Mexico Trip Day 4 and 5: Oaxaca and Monte Alban Archeological Site

PSX_20200122_002536Sasnto Domingo Cathedral During the Sunset, Oaxaca

Last night sleep was good, at least compared to the previous three day when I didn’t have 8 hours of consecutive sleep at night. Today, we are heading to another city located South East of Puebla that is called Oaxaca (wa-ha-ka). We had breakfast on the hotel together at 8am, then I took a quick walk to the Zocalo and bought two bottled waters for the five-hours road trip. I mostly read my kindle book and listened to music throughout the way. When we finally arrived in Oaxaca at 2pm, we were glad that the weather was much warmer, and the sky was cloudless.

PSX_20200122_223037One of the Main Street in Oaxaca

There were a demonstration in the inner city when we arrived, so almost all the road was blocked by a bus or group of people holding a banner, forcing us to stop in the middle of a road and stroll our luggage to the hotel less than 5 minutes away. As usual, we checked-in at our hotel, Parador del Dominico, before heading out for lunch together. Our hotel is located 5 minutes east from Santo Domingo Cathedral, which is located 5 minutes north from the Zocalo (central square). Further south from the Zocalo, there is a market 5 minutes away, which in total took us 15 minutes to walk. Somewhere in between, we stopped at a chocolate store and tried Oaxacan chocolate under the brand name Mayodormo. Inside the market, we toured around to see various goods and meats being sold, and ate tlayuda, which is a sense is a Mexican pizza (tortillas with toppings on top of it).

PSX_20200122_074918Square in front of Santo Domingo Cathedral, Oaxaca

It was around 15.30 when we have free time to explore the city and I went back to the Zocalo and Santo Domingo Cathedral to take few photographs. Directly next to Santo Domingo Cathedral is Museum of Cultures, which cost MXN 80 to get in and take around 2 hours for me to walk around each chamber and see each exhibit. Also, from the second floor of the museum, there is a window offering a view to the Ethnobotanical Garden and the square, which is well worth exploring.

PSX_20200122_075342View from a Rooftop Terrace Near Santo Domingo Cathedral

Less than an hour before the sunset, I walked to the direction of the hill in front of Santo Domingo cathedral to scout for the perfect spot for watching the sunrise tomorrow. Satisfied with my finding, I headed back to the square in front of the cathedral and went inside a café that has a rooftop patio on the second floor, waiting for sunset.

PSX_20200122_075440Me on the Terrace

The sunset was very colorful, with the ray reflected beautifully on the walls, enhancing the colors. I sat on the café for a good 45 minutes before it turned dark and realized that it’s time for me to walk back to the hotel and meet the rest of the group for a dinner together. Maria, our tour guide, suggested that we go to Le Campane for dinner, which served Italian pasta and selection of wines. We spend the rest of the night talking and drinking before stopping for 10 minutes watching local youngsters learning to dance bachata on the square on our way back.

Breakfast was served in our hotel the next day, about an hour before we depart to Monte Alban at 8.15 am, which is located only 40 minutes uphill from the city. The air was fresh in the mountain, and with the sun coming out already I put on my sunglasses. We met our site guide, a man in his sixties that talked slowly but is quite informative. First, we went to the highest point of the archeological zone to see the whole site and learn about the purpose and history of each building. From there, we descent slowly to visit each of the architectural marvel, which took about one and a half hour to complete. During the walkaround, we also had the chance to climb the temple at the other end of the site, giving us the perspective from both end of the zone.

PSX_20200122_223421Monte Alban Archeological Zone

PSX_20200122_223521Monte Alban Archeological Zone

PSX_20200122_223814Me at Monte Alban Archeological Zone

At the entrance of the archeological zone, there is a small museum, gift and coffee shop where few of us sat and drink after the tour, admiring the nature surrounding the site. We talked about other beautiful places in Mexico with Maria, our tour guide, and converse about various subject matter related to Mexico.

We went back to the city at noon. Juliette, Maria and I were already planning to have a fancy lunch at a restaurant called Tierra Del Sol, located nearby the Santo Domingo Cathedral. Due to the nice weather, we were planning to sit on the rooftop, but unfortunately, they weren’t opening that section yet due to lack of staff. We eventually sat nearby the window, which is still very nice, and were warmly welcomed by the staff. It was an interesting culinary experience for us, as one of the waiters brought pots of spices and chillies next to our table, showing us how to make a sauce for our meals. There, for the first time in my life, I tried eating insects.

PSX_20200122_222920Lunch at Tierra Del Sol

There isn’t much left to do in Oaxaca for me after the lunch, as I had visited most of the interesting buildings yesterday. Initially, I planned to go to Hierve el Agua, but there is no local tour going there on the afternoon and private tour was prohibitively expensive, so I scrapped it from my list. For the rest of the day, I wandered around the city, walking about two kilometers to the east of the square and ended up having a 90 minutes massage for MXN 900 (MXN 1000/US$ 55 with tips).

I met my group again for dinner at 7.30pm, and we headed to another rooftop restaurant called La Olla, conveniently located two blocks from our hotel. I tried their mezcal mixed with fruits and also eat octopus tortillas, which were amazing. It was so good that the next day I came back to this restaurant for lunch.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR5688.JPGMy Favorite Octopus Tortilla at La Olla, Oaxaca

About Kevin

Kevin is an Emerging Markets Research Analyst at a global macro investment firm based in Montreal, Canada. Originally trained to be a medical doctor, he found his passion in capital markets after being involved in managing portion of his family’s equity portfolio. Kevin holds Masters degree in both finance and management, has passed all levels of CFA exam, and is a certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM), Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and Professional Financial Modeller (PFM). He read voraciously and has a hobby of tinkering (read: programming) his systematic equity and volatility trading model for the “Quantimental” investment firm he founded. In his spare time, Kevin likes to travel the world and become a freelance photographer for Getty Images. To date, he has a portfolio of over 1200 pictures across 35 countries.
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