We went, because they told us to go. They. The other tourists. Of course, we’re capable of making our own decisions. I think. We’re adults. Occasionally. Yet, the fervor, the conviction bespoken about Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-Ha-Ka) was convincing at the least. Darn necessitating at the best. We had to go. We’d miss the best food scene the in Mexico if we didn’t.
Adulting is, occasionally, more difficult in a van on the road. Our kids are never more than a few feet away. Four stinky kid feet. And we don’t have sitters. That young-ish chica that we met at the trailer park the other day? Perhaps. But probably not. Thus, while we did dine at a couple of excellent cafes in Oaxaca — mainly for the view, not for the food — we did not indulge the food scene. Harness our inner foodie. That would’ve required sitters. And a space larger than a van. So I can’t speak to the food quality, the food inventiveness. But I can speak to this: this trip has forced us to get better at adulting. And I’m stoked about that. Though I wish I could’ve tried that agave-infused, fire-roasted tlayudas we’d heard so much about….
The Other Stuff
It’s not that Oaxaca doesn’t have it’s charm. A tree-canopied zocalo. Gratis performances. Fuscia jacarandas and verdigrisy agave. Cobblestone streets. Neon-painted, baroque houses. Extravagant, Spanish churches. Check. It checks most the boxes for cool colonial cities. Yet, it seemed to be missing something. An intimacy. A quirk. Disorganized, small streets. Something. We couldn’t put our feet on it, as we strolled the gorgeous streets near the historical center of town, but Oaxaca did not captivate us like other colonial cities, namely Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. But perhaps that’s just ’cause we’re bitter about missing out on the craft tlayudas.
A hilltop ruin reminiscent of Machu Picchu. We arrived at the butt-end of dry season. Winter. Grasses were dead. Trees hadn’t even begun to reveal the buds of their blossom. Yet, you can imagine, after a month of rain, how green and lush and hermoso this alter, this holiest of locales, would look (and in case you can’t, the poster near the ticket booth will put that picture in your head). Nearly as scenic, though less well-known, as Machu Picchu (from what we can gather; if you haven’t heard it, we’ll reveal our Machu Picchu story at a later post). As you walk the grounds, climb the steep steps to the temple tops, you’ll find yourself indulging what life was like here as a high priest. Swanky. Heavenly. Lack of oxygen-y. Then you might imagine, if you have a macabre mind like me, the priest just rolling all those sacrificed bodies down the mountains….
Hierve El Agua
On our way out of Oaxaca, we stopped here, mostly to say “we’ve been there”. It’s one of two calcified waterfalls in the world, the other being in Turkey. It also has some, in case this is your thing, some dirty natural pools to bathe in. Like, if you like swimming amongst toilet paper, this is your place! Of course, that didn’t stop our kids from dipping. Or us from permitting a dip — we’re still perfecting adulting…. Nevertheless, you should be warned, in exchange for seeing this rare site, a site that does have a pleasing, panoramic view of the valley below, you may need to update your Hepatitis shots.
In hindsight, that fun word of retroactive reconsideration, we would’ve skipped this stop. The next stops, which I hope to write about here soon, were much cooler, more unique. However, don’t take our word for it. Plenty of other folks, all those other tourists referenced above, loved Oaxaca. Loved. But perhaps they’re just high on mezcal (a very popular liquor made in region)….