Day 10 - Oaxaca
After about 20hrs of buses throughout the night (fairly comfortable, sleep happened at some point), we arrived about midday at our new home in Oaxaca - a proper hostel where the main languages are English and Drinking! (We are fluent in both, yay!) We had a private room (too old to be sharing with 10 other people and one fan), there was a lovely roof top bar which we familiarised ourselves with and did little else that evening (except find the closest kebab/taco shop!)
We joined a free walking tour with a local man who grew up in a Zapotec village and told us about the history of Oaxaca and the anarchist attitude of the city, where protests and political artwork are still an important part of daily life. We also saw some men making rugs and tried the local drink ‘Tejate’ which was... gritty (that's the nicest way to describe it!). Oaxaca is easy to walk around with beautiful buildings mixed with murals and grafitti, lots of cool little bars and cafes, and a big focus on local foods, pretty perfect really! But never mind that… Avengers End Game had just been released so we spent 3hrs of our life watching that [Chris edit: Which was the best 3 hours ever!] We tried some artisan mezcal, then joined the hostel lot for drinks out…
Hungover / still drunk, we dragged ourselves to the town square where we met Esmeralda and our fellow cooks (two Ozzy couples and a Columbian, all lovely and understanding of our fragile state) under the clock tower. A sobering breakfast, consisting of grasshoppers, followed as we were shown around the local market to pick up our ingredients. After picking up various chillies, cheeses and beans we set off to Agustin’s (hosts) house to begin our cooking course! We made guac, salsas, frijoles, some sort of Octopus and prawn dish (Chris closed his eyes and pretended it was chicken), stuffed peppers (fried in so much oil), and chicken with black mole - the famous sauce from Oaxaca consisting of a billion ingredients added at precise times, including burnt tortillas (!)... by this point we had topped ourselves up with the free-flowing beers and mezcal, Chris had forgotten about the cooking and spent most of the time chatting to the host, and we left our furiously annotated printouts behind, so don’t expect any mexican cooking from us!
Hungover… accidently went for really posh food in the evening.
Booked an all day tour which took us first to see a massive tree (widest in the world), then a small village to meet an old-school (award winning) textile producer who showed us how to spin and dye wool with natural dyes (including Cochineal bugs found on cacti), and how he weaves by hand… then we saw the Ruins at Metla and learned that the Zapotecs deliberately built massive steps which were too narrow for your feet so you had to stoop and hobble sideways up the temple to show your respect (and some other facts), then the petrified waterfalls (hierve el agua) where we finally got to swim in some small natural pools, then to a mezcaleria for a whirlwind tour of the operation and a hard sell of their flavoured liquors… pina colada mezcal anyone? (yes please!).
Our last day in Oaxaca - we walked around looking at the street art, then I watched Spurs v Ajax, drank beers in litres (super lad) and ate hotdogs in an Irish pub. After the game we walked around a stamp museum, which was a lot better than expected (the beer may have helped). Saw some very old stamps. Then back to the hostel for a final drink on the roof terrace before a long bus drive to San Cristobal!