Oaxaca City, Mexico, last night

We started off in the same fashion, but ended up in the thick of the parades with faces painted. We had imagined the trip from long before as culminating in this awesome night, flying back just in the nick of time to make my next shift at work.

This kid was staring at Mitsy the entire time HAHA…

Mitsy looking pretty awesome, and here the both of us are! Much thanks to photographer Francisco Marin for snapping the shot.

The main cemetery in the city of Oaxaca above, locket because it was too late. Not like we’d be welcome anyways as tourists.

Shame, shame, shame. We had to eat some pizza the last day. Parades galore all night long!

We did it! We bought a balloon spear (idk what they’re called) for 15 pesos, and had too much fun. We gave it to some random kids when we were done :)

Mitsy buying schwag for her friends.

Monte Alban above over Oaxaca. What a place!

Oaxaca City, Mexico, day 5

One of the cool bonuses to our Oaxaca trip was to take a cooking class that was only in Spanish, using some oldworld techniques. The apparatus below is called a fogon, and it was how we made our mole based meal.

Mitsy grinds maize below, which was the base for a champurrado (similar to chocolate milk but made with corn milk), and tortillas. The real deal tortillas were pretty decent with a texture more grainy than what you’d normally expect.

Below are the ingredients (which are vast) for making mole, chili, nuts, chocolate, raisins, tomato, onion, and chicken broth. Crazy labor intensive but pretty unique flavor.

The champurrado is below, frothed up with an implement you spin between your palms called a molinillo. It’s an interesting drink, and similar in some ways to a hot chocolate.

This is the finished product. Mole negro with chicken (boiled for the broth) and a handmade corn tortilla for scooping it all up. It was very sweet, perhaps the personal preference of our teacher. While I would prefer it less sweet, its flavors were intense and real complex.

Oaxaca City, Mexico, day 4

Day 4 was simple, chill out, eat, sip some coffee, waltz around with no particular plan.

These meat guys were particularly fascinating to me. Quite a contrast to the standard American deli, you know, with refrigerators. But, this stuff was going to get thrown on the grill anyways so what’s the big deal?

Oaxaca City, Mexico, Monte Alban

Having seen the vast expanse of the city to the hill leading up to Monte Alban (old ruins at the top of a mountain), we thought it an adventurous idea to trek by foot towards these ruins and investigate. It was a mostly enjoyable experience, except for when we followed a blood trail towards an injured man who wanted beer money and was making threatening hand gestures.

Reads “Today you decide how you want to live, say no to violence.” Hey, now that’s a mantra I can support, being a hapless tourist in an unfamiliar place.

Soaking up the views before our run in with the bloody cerveza man.

Alas, we make it to Monte Alban, with no expectations we were pleasantly surprised to find it was quite built up, with fully serviced restrooms and a restaurant where one could indeed purchase cold beer.

Scenic overlook into the valley behind Monte Alban.

Somewhat spooked about other random encounters, we opted for a bus ride back to the city.

Oaxaca City, Mexico, day 2

We started the day with a 5 mile run guided by a local named Pascal. Shout out to a great guide and I wish him the best with his business. Here is a link to his site.

Slick view of Oaxaca in for the sunrise.

After the run we recoup at home, shower and change, and head to breakfast. Here is a view out our window.

Then off to the market! Look at this fat dog.

Side note, eating bugs is totally a thing here. Crickets, or known locally as chapulines, are nuggets of tangy zest that’s frequently thrown on other foods as a garnish and flavor enhancer. Funny story, in my broken Spanish, I asked a vendor for a ‘muestra’ (sample) of the chapulines. Hoping for just one, literally ONE small cricket, he without giving me a second to react dumped a fat spoon full of them in my hand. Gross. I ate it and it was actually good. But no WAY i’m doing that again. My damn western sensibilities can’t deal with the idea and texture of crunchy yet soft. Bleh!!

I bought some mezcal. In deciding which to buy, they gave me many samples, I choose the sweet pechuga (center section of the agave), and they siphoned it into a cheap unlabeled plastic bottle. I called it my backyard hooch.

