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Leely2 Jan 2nd, 2020 11:18 AM

I didn’t love Oaxaca at first either. After CDMX and Puebla, it felt a little contrived and American-expat-ish to me. But there’s much to recommend it. Looking forward to your visit to Monte Alban.

Tdiddy12 Jan 2nd, 2020 04:46 PM

Hi Leely2 -
In the last few days our opinion has changed quite a bit which I will explain in future posts. I think in CDMX and Morelia we were right in the thick of things and we are out of town. But I have to add, that is what we wanted and we are loving our abode. We have noted a lot more Americans/ Canadians / White people in Oaxaca!

Tdiddy12 Jan 2nd, 2020 05:06 PM

Dec. 31st - New Years Day
Feliz Ano Nuevo to everyone! Quiet start to our day, we were supposed to take a walking tour with the company we used in
Coyoacan, but it was cancelled, this morning around 8AM. Remember that pound of carnitas? Lunch for the second day!
We book another tour for 4PM. Meets at the Macedonia Teatro. We get there and I have a bad feeling, it’s us and two young ladies from Austria. The guide makes no attempt to interact with us just says we will leave in 10 minutes.

We leave and right away it is the most un-interesting tour. Over there is a building. Oaxaca was the second town in Mexico to get electricity. OK, why? Porforia Díaz was from Oaxaca but he doesn’t tell us that. We get up to Santa Domingo and the Austrian girls come up to us and say, We’re bailing! We didn’t learn anything about Oaxaca, I know our guide has a Russian girlfriend, we saw her picture, he’s different than the rest of his family, he likes to sing ( he sings us a sing), this goes on for three hours. I’m dying. At one point we walk the whole length of the aqueduct and he makes no mention of the Aqueduct! Finally I actually had to say, are you going to tell us about the Aqueduct?? Finally we get away. Walk around the Santa Domingo area and head back to “Manhattan”.

Watch the New Years Eves celebrations in New York, CDMX, and at one point, Los Angeles! We are on the 7th floor so we think there has to be some fireworks, but they are so sporadic. We see something cool and then nothing for ten minutes! At midnight though, they all start going off and we get a great show all over the valley. Try to remember all of the wonderful trips we took from 2010 - 2019. A new decade of traveling ahead, feel the excitement.

Tdiddy12 Jan 3rd, 2020 12:40 PM

Jan. 1st - New Decade / New Friends
Up and out early, ended up doing about. 3 1/2 walk about. TOTALLY digging Oaxaca at this point. No one out, the streets are empty so I get to nose around a lot more without the crowds. Stumble on Jardin Conzatti, what a sweet little park. Couple of dog walkers but generally quiet. Walk around Santo Domingo, artisans just setting up, loving the colorful wood carvings of animals etc.

On the way back to Reforma stop for a $15 peso hot dog and watch the guy behind the counter squeeze a liter of orange juice for a customer. Hey gimme one of those! He walks to a big barrel of oranges, grabs a handful, electric squeezer and I got the most delicious Orange Juice. Take that Sunkist!

Wife’s cousin introduces us to a couple who have an apartment next to Basilica Soledad in the second floor. Have champagne and watch the sunset. Funky little apartment they have rented for 20 years. Wife is now getting Oaxaca! There apt. has all of these mementos from 20 years of living in Oaxaca, dolls, skulls, animals and saints. Walked through the Zócalo after our happy hour. This place is magical.

Tdiddy12 Jan 4th, 2020 06:04 AM

Hanging with the Rooney’s
We start out our day at the Jardin Etnobotanico in the Santo Domingo area. This was a nice garden, but they really need some Costa Ricans to run it. It’s kind of a sloppily run affair. You can only take a tour here, apparently people were stealing plants so you can’t go on your own. English tours are three times a week, so you have pretty big groups trying to take the tour. We had well over 50 on our tour and it was 2 hours long. The garden is only 2 acres! In Costa Rica they would have cut it down to one hour, move twice as many people through and probably add a zip line somewhere.

