Oaxaca, Mexico

The city of Oaxaca (Wa-Haw-Ka) is located in southwestern Mexico, about 500km from Mexico City. It is the capital of the state of Oaxaca, and has been an important cultural city since its inhabitance, thousands of years ago. It was officially founded in 1529.

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Located 5000 feet above sea level, Oaxaca has a mild climate, which in my opinion is much more appealing than the intense heat found in other areas of Mexico. (Especially Merida, Mexico or other cities in the Yucatan)

A colonial city, Oaxaca follows a traditional colonial layout, as the main central plaza is surrounded by a large cathedral with nearby government buildings.

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Commonly called the ‘zocalo’, the area surrounding the cathedral is full of restaurants, cafes, venders, markets and an incessant level of action that is hard to put into words!

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Around this area, you’ll find one of the most impressive markets in all of Mexico!

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Crammed full of people and shops, get ready to weave your way through the swarms of crowds in search of souvenirs and traditional delicacies!

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Including a section entirely devoted to meat…

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Don’t miss out on one of Oaxaca’s most prominent snacks, fried spicy grasshoppers! Called chapulines, this local delicacy is not the best tasting food you’ll ever try… but hey, they’re cheap and likely full of protein. SO, don’t hesitate to dig in! We’ll maybe hesitate a little bit…

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After struggling through some grasshoppers, you can always sample the local tequila, called mezcal. While it is also produced in other areas of Mexico, mezcal is most notibly found in Oaxaca. Throughout the market, you’ll be able to find multiple shops willing to hand out free shots and I recommend taking full advantage of the Mexican generosity!

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Made from the agave plant, mezcal is a very popular local drink.

Further down the street, from the main cathedral, lies an even more impressive church: the Temple de Santo Domingo. Located behind a cactus garden and alongside a row of impressive palm trees, this cathedral stands out among the multitude of exquisite churches in Mexico.

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The city of Oaxaca has 300,000 inhabitants but it still retains the feel of a small community. It is fully walkable and easy to navigate, and in my opinion, a very liveable city.

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Oaxaca is home to several Universities and has traditionally been an area of protest throughout the years. In 2006, a peaceful teacher’s protest turned into a 5-month siege of the city resulting in a number of deaths. Again, in the summer of 2016, a teacher’s protest turned violent and 8 people were killed and more than 25 injured.

Considering 77% of people from the municipality of Oaxaca rely on tourism as a means of employment, these clashes could have more far-reaching negative effects.

20160509_165027530_iOS20160509_164909762_iOSIn addition to the culture and liveliness within the city, 30 minutes to an hour outside of Oaxaca lies the magnificent Hierve el Agua!

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Hierve el Agua looks like a massive waterfall frozen to the side of a mountain. In fact, it is natural spring water boiling to the surface to create a bathtub-like pool!

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If you’re looking to take a dip overlooking some incredible mountains, Hierve el Agua is a must-visit. Buses run from the city centre in Oaxaca, or you can catch a taxi for about 120 pesos – a small price to pay for such amazing views!

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After visiting 10 to 11 different cities in Mexico, Oaxaca sits at the top of my rankings. The people are hospitable and friendly, the market is one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen, and the history and culture throughout the region are fascinating. Furthermore, Oaxaca has long been considered Mexico’s culinary capital!

While it is a little off the standard tourist trail throughout Mexico, Oaxaca is definitely worth a visit. Hop on an air conditioned bus or save some pesos by toughing out a hot, overcrowded van. BUT whatever you do, don’t miss out on the capital of the Oaxaca region in Mexico!

Gracias por leer!

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