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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oaxaca's surroundings - Day 29

Though neither Sofie or I am big fans of the tours where you see the most touristic things in the area with other tourists stuffed into a minivan, frequently including stops at shops and an overly expensive restaurant, in this case we decided it would be our best solution. We wanted to see various things around Oaxaca, and it would be hard and time consuming to get around on our own. 

So we had breakfast (just what I felt like: scrambled eggs with ham and beans) and then went out to bring some sandwiched on the tour, avoiding the above mentioned restaurant. Arrived back to the hotel just in time to catch the minivan that was there to pick us up, and spend an hour driving around the city picking up other guests... 

Arbol del Tule
At least on this tour we had an English guide. Not that we got so much information from her, but she was there which was nice. :) First stop was at Árbol del Tule, the worlds biggest tree, considering its circumference. The tree is 36.2 m around and 11 m in diameter. Pretty big, and very beautifully located next to a church. 

Tasting mezcal
Second stop was "an indigenous town, which has specialised in handcrafted rugs". Read: a rug-shop on a lonely dirt road. We got an introduction to their weaving and coloring techniques, and were then offered the opportunity to look at their products... As always when noone buys anything both shop owners and guides look a little disappointed, both due to missing out on profits from the sales. Next stop was a mezcal distillery, very different from the tequila distillery I saw in Tequila. This one was much smaller and less automatized, but the sweet smell of agave and the samples were the same. Not liking mezcal I stayed away from them, while Sofie tasted the different version, though avoided the larvas we were offered with the drink...

Finally we reached one of the attraction we wanted to see - the archaeologic site Mitla. As in so many other places the Spaniards decided to build a catholic church on top of ancient ruins, and here we saw a different kind of buildings than in the other sites we have visited. Though still pyramids, the buildings resembled actual houses more, and were decorated with interesting patterns. Of course there is a market surrounding the site, but in this case we just bought water before continuing. The day was really warm, and we needed the fluid to remain standing! After Mitla we were taken to the "mandatory" restaurant; mandatory in the sense that there is nothing else around. So we were very happy with the sandwiches we had brought, filled with salad, chicken, avocado and much more, and for dessert mango and pineapple. Yum! That even gave us time to rest a bit in the sun before the rest of the party left the restaurant. :)

Hierve el Agua
The most amazing part of the day was a visit to Hierve el Agua, the petrified waterfalls. Before leaving the highway I noticed a sign showing 13 km to the destination - I had no idea that it would take almost an hour to cover the distance! The road turned into a dirt road full of holes, making the ride quite bumpy. Then we got into the mountains and started driving up through a loooot of hairpin bends, improving the view of the terrain every time we increased the hight. Incredible... We reached the waterfalls and, had an hour before departure to enjoy the area. Some people were swimming in the ponds at the top of the falls, but we wanted to walk down to get a better view of the falls themselves. Check the pictures - its hard to explain! We stayed down for a while taking in the incredible mountainous landscape around us, then walked back up to rejoin the party. 

Back in the city we wanted to get a real Oaxacan dinner meal, and the guide suggested a restaurant around the corner from where we were dropped off. We both had tasajo and mole, with lots of tortillas of course, and then went back to pack our bags before leaving Oaxaca the next day with a bus 6.30. 

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