After the tour we have lunch at Casa Teviche and meet our new friends. Great little place on Miguel Hidalgo, $98 pesos for a three course lunch. After lunch, we visit the Textile Museum which had a variety of woven thingys in an old building. Then a block down, we go to the Centro Cultural San Pablo. Irregardless of my Costa Rican comments above, this is where the Mexicans shine. They have taken an old building, church or convent and turned it into a fantastic cultural center with galleries, a library, and old chapel and on the day we are here an animatronic dinosaur!

The next day we head to Ocotlan with our friends. Meet up at the bus station. Ocotlan is about 40 minutes away. 2 options to get there, a Mercedes van for $30 pesos or a bus for $25 pesos, easy choice. The van is air conditioned and very comfortable. Friday is market day and it is packed! Ocotlan is known for a number of things, one is the Aguilar sisters, who do clay pottery and figures and the other is Rodolfo Morales. Morales was an artist who spent most of his career as a teacher, even as he a created some very nice art. Rufino Tamayo discovered him and gave his career a huge boost. Morales then turned his attention to restoring buildings in Ocotlan, but more importantly giving young people direction in these projects. He has a exceptional museum high lighting his art over his lifetime in one of the buildings he helped restore.

Van back to the city. We are in our sixties, the Rooney’s are 10 years older then us, I’ll let you do the math, and they have run us ragged! We repair back to our roost for the night. We still have a whole week in Oaxaca and I’m starting to fear we won’t get it all in!

mlgb Jan 4th, 2020 06:46 AM

Darn re the Botanic Garden. I was thinking of going but not interested in a guided tour.

I had Casa Teviche on my list of possible lunch spots already. I will add an asterisk to the Centro Cultural San Pablo. I won't get to Oaxaca until month end, so continue your reporting!

On friend's recommendations, I'm setting aside a few days to go birding around Oaxaca with Eric Martinez, who lives there.
He has a blog of sorts with some photos of local bird specialties.

MmePerdu Jan 4th, 2020 01:54 PM

Originally Posted by mlgb (Post 17039756)
Darn re the Botanic Garden. I was thinking of going but not interested in a guided tour.

For those interested in gardens the tours aren't always crowded, there were just a few in my group. What may feel like a small imposition is well worth it. It's a beautiful place. Some of my pictures here:

baldone Jan 4th, 2020 03:29 PM

T, if I may ask, where was your condo and was it on Air BnB? We might be driving down in a few weeks. Do you know if there's parking? It looks cool and reminds me of our high-rise condo in Queretaro.
We really miss Oaxaca. We watched Nacho Libre last night to tide us over, lol.
Thanks for the report(s).
You can get a glimpse (but that's about it) of the Jardin Botánico from the Museo De Las Culturas De Oaxaca. We've also been by there when there's been private events in the jardin.

Tdiddy12 Jan 4th, 2020 05:51 PM

Hi All!
MLGB - Don’t not go because of my review. Just be aware that it is a guided tour and there is a gardner following the group that shoos you along. My only point is why does this have to be a guided tour. If you can tour Huntington Garden’s in Pasadena by yourself, then they need to figure this out. I think you will be impressed by the Cultural Center at San Pablo

MmePerdu - I’m glad you had a small group, but I had a chuckle when I saw the picture of Carol in the blog. She was also our guide, but most of the time you weren’t within 25 feet of her because of the crowd. In addition there was another group of at least 35 on our tail. That being said Carol was excellent, but more tours and shorter, I think would give more access to, more people to enjoy this very nice garden, that’s my only point.

Baldone, we did use AirBnb and the super long title was : Hermosa Departmento en la mejor zone de Oaxaca. It’s just off Amapolas near the Italian Coffee place. The host is Teresa, very responsive. It’s super modern but we are loving it. Outside of town but a short taxi ride to most places. And there are buses close by. Oh, and we are still drinking that La Lucha coffee turned us on to.

More to come!

MmePerdu Jan 4th, 2020 07:25 PM

I'm wondering if the numbers visiting the garden are a matter of timing. I was there in November (Feb. the 2nd time) and nowhere ever felt crowded with visitors. I'm thinking Jan. must be THE month.

Tdiddy12 Jan 5th, 2020 04:27 AM

I agree! Our friends have told us we are in high season. I never realized that there was a high season in Oaxaca That’s all everybody talked about in Costa Rica, but of course it makes sense that people are going to flock to nice weather. We have noticed that there are more Gringos here than any place we’ve been to yet in Mexico. Next week we head to Zihua and I know it get’s a large influx of Canadians.

