Let’s see, we have five favorites so far, including my favorite parking garage and some good places to drink and read. Here are a few more which might tweak your interest!
6. Ruins. We all know about the Monte Alban ruins, which are amazing, and those of Mitla and Yagul, but the latest (and very convenient) discovery is just across the hill from Monte Alban and not well known yet. If you would like to see ruins in the process of “recovery”, that is to say, excavated and then in the process of preservation through reconstruction, you can go to the ruins above the village of Santa Maria Atzompa (toward the town of Etla from Oaxaca) and walk amidst a reasonably large site that has VERY few visitors and “restoration” in process.
7. And, after visiting the ruins above, the town below is not to be missed for the ceramics. The village of Santa Maria Atzompa hosts some of the greatest diversity of styles of any of the ceramic villages in the state of Oaxaca. Ask around for the homes of Angelica Vasquez Cruz, artisan of the year for Mexico, 2009, Dolores Porras, an icon in Mexican ceramics, the Blanco family, and then of course, there is the local cooperative ceramic market where you can take a break for a comfortable lunch.
8. Good Bread! The only place in Oaxaca for good, European style bread is at Pan & Co. Their main location is in Colonia Reforma but the most convenient place in Centro is on Garcia Vigil and the street that intersects the entrance to Santo Domingo Church. It is right on the corner and they have great fresh yogurt as well as pastries. Too bad they “redesigned” their store, as it now looks like a trendy coffee place…
9. Museo Belber Jimenez, on the corner of Tinoco and Palacios, downtown Oaxaca. This museum/store is a wonderful mix of the rare and the exceptional, much of it for sale! You will find samples of William Spratling silver, rare textiles, and who knows what else, but I guarantee the quality will be fabulous!
10. Molinos! These traditional “grinding” stores host rows of traditional electric or hand grinders where they pulverize everything from cacao beans to make the famous Oaxacan chocolate to combinations of chiles for making molé and other fabulous Oaxacan dishes. I once walked by one of these places when they were grinding chilies and the small amount of chili “essence” in the air almost brought me to my knees with the intensity of the “heat” in the air! You can find a number of these places (Mayordomo is the main chocolate purveyor in Oaxaca) one street off the Zocalo toward the Benito Juarez market.) Don’t forget to sample the chocolate!
Clearly, these are just a sampling of my favorites. I hope you don’t mind if I continue to indulge myself with another installment soon!