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Oaxaca in March with my 17-year-old? Opinions/ideas sought.

Oaxaca in March with my 17-year-old? Opinions/ideas sought.

Old Feb 12th, 2012, 01:01 PM
  #1  
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Oaxaca in March with my 17-year-old? Opinions/ideas sought.

Hi Mexico experts...

Besides Cancun a lifetime ago, I've never been to Mexico.

A friend and his wife recently built a retirement home in Oaxaca and have invited us to come vacation there. They are only there October-April. I don't want to say "we are thinking of coming" unless I'm pretty certain we will go and so I'm doing my research.

I've read a bit, and it looks like an interesting way to spend spring break with my daughter. She is studying Spanish and is interested in languages as well as crafts, markets, local color, archeological sites.

I like art and crafts as well and would love to learn a few Spanish phrases.

My idea was to do a language school a couple hours a day and hang out in the city and environs - nothing too taxing. Possibly get a trip to the beach for the weekend although that may be ambitious - we probably only have about 8 days.

My friend and his wife are lovely and she is a local with family aplenty.

What do you think?? Any firsthand experiences? Language programs? Restaurants? Culture you enjoyed.

(Weighing this against a week in Europe with visit to our good friends in Zürich.)

Many thanks!
gruezi is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2012, 01:15 PM
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Oaxaca is one of my favorite places--I was an exchange student there in high school back in the 1960s and returned a couple of times in past five years to renew my acquaintance. It's culturally really interesting, the landscape is beautiful, the colors are vibrant, the food is delicious, and the arts and crafts are amazing. Highly recommended--I would be going back for another visit in March but I have a new grandchild so will be heading to San Francisco instead to spend that time with her.

A week in Europe would of course be great, but sounds like all the stars are aligned for a great trip to Oaxaca for you. You won't be disappointed.
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Old Feb 12th, 2012, 01:20 PM
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aprillilacs -

Well that certainly is a nice testimonial! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm.

And have a wonderful time with your new grandchild!
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Old Feb 12th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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Wow - great idea... Even without venturing outside of the city Oaxaca will not bore you.
There great museums (the main ethnographic and historical one located in the old Dominicans' Monastery is a fantastic). There is great shopping for textiles and black clay ceramics. Lots of areas are closed to traffic allowing pedestrians only. Do not miss the Mercado Municipal - both cestions: food and dry goods. "The chocolate street", where they mill cocoa beans and make the mole as well as prepare cocoa-the-drink, is another must!
If you do like to see the areas outside of the city, there is two archaeological sites nearby: Mitla and Monte Alban. In the mountains beyond Mitla there is "frozen waterfall" a place where calcium rich waters create permanent structures that look like frozen waterfalls or rather frozen fountain.
Another place place worth seeing is Santa Maria del Tule with its largest tree in the world(?).
The church beside it looks so tiny http://www.delange.org/Tule/Tule.htm
You should enjoy great weather in March too - not too hot - as Oaxaca is situated quite high.
Although going to the beach - unless you fly will take almost a day each way- its only some 260km
Once you leave the valley of Oaxaca the remaining 200km takes you through two mountain ranges and countless switchbacks... I would suggest to stick with the city itself and the environs and to leave the beach for another time - lots to see on the coast between Pto Escondido and Huatulco so going there for a "couple" of days is just not worth the trouble.
This is just a sampling of options - look for Moon guide book to Oaxaca - a big brick - just about this state and its capital.
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Old Feb 12th, 2012, 01:30 PM
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P.S.
Sorry for the typos!
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Old Feb 12th, 2012, 02:04 PM
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fouDor -

Thank you for your informative reply and esp. related to geography issue of getting to the beach...

The cocoa, ceramics, and textiles are right up our alley!

I'm also glad to hear the quality of the museums is good. I like to do a bit of that esp. when they are well-done.

These replies are affirming my suspicions that this will be a nice trip for us.
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Old Feb 12th, 2012, 02:18 PM
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Glad to be of help - we drove the road to the coast, so know it first hand (hands still hurt from the twisting and turning, lol) and yes, it can be almost nauseating especially closer to Pto Escondido - we took the shortest route and my husband knows how to drive - it was still 5hrs, needless to say the buses take much longer.

