definitely not an all-day activity.
Later that day, we escapted the heat in the musem in the St. Domingo monastery. All the signage was in Spanish, but it is still well-worth visiting even for Anglophones. It covers the whole history of the area, from prehistoric through the Spanish colonization. Plus, it's air conditioned and from the inside, you can see the botanical garden (normally only open to tours).
We also spent a lazy afternoon in the Zocalo and adjoining Alameda, just walking up and down the pedestrian streets, paying for an overpriced lunch on the zocalo, drinking the famous Oaxacan hot chocolate.
We walked down to the three big markets - the Mercado Benito
Juarez, Mercado 20 de Noviembre, and the Mercado de los artesanias. The Mercado del Merced, where we had gone with our cooking instructor, Nora, was a bit friendlier than these, as it serves mostly locals. I still love markets though, and Mexican markets are more leisurely than the souks of Egypt or Turkey. People do not insist that you look at what they have on offer - they are a bit more laidback.
We spent a lot of time in the zocalo and the adjoining alameda, and just walking up and down the pedestrian streets - window-shopping, having cool drinks, walked down to three big markets - Mercado Benito Juarez, Mercado 20 de Noviembre, and the Mercado de los artesanias. The Mercado del Merced - where we went with Nora - was much friendlier. Also spent an afternoon looking for chocolate and mezcal and getting samples.
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