Mexico / Perfect Days

#liveoaxaca Sunday with Oaxacking

I have changed a lot in the way I travel over the years. In the past, I made detailed lists of all the things I want to do while I’m away. And while I’m fairly good about pacing myself and not overdoing it, that usually leaves a lot of thing on my list undone, which has always made me feel regret of my vacation, even before I was home.

But recently, especially when it comes to Oaxaca, I’ve gone in with very few plans. But rather, I’ve tried to leave my itinerary blank and put myself in the position to have good experiences.

The wonderful thing about unplanned travel is that you just never know where a day will take you, and that’s never more true than with the time I spend in Oaxaca. So on my recent trip to there, I knew that rather than have a list of what I wanted to do, I just needed to keep in touch with @oaxacking and that in his hands, I’d end up experiencing the best that Oaxaca had to offer.

It was Sunday and even though I woke up with an idea in my mind with what it might look like, it quickly turned into a day of #liveoaxaca with Omar.

Our first stop was Tlacaloula, which I was so excited to be going to. While the Sunday market is known as one of the best weekly markets in Oaxaca, I have never had the opportunity to check it out.

Tlacaloula pottery

I love the red clay pottery from the women of Tlapazola. I can never walk by without picking up a small piece.

Tlacaloula salt

Chapulines (grasshoppers) of various sizes. The big ones are great as a snack with beer.

Tlacaloula fruit

Feelings of sunshine with the bright orange market fruit.

Tlacaloula seeds

An impressive display of seeds.

Tlacaloula aprons

I am always tempted by the colourful aprons.

Tlacaloula barbacoa adolfa

Coming to the market is about eating, and if it’s Sunday in Tlacaloula, that means barbacoa.

Oaxacking Tlacaloula horchata

As we waited room to open up at a table at Adolfa, Omar ordered a horchata, a milky looking beverage made of ground rice, water and cinnamon. Omar topped his with some tuna (prickly pear) and by the look on his face I could tell it was delicious!

Tlacaloula barbacoa adolfa oaxacking

Barbacoa, traditionally prepared in Tlacaloula means that the lamb is coated with an adobo mixture and then slow cooked in a pit until fall of the bone tender.

Tlacaloula consome oaxacking

Steaming bowls of consommé with barbacoa meat looked so delicious, I had to choose this.

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This is my style of Sunday brunch!

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The consommé was deeply flavoured and I enjoyed the textures of the different parts of meat inside.

After our meal, we continued wandering through Tlacaloula.

Tlacaloula oaxaca church

Crowds gathering outside of church for Palm Sunday

Tlacaloula palm sunday

Decorative woven palms

Tlacaloula mango vinegar

Mango drenched in a piloncillo syrup

Tlacaloula plum

As I was admiring the beautiful produce, the seller handed me this ciruela (plum) to try. Although I had warning sirens in my head about eating this unwashed piece of fruit, I wanted to show appreciation for the gift so I ate it without complaint.

Tlacaloula pulque

I was feeling like  I’d stepped over the edge of “adventurous eater” to “foolish” by eating the un-sanitized fruit. So when Omar asked if I wanted to have some pulque, the fermented sap of a maguey plant, I was in. My mindset was the alcohol content of the pulque might counteract any badness that might be brewing in my stomach. Well that, and I think pulque is intriguingly delicious.

Tlacaloula Susy Bando pulque

¡Salud!

Oaxacking Tlacaloula pulque

It was hot, so Omar took refuge in the shade to enjoy his tepache, a drink made from fermented pineapple rinds.

Michelada

We passed by a shop selling micheladas (beer mixed with lime,Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce) and quickly pulled in.  Omar knew I’d never had a “real” Oaxacan michelada so he wanted me to try.

Tlacaloula tuk tuk

We’d wandered through Tlacaloula quite a distance, so we hopped into a tuk tuk to take us back to the car.

Tlacaloula tuktuk

We got back into the car and started driving to I don’t know where, but with Omar I don’t worry as I know he has a plan.

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We pulled the car over at the side of the road where men were building a small shack, which I later learned was going to become a tasting area for their mezcals.

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We stepped carefully down a steep dirt hill which led us to the most basic mezcal fabrica.

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Omar explained that their espadin was quite special, but unfortunately they had none that day for us to try. It was fun to poke around and check out their operation nonetheless.

