Celebrating Frida Kahlo’s Mexico: A 10-Day Journey from Mexico City to Oaxaca

I am truly fascinated by Frida Kahlo. Her artistic brilliance and unwavering resilience are inspiring, and I’ve always been drawn to her choice of vivid colors and distinctive painting style.

Frida’s art and life embodied empowerment and authenticity. Overcoming physical pain, emotional challenges, and societal norms, she challenged conventional ideas of beauty and gender roles. Her unapologetic celebration of Mexican heritage inspires cultural pride, especially among marginalized communities, and she continues to stand as a feminist icon.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, then you’ll recall that I’ve traveled with a company called Atlas Obscura a few times. Well, once again, while browsing their website, a trip caught my eye: “Mexico City to Oaxaca: Tracing the Threads of Frida Kahlo’s Dress.” It sounded like a perfect fit for me, and luckily, I managed to grab the last available spot just a few weeks before the trip began. Over nine days, I would visit three main areas in Mexico— Mexico City, Tehuantepec (tehuan-te-pec), and Oaxaca (wah-hah-kah) City.

I landed in Mexico City, the country’s bustling capital and hometown of Frida Kahlo. Once through passport control (straightforward), I grabbed my suitcase and casually glanced around, looking for a person holding up a sign with my name on it (I love having someone on the other side waiting to pick me up after a long day of travel). After a short search, I spotted my guy. He took my bag, led me to his van, and then we headed to Hotel Casa Gonzalez, where I’d stay for the next two nights. 

Mural in Mexico
A mural we passed by while driving in Mexico City

The hotel was on a quiet, peaceful street across the street from the British Embassy and just a few blocks from the well-known Paseo de la Reforma.

Hotel Casa Gonzalez is surrounded by plenty of restaurants and coffee shops, all within walking distance. And if you’re craving a churro, it’s only a five-minute walk from the hotel to the very popular Churreria El Moro (let me say, the churros here are fantastic, and dipping them in chocolate takes them to a whole new level—WOW). The hotel’s central location was perfect for exploring the city.

The rooms were comfy and had a unique, slightly quirky style. One of the highlights while staying here was that they served breakfast in a bright room with a beautiful stained-glass window. The breakfast, which included coffee, juice, fruit, and a main course, was terrific. I loved the daily presentation of my yogurt, elegantly served in a beautiful glass adorned with layers of granola and drizzled with honey.

Exploring Frida’s World: From The Blue House to Xochimilco Canals – A Journey Through Mexican Art, Culture, and Cuisine


The day began with a visit to The Blue House, where Frida Kahlo spent her childhood and is now a museum in the Colonia del Carmen area of the Coyoacán borough of Mexico City (roughly a 40-minute drive from the hotel). This is a popular tourist destination, so purchasing your ticket in advance is a good idea.

As I entered the house, I felt like I was stepping into the past—and a glimpse into Frida’s life. The space was filled with her personal belongings—her art, family photos, letters, and distinctive clothing, weaving together the rich tapestry of her life.

It was slightly unsettling to see Frida’s wheelchair positioned in front of her easel, displaying one of her paintings— her art supplies arranged nearby. It was like she had suddenly left her studio and never returned.

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Frida's wheelchair sitting in front of her easel — behind it, pigment filled bottles lined up neatly in rows

Afterward, we walked through the colorful streets of Coyoacán. Hungry by this time, we wandered into one of the district’s street stalls, the very busy and popular Mercado de Antojitos, and ordered some empanadas to share. The stalls were lined with narrow tables and benches for patrons to eat, most of whom appeared to be locals.

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All the seating was taken at Mercado de Antojitos

Unfortunately, all the seating in Mercado de Antojitos was taken. So, we grabbed our food and headed to Cantina La Coyacana, a few doors away. This place was a traditional Mexican cantina with a relaxed vibe and friendly staff. We grabbed a few tables in the bar area and ordered a couple of rounds of Victoria Beer (a local favorite) and shots of Mezcal, a renowned Mexican spirit.

Though I didn’t order any food at La Coyacana (we had our Empanadas with us), I did look at the menu, which offered a variety of traditional Mexican food (vegetarian included). The food served to the tables around us looked fabulous. Cantina La Coyacana is worth putting on your list if you’re in the area. But be sure to bring a hearty appetite—the portions appeared quite generous.

