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A Perfect Day in Oaxaca

I recently went on a fun day trip organized by bamba to visit five must-see places in the beautiful region of Oaxaca, Mexico.

El Tule Tree

The first stop of the day was at Santa Maria del Tule to see the famous Tule Tree. This tree is said to be around 1500 years old and holds the record for the widest tree in the world. Its circumference is 42m (138ft) which gives it a diameter 14m (46ft). It’s impressive once you stand in its shadow and come to terms with the massive size of this tree. Surrounding the area around the tree is a wonderful botanical garden filled with a variety of local plants and flowers.

El Tule Tree, Oaxaca

Mitla Ruins

Our next stop was the town of San Pablo Valle de Mitla to check out the Mitla archaeological site. Our bamba guide explained this was a religious center for the Zapotecs until the Mixtecs took control of it around 1000 AD. Once the Spanish conquered the site in 1553 and eventually built a church on top of the ruins which of course we still see today.

The most impressive thing for me was seeing the beautiful mosaics in certain parts of the archaeological site. Our guide explained they were constructed in a certain way which basically made it earthquake-proof. Despite the many earthquakes that have shaken Oaxaca over the years, the Milta ruins still stand strong with little to no damage at all.

Hierve El Agua

The highlight of the day was visiting Hierve El Agua. There is a series of petrified waterfalls formed over time by water rich in calcium carbonate and other minerals that cascade over the rock edge and form deposits similar to the stalagmites or stalactites you would see in a cave. This is a really rare sight to see as the only other ‘petrified waterfalls’ similar to this are Pamukkale located in Turkey.

Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca

There are a few little trails on site to wander around and explore different vantage points of this incredible natural wonder. Bring your bathing suit and take a dip into one of the mineral-rich pools overlooking the beautiful valley and surrounding area.

Oaxacan Textile Demonstration

Teotitlan del Valle is famous for its textile production in Oaxaca. As you take the road into town, you pass by the houses of many Oaxacan families who have been producing them for generations. What I really appreciate about the textiles made in this part of Mexico is that all the dyes are made with natural products and put together with no modern machinery.

Textile making

Our group observed a demonstration and began to understand the time, patience and detail that goes into making such incredible designs. Although most of the products available were out of my price, I enjoyed walking through the workshop to see all of the finished products. It’s definitely worth checking out when you are in Oaxaca.

Mezcal Tasting

Our last stop of the day was at a local mezcal distillery. We started with a little tour of the facilities and a detailed explanation about what goes into the process of making mezcal. I learned that there are many types of agave plants in all shapes and sizes, which all take different amounts of time to grow and harvest. I had no idea there were so many different types of mezcal!

Mezcal tasting

Another important thing to know is the difference between mezcal and tequila. While both come from the agave plant, mezcal is distilled by digging and burying the plants in a big hole underground while tequila is distilled by the agave being cooked and fermented in an oven. That’s why mezcal has a smoky flavor to whereas tequila does not.

After the tour, our group had the opportunity to sample many types of mezcal, creams and mixers that were available at the distillery. It’s safe to say we were a little bit tipsy by the end.

I highly recommend going to Oaxaca and experiencing these things for yourself. This is my favorite part of Mexico so I’m sure you will have a wonderful time in Oaxaca!

A Perfect Day in Oaxaca by Nathaniel Perlow.
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