One of the trickiest habits to snap out of before travelling is having a preconceived idea of your upcoming destination. While it’s hard not to listen to the advice, tips and tales of your fellow traveller, at least attempting to approach a new city or country with an open mind can make a whole lot of difference to your final experience.
I journeyed to Mexico with visions of colour-blocked houses, cobblestone streets and sombreros on every corner (how cliche of me), and Mexico City was anything but that. It was just a big fat city.
Luckily, the southern city of Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-ha-ka for those playing at home) came to my fantasy’s rescue. My first cross-country journey across Mexico took me by the hand and lead me to picturesque streets of multicoloured wonder, taste-bud tingling treats on every corner and cacti, so many cacti. It was a sensorial sensation.
I chose Casa Angel to rest my weary head, and couldn’t recommend it more for your time in Oaxaca. Great beds, delicious breakfast and a glorious rooftop perfect for a late night tequila will make you feel right at home.
Spending a total of 4 days here allowed me to get a really good taste of the city, as well as a tour of the surrounding region (details in a post to come). Wandering the streets is a favourite past time of mine (totally in a non-street walker kind of way!), as it allows you to take in everything around you, to look up and to discover all the little nooks and crannies that may have otherwise slipped by you.
Oaxaca was full of those intricacies, with an abundance of markets, gardens and historical sanctuaries to explore. I started my first day with a visit to the glorious Santo Domingo church. I’ll say right now that I’m not a religious person in the slightest, but the beauty and detail of the interior left me in awe.
After my religious awakening I headed to Jardin Botanico (Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Gardens) and made it just in time for an 11am English guided tour of the grounds. Formally a convent of the Dominican friars, then home to the Mexican military, the gardens were given back to the city in 1994 and cultivation began in 1998. Exclusively home to native vegetation of Oaxaca State, the gardens feature edibles plants, the famous ceiba trees, and a staggering amount of cacti (my faves).
Well and truly chomping at the bit, I met up with dorm roommate and Canadian local Crystal and headed down to the main organic market place for lunch and a refreshing drinks, before I melted into the pavement.
After a hectic day taking in all the joys of this beautiful town, I would highly recommend taking time out in the centre square, or Zocola, where you can take in the life and energy of performers, sales people and locals alike.
Do/See: Santo Domingo Church
Zocola (Main square)
Stay: Casa Angel
Eat: Tortas @ the Market
Corn from street venders