As it turned out, the beer and empanadas were a perfect pairing! And by the way, the empanadas from Mercado de Antojitos were delicious.

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Victoria is a popular beer in Mexico

We walked through the picturesque Jardin Centenario, the central park in Centro de Coyoacán, which once functioned as the San Juan Bautista church and monastery courtyard. Today, its main attraction is the fountain at the park’s center. This fountain features a sculpture of coyotes created by the artist Gabriel Ponzanelli, and it has evolved into a symbolic representation of the community.

Next, we headed to Xochimilco, about 17 miles south of Mexico City. Xochimilco is renowned for its extensive floating gardens called “chinampas” (pronounced chi-n-am-pas), which the ancient Aztecs originally cultivated.

Though not technically floating, the gardens take shape through the interweaving of tree roots from the natural surroundings, creating an almost ethereal appearance.

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Mexican boats known as trajineras (tra-jin-er-a)

As we made our way towards the canal, rows and rows of trajineras (tra-jin-er-a) Mexican boats lined the pathway—each one displaying a unique name, brightly painted and adorned with vibrant decorations—creating a festive atmosphere and embodying the spirit of Mexico. And from what I saw, both locals and tourists enjoyed riding through the floating gardens.

We boarded a colorful boat with the name Mi Bebito Fiufiu (My Baby Fiu Fiu) painted on its front. These Mexican boats were a fusion of the Venetian gondolas and Thai floating markets. A rower stands at the boat’s rear, skillfully steering with a long pole.

On the boat was a long wooden table and ladder-back chairs, also brightly painted. The table was set with lovely Mexican stoneware — a subtle floral motif painted along the borders of the plates and bowls. Also atop the table were two large bowls of freshly made guacamole, a few baskets of chips, salad, tortillas, Mexican cheese, and salsa.

Music suddenly filled the air as our rower moved our boat through the canal. Why? Because aboard several boats floating nearby were lively mariachi bands — “serenading” us with some good old Mexican folk music. The music only added to the atmosphere of celebration and joy.

Amidst the music, floating bars also appeared, offering a variety of beverages, including, of course, Mezcal. Seeing that we were in Mexico—we purchased a couple of bottles— I mean, we were here to celebrate.

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Enjoying a boat ride on canal

The Mezcal and our chips and guacamole were a match made in heaven. The simplicity of the tortilla chips, sprinkled with a hint of salt, perfectly complemented the delicious guacamole.

At one point, while dipping my chip into one of the bowls of guacamole, I noticed something unusual in the bowl but also on my chip – crickets (or chapulines as they are called in Mexico)! As I looked closer into the bowl, I realized there were quite a lot of these toasted little insects in the guacamole. I had forgotten that Mexicans often included crickets in their guacamole (as well as lots of other foods).

Curious about this, I decided to give a cricket or two a try. Surprisingly, the crickets tasted okay. They were crunchy and somewhat flavorless. Combining the creamy guacamole with the crispy texture of the crickets added a unique flavor that celebrated Mexican cuisine. I decided on the spot that crickets are a vegetable.

We enjoyed the afternoon and early evening on the boat, traveling around the water for almost 3 hours. I’ll have to say, exploring the Xochimilco canals on a trajinera was a fun experience!

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Exploring the Xochimilco canals on a trajinera—A fun activity in Mexico

Exploring Art and Culture: A Day at Mexico City’s Museums

The day began with a trip to the Museum of Modern Art to see the renowned “The Two Fridas” painting—the main attraction. Surprisingly, the image was much larger than I had imagined. If you are unfamiliar with the painting, it shows “The Two Fridas” sitting side by side, holding hands. One Frida is dressed in a white European gown, while the other wears a traditional Tehuana skirt and blouse. This painting has always been a personal favorite of mine. Even though there were a few other exhibits, my focus at the museum was on “Two Fridas.”

Afterward, we crossed Reforma Avenue and headed to the National Museum of Anthropology. But, before heading to the museum’s exhibits, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Sala Gastronómica Restaurant. The dining experience was exceptional; each dish at our table looked incredible. The menu offered a wide range of words representing various regions across Mexico.