But Oaxaca is absolutely wonderful, make sure you get that guidebook - it's a goldmine!

http://www.amazon.com/Moon-Oaxaca-Ha...9088123&sr=8-1

Buen viaje!

P.S.
I don't think you will have anytime for Spanish lessons while in Oaxaca , although there are some schools there - better get Quick Take Off in Latin American Spanish - very handy!
http://www.amazon.com/Quick-Take-Lat...1&sr=1-3-fkmr1
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Old Feb 12th, 2012, 02:29 PM
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fouDor,

Thanks for the guidebook link - it does look great.

And I appreciate your frank assessment regarding beach and language. I guess if we love it, we can go back for those things another trip.

I checked airfare and it is reasonable.
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Old Feb 12th, 2012, 05:54 PM
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gruezi,
For future reference, do keep in mind that the coast is very, very hot - year round.
One of the better places there to explore is Puerto Escondido - a spread out small town with a fairly large community of international and Mexican tourists, who come for longer time... No large hotels or all inclusive resorts and no international flights coming here. That's the charm of the place... And lots of areas in the vicinity (mostly driving further east) to be explored from here predominantly nature related.
The enclosed website shows some great aerial photos of Puerto - definitely worth a trip, but on another occasion when you have more time!
http://www.mexico-condo.com/Aerial-2005.htm
Enjoy OAX!
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Old Feb 13th, 2012, 05:44 AM
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I was in Oaxaca in November 2011. I am curious as to how your dauther is responding to the info on Oaxaca. Is she thinking this is a trip she would like? As parent of a 19 yr old daughter, I know how it is important to involve her in planning a trip, so that is becomes "her trip" also and not just mine. 17 yr old daughters can get cranky when they are not enjoying travel.
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Old Feb 13th, 2012, 06:07 AM
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emd -

hee, hee... Yes, we travel a lot together so I hear you on the cranky factor! Although no one gets as cranky traveling as my husband!

She is a bit busy with college decisions, AP classes, etc. so we have not discussed in detail. I told her to ask her Spanish teacher (who travels a lot and is "cool") if she has been there.

Since she has 2 weeks off and will spend one playing pre-season tennis in FL, I think she will be flexible with the second week. Her first choice would definitely be Europe (specifically Zürich) but I am hoping to take her and a friend there as a graduation trip. Unfortunately, I just got bad news on my summer schedule which may interfere with my ability to do that trip. This means the Oaxaca trip may be something I do myself at another date and we will head to Zürich in March - not really the ideal time for that trip but life gets in the way.

In any event, I will go to Oaxaca for sure - just perhaps not for spring break. I know I would like it based on what I'm reading (here and elsewhere) and of course it will be nice to see my friends.

What do you think of Oaxaca???
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Old Feb 13th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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I live here in Oaxaca and moved here when my daughter was 15. She is now 22 but she loves Oaxaca and is glad to return from college. One thing she has always loved are the great clubs. Though she is definitely not a "party girl" she loves going to hear the music- here the kids really really love to dance. Can you imagine a dance club with more guys than girls - so they can dance? The clubs start very late but with a companion I have never felt scared about it. She always takes a taxi home - about 3AM!
If your friend is local she will no doubt have a suitable cousin, friend, or neighbor that will take her.
My daughter really enjoys the safe freedom here. She goes to the zocolo and has coffee and watches the people.
I agree - there is way too much to see to include the beach or spanish classes. I bring some small groups down and we are hard pressed to get in the basics within 10 days. You will have a great time!
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 03:47 AM
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i am so envious reading of your intended trip top Oaxaca. I was there many years ago with three friends and reading this thread brings back many wonderful memories and makes me long to go back. Imagine relaxing at a cafe on the zocalo, listening to a marimba band while a charmingly flirtatious local urges us to buy a bouquet of sweet scented gardenias for $2....It is such a different Mexico from Cancun and the other over overdeveloped beach destinations.

