This is the story of my 6 months of studying in Arizona in 2010 and subsequent travels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First day in Oaxaca - Day 28

The bus trip to Oaxaca ([Wahaka]) took 11,5 hours, and we had high expectations to the trip, since the bus was supposed to be even more comfortable than the one we took to Palenque. Unfortunately, it wasn't. The important difference was the space to the next seat, significantly bigger than in regular busses - however, the footrest was mounted on the seat in front, thus practically unreachable. Combine that with driving in the mountains, and imagine how we were literally sliding down from our seats trying to fall asleep. Sigh...

We arrived in Oaxaca around 7.30 (Wed 9/2), and easily found our way to the hostel close to the bus station. We waited a while till an English speaking receptionist arrived (don't know why the Spanish speaking one didn't just check us in), and he showed us to the room, despite the early hour. Here we met our two room mates, 50-year old English Sara and 27-year old Swiss Laura. Both nice and talkative, giving us suggestions on what to do during our two days in Oaxaca. For this first day we decided to stay around the city, while we would take a tour to surrounding areas the next.

Fruit in the sun
Convincing the reception that it would be fair to have the hostels breakfast on our arrival day as we wouldn't have time before departure two days later, we continued our day with quesadillas and beans with juice. Then headed out in the city, which turned our to be somewhat warmer than San Cristobal - nice! Our stops during the morning included Santo Domingo, a church pretty much covered with gold inside, and a break on a plaza for eating strawberries and mango. :)

Oaxaca is a pretty and sunny city, and we enjoyed walking around taking in all the impressions. We reached the Zócalo (central square), and found it to be in connection with another square, and together they formed a beautiful space with trees and benches, vendors, a marimba band, and lots of people around. Again, on a regular weekday... A beautiful atmosphere! We continued our walk to the markets slightly more south, and found probably the biggest assembly of vendors I have yet encountered in Mexico. One of the markets inspired me of the ones I have seen in China, with loads of little shops squeezed into a large, flat building. All sorts of smells and colors can be found here. In opposition to the food market in San Cristobal, where we had the doubtful pleasure of finding cows heads and hooves lying on the counters with the meat and heaps of dried fish intoxicating the air, here the meet looked delicious, the fish were fresh and on ice, and yellow corn-chicken were sold from every other stand. Together with the fruits and vegetables available, I had only one wish in that moment: To move to Mexico to try it ALL!

Chilis at the market
Detaching myself from daydreaming, we went around the market a bit more to get chocolate and mole paste (a chocolaty sauce used for chicken and other dishes). Sofie also looked for mescal (similar to tequila), and we had tastes of all three on our way through the stands. When we had had enough, we somehow found a way out past the chapulina-ladies, selling fried grasshoppers in various sizes from their big baskets. We were love on cash anyway, so left the market to find some lunch. Found a cheap menu with the local tasajo, relatively thin slices of beef. For a starter we got chips with the best mole I've ever had, perfect! :)

After lunch we headed back towards the hostel, while checking out local shops. When back,Sofie went to take a nap, while I sat on the roof terrace blogging. In the evening we went back to the center of the city, during the walk experiencing the city in its evening colors. Beautifully lit like so many other Mexican cities! For dinner we had an ice cream (!), which we enjoyed in the main square. Back home around 10 we passed out in our beds after the previous night's lack of rest.

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