To start, I enjoyed crispy chips with guacamole (without crickets this time) and plantains stuffed with cheese, served alongside rice and mole sauce (I adore plantains).

While the menu featured several vegetarian options, it leaned towards meat-centric choices. I chose the Citrus and Spinach salad of grapefruit, orange, pineapple, caramelized pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, and soy vinaigrette for my main course.

When I initially heard we were eating at the restaurant located in the museum, I wasn’t thrilled. I just figured it wouldn’t be anything special. But I was so wrong. Salsa Gastronómica Restaurant truly impressed me with its numerous offerings, and I wholeheartedly endorse it. It’s worth mentioning that they also serve breakfast, and just glancing at the menu left me eagerly anticipating my next visit.

After a most delicious lunch, we dove into ethnography and pre-Hispanic history. Our English-speaking guide led us through the museum, sharing the cultural tapestry woven by Mexico’s diverse ethnic groups.

The museum’s vast collection was impressive. Despite spending three hours exploring, we barely scratched the surface. The National Museum of Anthropology is a must-do for anyone visiting Mexico City, offering a glimpse into Aztec art and historical artifacts.

But be prepared for a bit of a sensory overload. The museum’s sheer size and variety of exhibits might catch you off guard —it did me but in a good way. Fuel up (like we did) because you’ll want the energy to enjoy everything fully. Oh, and do yourself a favor and wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking and or standing—a lot. And don’t leave without checking out the pavilion at the courtyard’s end – it’s stunning.

Exploring Mexico City: Ruins, Markets, and Culinary Delights

We were supposed to head to Isthmsus of Tehuantepe, but unfortunately, the flight was canceled, so we ended up with another day in Mexico City (not that it was a bad thing; I just felt as though there was not a well-prepared backup plan).

So, on our actual last day in Mexico City, we began the day with a visit to Tlatelolco, where we explored the ruins of an ancient city-state with the same name (before the Columbian era). This place had once been a bustling marketplace, which the Aztecs conquered in 1473. According to what I’ve read, the Spanish invasion erased many of its treasures.

The Santiago Church stands among the ruins, symbolizing colonial change. It’s built from the stones of indigenous temples, embodying the resistance against the Spanish. The area is said to hold the memories of about 40,000 Aztecs who died in the battle against the Spanish.

But that’s not the end of the story. A modern Mexican plaza honors the students who protested in 1968. It’s a place where the past and present come together.

The Isthmus of Tehuantepe is not a flashy place, but if you are interested in history, it’s worth a stop. Plus, it’s less crowded than other places in Mexico City, which is a nice change. The traffic getting there was a nightmare— but that is Mexico City.

Afterward, we explored the Ciudadela Market. For an authentic taste of Mexico, this place is a must. The market sells traditional Mexican handicrafts and regional specialties such as Oaxaca textiles, Chiapas ceramics, and Guerreren silver.

As you step into the narrow alleys, you’ll be met by bursts of color and the hustle of hundreds of vendors. They come from all over Mexico, relying on the market for their livelihoods.

You’ll find dolls, papier-mâché figures, sombrero hats, and tile mirrors, all brimming with cultural significance. Vases, pots, mats, baskets, and hammocks add to the lively scene. Some vendors even sold creepy yet fascinating paper machete skeletons associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead — they came in white or red and in various sizes.

You can snag some souvenirs at great prices if you’re skilled at bargaining. Ciudadela Market isn’t just a market – it’s a direct plunge into Mexico’s culture. A vibrant hub where Mexico’s soul is on full display. Put it on the list!

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Ciudadela Market in México

Lunch was at Restaurante El Cardenal and wow—another excellent meal. I’m honestly not much of a fan of Mexican food in the States, but everything I’ve had so far in Mexico has been incredible. Granted, I’ve had a lot of chips and guacamole, but even they are different here. Everything is just so fresh and flavorful. I had a quesadilla with a generous heaping of guacamole – and honestly — it was terrific! As was the presentation. I washed my meal down with a spectacular margarita (hold the salt).

