Just a few weeks ago, I checked another box off the old bucket list, visiting Oaxaca Mexico for the first time. Oaxaca is actually a “free and sovereign state” in the nation that is formally the United States of Mexico. Look it up. Oaxaca de Juárez would be the formal name of the city and while Travel and Leisure Magazine named it number one city in the world for 2022, it comes up number two on my list, for what might be considered a technicality. That’s called foreshadowing.
Forty something Mexicans are shaking and moving to the beat. Decked out in Santa hats, the salsa-fied Zumba class in the park vibrates the concrete the same way my pounding head does. Five knocks to the head to be specific. Butt (more, yet different foreshadowing). All of that is materially irrelevant.
The mezcal tasting surely is the root cause of the aforementioned pain in mi cabeza. Otherwise, I might be up in this group dance exercise right now. Why not. Shit is good. It’s 8am, 75° and India, Carmen and I are strolling to the US Consular Agency in Oaxaca. Also materially irrelevant, other than ain’t nobody got time for… Zumba. What I do have time for is MOLE. Holy mole. And good. And great. Oaxaca does it big. I should take a cooking class. The flavors are deep and rich and complex. And unique. The region had held on to much of it indigenous culture. Not all. But I’m comparison to elsewhere, it’s considerable. Which is a goddamn miracle considering US historical aggression on its own continent. Nonetheless, I’m digging into some mole right now. Rojo. In the market. Watching the World Cup final with two gorgeous women and a cerveza. Mole is basically sauce. The best food on earth is a sauce. This is why I consider Mexican cuisine number one in the world — at worst it’s tied for first with Vietnam depending on nation I’ve most recently eaten in. My mole has a chicken leg in it. It doesn’t matter what’s in it though, it’s the mole that matters. All of the mole, por favor.
One day we go with ceviche and cocktails. Then street tacos. Then mezcal tastings. Eating and drinking our way through this city. Eventually, I muster up the discipline to get out of the urbanized areas. Petrified waterfalls, small batch 3rd generation maestro mezcalero shit. For real, Jeronimo truly blesses us with the proper experience, I likely will be moving away from anything but sipping mezcal neat. No mix. No salt. No orange. Nada. Solo mezcal.
Hierve el Agua literally is Spanish for “the water boils”. Yet the warm springs are a bit cold and the petrified “waterfall” is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Beautiful landscape. Guided by locals that legitimately transfer stewardship at the border between towns, 7-10 kilometers hike later and its a secret actual spring fed water. Moms nature is in her happy gushy place. Give it to me. So am I. Well worth the walk, this low key spot is serene and tranquil and invigorating and just wonderful in a multitude of ways. Fuck what you heard, I chase waterfalls and its dope.
The sacred yet culturally significant side of this city and its traditions and practices shines through in the art scene. Notably the street art. It’s unbelievably omnipresent. Gawd like.
The manifestation scales to the more indoor, when we are handed a card by a woman on the street and book tickets to an “immersive theatre performance”, dubbed Microenormous. Pictures will do the talking. It was a lot, sort of.
Oaxaca Mexico leaves a lasting impression. It’s ease of access and geographic proximity definitely make it a spot worth a repeat visit or ten, even if it’s number two…