What to do in Oaxaca ?


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North America » Mexico » Oaxaca » Oaxaca
March 1st 2018
Published: March 6th 2018
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On Monday night, I arrived at around 7PM to Oaxaca. Unfortunately there is no UBER in Oaxaca, but Taxis aren’t expensive, to I took one for 50 pesos to my hostel Casa Ángel. I booked a simple 12-bed-room which was quite ok. It was spacious enough, there were bathrooms enough on this floor, the beds were comfortable and it was clean. The only 2 bad things : 1) in the 12-bed-room, it was really really hot all night long, even with two fans running and the window open ; 2) hot shower is only possible from 8 to 10 (AM & PM), but if you ask at the reception, you can also have it at other times.

This hostel is definitely nothing for a quiet stay : it’s an absolute social party hostel. The rooftop terrace ensures that when you get back from your day trip, you will find other people there, already having their first corona and enjoying the sun. This terrace is open until 11PM and afterwards, there is a small common area on the first floor where the party can go on. Unfortunately this terrace has no bar, but just in front of the hostel are 2 small shops where you can buy cheap beer and a block away you can buy Mezcal and other spirits.



The first night I was in Oaxaca, I met Ajla from Germany and Chase from England. Together we had a dinner in a small but cosy restaurant next to our hostel. Really tasty ! Afterwards, Ajla and me bought a few beers and went to the rooftop terrace where we met many other people like Isaac from Australia, Peter from Canada, Paul, Matthias and Elisa from Germany, Clayne from Australia and Marianne from Texas. They were all drinking heavily and wanted to go out at 11, but I was tired from 7h bus ride to Oaxaca and went to bed. It seems though, I haven’t missed anything, because it was Monday, the bar empty and they came back half an hour later. We have had a great night together though and with some of them we made plans for the next day.



What to do when you are in Oaxaca? Well, on my first day, I did one of the 3 MUST DOs : with Peter, Ajla and Elisa, we went to Monte Albán, the most important ruins of in the Oaxaca region with temples, palaces, tall stepped platforms, an observatory and a ball court. They were built by a civilisation called Zapotecs who used to rule Oaxaca’s Valles Centrales from +/- 500 BC until 950 AD. They had early connections to the Olmec civilisation in the northeast. The city had it’s peak from 300 to 700 AD when more than 25.000 people lived there. It is very well preserved and definitely worth a visit! There we also met several times Chris and Felix from our hostel who slept in the beds above me and Elisa.



From there, we took a bus back to the city and spent the afternoon exploring the zócalo (main square) of Oaxaca. It’s a very pretty city and you could easily spent a few days there, just enjoying the vibes of this city and relaxing in the sun. Streets are full of street food, mostly fruit since it’s so hot there, but you can also find some tacos. I would recommend to go to a taquería though, these little restaurants exist everywhere (one really good is just a few steps from the hostel) and they are very good and cheap. After that, I went to the iglesia Santo Domingo and visited the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca there. It’s very interesting, but you should speak Spanish if you go there, since all the explication is in Spanish, nothing in English.



We spent the rest of the afternoon at the rooftop terrace of Casa Ángel, enjoying the nice weather and having a few Corona. At about 7PM we went for dinner to a nice rooftop terrace a few blocks away where I tried one of the most typical dishes in Oaxaca: Tlayuda oaxaqueña. It’s absolutely delicious : a toasted corn tortilla filled with vegetables and the meat of you choice (beef in my case). Then we went back to our hostel, buying some beer on the way and having another amazing night there. That’s when I met Nina from the Netherlands and Cliffton from London, 2 wonderful people !



The second day, we were a group of 11 people who wanted to do the other MUST DO in Oaxaca : go to Hierve de Águas. You can either book a tour there and see other places and a mescalería on the way, or go on your own. We decided to take the second option, since all the things on the tour didn’t interest us and we wanted to spend a lot of time in Hierve de Águas. It’s not difficult to get there : take a bus or a collectivo from the stadium to Mitla and from there take a collectivo to Hierve de Águas, but in our case, it was much more difficult than that ! The reason was that this day, there was a huge protest in the city and the street where our bus should pass was closed. I was the only one in our group who spoke Spanish, so it was my job to find a way to get us to Mitla anyway. The police officer told me to go just one block down, that our bus would pass there, but there, some taxi driver told us that they wouldn’t pass there and that they could bring us there for 100 $ per person, which was way to much! Fortunately, there was a very nice lady who wanted to go in our direction and who helped us find a transportation. We had to wait for some time and then take a first bus to Tlacolula. From there, we had to go to the local bus terminal (2d class) and take another bus to Mitla. It took us in total 1 hour more than expected, but we made it! :-D In Mitla then the surprise : the collectivos are not real cars or taxis but a kind of Range Rover with benches on the back where more people can fit. It looked quite ok and so we went 9 people in the back and 2 people inside the car. This road was definitely an adventure ! The road was pretty bumpy and bad and Elisa and me who sat on the edge had to hold on hard not to fly out of the car ! At some point, we almost ran over a goat and a bit later the tailgate opened on it’s own and our bags almost fell out! Peter was our hero and closed it again, because the driver gave us as a sign that meant « never mind, just leave it open, I won’t stop for this » ! It was crazy, but we had sooo much fun!! :-D



