Weekend 19: Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca

I waited until after my program officially ended to travel to the forbidden city of Oaxaca. Back in August (seems so long ago) at the orientation in Mexico City, some Fulbrighters had to be reassigned to a new city because of uprisings against teachers. Throughout my 4 months, there was nothing that I heard about that situation, but that does not mean it could still be dangerous in some parts of the State of Oaxaca.

I was there only a few days, but the experience was worth wait. First of all, the weather during the last week of December was perfect sun and shorts weather. I insisted on wearing my linen shorts everyday because when I get to New York tomorrow, my tanned legs won’t see those shorts until mid-June.

Oaxaca has many historical places outside the city, such as the Mayan Ruins of Monte Alban and the “frozen waterfall”. Both of these places were impressive because of their (respectively) historical significance and natural beauty. Within the city, there are museums. However, I felt that I had just spent the past 4 months visiting what feels like close to 20 museums and I was saturated. I loved every museum I visited, but the few in Oaxaca will have to wait until my next visit.

What’s actually good here are the artisan crafts and the food. I liked the woven woolen rugs and the intricately painted wooden menagerie of animals. I was able to squeak into a morning cooking class on Thursday (as there was one more space to make a group of 10!) to experience the complicated process of making Black Mole. Now I know that about 30 ingredients go into the making of that sauce and it’s not only chocolate that gives it that flavorful depth and complexity . It took several hours, but the meal was worth the group effort at the end. Also, I will just buy a jar of Black Mole and call it good.


Weekend 3: Las Bellas Artes & La Casona

El Palacio de las Bellas Artes

We were all in for a real treat to see national folk dancing in the beautiful building. This is the link to the government website! Everything was beautiful and “on point”, even through it wasn’t a ballet. The best performance was a modern dance version of a deer dying. It took forever, but the performer had to be an amazing gymnast to be able to perform those athletic jumps to avoid the hunter, then suffer for a good while before dying in several intermittent spasmodic fits.

It would have been better if I had “studied” the program before watching so that I could associate the dancing with the state in Mexico where they originate. The performances were similar to the Peruvian folk dancing that I saw in Lima with the Fulbright-Hays group.



La Casona (restaurante)

One of the best foods in Mexico has to be molé! They make several types, but they are all good. I hear that it takes a special chile from Oaxaca to make the recipe authentic to the discerning diner. And there could be up to 30 ingredients!


It was Shalanda Baker’s idea to eat at La Casona. She’s a Fulbrighter this year, too. Her project is related to the recent energy reforms in Mexico and its effects on indigenous populations. I would be interested to know what she discovers… On another gastronomic adventure, Shalanda and I ate at La Bajio, a restaurant in a shopping mall. Pretty good.