Monday, January 31, 2011


Mayra and I carved out a weekend to spend some time with our kids and get to know an area of Mexico that we hadn't explored previously, the city of Oaxaca, Oaxaca. It's sort of amazing that it took me 20 years to get there, because the place is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. We saw people from around the world. Oaxaca, especially the downtown area, is a beautiful, colonial city. If you close your eyes and open them again, you'd think you were in Spain.

The city is full of 16th and 17th century masterpieces of architecture, and little coffee shops and stylish stores are everywhere, catering to both foreign and Mexican tourists, that flock to Oaxaca to see all that I just described, and to study Spanish.

A couple of the more notable tourist attractions nearby are the imposing ruins of Monte Albán, a pre-Aztec/Mayan civilization that dates from 550 B.C. to 850 A.D. Like other civilizations in this area of Latin America, scientists aren't sure really why it went into decline and was eventually, apparently abandoned. The other tourist "must see" is the Tule Tree, a humongous tree of mammoth dimensions, located very close to Oaxaca City.

We saw both of these sites in our three days in Oaxaca, which is about 5 1/2 hours driving time from where we live. An interesting fact...we spent more on tolls to get there than we did on gas. There are 6 or 7 toll booths between here and there, a total of 406 kilometers. The cost in tolls...around $27 one way. The cost of getting there with our fuel-efficient car with its 1.4 liter engine, around $23.

The real reason for our trip was that sometimes we feel like we give more quality time to everyone else and our kids get the left-overs. It was good to be together (most of the time!) in a new, beautiful place called wha-HA-ka (Oaxaca).

There's a whole another story about our trip back to Mexico City...I'll tell you about that tomorrow!

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