At Hierve de Águas, we went directly to the pools and the view was stunning. There were 2 big water pools and a few smaller ones. One of the big ones is located near the edge of this plateau and it looked pretty much like an infinity pool. We left our stuff on a corner of the pool and went directly in. It was quite hot outside and after all the excitement that morning, a bath was very appealing. The water was cold at first, but after a few minutes it was perfect and it felt more cold outside in the wind than inside the water. We made fun of Clifford because he can’t swim and didn’t want to go inside, just sitting on the edge, but they we all went to a more shallow place where the water was more hot and the view amazing. We also went into the other big pool, but it was just as deep and as cold as the first one, so we left again. Clifford and me decided to walk back up the hill to have lunch and Vicky and her boyfriend Phil joined us. They are also from the UK and they are wonderful people ! We ate some really good vegetarian quesadillas and just when we finished, Ajla, Chase, Nina and Bridget came up as well and had also some quesadillas. Bridget is from Nebrasca in the States and is a very nice person. Actually, I loved everyone in our group and this adventurous day brought us very close together !

A bit later, Elisa and Paul joined us, but quickly we left them to go to the waterfalls where they had been just before. We cheated a bit and didn’t go all the way, but only went from top to the waterfalls and didn’t go all the way back down. We lost some of the people on the way, because it was too exhausting or because they were afraid of hights. So we were just a few people getting to the actual waterfall, where is no waterfall to see at the moment since it’s winter and very very dry. It seems all waterfalls in Oaxaca region run out of water in Winter and only begin to flow again when the rainy season starts in May (till November). We took a few beautiful pictures and then went back up to join the others and go back to Oaxaca. This last part turned out to be much less easy than we thought. Since we were 11 people, we could fill one whole van. Unfortunately, there were already 4 people or so waiting in one van and they told us that either we wait for 6 more people to join them so they leave and then we can leave, or we split up and one part of our group goes while the other has to wait for the van to get full. Both options sucked, but we decided we were not going to split up and leave half of the group there. So we waited. And waited. ... The other van wasn’t getting full and they wouldn’t let us leave before them because it was unfair to let us go while they have to stay if they got there before us. Somehow I get the point, but it’s stupid anyway. One of the women in this van was pretty annoyed they couldn’t leave and so she argued with the drivers until they offered us to take us now if we split up in 2 groups but then both would leave at the same time. That was fine with us and so we could finally leave !

Back in Mitla we wanted to take a bus back to Oaxaca but there was a taxi driver who told us they would take us back for just 25 $ per person and since that was a very good price, we took it. We got divided in 3 cars, which seemed reasonable, and started leaving when I saw out of the window Vicky and Phil still running around outside ! Almost we would have left them, no idea how that could happen ! So I told our driver to stop and so we had to take a fourth taxi. These taxis collectivos were everything but comfortable though. 2 people go in the front seat (which is supposed to be for 1 person!!!) and 3 in the back, so it’s pretty crowded. We made it back to Oaxaca though and were very happy to have arrived. Now just 20 more minutes walking until the hostel and done.

Hierve de Águas was absolutely a trip worth and I can only recommend it, but, like in most places in Central and South America, I would suggest you learn some Spanish before. It would have been much more difficult, and maybe expensive, hadn’t I spoken Spanish.



The first thing we did was get a nice hot shower. Because of the limestone in which the pools in Hierve de Águas are situated, our skin and hair were very dry and disgusting, so this shower was like heaven !

Afterwards, Paul, Elisa, Ajla, Bridget, Chase and a guy we had just met in the hostel, Johannes from Germany, went to the taquería around the corner (Álvaro) for dinner. Bridget and me had Tacos al Pastor, a famous mexican dish, and it was delicious! Then Elisa, Johannes and me went to the nearest cash machine to get money. Unfortunately, only Johannes and me actually got money, afterwards all cash machines were empty and Elisa couldn’t get anything.... Then we went to buy beer and back to the hostel where we had a nice evening on the rooftop terrace until they kicked us out at 11PM and us, tired as hell, were happy to go to bed.



The next morning was hard, because we had to say goodbye to our new friends since almost everybody left that morning, either to Puerto Escondido or to Pueblos Mancomunados.





I had had the most amazing few day in Oaxaca and can only recommend you to go there, enjoy the spirit of this city and visit the MUST DOs and the museum of the city !


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