Travel to Oaxaca, Mexico – Amateur Traveler Episode 174 Transcript

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photo by Jorge Luis Santiago

This is a transcript of an episode of the Amateur Traveler focusing on traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico.


Today the Amateur Traveler goes to Southern Mexico to the land of chocolate and mole to Oaxaca.

Chris: I’d like to welcome to the show, Sarah Menkedick, who ‘s coming to us from Oaxaca, Mexico. Although you’re originally from Ohio, I understand. Sarah, welcome to the show.

Sarah: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Chris: And Oaxaca happens to be a place that I am actually looking at going right now, so I was very excited to have Sarah come on and talk to us about this destination. Sarah, for those people who aren’t currently planning a trip to Oaxaca, why should they?

Sarah: Why should they go? Well, I was thinking about this and I thought really what Oaxaca has to offer. I mean it’s got the big tourist attractions and what not, but I think it’s the little things that are what draw people to Oaxaca. The coffee and the cafes and the empanadas and the local food and I think really the best thing about Oaxaca is just the ability to walk around and have amazing weather and awesome food and drink and just sort of get out of the whole rhythm of your daily life at home for a while.

Chris: Ok. Now I’m someone whose oddly enough been to Mexico 13 times and yet never really been to Mexico. I’ve just been over the border into Tijuana on some volunteer work.

Sarah: Ok.

Chris: What’s going to surprise me when I come to Oaxaca?

Sarah: Well, I think especially if you’ve been going to Tijuana, I think what’ll surprise you is that it’s so clean, at least in the city center. That’s what surprised me because I had been to Mexico City before. Mexico City, I like it, but it’s just total chaos. So Oaxaca is actually very clean, and orderly and the downtown is very sort of poetic and romantic. So, the only other places I have been in Mexico are Mexico City and in traveling around the state of Oaxaca. But that was the one thing that took me by surprise when I got off the bus here was I thought, wow, actually seemed very sort of laid back and ordered.

Chris: Now a lot of people probably in the US, for instance, who have heard of Oaxaca, and every time I say it I pause to try to make sure I say it right because we should mention how this is spelled for people who are going to try and look this up.

Sarah: Yeah. It’s tricky. It’s Wahaca. Like W-A-H. Wahaca.

Chris: But it’s spelled O-A-X-A-C-A.

Sarah: Yeah, yeah. It actually comes from a tree. It’s a oaxacy tree. It’s like if you come here, you’ll see a ton of them and they’re these trees that have these bean pods on them and they’re call oaxacy. So Oaxaca, the name Oaxaca, comes from that.

Chris: Oh. Ok. I did not know that. And, as I started to say, a lot of people who have heard of it from the US unfortunately heard about it from some of the negative press that it got what is a year and a half ago with the teacher’s strike.

Sarah: Yeah.

Chris: First of all we should say that you talked about it being clean and orderly. So really, at least for now, those troubles are behind it.

Sarah: Yeah. Well, it’s a pretty shocking difference because I was here for all of 2006 and into 2007. And then I moved to Beijing for a teaching position over there in China and when I left I mean there were still charred buses on the streets and there was still the remnants of chaos. And during that time in 2006, there was really almost no tourism and there were barricades everywhere. The city was occupied by the Federal police. And then I came back from Beijing, when was it, in summer of last year 2008 and it was a completely different city. I mean still they say tourism is about 70% right now so not at what it was. But yeah very, I mean, if you hadn’t heard that in the news or you hadn’t been there during that year, then you really wouldn’t even know. So it’s slowly growing back, which is why it’s kind of a good time to come now because it’s not too crowded, it’s not too full of tourists and it’s just sort of starting to take off again.

Chris: And especially for people coming down from the United States, there are some amazingly cheap airfares, which is why I’m looking at heading down this time. Less than $300 from San Francisco, for instance.

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

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