Thursday, February 26, 2009

the new diggs...

...this is my place of rest for the next month here in Oaxaca
and across the hall is a little balcony...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Travel Towels are Not the Same as Beach Towels

I've been in Puerto Escondido about a week now and I've really grown attached. After covering the basics and visiting; the Adoquin, the main pedestrian street, La Playa Zicatela, the surfing beach and the main center...I started to venture out a bit more. Playa Manzinillo, which is just one beach north of downtown Puerto, is a great little spot for swimming. Then, I took a trip to La Laguna Manialtepec, which is just about a 20 min drive from town. The Laguna tour started around 4pm and we headed out with binoculars on a little motor boat. It was me and 5 other gringos. We saw some really cool birds actually, lots of pelicans and even a blue-grey heron (yep dad), all the meanwhile touring the laguna and making our way to where the freshwater meets the salt water at the coast.

Once we got to the strip of beach that divides the Laguna from the Ocean we hung out and watched the sun set. It was really an amazing sunset, accompanied by refreshments and food made by the people that live on that stretch of beach. After the sun set, we all got back in the boat and headed to this particular spot in the Laguna where there are bioilluninescent plankton, so the water glows wherever you touch it...really cool.
This picture is me and Gina. Gina is known in Puerto as the information goddess and lives in the same house as my aunt. Beyond running the tourism booth, Gina gives a walking tour Saturdays and Wednesdays where she shares some history, some exercise and some food with visitors. The tour starts on the main strip with a traditional breakfast of black beans, salsa, cooked cactus, tortillas and coffee, good coffee. After the fule up, the group starts walking uphill, visiting the church, a herbal pharmacy and Ines' tamale 'kitchen'. The group slows down in El Marcado Benito Juarez. The Marcado has literally everything you could ever dream of and we tried some of the bests...sweet, traditional, sour. After the tour, it's all downhill to the beach!

From Puerto Escondido, I traveled south a bit, where the beaches are truly undiscovered. I spent the night in Mezunte, where I met a magician and some fellow travelers, non of which had plans to leave Mazunte. In mazunte, I learned how to use a tank-less toilet and all about the end of the Mayan Calender, which is quickly approaching. I think it went something like "if you were alive 3,850 years then these would be your last 4..?" something of that nature. The turtle conservatory in between Mazunte and San Agustinillo is kind of a must, so I went. The turtles are about the size of a kids sandbox and pretty interesting, although no touching allowed! After I was tired and toasted from the sun, I started making my way back to Puerto Escondido.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

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Puerto Escondido

After traveling for most on Wednesday, I arrived in Puerto! It actually isn't located far from Oaxaca City, it's just that you have to cross over some Mountains and the road is slow and curvy. I was prepared for the worst, after hearing people talk of the van ride to the coast, but somehow I lucked out and was assigned the front seat. No one talked in the van and we listed to slow romantic spanish music, which I could completely understand...generally along the lines of "i love you" or "i'm sorry", followed by a little Calle 13 to spice it up. 

Anyway, I arrived and called Sheila, my distant relative that I'd never met, and she came right to the bus station to pick me up. At least in the darkness Puerto kind of reminded me of Long Beach Island, or something along those lines, and we promtly ate some shrimp tacos and went back to the house. Sheila, who I've just started calling my aunt because that is much easier in spanish than my dad's first cousin once removed... lives on the same street as the lighthouse and within walking distance to a couple of beaches. She turns out to be a very cool lady and has a renter, una chilanga, from Mexico City, who works in tourism here and is really setting me up. Anyway, so far so good in Puerto...

Art en La Ciudad Oaxaca

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Always order El Plato del Dia

Yesterday I set off to see Monte Alban, some ruins just outside of Oaxaca City. Before taking the van ride I went out for some coffee, real coffee, not the instant stuff. I love this hostel and their free breakfast, that comes with eggs, but the coffee their coffee is not my favorite. Anyway, I found this plaza that turns out to be La Basilica d
e la Soledad. This picture is of the police in training who were running laps in the plaza...and then crawing on the ground...and doing push-ups, I was trying not to laugh because it looked very challenging, but they didn't seem badass at all. 

From this plaza I went to meet up with two Argentinian girls from my hostel who planned our trip to Monte Alban.  I decided to do the trip sin guia, without a guide, because sometimes that gets boring. So I wandered around the ruins and read little signs and stuff. The ruins were cool and all, but I was baking and for sure getting a sun burn and I couldn't help thinking...How could this have been one of the first planned suburban communities if there aren't any tress or shade? So I asked this dude selling small clay figures about it and we had a whole conversation about the history of the different indigenous groups that lived in this area and he said that yes, there were trees, but they were

destroyed like everything else. Then he told me all about being a farmer nearby and whatnot, very cool dude, I think way cooler than the guias. Anyway, the ruins trip really wiped me 
out and I never woke up from my afternoon siesta. Today, I hiked
 up the largest hill in Oaxaca City to take in the view and then walked down to meet some people for lunch. As I alreayd mentioned El Plato del Dia treated me well.  I got the largest and definitely best meal at the table and paid the least, and of couse it was accompanied by beans!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Oaxaca at First Glance

I MADE IT! I finally left Boulder and I'm now in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca. I'm staying at a super chill hostel, La Casa de Don Pablo and enjoying the sunshine. On my first day of exploring I found myself at the Santo Domingo Cathedral. It's this huge beautiful cathedral with a park the size of a city block attached to the back. Upon wandering in, I was asked to pay, bummer, but really what I didn't realize was that I was getting the complete tour of the botanical garden, which turned out to be really interesting...yep, el flor de marzo is one of the indredients of Channel's no.5, among other more medicenal purposes of most of the other plants. Beyond that, I enjoyed some coffee in the Zocalo, where there seems to be an everprescence, but not always visable, peruvian style flute band.

Today, Day 2, for those keeping track... I headed out this morning to see Los Arcquitos. Los Arcquitos (little arcs), turned out to be, eh, this street lined with little arcs, who could have guessed. Anyway, more importantly, on my way to Los Arcquitos I found myself at this little 
organic farmers market deal and had quite possibly the best toastada of my life. I was pretty hungry, but anywho, this toastada consisted of a crisp tortilla with jalapinllo flavored cheese, 
my favorite type of beans and some sauteed vegtables on top.  This meal really started me off on a day of great eating!

Between this market and my hostel I explored a gra
phic art school that had some exhibits and a librarty. I saw some great artwork in the making. Next, I went to the Casa de La Ciudad which had some excellent art as well. This picture is a photographic floor of Oaxaca, aerial style...
 For dinner I had chicken mole, black mole, oaxaca style, with a glass of wine over looking the Zocalo and a free concert. I didn't realize at the time that the restaurant was so swanky, and cost a little more than my hostel stay for the night, but definitely the best mole of my life, well worth it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Things I Will Miss In Boulder

  1. Everyone
  2. The Flatirons
  3. Being in the beer of the week club at Liquor Mart
  4. The Teahouse 
  5. The cyclists on the bike path who are always smiling and high on adrenaline 
  6. Breakfast at Dot's 
  7. Happy hour at the Med
  8. The path around the Res
  9. Hot yoga
  10. Free Wall St. Journals on campus
  11. The Fox
  12. The Upstairs
  13. The Gyro Stand late night