More stuff in the huge indoor market, Mitsy delicately deciding which ‘papel picado’ to purchase.

He smelled like booze, but drew a nice picture of us while we drank some coffee. Bonus, he spoke English and told us about his quest for a woman whom he doesn’t know how to contact. Hoping fate would cause him to cross paths with her, he stays in Oaxaca, draws people, and apparently is a huge fan of mezcal (he told us so).

We sought high ground for a nice sunset.

We found a cue lil stray dog, but he was WAY too shy for us to get close. This is his hangout below.

There is a sweet planetarium that wasn’t open, and apparently isn’t open often. Too bad.

Yes, Fren-chips™

With the advice of our guide Pascal, I got some nieves (gelato style dessert) with the flavors of tuna and leche quemada. Interesting note, tuna means cactus fruit, and atun means tuna, en espanol. The leche quemada was “burnt milk”, and tasted exactly like that. At first not too pleasant, but with some practice I liked it.

As you can see below, people are already getting all dressed up for dia de los muertos.

More festivals, and a married couple celebrating outside of the Templo de Santo Domingo.

BOOOM!!! Don’t go to Oaxaca during a holiday if you suffer from PTSD.

This was really fascinating to watch. Some unfortunate kid dances frantically underneath a huge fire hazard while grimmacing like he just stepped in water while wearing socks. This was part of the wedding celebration, and culminated with him lighting up a horrific demon looking figure which perhaps symbolized the bride (yikes). Totally awesome though.


Oaxaca City, Mexico, day 1

Started the day at a trendy yet old-world coffee shop and bakery, and the food-cation has begun. Afterwards, we wandered the city, from one stone building to the next. Below is the Catedral de Nuestra Señora De La Asunción, or Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. Even though she made an ass out of you and me, they made a lovely plaza and church in her respect.

While Santo Domingo was the biggest and most beautiful church in the area, this one had the most insanely popular plaza. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, kids playing, street food, shops, restaurants, shoe shiners, the list goes on.

We finally made it to Templo de Santo Domingo and officially got the selfie in front of a cool Oaxaca sign strategically placed for maximum instagram points.

It really was magnificent!

We doubled back to Assumption Plaza and hung out until sunset.

Just one of the incalculable amount of wandering street bands we came to enjoy. At first we couldn’t believe our luck that we were walking when a parade ‘miraculously’ materialized. Later we realized that this was literally happening all day, every single day we were there.

They had a parade with many different regions chiming in in their own special way, these fellas sported stilts thatched to their legs. Even the kids got in on the fun, god I hope nobody trips…

Oh god, the street food…

They had a clown here every single night that we wandered through, and they were always different, leading me to question a lot about things I don’t normally think about. How do they claim their time slot, is it first come first serve, is there a ridiculous clown fight where the squeaky hammers and juggling pins are used for weapons. Lastly, in this day and age are clowns really relevant. I can say for certain they usually had the crowd going nuts, damned if I knew what they were talking about though… Probably gringo jokes.

We got all fancy and ate at one of the finest restaurants in town. For about 20$ a head, you can eat like you were some kind of rich person. This was my first experience with mezcal, I had two shots and it hit me pretty good. Thinking of those shots literally just sent shivers down my spine, good stuff but a kick like tequila.

The emptied shot glass below.

This is the Fren-chips™ stand, they fried potatoes in various ways. If fried potato related deliciousness became a religion, Mitsy would leave me and become a monk. Thankfully she doesn’t know of such a thing, but this place does suffice. This is a long winded way of saying we came here often. It was damn good. The night was the same old, with even more interesting stuff coming out of the woodwork. Below was that “spray paint artist that makes scenic landscapes with space and planets stuff in the background” guy.

And a dude showing off on his bicycle.

I got my leather boots shined, and they looked better than when they were brand new.

One last view of the Templo de Santo Domingo with a full moon before we retired for the night.