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Quesadillas for lunch

After lunch, we visited The Azulejo Mansion, also known as the House of Tiles, another example of Mexican art and history. The exterior is decorated with beautiful blue, white, and yellow tiles. Inside, there’s a mural by the famous Mexican painter José Clemente Orozco. The glass-ceilinged atrium holds stone pillars, murals, and a fountain. It was all impressive.

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House of Tile in Mexico

Then, a quick stop at Insurgentes Theater to see the beautiful mosaic done by Diego Rivera. Diego Rivera’s design portrays the rich history of the arts and the narrative of the Mexican people. It was an impressive sight and worth a view—even a quick one like ours. The mural is located at San José Insurgentes, Benito Juárez in Mexico City.

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Mural by Diego in Mexico

Nearby was the Palacio Post Office, a stunning display of centuries-old architecture in Mexico City’s historic central district. It exudes charm with its intricate design and timeless elegance.

Before returning to the hotel, we walked through Mexico City’s Chinatown. The area consists of just two short blocks featuring a handful of Chinese restaurants and stores. It’s a pedestrian-friendly space, with traffic restricted to create a comfortable walkway down the middle of the street. I loved all the Chinese lanterns hanging above the walkway— making it even more festive-looking. Though it was one of the smallest Chinatowns I’ve explored, I still found it interesting.

Returning to the hotel, we came upon Parque Mexico— a wonderful urban space. The nicely designed pathways, overflowing with tropical greenery, are lovely, and the neighborhood feels safe and well-maintained. It’s a peaceful place away from the hustle of the nearby city.

Exploring Tehuantepec: Matriarchal Heritage, Textile Revival, and Vibrant Traditions

We set out for the next part of our adventure – Tehuantepec. It was roughly a 3-hour flight from Mexico City to Ixtepeck —followed by a 30-minute drive to Tehuantepec. I enjoyed leaving the city and seeing the mountains and smaller towns.

Tehuantepec held a unique significance— the birthplace of Matilde, Frida Kahlo’s mother.

Historically, Tehuantepec women have held a prominent role in the region’s local markets and economic activities. They frequently out-earn their husbands, which is quite unconventional. This unique celebration of matriarchal arrangement has garnered global attention in other parts of the world.

In this area, customary festivities known as Velas are popular. Women wear extravagant clothing during these festivals —taking to the streets in procession. The huipiles (blouses) worn by these women for these special occasions are known for their colorful palettes and beautiful motifs. Frida Kahlo seemed intrigued by this clothing and frequently depicted herself wearing the Istmeña style in her artwork.

Our first stop was the Riddiba Escuela Textil de Ixtaltepec, a small school where ancient textile techniques (traditional chain stitching using a particular sewing machine) found new life.

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Ra Ridiiba' Escuela Textil De Ixtaltepec

At the helm of this initiative is Victoria Guzmán Cabrera, a passionate force committed to preserving the textile heritage. Within the walls of this creative space, tradition is blended seamlessly with innovation. During our time there, we had the pleasure of meeting three current students who enthusiastically shared the school’s profound significance for them.

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Current students at Riddiba Escuela Textil de Ixtaltepec

Then, it was off to Juchitán de Zaragoza, where Lola Cabrera lives (she owns a well-known traditional dress shop in the area). There, we enjoyed a traditional lunch on her patio. We had the chance to try the renowned “estofado” mole on freshly made tamales. The food wasn’t just delicious— it captured the essence of Tehuantepec and its authentic flavors.

After our meal, Lola kindly brought us to her store, “Los Huipiles De Lola,” a haven for Istmeña clothing—the dresses, brimming with life and charm, truly captured tradition.

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An artisan working on a beautiful piece at Lola's home studio

Accompanied by Lola, we made our way to the lively “Mercado 5 De Septiembre,” a significant spot in Juchitá named after a historical event. The market offered everything from fresh produce to Oaxacan dishes, handmade crafts, and clothing.

Because we had lost a day, we had to cram a lot in. We said goodbye to Lola and headed to our hotel for the night, the Hotel Calli.

