Posts tagged pyramids and churches.


Once upon a time, a long long time ago, we visited Oaxaca and took a half-day trip to Hierve el Agua. When I saw the rock formations in this video I knew I wanted to see them in person. What I didn’t know was the adventure we would have getting there. Don’t we look so happy and relaxed here?

We rented a car in Oaxaca City, which was a comedy of errors in its own right, and headed out of town in our only partially functioning vehicle in the direction of Mitla. Now, we knew mas o menos where we were headed, but we definitely didn’t have solid directions. So, when we saw the first sign off the highway that said “Hierve el Agua” with an arrow pointing to a dirt road we followed it. This dirt road wound through a tiny pueblo with a couple of last chance taco and beer stands and some cows. We waved to a couple of farmers on the side of the road who were probably thinking, “stupid gringos,” and kept on our way. Pretty soon we were climbing the side of a mountain with harrowing switchback turns in our partially functioning vehicle, pulling over every couple of minutes to let some burros or a truck full of locals pass us.

You can sort of get the idea starting at about 1:28 on this video of our trip. I don’t know how long it took us to get to the top, maybe an hour, maybe less, but it felt like years that I was holding onto my seat belt for dear life and trying not to look out the window at the sheer drop.

Finally, we reach the end of our harrowing journey and pull into the very large very paved parking lot at Hierve el Agua. We look around and see dozens of cars, taxis, even giant buses. We certainly didn’t see any of these people on our dirt road, and their cars are way too clean and too big to have come the same way we did. My husband wandered over to a taxi driver to get the story, and he informed us that there is a very nice paved two lane highway that goes all the way up the mountain - you just have to pay 40 pesos [less than 4 dollars]. 

After we visited the bathroom and our legs stopped shaking from our drive up the mountain, this all seemed very funny. And we happily paid the 40 pesos to take the paved road back down.

And the point of the whole adventure - we enjoyed the views from Hierve el Agua and stood right on the edge of the rock formations just like everyone else. Lots of families had packed food and swim suits and were spending the day enjoying the fresh water springs at the top.

We climbed around taking [not so graceful] pictures and bought some nieve before we piled back in the car and headed back to town.

My advice? Hierve el Agua is an easy drive outside of Oaxaca City and is definitely worth the trip - especially if you stop at Mitla or a mezcal distillery on the way. Just be sure not to pay attention to the first hand-painted sign you see on the highway, wait for the real sign to the real highway.

see the rest of our photos from hierve el agua here

On the way

I took a little bit of a break from my Oaxaca posts because I didn’t want to overload everyone with Oaxaca, NOT because I was done sharing! But, I think enough time has passed now. For the next couple of weeks I am going to return to Oaxaca, so get ready!

Vacation Instagramed

We are back from our vacation and still in recovery mode. We split our trip between Oaxaca and Isla Holbox, and the best part? We snuck in a day and night at home in between the two legs. Getting from Oaxaca to Isla Holbox required a layover in Mexico City, so we took a day of staycation with the pups and a night in our own bed to break up the travel. It was such a nice treat - I might build a day at home into all of my vacations from now on! More from Oaxaca and Holbox in the days to come, I am still unpacking all of my purchases and haven’t even begun to sort through pictures, but we had a fantastic time and have lots to share!  

Instagrams from my iPhone and my husband’s iPhone 

OAXACA Corazon de Mexico

Since we are creeping up on our next trip to Oaxaca, I figure I better get my pictures from our last trip posted already. Before our trip I wasn’t sure what to expect from Oaxaca City, given the amount of buzz I had seen in travel magazines and on blogs. I was sort of expecting something like San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful Epcot version of Mexico full of tourists and gringos.  

I was wrong, and pleasantly surprised with how tranquila the city was. While it is certainly breathtakingly beautiful, it was also remarkably low-key and self-assured. If there were roving packs of tourists, we missed them. 

What we did find were bountiful mercados, incredible food - both in restaurants and on the side of the road, surprisingly excellent shopping, and unsurprisingly kind people. Now I understand the bumper stickers and ads that I see all over DF that read: Oaxaca Corazon de Mexico.     

We’ve already booked our return trip next month and I am counting down the days,  making a list of things I will be sure to buy/eat/drink/see this time around. I’m sure La Guelaguetza changes the feel of the city considerably, but I am excited to be there for the celebration.  

We stayed at the Hotel Azul Oaxaca and will stay there again when we return. It is centrally located and has an amazing breakfast in the courtyard - the chilaquiles are not to be missed. Flights from Mexico City to Oaxaca are well timed and reasonably priced for a weekend getaway. We left Mexico City early Saturday morning and were in Oaxaca in time for breakfast.

See the rest of our photos here 

Monte Albán

Slowly but surely I am getting through my photos from our trip to Oaxaca.  We spent about half a day exploring the Zapotec ruins at Monte Albán.  I don’t think I have been as impressed with the scale of an archeological site in Mexico since I first visited Teotihuacan six years ago.  The two civilizations overlapped and interacted in the Terminal Formative period, making Monte Albán the oldest site we have visited in Mexico.  It was pretty fantastic.

We were fortunate enough to go on a weekday, so we basically had the place to ourselves.  If you can avoid the weekend at any site in Mexico I highly recommend it.  It really makes a big difference. 