Tdiddy12 Jan 5th, 2020 04:35 AM

Something Different -
Today we went to Parque Ciudad de Las Canteras. I found it on Google maps and decided to give it a try. This park is the old quarry that a lot of the pink rock that was used to make the city came from. It’s a long park that runs along a ravine. Not the traditional type of park. They are still working on it, I believe they’ve been working on it since the 90’ s. One review said it was like walking through an abandoned zoo, and that’s definitely the feel. Right next to the park is an new building, called the Archives of the state of Oaxaca. Beautiful new building, reminded us of the Getty in Los Angeles. This building is two years old. Right now it has a few classrooms, libraries and an auditorium.

At the very end of the park is the Convention Center. All of this is worth a morning walk.

Tdiddy12 Jan 7th, 2020 06:18 AM

A Perfect Day In Oaxaca -
Today could have been our perfect day in Oaxaca. It’s Sunday so right away it’s quieter. We have a couple of museums to go to. We start at the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. Mexico does like it’s long names! The building is the ex monastery attached to Santo Domingo. The courtyard itself is worth a visit. There are a few exhibits on the bottom floor and the Biblioteca. The first exhibit is a Jade Mask that is unbelievable and displayed very well and the library is interesting. The grand staircase is really beautiful. These Monks lived pretty good. Upstairs there are maybe ten rooms around the courtyards the most important IMHO the treasures of tomb 7 from Monte Alban. If you are going to Monte Alban you owe it to yourself to go here first. We were told in CDMX that all of the Spanish Conquest was based on finding gold, but it wasn’t in CDMX, it was down here! It is displayed here in spades.

Lunch at a place called Mezquite. Good, nice margarita, octopus and shrimp tacos on the Terraza overlooking Carmen Alta on Garcia Vigil. There are only two couples in the restaurant, both Gringos. Many of the restaurants don’t open until 2:00PM on Sunday. After lunch we are right next to Casa de Juarez. This is where Benito Juarez lived from 1818 - 1828. It still has many of the original furnishings as I understand. Well worth a visit although you won’t spend more than a half hour here. Wife has to return some phone calls so I head to Santo Domingo de Guzman, the great church centering this whole area. Getting right with whatever God you choose to get right with!

We arrived here last Sunday, a couple of days before New Years and the last time we were at this area, it was filled with a lot of people and sort of a holiday frenzy. Today is so much more relaxed, strolling, not quiet yet peaceful. Maybe because it’s Sunday. I buy some trinkets, love those colorful wooden animals that are painted so vibrantly, and as we are having a Mocha in a little place, a parade breaks out on the square! There are beautiful young women, some with crowns, we go outside and it’s kind of a beauty pageant, the women have sashes with countries, I kid you not, Ms. United States is on her cell phone! The woman are parading down Macedonia Alcala preceded by a couple of bands, native woman dancing, about 20 guys dressed up in Aztec / Zapotec headdress’, it’s really cool.

It’s about 6:00PM and we head back to our “skyscraper” agreeing we just had the perfect day in Oaxaca!

Tdiddy12 Jan 8th, 2020 04:37 AM

Monte Alban - Meet the Zapotecs
I head to Monte Alban today, wifey stays home. Get a shuttle bus up the hill. $80 pesos, keep your stub! One family on the way back down, couldn’t find their return ticket and the driver wouldn’t let them on the van. I spent three hours there and found that to be enough time. I didn’t get a guide because we got there right at 9AM and there weren’t ‘t guides yet. The place is quite big, not hot today but although there are trees and shade it could be blistering. You can hike up the north and south end pyramids but many on the sides are blocked off. Not too many places to actually go “into” but all in all this is a worth while trip if you enjoy archaeological sites.

Head to the Zócalo tonite, it’s Kings night or Tres Reyes and the traffic is horrendous! Walk around the Zócalo. I know it’s a holiday, but people seem to be happy here. They spend more time outside than we do. There is a band playing on the Zocalo in front of one of the restaurants and people are dancing, it’s so chill, I love it!

