Travel Blog 20: Ciudad Oaxaca
Oaxaca has become my new favorite state!
The hitching duo kept me company all the way into Ciudad Oaxaca. Conversation was basic, but their energy was strong. Sitting copilot was a female with tattoos scattered around, a buzzed head with a few braids hanging down, and a wonderfully contagious laugh. Sitting in back was a skinny man with no facial hair and a calming voice. I liked listening to them talk, and they were really helpful with the Guardia Nacional when I was asked questions I didn’t understand. We sliced our way through the spectacular mountains with the morning sun shining down. Blaze charged around corners, braking briefly before confidently riding the road. I maintained a comfortable pace, turning the steering wheel when necessary. Feeling proud, we flowed pleasantly down the smooth highway. Tremendous views entertained us as we dramatically dropped elevation into the hustle and bustle of the big city.
I was impressed immediately by Ciudad Oaxaca as the roads were flat and drivers were calm. I drove into the center to drop my companions. I found myself a hotel beside Parque El Llano for $35 per night with gated parking for Blaze. Unfortunately for me, I had to deal with the reality that many travelers face at some point; my body may have consumed some bad water. Luckily, the hotel gave me a home-base for when I needed it, but I still managed to explore several miles around the city full of art, food, and culture.
My favorite aspect of the city was seeing people enjoy their day. I saw teenagers skating in the park, locals vending tacos, and artists trying to push their work. People possessed a pretty laid back mentality in Oaxaca. The streets were fun to walk as every corner provides a unique cafe or mezcal tasting. The Zocalo was the place to be. Musical performers played for donation, restaurants let people relax around the plaza, and visitors actively interact with one another. Around the corner sat Mercado Benito Juárez and Mercado 20th de Diciembre. Booths of miscellaneous tourist items clustered the walkways. “You want? Good price,” suddenly filled my ears as I walked by. Mezcal booths gave me a taste before I discovered a new exciting addition to my life; tortas. Food stands had a number of options on their menu, but I’m never sure what meat to trust. I ordered a “torta de pollo” (chicken torta), but grew pleasantly surprised to see it delivered in toasted bread with onion, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and avocado inside. It was a legit sandwich in a pouch. I fell in love with this new food item immediately.
Over a 4 day period, I explored various angles of Oaxaca City. Every torta I ate seemed to have something different, which made me smile to realize they weren’t all the same. Oaxaca introduced me to special soups to heal an upset stomach. I also discovered the bottled juice, Electrolit. I’m sure it’s just as unhealthy as Gatorade, but every time my energy is low from the sun or I’m feeling “traveler fatigue,” Electrolits lift me back up. Since Oaxaca, they have become a staple to my Mexico travels.
Oaxaca City had a vibe I certainly connected with. Artists were plentiful and talented. Food was delicious and unique. People were friendly, providing entertaining conversation. Several times I began talking with a stranger in which I’d join them on their walk. Once we’d arrive to their destination, I’d continue walking to discover more.
Oaxaca provided one other strange experience for me; the return of English conversation. All through Mexico, I was the outcast that couldn’t speak Spanish. While in Oaxaca, I was able to understand conversations again. My time with the Mexico mountain culture was behind me. The journey would shift into a traveler’s world. I was now in a different part of Mexico, which would bring on an assortment of special moments!