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Omar’s friend Alejandro checking out his strength,

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While I’ve always been surprised at how basic the facilities are where mezcal is made, this seemed more rustic than others.

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We realized they had some tobala mezcal for us to sample, which was also very good. Apparently their mezcal is bottled and made fancier to be sold small market. But here it was being served to us out of the glass jug and available for purchase in small plastic bottles.

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We got back in the car and started driving towards Hierve el Agua, (which I could tell from the signs), but I also knew we weren’t actually headed there as it’s too busy on a Sunday. While I had a pit of disappointment about missing out on Hierve el Agua again, any disappointment was erased at out destination. San Lorenzo Albarradas, is a tiny town, not somewhere most people would stop, but we were there for something special for me to see. As we stopped the car at a tiny school yard and I was treated to the most amazing sight of 2 Lapiztola pieces.

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Lapiztola Oaxaca street art blue

Due to “government restrictions” of what can be painted on walls in Oaxaca Centro, it’s hard for me to see good pieces of street art while I’m there. Of all the Oaxacan street artisits I’ve encountered, Lapiztola is my favorite. So much so, I own a print of the image above which hangs in my living room and reminds me of Oaxaca everyday. But seeing the image on a wall as it was intended was very moving for me. I was very  thankful to Omar for bringing me to see these.

Oaxacking Lapiztola

San Lorenzo Albarradas is a small quiet town. In my everyday life it takes a bit for me to disengage, but here it was so easy to slow down and appreciate the simple beauty of things.

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In the center of this small town, we came upon an empty sun-drenched courtyard and decided it was a perfect place to sit quietly.

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My catnap in the heat was the perfect way to recharge for the rest of the day.

Oaxaca nieve

The perfect pick me up from our nap was this nieve with tuna (prickly pear) and leche quemada (burnt milk) was the perfect pick-me-up after my nap.

Our next stop was Yagul, an archeological site associated with the Zapotecs where there are prehistoric caves dating back to 750AD.

Yagul caves

Yagul oaxaca view

Oaxacking Yagul

Yagul Susy Bando

Yagul view

We saw the rains coming in and made our way quickly back to the car.

Rain

While the rain didn’t last long, what did come down was hard enough that we pulled over to the side of the road to wait it out.

And as quickly as the rains poured down on us, the sun reappeared. Feeling a bit parched, we stopped at a roadside stand.

Susy Bando coconut water

While I loved the coconut water, it was the meat, chopped us and tossed with some lime and chiles that I couldn’t get enough of. Again, I’d usually be questioning whether or not I should be eating something that was hacked up by a machete that I’m sure wasn’t clean, but I was all in for the day and wasn’t going to let the fear of bad stomach stop me from eating/drinking wonderful things.

Our last stop for the day was in the town of El Tule, and while I didn’t get a photo of the famed 2000 year old Montezuma Cypress tree that is their claim to fame, I did get a shot of this:

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These colorful town markings are popping up all over (there’s even one in Oaxaca in front of the Santo Domingo). While I think they’re a bit of an eyesore, more people patiently wait their turn to have their photos taken in front of these signs.

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One of Omar’s friends stopped for elotes, which from bad experience, I’ll never eat off the street again.

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These deep fried platanos which were topped in condensed milk were delicious.

 

It’s becoming harder and harder in this world of being so connected to find unique travel experiences. My Instagram feed is filled with travel images of other people’s “perfect moments”, but it’s to the point where I feel the world is a big checklist of places to see because others did too.

I am guilty of adding to my travel-must list because of these images I see, but in my mind, Oaxaca is outside this. It’s not known to the masses (it should be, but I’m kind of glad it still isn’t), and because of this, I feel my time in Oaxaca is my own private treasure. But I also know that I get to feel this way because of people I’ve met there who want to share their wonderful home with me.

I’m lucky to have someone like Omar in my life who will drive out of the way so I can see amazing art on the wall, or take me to Yagul just as the rains were coming in, so I’d feel like I had it by myself, or encourage me to try and eat and drink everything, and not worry about getting sick. Well ok, maybe the last one isn’t all that good, but I’m glad I did, because everything was delicious.

If you’re reading this because you’re about to take a trip to Oaxaca and want an amazing experience while you’re there, get in contact with Oaxacking at liveoaxaca@gmail.com. Or follow @oaxacking on Instagram just to get a flavor of how awesome Oaxaca is. He’s one of the best Oaxaca inspirers there is!

 

 

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