I encourage you to take some Spanish lessons before you go. It is quite an easy language to learn as it is pronounced just as it is written and with a little effort you should have no trouble learning enough to exchange a few phrases with the locals, read signs and menus and order a meal in Spanish.

I seem to recall there were half or full day cooking lessons available in English, which would certainly be worthwhile. Mole chicken, garlic soup, mysterious dishes wrapped in banana leaves, big cubes of cheese in sauce at the breakfast buffet: some of the best eating I've done anywhere.

A great time is unavoidable!
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 06:23 AM
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Hi Teri

Thanks so much for your informative post - particularly in relation to a young person - and encouragement to go.

My daughter loves music so I know she would enjoy the clubs... and the marimba bands.

eliz - you paint a very lovely picture. I am looking forward to this trip whether it be this March or next fall. My friends are in Switzerland from April through October so if we don't go in the next month or so, I will wait until next year.
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 04:21 PM
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Your friends will know how to get around. There are many things to see outside Oaxaca. Monte Alban (a local bus ride) and Mitla offer two days of outing. Coming back from Mitla (or going there) is one of the well-known weaving villages. Oaxaca itself is worth several days of wandering around, and don't miss the Ruffino Tamayo museum.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7622882801271/
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 07:14 PM
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I love Oaxaca, have been there several times over the past 35 yrs. Great people, lovely colonial architecture, lots of towns in the valley to visit, great ruins, great markets, the chocolate st. (Mina), beautiful zocalo. Pretty good food. IMO the dining used to be much much better, but after the teacher strikes and violence of 2006 many of the better restaurants closed. And since then, we have not been as impressed w/the food. However, the fixed prix comidas in the little restaurants (and the one at the hotel restaurant where we stayed last Nov., Parador San Miguel) are good.

Where exactly is your friends' house? OUtside the city? Most expats I know live outside the city. It is lovely out there, and as long as your friends can give you transportatin into the city, it will be fine.
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Old Feb 15th, 2012, 05:08 AM
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emd,

Thanks for your feedback.

My friends are in the city where they have just built a new home. She is not an ex-pat and has lived there her entire life. He is Swiss and met her while studying Spanish there.
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Old Feb 15th, 2012, 09:38 AM
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Oh, great, well you are golden then, right in the city. Definitely do this trip, whenever you can do it.

BTw, it was so weird but my husband and I did not see ONE OTHER American in Oaxaca in Oct.-Nov. and we were there for Dia de los Muertos. We saw and talked to some Europeans an a few Canadians(not many, a handful) but literally saw not one American. The drug war stories are really afecting Mexico, even in places like Oaxaca. Perhaps the 2006 riots are still hurting them too. But all is very calm and we felt totally safe, even walking around at night. We did get a lovely american guide, Linda Hanna, to take us out to the towns in the Valley. She took us to Ocotlan to a man who makes exquisite knives from car engine parts! We watched him make knives while she translated what he was doing at each stop. We bought a nice kitchen slicing knife and had him engrave our 25th anniversary info on the top of the blade.
She also took us to an older Mexican man's house where he makes the black pottery. Great demonstration, he doesn';t use a wheel, he ses a very primitive processof moving a plate on top of another plate in order to make the pottery go around.
We went to a few other artist's houses/workshops w/her in the valley. We enjoyed that day so much w/her that we boked her to take us to a fairly remote village's cemetary lte at night on Nov. 1. Highly recommend Linda Hanna. She is very supportive in conrete ways for young Oaxacan artists who want to cont. their family's traditional arts. Her website comes up if u google her.
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Old Feb 15th, 2012, 09:42 AM
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Gruezi, one more thing. If you like unusual natural environments and you are touring the Valley, check out Hierve del Augua. Wikipedia has a gooda article on this amazing rock formation/waterfall looking place.
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Old Feb 15th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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And if you relly get into the colonial towns after Oaxaca, check into future trip to Morelia and Patzcuaro. I could go on for days about that trip...PAtzcuaro and the town around the lake are amazing
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