Tdiddy12 Jan 10th, 2020 05:59 AM

The Classic Tourist Tour -
Today we did the classic tour that consists of, Tule tree, Mezcal tasting, Teotitlan for the rugs, Mitla, generic lunch and Herve el Agua. I call it classic because everyone in town offers it. We tried to find a way to do it ourselves but it was too expensive. A) I don’t want to drive B) the trip is relatively cheap. $180 pesos plus entry fees. 14 people in a fairly comfortable tour van. Tule tree is a big tree, impressive at 2000 years old. It’s $10 pesos to go inside the gate to walk around the tree, but it’s the biggest tree in the world surrounded by a wrought iron fence. We stayed outside the fence.

Mezcal tasting. I am guessing each tour has their own mezcal place because it wasn’t very crowded. Tastings were generous.

Teotitlan, I felt bad here, we got a nice demonstration of how they make the colors, all natural, then they unfolded rug after rug and I don’t think anyone bought anything.

Mitla, could have stayed here longer, but did have a pretty good amount of time, nice counter point to Monte Alban.

Lunch buffet, a lot of edible food.

Hierve el Agua. Went down a bumpy road for about 20 minutes or more and get to the pools. Very cool. Three or four pools at the top of a cliff creating the original infinity pool. The water has some chemicals or something because it falls over the cliff creating this what look like hard waterfalls. Spent an hour and a half here, then a hour drive back to Oaxaca. A long day but I’m glad we did it.

Tdiddy12 Jan 11th, 2020 02:19 PM

Last Day in Oaxaca -
Well although it might have taken us a couple of days to fall for Oaxaca, we are now smitten. Couple of things, don’t come over the holidays! We found it extremely busy, noisy and not as charming as it has been in the last few days. If it’s your first time, you might staying closer to town. We LOVE are “Manhattan” apartment but we were here two weeks. We’ve gotten used to bus in - taxi home, but I know it would have been a different experience if we had stayed downtown.

Today we did the Museo Arte Contemporeano de Oaxaca, or MACO, and the Museo de Los Pintores with lunch at Boulenc.
I’ve said this before, Mexican Arte is so intriguing, but after going to two modern museums, they do wired shit pretty well also.

It’s a beautiful day, very calm, which is nice because after New Years a teachers strike moved into the Zócalo and they blocked the airport. People had to walk a mile and a half to get to the terminals.. The strike has finished luckily for us because we fly out to Zihuatenejo tomorrow.

Ironically, a year ago, a question was posed, “ Why don’t we go to Zihua for a month next year?” Be careful what you wish for! Somehow over the year it turned into 6 1/2 weeks in Costa Rica, a month in CDMX, Morelia and Oaxaca, and now we are starting what will be two months in Zihua / Troncones. Back home March 8th. This year the question was posed, “ Why don’t we go around the world in 2021?”. So you know I’m going to be starting a thread on people’s ideas of traveling around the world!

I may post from Zihua, but probably not. It’s too quiet, which after a month of cities, we are looking forward to quiet. Mexico has been such a wonderful place to visit and Zihua is going to feel like home. We’ve met fun people, they are so joyous here, everyone tell our friends, Stop Asking If It’s Safe! Mama Cass died choking on sandwich, can I not go to Subway now?

Happy travels to all, thanks for your comments, see you on the road sometime!

MmePerdu Jan 11th, 2020 03:39 PM

I can personally recommend RTW trips, having done 2, 1 going east, another west figuring I needed to unwind. I'm not sure anyone can give much advice on the subject to experienced travelers, so much to see so little time.

crellston Jan 11th, 2020 05:01 PM

Why don’t we go around the world in 2021?” Be very careful what you wish for tdiddy. We started in 2007 with a RTW trip and are pretty much still going...

a great trip report. I like your style and have enjoyed following along.

Leely2 Jan 11th, 2020 05:57 PM

Loved this report and so glad you enjoyed wondrous, beautiful, complex Mexico.

Tdiddy12 Jan 12th, 2020 09:57 AM

Thanks all! Although Crellston, my wife has requested that I stop listening to that Crazy Crellston putting ideas in my head!
At this point I think she may be good for a six month outing, but you never know?

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