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Oaxaca Travel Report

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Oaxaca Travel Report

June 17, 2008

Here’s my long awaited Oaxaca report. I had wanted to make installments while there, but had difficulties in getting my pictures to upload.

A Bit of Background
The state of Oaxaca is located at the southern Pacific bulge of Mexico. It is made up in large part by mountains, the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca on the east and the Sierra Madre de Sur on the west. A coastal plain meets the Pacific Ocean. Despite its southern latitude, Oaxaca’s elevation and sea breezes creates a moderate climate with seasonal summer rains and dry winters with plenty of sunshine. This, we enjoyed immensely during our stay.

Oaxaca City, the state’s capitol, and its surroundings, is where we spent our time. Oaxaca, with pre-Columbian indigenous traditions, was laid out in 1529 by Spanish conquistadors and thus is filled handsome Spanish Colonial architecture. The old city is compact and very walkable.

Here are the highlights of our days which I think appeal to the textile enthusiast:
Visit the markets: Mercado Juarez and the Mercado San Juan de Dios. Here you’ll find everything from live turkeys, to samples of mescal, to sellers of embroideries, handwoven blouses and skirts, as well as rugs big and small.

We also visited the Mercado de Artesanias, the handcraft market, but were disappointed. Other craft shops to visit are Mujeres Artesania de las Regiones de Oaxaca at 204 Cinco de Mayo which is a government supported facility where women from across the region sell their wares. My favorite shop was La Mano Magico at Alcala 203. The shop offers high quality crafts and next door in the courtyard you can watch a weaver and see some beautiful rugs.

Once you start walking around this beautiful city, you’ll see textiles everywhere. There’s an outside market not far from the cathedral Santa Domingo where you’ll find crafters selling textiles. Another shop, on a side street next to the Santa Domingo, at Allende #113, is Etnico Textiles, a tiny but jam-packed shop. I loved the well-made pillows and bags made from traditional fabrics. Another shop I loved was the austere and beautiful Tienda Q at M. Bravo 109. On display were high-quality contemporary textiles and crafts.

It is not uncommon to see street sellers with rugs or shawls along popular pedestrian routes, and if you happen to stop for a cup of coffee at one of the pleasant restaurants under the portico in front of the zocolo (central plaza), you’ll have sellers visit you right at your table.

Stroll from the zocolo up the pedestrian street , Andador Macedonio Alcala to the Centro Cultural de Santo Domingo which is comprised of the Iglesia y Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo and the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. Outside, a must see is the Oaxaca botanical gardens, the Etnobotanico de Oaxaca (check the times for their English tours).

Another must-see stop is the newly opened (April 2008) Museo Textil de Oaxaca at Miguel Hdalgo #917. We enjoyed the exhibit Animated Wefts, a Textile Zoo, featuring textiles from around the world.

Good Eats:
Restaurant los Pacos (love the mole), at Abasolo 121
Café La Olla, Reforma 402, delicious Mexican nuevo cuisine (if there’s such a thing). You can eat the salad here.
Casa Oaxaca, at Garcia Vigil 407. A great splurge restaurant with superb service and delicious food.
Mercado 20 de Noviembre, two blocks south of the zocolo’s southwest corner. A culinary must for the adventurous eater (I won’t reveal more—you just have the experience this!)

We stayed at the pleasant Hotel Casa Vertiz (Reforma 404), just behind Santa Domingo.

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