Monte Albán is only about 9km from Oaxaca City and is more than worth the short drive.  We also visited Santa Maria Atzompa on the way back into town, which is known for its green pottery and where I had some excellent mole at a roadside restaurant.  

see the rest of our Monte Alban photos here

Wonderful Oaxaca: A Film


I hope everyone had a great week. Here is a short little vid from our time in Oaxaca to enjoy on your Saturday morning. And if you think this is the last you will hear about wonderful Oaxaca, then you are just fooling yourselves! Coming up on This Gringo Honeymoon:  

  • Why I liked Monte Albán more than Chichén Itzá
  • My guide to shopping in Oaxaca - RUGS! BASKETS! ALEBRIJES! RUGS!
  • How we almost died trying to find Hierve el Agua and how you can avoid the same fate
  • and more! 

Have a great weekend!  

Note: All video was filmed on an iphone by my gringo husband using this app. The song in the video is Malagueña Salerosa by Chingon.  

We are back from a wonderful weekend in Oaxaca and had such a great time.  I am already planning our return trip this summer.  Here is an instagram preview of some of the great things I will have to share from this trip as soon as I get my camera unpacked.

All photos taken by my gringo husband

A Call For Suggestions

I’m visiting Oaxaca [the city] for the first time two weeks from now and could not be more excited. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to do much research on what we should see and do while we are there. A visit to Monte Albán is definitely on the list, but what else should we be sure not to miss? We don’t have to see everything this time around because we are planning to go back this summer for La Guelaguetza, but I thought I would start looking now for suggestions of what to see, eat and do.  

I also had to share this commercial for the state of Oaxaca, produced and directed by Pedro Torres and Diego Pernía respectively as part of Televisa’s Estrellas del Bicentenario series that came out a few years ago during the bicentennial. The amazing footage of Monte Albán has me so excited for our visit.  Also, a jaguar!

So, let me have it.  What should I do in Oaxaca?  

Chichén Itzá

This post is long overdue, but I finally got around to downloading photos from the daytrip we took to Chichén Itzá during our holiday in Tulum earlier this year. I figure I should share as many pictures of Mexican ruins as I can before the Mundo Maya craze of 2012 fades. You might remember that I have some Mundo Maya travel resolutions of my own lined up for this year. We are planning a Yucatán roadtrip this Fall to knock out the remainder of the sites on my list. But — seeing as how I have already hit three sites on my list and haven’t shared pictures from any of those trips — I should have a few good posts to hold us over until the Fall.

I visited the Yucatán three times before I finally made it to Chichén Itzá. It’s long been on my list of sites to see in Mexico, so I’m not sure why it took me so long. In my mind I had visions of me scaling El Castillo, remembering the stories my parents told me of huffing up the pyramid when they visited years [decades?] ago. Alas, El Castillo has been closed to climbers since a woman fell to her death in 2006. Rightly so. I think that the Mexican government would be wise to keep sweaty tourists off their precious ruins for the sake of preservation, if not liability. Still, I selfishly get a thrill out of climbing up these ancient piles of rock.    

Perhaps I had built expectations too high in my mind. Perhaps I’ve been living in Mexico City too long, taking guests to climb Teotihuacan on weekends, and have become accustomed to seeing such remarkable sites. Or perhaps it was the bus loads of tourists that I wasn’t exactly prepared for…

…but as soon we got through the gates I made the decision to take some pictures and get back in the car and back to the beach by sunset. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a magnificent site and I am glad I’ve seen it. But I didn’t get the same rush of excitement from visiting Chichén Itzá as I got when I visited the sites at Tulum or Cobá. Maybe I already knew too much about what we were going to see, maybe expectations were just too high. I don’t know.    

Still, I would recommend any visitor to the Yucatán visit Chichén Itzá if he has the opportunity. How could you miss seeing one of the largest cities built by the ancient Maya? But I would also recommend adding the smaller site at Tulum to your list for its stunning beauty and adding Cobá for its breathtaking pyramid surrounded by jungle and lagoons. And for the love of all that is holy, if you go to Chichén Itzá, try and beat the tour buses.     

2012 Resolutions: Mundo Maya

There has been a lot of buzz about the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world in 2012.  I think that scholars have said that it is actually just the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar, but either way, the campaign that the Mexican tourism board has undertaken to promote tourism to the states that are home to Mayan archaeological sites is brilliant.  Months ago, I posted this video [which is totally worth a re-watch, it is fantastic] that showcases 10 significant Mayan sites in 5 states.  I have turned this list into one of my 2012 resolutions and am planning a two week long Mundo Maya roadtrip this fall to hit the 7 on the list that I haven’t already visited [see the whole list below].  I am so excited about my travel resolutions for 2012 and will share more of them here as I make plans.  Where are you going in 2012?


1. Toniná, Chiapas

2. Palenque, Chiapas

3. Edzná, Campeche

4. Calakmul, Campeche

5. Comalcalco, Tabasco

6. Pomona, Tabasco

7. Cobá, Quintana Roo

8. Tulum, Quintana Roo

9. Uxmal, Yucatán

10. Chichén Itzá, Yucatán