We hope this blog posts finds you happy and healthy, wherever you may be. As January comes to a close, we want to say thank you for helping us kick off 2023 with a bang. Between seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones, it’s been wonderful to ring in a new year excited about all the adventures that are to come. Today, we wanted to chat about one of our most special tours that takes place every October/November… Día de Muertos in Oaxaca.
Here are five reasons why we love this part of Mexico and why this holiday is so special.
Día de Muertos is a celebration unlike anywhere else in the world, and for this reason, people flock from across the globe to be in Oaxaca as October rolls into November. Here, you’ll find yourself sharing a shot of Mezcal with a family gathered around the graves of their lost loved ones, surrounded by marigolds and thousands of lit candles at midnight. You’ll witness firsthand how death is perceived as a celebration of life, and while there is sadness and grief, there is also joy and excitement for the afterworld and the circle of life. It allows one to look at death in a different light than you may be used to, and it is truly an experience one will not soon forget.
"Muertos" as locals refer to the week of excitement in Oaxaca, also welcomes the season of street parties, or calendas, that take place throughout the city of Oaxaca, offering a more vibrant and lighthearted scene to contrast the more somber, traditional evening of the 31st. During your time in Oaxaca, you’ll learn about the importance of Día de Muertos and how to observe and partake in the celebrations in a respectful and ethical manner. Plus, we’ll even have the chance to create our own altar for our loved ones and have our own personal moment within the tradition of Muertos.
The Gastronomy Scene
Oaxaca has become a foodie’s dream destination in the last couple of years - and for good reason! This southern Mexican state not only utilizes traditional pre hispanic ingredients in rich dishes like moles and memelas, but also has modern twists and fusions in eateries across the city. There’s no shortage of fine dining in Oaxaca, and gorgeous rooftops are abundant. During your free time be sure to check out some of our favorite spots like Los Danzantes, Origen, and Pitiona.
Of course, Oaxaca is also famous for its mezcal, so you’ll be sure to sample your fair share while in Mexico. After a couple of those aforementioned mezcals, you may find yourself seeking esquites, shaved Mexican street corn served over chips with lime and salsa picante. It’s a pretty epic munchy option if you ask us. Be sure to try a tlayuda too! It’s a giant tortilla that has grilled beef, delicious Oaxacan cheese, guacamole, and other mouth-watering toppings piled in the middle.
While you may have originally booked your trip to Oaxaca for the celebrations and libations, you may be surprised to find that this part of Mexico also boasts incredible natural landscapes. The famous Hierve el Agua is a series of petrified waterfalls and calcified travertine formations situated just outside of Oaxaca City. This place makes for a stunning photo op and refreshing dip. On all of our Oaxaca trip itineraries, we’ll spend a morning there, lounging in the cool pools of water and hiking the surrounding "senderos", or hiking trails.
Additionally, in the Teotitlán del Valle area, you’ll find lush marigold fields alongside agave fields with their beautiful sage green color. If you have a few extra days to spend in Oaxaca, we recommend heading to Puerto Escondido, just a short plane ride away, where the beaches are pristine and not nearly as crowded as other coastal parts of Mexico.
Oaxaca is a fabulous destination for those looking to do some serious shopping - especially for hand-crafted, artisanal products. Our friends Nelson and Julitza Peréz are a Zapotec family who has lived in Teotitlán del Valle for generations and are famous for their beautiful naturally dyed and hand-woven textiles. Zapotec weavings come in all colors and sizes - with everything from the most beautiful desert neutral tones to vibrant yellows and deep purples. We visit the Peréz household and workshop to learn all about the natural dyeing process and weaving techniques, allowing you to see this intricate process up close. Fun fact, Nelson and his shop even served as inspiration for the Disney movie Coco and they used him as a consultant! If textiles aren’t your thing, ask us about our favorite hat shop in town. The hats are handcrafted in Oaxaca and can be customized to be as ornate or as simple as you’d like.
Oaxaca is a state that’s rich in history, both ancient and more contemporary. There is Monte Albán which sits just a few miles outside of Oaxaca City that was once an ancient Zapotec metropolis. This site is incredibly well preserved, with much of the ruins still not excavated, and offers ample sites to learn about and explore. Our local guide, Gabriel Sanchez, studied history and is an absolute joy to walk the grounds with, asking questions and chatting about what was once a grand capital.
Bueno, we hope that this post has inspired you to finally make 2023 the year you get out to Oaxaca to experience Día de Muertos! It truly is such a special tour and every year we look forward to sharing this experience with our travelers. Have any questions about the tour or want to make sure it’s right for you? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Abrazos desde la bella Antigua, Guatemala
Chelsea & The Heart of Travel Team