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Travel Adventure - Backpacking Latin America's Gringo Trail Backpacking Latin America starting in Cuba, then travelling from East to the west coast of Mexico before making our through Central and finishing in South America.

Oaxaca - mountainous surrounds, mole and mezcal

MEXICO | Tuesday, 30 June 2015 | Views [519]

Cactus lined mountains appeared as the sun rose and eased the lack of sleep from the overnight bus ride. 

We checked in to our hostel and had to wait a little bit for our rooms to be ready coz we arrived early. Another cool budget traveller hostel in the centre of Oaxaca. It was noticeably cooler here, still wearing dresses but not as humid, which was a nice change. We walked around this really nice colonial city, easily getting lost and finding yourself again through the streets. Heading to the Zocalo (the centre square) and looking around the huge markets which ignited your senses and was full of fruits, spices, meats, clothes, crafts etc etc. We ate at one of the tables around the outside for lunch. Matt ordered pollo (chicken) with mole (a Mexican sauce made from chocolate and spices) I forgot what cecina was and we didn't have our little phrase book on us so ordered it anyway. As soon as we ordered I was like I'm pretty sure I just ordered pork. I did. So Matt had that too which he said was nice in a peri peri kind of sauce and I had the sides of beans and rice Haha. We read about some chocolate shops on TripAdvisor and as I have a sweet tooth we went to one. They had lots of bundles of chocolate for sale and the machines set up for the process of how they make it. The shop was attached to a hotel and there was a little cafe at the bottom where we were assuming you could have a hot chocolate. We walked in and it only had info on the hotel accommodation, maybe we were wrong about the hot chocolate so were about the walk out when the only couple sitting in there said to us that this is the best hot chocolate in the world! They were American and around my parents age. She was a teacher and studied a unit on chocolate travelled many places trying different types and said this was the best she'd had and said she will help us order as she spoke Spanish and there were a few different types of flavours we could choose from. We both went for the traditional and they came out in bowls and they were delicious! You could taste it was slightly bitter but smooth and creamy at the same time with a hint of aniseed. Yum!
After an arvo nap we went to a really nice part of the city which had a beautiful church, boutique shops and nice restaurants. We chose a restaurant which you could eat on their rooftop and had a guy playing the guitar. The view was incredible with mountains surrounding all around and a great view of an impressive church (we went in here a couple of days later and the interior was incredible with the roof and walls detailed of religious figures and lined in gold). I ordered a margarita with mezcal (a traditional tequila, the taste is a lot smoker) and apparently a traditional Oaxacan dish which was cheese stuffed mushrooms, lightly crumbed and a bruschetta type dressing on top. It was delicious and Matt loved his too. A nice first dinner in Oaxaca we walked back along the streets to our hostel, stopping in a museum/shop/cafe to look at some amazing modern Mexican artwork inside. There were figurines painted in the colourful folk art and also ones that had thousands of tiny beads stuck to it to make the pattern. There was a huge deer (photo below, although you can't see the intricate details of the beads) which was a stand out. We played a game of pool back at the hostel before going to bed.
The next day we did a tour which firstly took us to a tree which had the largest trunk in the world - it was pretty big. Then to a place that showed us how they make the tapestry. This was interesting how they use plants, fruits, flowers and even insects etc to dye the yarn, they then spin spin the wool and use an old machine to weave. The people of this town are all weavers and are taught to weave since they are 6 years old. The larger rugs take about 2 months to make after years of practise. 
We then went to a mezcal distillery where they showed us how they make the mezcal/tequila from cactus/agave plants. We then tried samples of the aged ones and the flavoured liqueurs. It was fun and we tried about 20 different samples just going back for more. There were also bar nuts, bugs and chilli salt to try. Matt also tried a worm which they put  in the bottles. He said it was gross which is a lot for him to say since he eats everything and resorted to eating the bugs instead which we said were good and seasoned and salty... weirdo haha
Next we went to some preserved ruins. The guide told us the history which was good but ruins start looking all the same after a while. 
We finished at a place where there was a petrified waterfall and natural springs overlooking an incredible view of the mountains. We met two New Zealand girls who were staying at our hostel and were on the tour who pretty much just came for the waterfall and didn't realise that it was solid from being petrified and were imagining going swimming under the streaming waterfall. It was pretty funny, so went swimming in the natural spring and tried to take photos of each other while treading water and not laughing. 
Back to the markets to get quesadillas for dinner and the next morning we had a little time to go inside that gold church and did a fast forward look of the museum next to the church full of old Aztec artefacts. Oaxaca was definitely a place we could have stayed longer but need to stay on track with our schedule. Plus next we are heading to Puerto Escondido which we are really excited about. It's a laid back surfer town on the beach where the Mexican pipeline breaks. I've been here around 3 or 4 years ago for my cousins wedding and absolutely loved it and can't wait to go back. Hoping it's just as good this time around. 

Tags: hot chocolate, mexico, mezcal, mole, mountains, oaxaca, streets, tapestry, tequila, tour

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