Our Unforgettable Oaxacan Family Memories

Our Unforgettable Oaxacan Family Memories

By
Maria Buchanan

During the summer of 2016 my family and I visited the beautiful city of Oaxaca.  For some time, my husband David and I, along with our two daughters, Saraí and Isabel had been longing to for this family experience.  Located in southern Mexico, Oaxaca is known for its rich history, culture, cuisine, and art. We enjoyed staying in a hotel that caters to local people from the countryside, who come to the city to sell their cacao beans to process nearby, which are  transformed into the best chocolate that Mexico offers; from dark chocolate to chocolate mixed with cinnamon. The history of chocolate around the world traces its beginnings to Mexico, and used by the indigenous Zapotecans of old.

The morning after our arrival, we awoke to the delicious smell of fresh hot chocolate being ground, ready to be sold. With our breakfast we were served fresh hot chocolate mixed with fresh cinnamon. This delicious first experience was served in bowls, instead of the accostumed cups.

After breakfast we headed out for the Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre markets.

where we discovered many different kinds of a traditional Mexican dish known as “mole”.

Even though I am Mexican I was only familiar with the two or three types of “mole” known in the region of Central Mexico where I grew up, and now discovered that this market sold about 7 different types of “mole”. What a surprise for us all. The best vanilla in Mexico comes from Oaxaca and this market offered fresh vanilla bean pods for the modest price of one dollar, with local men and women from the surrounding countryside presiding over the many small stalls in the market, also selling all kinds of exotic foods, from chapulines (roasted grasshoppers), eaten as snacks, to large tostadas called tlayudas, served with beans, cheese, and meat.

From the food market we made our way to the artisan market, and saw native garments and jewelry with traditional indigenous designs.  The eye-catching colors and designs, amidst the background of the various native Indian languages, woven into the broken Spanish spoken by the indigenous vendors, was an audio and visual delight that stimulated the senses.

The smells, colors, flavors and textures of that visit prepared us for our trip the following day, to the archaeological city of Monte Alban, with its pyramids and buildings, true vestiges of one of Mexico’s important, ancient civilizations, whose greatness speaks of the intelligence, capability and knowledge, science and architecture of its people.

After a long day of walking and enjoying this ancient city we also enjoyed returning to one of Oaxaca’s restaurants on the Plaza, and the delicious food they offer.

And after dinner it was interesting to stroll through the main plaza, and then met and talked to the local people and youths, as we sat in the plaza.

The next day we visited the Zocalo, and later in the day, ex-convent of Santo Domingo.  This building now houses a museum that displays the history and culture of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca is definitely a city not to be missed when visiting Mexico, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and be prepared to walk and explore this beautiful city and region.

David, Saraí, Isabel and I were very happy to fulfill our dream of visiting this beautiful place together, as a family.

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