Before I get started on the details of my trip, I absolutely loved Oaxaca. It’s such a small, beautiful city in the mountains of Mexico, and nearly everything is accessible by walking. The bright colors of the buildings, the cobblestone roads, the bustling markets and park squares — all of it was a refreshing reprieve from the hectic routines and stresses of New York (and, well, America in general).
As I had wrote before, I flew down there for Brett and Vi’s wedding, and although it was great traveling and hanging out with friends, I found myself more relaxed and more emotionally-rejuvenated when I wandered by myself: in the mornings, before any of my AirBnb housemates woke up, I’d wander the city alone.
I’d stop inside the cafes, sit with a cup of coffee and often a breakfast sandwich, and just watch people get along their morning business. I’d break off from the group and take photos, one time searching all of Oaxaca by myself for a camera store that would sell 35mm film.
I flew into Mexico alone, renting a hotel in Mexico City for a 13-hour layover (who knows if I’ll write about that part, but I do have some good photos of Mexico City at night). Although I ran into some mutual friends and Brett’s family at the airport, by the time I reached Oaxaca I was left alone for a few hours; my other friends who I was sharing an AirBnB with were at a mezcal tasting, so I just walked around the city for a little bit. With the temperature reaching the 80’s, my first goal was to find cold brew coffee (hint: go to Cafeto & Baristas).
After a while I was tired of wandering and admittedly catching Pokemon, and I returned back to the AirBnB, climbed up onto the roof, and discovered an array of hammocks that our host generously provided. I tried taking a nap in the largest hammock and listened to A Funny Feeling Podcast while I waited for my friends to return from the mezcal tasting.
When they arrived a few hours later, we dressed up, wandered through the dark streets of the city, and gone to Criollo. After our dinner, we met up with the rest of our mutual friends — many of whom were familiar faces from New York and old friends from Chicago — and went bar-hopping.
One particular bar, Bar Ilegal, happened to be a regular spot that my friends and I frequented during our stay in Oaxaca (side note: apparently Ilegal Mezcal had a pop-up bar here in NYC). They had live music one night, and I think our friend Juan bought a bunch of bottles of their house mezcal to drink in the streets. The other night, he essentially bought the entire bar a round of drinks.
There are two things that I absolutely loved about Oaxaca: the food and the artisan crafts. During my short week in the city, my friends and I visited several artisan shops and markets. It seemed a lot of the shops were located in modestly lavish mansions or houses with their own outdoor courtyards.
I definitely wanted to bring some stuff home for my apartment and backyard, and some of the craft prices ranged from ridiculously expensive for Mexican prices to super cheap, comparative to the US. For instance, I figured a table runner would be nice for my table: some shop had one at about 65 US dollars, but at another one it would cost 3 (needless to say, I bought the $3 one). I managed to get a lot of drinkware for when I have backyard barbecues and little dog-looking knick knacks for what I hope would one day amount to a collection of all my international travels.
The other thing that I loved about Oaxaca was the food: I love cheese and I love spicy things, and luckily Mexican cuisine manages to satisfy those two cravings.
I learned about tlayludas, which are essentially fried, large, flat tortillas with a shitload of toppings — much like a pizza. I also learned about memelas — thicker corn tortillas that are fried but smaller and slathered with sauce, beans, and cheese.
By the time I got back in New York, I probably gained 20 pounds. I’m fairly certain my cholesterol and blood pressure was also raised.
Last but not least, it wouldn’t be an international trip without photos of the local dogs. I swear, I would have easily taken one of these strays back to the US with me.