Our week in Mexico was spent wandering museums, bartering for handmade crafts, and eating our body weight in corn, crickets, and Oaxacan cheese.
An expansive city of more than 9 million people, we barely scratched the surface of Mexico City, but the charming neighborhood of Condesa was a great introduction. The streets were lined with lush trees, cafes, tacos, and plenty of agua fresca. We spent an afternoon at La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s house-turned-museum dedicated to her life and work, which was a favorite of mine.
In Oaxaca, the quiet streets and vibrant colors were a perfect complement to our few days in the city. We loved snacking on tlayudas — oversized quesadillas stuffed with beans, cheese, and vegetables — and sitting in the Zocolo with a cold beer, listening to music and watching people stroll by. We happened upon countless parades and festivals celebrating Oaxacan culture and trans pride, and even a march of young people demanding climate action. Each afternoon, we cooled off with a melon or a strawberry cream paleta or a hammock nap.
We ventured out of the city a couple of times, once to Monte Albán, a vast site of Zapotec ruins, and took another excursion to Tlacolula, an agave-growing region where much of Oaxaca’s mezcal is made. It also happens to be a gathering spot for Indigenous craft-makers, from potters and basket weavers to rug makers who use natural dies made from walnuts and insects. We brought home some great treasures from this area.
On our last day, we spent the afternoon in the home of a wonderful family who has been making Oaxacan cheese by hand for over 80 years. We dipped hot tortillas in fresh cream while sipping mezcals infused with lemon verbena and passionfruit. We sampled young Oaxacan cheese, or queso fresco, and the aged, salty variety which we melted into tortillas with huitlacoche, or corn fungus — a delicacy in Mexico. We crushed green mole in a metate and rolled our own blue corn masa, which we pressed into dumplings and dropped into bowls of piping hot elote soup. Everything was cooked over an open fire.
It was a short but sweet trip full of kind people, delicious flavors, and beautiful art. I hope to go back!