After settling into my room and managing a quick toothbrushing and face wash, I returned to the van, heading to Santo Domingo. The plan? To catch a fashion show showcasing traditional clothing, followed by a buffet-style dinner and the Zandugua dance performance. The costumes were stunning, with their intricate embroidery and vivid colors.

Dinner, unfortunately, didn’t hit the mark for me. I took a few bites but soon put my fork down. While many might enjoy this experience, it felt more geared towards tourists than offering an authentic vibe. Considering my genuine experiences earlier in the day, this stop seemed unnecessary.

It was a long day, but a very comfortable bed awaited me at the Hotel Calli.

Journey from Tehuantepec to Oaxaca City: Unforeseen Detours, Scenic Landscapes, and Culinary Delights

We departed from Tehuantepec midmorning and went on a scenic journey through Oaxaca’s central Valley en route to Oaxaca City. Our trip was longer than anticipated because of a highway closure in Tehuantepec. The closure occurred due to continuous protests stemming from insufficient support for post-earthquake recovery since 2017. Protests are frequent in the area.

This detour led us away from the highway, taking us along a twisting, uneven dirt road that zig-zagged through the Valley. At various points along the way, we encountered groups of men who demanded money before allowing us to pass. It was a strange dynamic – as these men seemed to claim ownership over the road’s course. We coughed up the cash and continued our way. We were stopped 3 or 4 times during the drive. They didn’t demand large amounts of money, but regardless, they would not let us pass unless we paid. It was strange, yet I never felt a sense of panic.

After about 45 minutes, we returned to the paved highway, and the road to Oaxaca City stretched before us.

Our route took us through expansive fields adorned with Agave plants, the foundational element for crafting Tequila. The Oaxaca Valley is a renowned hub for Mezcal production.

Note that Tequila represents a specific variant of Mezcal, confined to designated regions and the agave tequila Weber species.

Throughout the drive, we encountered checkpoints operated by armed authorities, who screened vehicles to catch potential human trafficking.

The journey towards Oaxaca City was an ever-changing scene– fields of corn, lush mango groves, valleys dominated by pineapple trees, and occasional clusters of cacti.

The prominent Sierra Madre Mountain range, a distinct characteristic of Oaxaca’s scenery, stayed alongside us— its stunning presence served as a continuous reminder (unfortunately) that I hadn’t allotted extra days to explore and hike in this beautiful area.

Upon arriving in Oaxaca City and checking in at the hotel Holiday Inn Express, my fellow travelers and I were treated to an exquisite rooftop dinner at a nearby restaurant, Casa Crespo.

This place was remarkable. Eating at Casa Crespo felt like Chef Oscar Carrizosa had warmly welcomed us into his home. With a personal touch, Chef Carrizosa tailors his menus to suit guests’ preferences and crafts daily dishes that highlight the finest seasonal ingredients.

The meal began with a shot of Mezcal, of course. Then, it was officially time for the feast!

The presentation, the tastes – everything was terrific. Our meal started with Memelitas —mini tortillas topped with cheese and mole sauce, which were delicious and accompanied by a delightful margarita.

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Memelitas —mini tortillas topped with cheese and mole sauce

Later, we enjoyed some tamales that surpassed the ones we had during lunch. This was followed by some beautifully adorned tortillas—almost resembling stenciled artwork. These unique tortillas, known as ceremonial tortillas, added a nice touch to the overall meal.

We had the most fantastic meal. And guess what we got for dessert? Homemade Oaxacan chocolate ice cream! And what better way to end our meal than with a sip of Mezcal? Luckily, we had beautiful weather — making for a perfect rooftop dining experience. I love this place and highly recommend it if you visit Oaxacan City. And it was within walking distance of our hotel, another plus.

Casa Crespo also offers cooking classes here—every day of the week. These sessions go beyond standard cooking lessons; they delve into the history of Oaxacan cuisine, from its modern character to its ancient pre-Hispanic roots.

The group cooking class is priced at $70. Chef Carrizosa also offers private cooking classes (which I wish I had known about beforehand —I would have scheduled one). This serves as a reminder that there are leisure periods even during organized group travel with a set schedule. It’s important to take the initiative to research destinations in advance.

Exploring Oaxaca’s Craft Route: A Day of Art, Culture, and Delightful Discoveries

We journeyed along the Oaxaca craft route, beginning in Ocotlán and winding through the Southern Valley.

