Tag Archives: Oaxaca

Oaxaca – Chocolate, Cheese and Churches

Mar 12 – One of the things Oaxaca is famous for is chocolate. It is the basis of molé sauce (which tastes much better here – I think I’m becoming accustomed to it), but is also sold in all its forms. Today we stopped at Mayordomo for a classic hot cocoa made with milk, which is what many folks here drink in the morning instead of coffee:

While we were waiting for the cocoa to come, we were served a dish of corn chips with molé negro (black). It turns out that molé comes in many colors:

On the menu of the chocolate shop was a list of postres (afters), which usually means dessert. Not knowing what any of them were, Jim picked one at random. We expected a cookie or a pastry, and instead we got…

…tortillas with molé and Oaxacan cheese! We have really enjoyed the cheese made here, which crumbles like feta, pulls like string cheese, melts like mozzarella, and is served on everything!

Oaxaca has several beautiful churches, a cathedral and a Basilica. We’ve been sampling them in between shopping, sightseeing and eating. Here are some highlights.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude (la Nuestra Señora de Soledad), was built in the 1600s out of green cantera stone. It was built without tall spires to better withstand earthquakes:

El Templo de San Felipe Neri was our favorite, with old stenciled walls, old paintings, and San Felipe himself (I think) up on the altar:

Metropolitan Cathedral, built in the 1500s out of the same green stone was pretty on the outside, but dark inside:

Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman used to be a monastery. The family tree of Santo Domingo is illustrated in gold on the ceiling:

We’ve really loved our time in Oaxaca, but it is time to move on. Where do you think we will go next?

Árbol del Tule

Mar 11 – You are going to be so jealous when I tell you where we went today! El Árbol del Tule! What is that? Well, it’s not the tallest tree in the world (that would be the General Sherman, a sequoia in California), nor the oldest tree in the world (that would be the Great Basin bristlecone pine, also in California, over 5000 years old). No friends, today we visited the world’s stoutest tree! A really, really wide cypress tree, over 2000 years old!

A half hour’s bus ride from Oaxaca city, the little town of Santa Maria del Tule exists for the sole purpose of taking care of this tree! A lovely park surrounds the tree, with fountains and topiary animals.

For 10 pesos (50 cents), you can walk inside the gate and see the tree up close and personal. Folks say they see faces and animals in the tree’s bark. What do you see?

There is a pretty church here, unfortunately closed.

On the other side of the church is the Son of Tule, only a thousand years old. If the original tree ever kicks the bucket, the townspeople are prepared with a replacement!

A nun sells souvenirs:

There are some lovely metal sculptures here:

We spent a few hours wandering about, then found the bus to take us back to the city. A great way to spend a sunny Sunday!

More from Oaxaca – the Markets

Mar 9 – Oaxaca is known for textiles, but there is a lot of variety on offer from the local street markets. The central square is called the Zócalo.

Usually when we travel we are backpackers, so we do not shop for anything that would add weight to our packs. On this trip, we are tourists, and looking for presents for our grandchildren. We meandered through huge indoor markets. Do you think the kids would like some spicy fried insects?

How about some mezcal?

Maybe a hat?

Just kidding! Plenty of stuff to choose from!

There was one area called the Aisle of Meat, where hawkers entice you in with stall after stall of sliced raw meat. Point to what you want, and they grill and serve it to you right there! This was a very popular place at lunchtime.

As we walked back toward home, we noticed free drinks being passed out by a variety of shops and hotels. When we got back to our hotel, we asked the significance, and were told that today is the day that Oaxacans honor the Samaritan woman at the well who gave water to Jesus, by giving free drinks to strangers. I got fig juice, and Jim got something white that smelled of cinnamon. Thank you, Samaritan woman!

Today, as part of our menu al dia, we tried another Oaxacan food delight, the tétela, which is a corn tortilla filled with black beans (or other things), covered with salsa and Oaxacan cheese and served warm. Muy delicioso!

We have been experimenting with the different brands of Mexican beer that we don’t usually see in the US. Tonight we tried one called Sol, without reading the fine print… Aieee! Beer with lime, salt and hot sauce! Let’s not get that one again!


Mar 7 – This Mexican trip is a result of my wanting to go to Oaxaca (pronounced wa HOCK a). Jim has been after me to go to Mexico for years, but I didn’t want to go until I read about Oaxaca in The NY Times. I put down the article and said, let’s go to Oaxaca!

Although we hated to leave the beach, Oaxaca was calling our name. We took a 15 passenger minibus that went north up through twisty narrow mountain roads, and got us to Oaxaca in about six hours. Other travelers said it was a scary and / or nauseating ride, but compared to other bus rides we have taken, it really wasn’t bad!

We walked from the bus station to our Hotel Parador del Dominico in our beach duds, then realized we were back in the city and should be wearing long pants. Easy to fix – we just zipped our pant legs back on! Lovely big room with a private patio, great air con and hot water! Jim does it again!

There are colorful buildings and unusual things to see here:

This man appears to be made of meat. I wonder what he is advertising?

All over Mexico, there are Farmacias Similares, where you can bring in your prescription and have it filled at a much lower price than in the US. This was the first time we saw a dancing pharmacist!

For our first evening in town, we wanted to try tlayudas, a very popular regional food. Two grilled tortillas filled with meat or vegetables as you choose, in brown sauce, sprinkled with Oaxacan white cheese, and served with a variety of salsas to suit your taste. Yum!

We’ll have a few days to explore this pretty city. Stay tuned!