When we returned to Oaxaca this summer we told everyone we were going to see La Guelaguetza - and we were. We had tickets for the show and enjoyed it immensely. But to say that it was the reason for our trip was a little bit of a white lie. The real reason? I still had more shopping to do. Our first trip was a little overwhelming. Markets! Pueblos! Alebrijes! Where to start? We did a little bit of shopping, mostly for rugs, and returned to Mexico City.
The more I paid attention to the Oaxacan artesanías that you find here in the capital, the more I realized what an opportunity I had missed when we were in Oaxaca. You see, there is nothing from Oaxaca that you can’t find somewhere in Mexico City. But the variety and quality of those same things are just so far superior when you are local. So back we went, with pesos and patience. This time I paid attention to our favorite shops so that I could share them here, for anyone else who has only a few days in Oaxaca and is looking for some tips.
I should note that we did most of our shopping in the city rather than in the surrounding pueblos, where you can find even greater variety and lower prices. We found that the casas de artesanías offered the best combination of quality and efficiency. Also, the markets of Oaxaca are not to be missed - the Central de Abastos and the Mercado 20 de Noviembre are must sees and the best place to grab lunch or a mid-shopping taco.
With that - here are my recommendations for places to spend your pesos in Oaxaca. You can see that my money went toward barro negro, rugs, and juguetes.
I was most interested rugs, and on both visits found the designs and colors I liked the most at the following two places. I bought at least one rug from each and have been impressed with the quality. Oaxacan rugs are 100% wool and made with natural dyes [most often vegetable or cochineal dyes]. At the Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca you can actually see rugs being made on the loom. In both shops, the families who make the traditional rugs are involved in sales and are happy to tell you about origins of different designs and about how the rugs are made. I wish we had made it out to Teotitlan del Valle, a pueblo known for its weavers. If you’ve been, I would love to hear about it.
Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca (MARO) - Cinco de Mayo 204
Teotitlan Rug Store - Adolfo C. Gurrión con Andador Turístico (right next to Santo Domingo)
CLOTHES AND TOYS
There are many boutiques around Oaxaca that sell pillows, dresses and other textiles fashioned from vintage huipils. I loved the dresses and shirts at Silvia Suárez, and I especially loved their selection of handmade toys from Chiapas - they make great baby gifts.
Silvia Suárez - Adolfo C. Gurrión 110
This black pottery is what a lot of people go ga ga for when they go to Oaxaca. I liked the more delicate patterns that I found at these casas de artesanías, but you can find black pottery all over town.
Casa de las artesanías de Oaxaca - Matamoros 105
La Plaza Artesanías de Oaxaca - Matamoros 103
I could do an entire post about the Central de Abastos, but I’m sure that has been done before. If you are interested in Mexican cuisine it is fascinating to see the range of ingredients at the mercado, not to mention the cooks shopping there. It’s not just the food though, you can find anything and everything here. I recommend spending a while just wandering around. The baskets and kitchen utensils are particularly good buys. The Mercado 20 de Noviembre was a bit more manageable and had amazing leather goods - my husband found a great cinturon piteado there.
Oaxaca experts - let me know what I missed. Happy shopping!