Oaxaca: An Even Bigger Love Story

The narrow, colorful streets of Oaxaca, Mexico
Posted: 1/26/21 | January 26th, 2021

Have you ever arrived at a destination and just knew it’s for you? Something in the air just told you that this place is everything you dreamed it to be and you were going to be in love with it forever.

I’ve felt this way only a few other times before, in Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

And I felt that way again when I got to Oaxaca.

The city’s energy and mine just synched. We were a pair. I could recognize the signs: a sense of unconditional joy emerged in my heart. My eyes constantly shifted to every shade of color, every movement, as if I had an insatiable hunger to take in everything. I was in love.

My two subsequent weeks there only deepened that feeling.

Oaxaca, a city in the central part of the Pacific coast of Mexico, is set in a valley surrounded by craggy mountains. (It is also the name of the state it lies in.) The area has been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous Zapotec and Mixtec peoples. In 1440, the Aztecs arrived and annexed it, naming it “Huaxyacac,” meaning “among the huaje” (a type of local tree). Less than a hundred years later, the Spanish conquered the region.

The narrow, colorful streets of Oaxaca, Mexico

Fast-forward to today and Oaxaca has become a center for heritage tourism, owing to the many historical attractions (including Monte Albán, a UNESCO Heritage Site; and Mitla, a Zapotec archeological site) in the city and surrounding area. It is a city of colorful buildings, scenic rooftop restaurants and bars, street art, historic Spanish colonial churches, cobblestone streets, and many parks.

In the last decade, as mezcal has become incredibly popular, it’s also become the hub for all things mezcal, with tourists reaching record numbers (pre-COVID). And, along with Mérida and Mexico City, it’s considered one of the gastronomic centers of Mexico.

In short, the city had everything I like: history, booze, and food. Add to that, an attractive urban aesthetic that created an easy-on-the-eyes venue for consuming said food and drink, and you’ve got an ideal spot to spend a week or three.

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