Things That Made Me Happy in Oaxaca

In mid-September, I spent a week in Oaxaca State in Mexico, with my noble co-adventurer Ali. It was a fantastic, fun trip in every possible way.

We spent half the time in Huatulco, a coastal region of nine bays, numerous stretches of carefully-protected jungles and beaches, a handful of upscale resort hotels, and several smaller communities. We stayed in La Crucecita, a smallish town where many of the tourism workers live, which was pleasant and friendly (and which did not feel artificial or over-touristed). Huatulco was days of seeking small adventures and wading through the hot, humid, beautiful air, followed by evenings of wandering around the town center, and nights of fruitbat-watching and night-street-overlooking from our hotel’s balcony.

Halfway through the trip, we took a rainy, winding night bus trip from Huatulco to Oaxaca de Juárez. Oaxaca is the state’s capital, an excellent place for food, arts, and culture, with veritable oodles of colonial-era architecture all throughout its historic center. As in Huatulco, we spent much of our time contentedly walking around and exploring the streets. We also did some food-ish and culture-ish things, as one must.

I haven’t the time or attention to do a day-by-day recap, so instead, I’ll just touch on the main highlights of the trip:

Things That Made Me Happy in Oaxaca:

  • Snorkeling and leaping about in choppy waves at Playa La Entrega, spotting hundreds of colorful fish—even one handsome wee pufferfish!
  • Going canyoning on the Zimatán River: a mixture of hiking through wild jungle (so many cool plants! including wild Tillandsia / air plant), jumping off & rappelling down alarmingly tall rocks, swimming through rushing rapids, and floating placidly down quieter, gentler green currents.
  • Visiting a coffee farm in the mountains: walking through overgrown jungly trails cut into the hillside and getting to nibble on passionfruit fresh off the vine.
  • Also: a surprise zipline! Surprising both because we hadn’t known there was one at the coffee farm, and because it crossed high above a deep jungle valley… a fact we did not learn until we reached a certain curve in the zipline’s path, after we were already zipping wildly through the air. Startling. But so much fun.
  • Meeting up with my mother’s friend Enrique (a native Oaxacan), who led us through the dense and fascinating Abastos Market. He then traveled with us to a pottery studio in San Bartolo Coyotepec, a town outside Oaxaca famous for its barro negro, or shiny black decorative pottery.
  • The coolest museum ever: Museo de Filatelia / Museum of Philately. A deeply engrossing museum of stamps and postal paraphernalia from all over the world. It had a great exhibit on cartophilately (stamps with maps), as well as a vault full of centuries’ worth of interesting letters and stamps. If you’re ever in Oaxaca and have the faintest interest in travel, graphic art, or happiness, you should go.
  • A final night in Oaxaca spent sitting on a sheltered rooftop during a gorgeous thunderstorm. Then, retiring to a small cafe which had quotes from Latin American writers painted all over its walls, listening to excellent live music and striking up mixed-language conversations with the other patrons.

Do all the things! Here’s a slideshow of many of the trip photos:

(Or click here to view the photo album directly.)

One thought on “Things That Made Me Happy in Oaxaca

  1. I remain terribly jealous, especially as I see familiar Oaxacan sights and not having had my camera when I was there last, and I miss Enrique, and I love the picture of the lightning and of the ants carrying the leaf, and I have nothing more to say now except for “thank you for publishing this.”

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