Trip Start Jul 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 23, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oaxaca is a beautiful colonial town, nestled 1600 metres above sea level in a pretty valley surrounded by mountains.  It has much to offer: a lively main square, the Zocalo, shaded by giant fig trees; brightly coloured buildings lining every street; a buzzing daily market; and some of the countries' most impressive ruins just a few kilometres away at Monte Alban.

The only thing we didn't enjoy about Oaxaca was getting there - a 6 hour bus ride in a 'luxurious private van' through the mountains turned out not to be so luxurious.  The van driver turned out to be a pretty sociable guy, and stopped at every village along the way to have a chat with his mates, to buy bananas, or snack on tortillas.  And what seemed like a fairly spacious van became incredibly cramped as we continually stopped to pick up more passengers.  Seven and a half hours later, we arrived in Oaxaca.  Thinking we were over our recent bout of gastroenteritis, we went out for a huge meal, ate far more than out fragile stomach's were capable of handling, and spent the next 24 hours recovering.

Undoubtedly the highlight of our stay was our visit to Monte Alban.  An incredible archaeological site inhabited since 500BC, the Zapotecs levelled an entire mountaintop to build their capital.  The site comprises huge pyramid like structures, temples, tombs and palaces used as ceremonial centres by their highly organised, priest dominated society.  Just as stunning as the ancient monuments themselves is the location, with breath-taking 360 degree views of the surrounding valleys and mist-covered mountains.

The local market was another fascinating attraction, with vendors selling everything under the sun: mole made with spices and chocolate, nieve - homemade icecream, in flavours like leche quemada (burnt milk) and tamarind, a huge varieties of chillies, and little old ladies selling chapulines, tiny grasshoppers fried with chilli and garlic. 

Tonight: another 11 hour bus ride (in clase ejecutivo, which actually does sound pretty luxurious) to San Cristobal de las Casas, high up in the mountains of Chiapas.

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Lucy on

Sounds amazing Sar! Hope you and Rob are feeling much better and that your next bus ride turns out to be more luxurious! :-)

lin holthusen on

great photos and blog....

i wonder if i could eat grasshoppers ! have fun ...glad you are feeling better .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Debjani on

Hmmm. Your van driver sounds suspiciously madrileño.

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