Our first stop was to Rodolfo Morales Gallery Arte de Oaaxaca. Rodolfo Morales was a local Mexican artist who made a name for himself before returning to his hometown of Oaxaca, where he continued to paint.

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Morales is well known for his surrealist paintings depicting Mexican culture. He is one of the most renowned indigenous artists of Mexico and is thought by many to be one of the most influential artists of the Oaxacan contemporary art movement.

We then walked across the street to Mercado Morelos, a sprawling traditional market. The market, known for its vibrant atmosphere, offers abundant fresh produce, vegetables, and pantry staples. Several vendors proudly displayed large baskets filled to the brim with roasted crickets for sale (they are a good protein source, after all).

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I even saw a vendor with a tempting tray of churros (though the absence of chocolate dipping sauce was a missed opportunity). Navigating the market’s offerings could easily take hours, and still, you might find yourself overlooking some treasures, given the sheer magnitude of available items. It might seem like a lot, but as I’ve said earlier, markets are the pulse of culture, making them incredibly interesting to explore.

We found our way to La Cucina de Frida, a charming and colorful small eatery run by Beatriz Vázquez Gómez, who bears a resemblance to Frida Kahlo. At our guide’s suggestion, we tried the chocolate de agua, a traditional Mexican hot chocolate, which we enjoyed while sitting at one of the tables near her stall.

Oaxaca, Mexico
La Cucina de Frida, a charming and colorful small eatery run by Beatriz Vázquez Gómez

Mexican hot chocolate stands out from traditional American hot chocolate or hot cocoa because of its distinctive recipe. It blends ground and unsweetened cacao nibs with water, sugar, and a touch of cinnamon, resulting in a rich and slightly textured drink.

The ancient technique involves using a wooden utensil called a “molinillo.” This tool works similarly to a whisk. Oh, and by the way, my cup of hot chocolate was delicious.

Oaxaca, Mexico
A wooden utensil called a "molinillo" — works like a whisk.

Later, we visited the studio of Josefina Aguilar, a well-known Mexican folk artist from Ocotlán de Morelos, Oaxaca. As a member of the Aguilar family, she gained recognition for her distinctive clay figurines known as “muñecas” or dolls.

Josefina uses local red clay to shape figurines that capture scenes of everyday village life, cultural customs, religious occasions, notable individuals, and striking Day of the Dead sculptures.

I was drawn to Josefina’s creations and purchased one to take back home. Buying more was tempting, but my concerns about potential breakage during travel held me back (which turned out to be a valid concern because a small piece broke off from the one I bought). So, if the option is available, having the things you buy shipped might be safer.

Continuing on the Oaxaca craft route, we stopped at San Antonino Castilo Velasco, where we met with skilled women embroiderers. These artisans created the detailed floral motifs on the blouses, which gained notable popularity, particularly in the 1960s. The traditional blouses with floral embroidery embellishments are crafted through four primary needlework techniques: open thread work, flat embroidery, crochet, and decorative smocking. The blouses were stunning.

Starved by this point, we stopped for lunch at La Azucena. And again, lunch was delicious —I had a vegetable burrito with guacamole.

We visited Santo Tomas Jalieza, about 15 miles from Oaxaca City, and observed artisans using backstrap looms. Afterward, we explored their workshop, appreciating the range of items they crafted, from belts and handbags to change purses, table runners, and placemats.

The opportunity to watch this ancient method was fascinating. I still can’t fathom how the projects the weavers were working on didn’t get all tangled up. The establishment operates as a cooperative with fixed prices. So, forget bargaining—it doesn’t happen here.

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I've been loving the food here! Everything is so fresh and delicious.

Before heading back, we made a quick stop at Galeria De Barro Negro Miguel Fabian (yes, a very long name). The multi-generational artisanal studio (and shop) is dedicated to crafting Oaxaca’s black pottery.

And then, it was time to return to our hotel in the heart of Oaxaca City for some free time.

