Oaxaca, Mexico - #AtoZtravel

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Okay, so I cheated a little bit today because I couldn't think of a travel destination starting with X that I have actually been to. So instead I have settled for the amazing Oaxaca in Mexico, which has a X in the name!

Oaxaca (pronounced wa-hah-kah) is a lovely colonial-style city about 480km south of Mexico City. The city was founded in 1529 and follows a fairly traditional colonial town plan - with a main square (zócalo) in the centre surrounded by the cathedral and government buildings, and lots of lovely traffic-free, tree lined streets.

For those of you who live in London - you might be familiar with the Mexican restaurant chain named after this lovely city :)

Oaxaca celebrates Grito de Dolores - 2009
Oaxaca celebrates Grito de Dolores - 2009

We were in Oaxaca a few days following Grito de Dolores (Mexico's Independence Day) and there were lots of lovely lights decorating the main square, with a constant flow of life music drifting through the air from the central bandstand.

Oaxaca's zócalo was the perfect place to soak up the city atmosphere, particularly on a hot night. We spent several evenings watching the comings and goings of all the people who live there.

Oaxaca's zócalo - Mexico 2009
Oaxaca's zócalo by night - Mexico 2009

No visit to Oaxaca is complete without taking a day trip to the famous Hierve el Agua, also known as 'cascadas petrificadas' - that's petrified waterfalls to you and me. That's right - petrified waterfalls!!

The 'waterfalls' sit on two separate cliffs, fifty and ninty metres above the valley below, and are a majestic site. The white rock waterfall formations are created by fresh water springs, whose water is over-saturated with calcium carbonate. As the water runs down the rock face, it forms large stalactites similar to those found in caves.

When you first arrive you see what looks like a giant waterfall frozen to the side of a cliff. Amazing!

me - with Hierve el Agua in the background, Mexico
me - with a petrified waterfall (Hierve el Agua) in the background, Mexico

The water, with its high mineral content is said to have healing qualities and be good for your health, so a swimming hole at the very top of the smaller petrified waterfall 'cascada chica' is a popular place to bathe.

As well as the health benefits swimmers are treated to panorama views of the valley below and the larger petrified waterfall. What more could one ask for really? We relaxed in the swimming hole and watched the world go by for a good hour...

swimming at the top of cascada chica, Oaxaca - Mexico 2009
swimming at the top of cascada chica, Oaxaca - Mexico 2009

Aside for crazy, petrified waterfalls, Oaxaca is also well renowned for its speciality cuisine, which includes mole - a rich sauce made of ground chillies, a local string cheese called quesillo - which is amazing in burgers by the way, bars of chocolate (mostly used for making hot chocolate) and spicy fried grasshoppers known as chapulines! The chapulines were plentiful at Oaxaca's Central Market, but really weren't my cup of tea.

We tried our first meal of Mole while in Oaxaca, and although delicious it didn't quite 'agree with me'. Who knew that chocolate could disguise chilly so well!

Oaxaca, Mexico

This November I'm blogging every day in a A to Z travel challenge, where I'll share some of the amazing but more obscure places I've travelled to in the world as I make my way through the alphabet. 

If you'd like to join me on this travel blogging challenge please do. I'd love to hear about some of your favourite travel destinations. Tweet using #AtoZtravel and I'll retweet you, or just share your posts in my comment feed. Enjoy and Happy #AtoZtravel November!
Also - I'm entered in the travel category of the 2015 UK Blog Awards. If you enjoy reading somewhere... beyond the sea then I would love you to vote for me. It's pretty easy - just click on this link. Happy travels!

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  1. Wow awesome photographs - the petrified waterfall is amazing!

    1. Thanks Jessi. Nature is pretty impressive sometimes right!?