Family Visit to Oaxaca: What to Do

While my sister Barbara has been to Oaxaca many times and spent her honeymoon here in the 1980’s, this is my brother Fred’s first visit. They are only here a week. Hardly enough to scratch the surface.

Here we are with mezcalero Oscar Hernandez

But a priority visit is mezcal tasting in Matatlan and one of my favorite palenques is Gracias a Dios. Thank God for mezcal.

Salud. Cheech-bayoh. L’Chayyim.

I’ve known mezcalero Oscar Hernandez since almost the very beginning of the brand. His daughter Emmy runs the retail and tour side now. Over the years they have grown, added on a bottling facility, and they just built a new big pit where they roast and smoke the agave cactus. They export to the USA and internationally, too.

We started tasting a bit after noon — medio dia. Soon, it was time for lunch!

My son Jacob likes their tepeztate and Gin mezcales. He put in an order for my brother to bring a bottle of each back to California.

Me, Emmy and Barbara — un poco borracho!

I also wanted to introduce my Zapotec family to this palenque so we did a road trip to Mitla. It ended up being an all-day event, with an added visit to the archeological site and to meet Epifanio, my favorite dealer of antiquities.

Meet Frijol, the palenque mascot
Street art in Pueblo Magico San Pablo Villa de Mitla

Mitla is a post-classical Zapotec archeological site that came into dominance after the decline of Monte Alban. Many of the buildings’ carved designs are replicated in the rugs woven in Teotitlan del Valle. On the day after Christmas, the site was packed with visitors.

Zapotec temple, San Pablo Villa de Mitla

The admission fee is 75 pesos per person and entry closes at 5 p.m. You need at least an hour to see the primary site, climb down into the tombs and climb up the steep stairways to the ceremonial patios.

Fred did the climb. Barbara and I didn’t.

It’s a good 30 minutes to get to Mitla or Matatlan from Teotitlan del Valle. If you are coming from the city of Oaxaca, plan for at least an hour on the road. Many people stop to look at rugs in Teotitlan del Valle either coming or going. If you are traveling independently (without a tour guide) consider visiting the workshop of Fe y Lola rugs. They are my host family and their work is exceptional.

Mitla (Mitclan in Nahautl) was the burial site for Zapotec royalty and priestly class. A very important precursor to Day of the Dead celebrations.

Have lunch in Mitla at a lovely little comedor, Doña Chica. We did. It is always delicious. Try the mixed grill molcajete and order your tlayuda with chicken instead of tasajo if you are so inclined.

4 responses to “Family Visit to Oaxaca: What to Do

We Welcome Your Comments