Exploring Monte Alban: Ancient Ruins, Artistic Discoveries, and Farewell Reflections in Oaxaca

After breakfast, we headed to the mountains to explore the Ancient Site of Monte Alban. The views were breathtaking, and the well-preserved ruins told a remarkable story. This place served as the first urban hub in Mesoamerica and held significant influence for over 1300 years.

The Zapotec civilization, the original inhabitants, demonstrated a keen understanding of astronomy by incorporating it into their architectural designs. And, walking through the site, you could sense their achievements. If you intend to visit, having a guide is a smart move. It made our experience richer and deepened our appreciation for the place. However, the signage around the ruins was in Spanish and English for those who prefer independent exploration.

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The North Platform at the Ancient Site of Monte Alban

Before our departure, we treated ourselves to refreshing, freshly squeezed juices, accompanied by crispy chips and flavorful guacamole, at a charming open-air café.

Despite the heat on the day of my visit, it was well worth it. If you are in Oaxaca, you should take advantage of this destination. But my advice is to start your visit in the morning, wear a hat, bring a bottle of water, and do yourself a big favor and wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing quite a bit of walking. And don’t forget to make a pit stop at the café – it’s a treat you won’t want to pass up.

Then we dropped by the workshop of Armando Jimenez (a little non-descript place), a respected Zapotec wood carver from Oaxaca, Mexico. Armando learned woodcarving from his grandfather, Manuel Jimenez (a well-known and respected Oaxacan woodcarver).

Armando is from Arrazola, Oaxaca, a town known for its traditional wood carvings. The primary wood used for these pieces is Copal, sourced from the Oaxaca region. His distinctive style is marked by vibrant and playful use of colors.

In his workshop, you can find a variety of carved creations, primarily animals like mice, cats, dogs, and even a porcupine. His pieces are genuinely impressive. He, along with his wife and children, continues the family tradition.

Oaxaca City Center, Mexico
Examples of some of the beautiful creations by Armando Jimenez

Back in Oaxaca City Center, we made a quick pit stop before returning to our hotel — a visit to the “Tin Man’s” shop, Artesanias de Hojalata & Enmarcado de Obras de Arte (yes, that’s a mouthful), located at the corner of Calle de La Reforma and Calle de Mariano Abasolo.

We had to knock on a window of the Tin Man’s shop to get the attention of someone inside. Finally, someone came to unlock the door, inviting us inside.

The locked door wasn’t just for show. The workshop was in an old adobe house that had seen better days. Big wooden timbers supported some walls. But we all managed to navigate our way to the Tin Man’s workshop safely.

Tirso Cuevas, aka the Tin Man, was busy working on a new creation—with tools scattered about. His many tin creations— frames, mirrors, and even treasure boxes- were displayed on the walls of his workshop. The level of craftsmanship was impressive. After picking out a few items, we thanked Tirso and said our goodbyes.

We reached the hotel in the late afternoon, granting me a brief solo period to explore Oaxaca before joining my travel companions later for a farewell dinner.

I wanted to see street art, so I walked to Barrio de Jalatlaco, a neighborhood known for its artistic murals. It was roughly a 20-minute walk from my hotel to Jalatlaco. And, wow, I’m so glad I ventured here.

Jalatlaco, one of the long-standing neighborhoods in Oaxaca, is one of the nicest areas around. The mix of artistic street scenes, cobblestone streets, and colorful houses gave it a distinct charm. I passed many eateries and coffee shops that left me genuinely wishing for more time to explore and enjoy. Unfortunately, I no more arrived at Barrio de Jalatlaco than I had to leave due to an impending storm.

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This was the most decorated of all the streets I walked — Calle de Ignacio Aldama and Calle de Hidalgo

I almost skipped our farewell dinner due to an early flight the following day. But I decided to join the group, even if only briefly. Our dinner spot was the remarkable and stunning Cathedral Restaurant. And the food was nothing short of fantastic. Our guide, Stephanie, nailed the choice for our trip’s conclusion.

After savoring my salad and sharing a toast, it was time to say goodbye to my newfound friends. It’s odd how these things work out—starting as strangers and leaving as friends. I had a great time with this beautiful group of ladies.

From Mexico City to Tehuantepec to Oaxaca City— my trip was this incredible blend of urban exploration, cultural immersion, and artistic indulgence across these three places.