Tag Archives: hostels

From the Pueblo to Oaxaca: 30 Minutes and Worlds Apart

This week I took a walk to Macuilxochitl, the next village over and located perhaps two miles from Teotitlan del Valle (TDV) along an unpaved road that spurs off from TDV’s main thoroughfare near the middle school.  This was the week I learned polvo, the Spanish word for dust.  Every five minutes a 3-wheeler moto-taxi (tuk-tuk)  slaloms down this road, kicking up a thick dust cloud. Passengers in the rear seat hold a cloth to their noses.  I endured.  It was worth it!



Macuil, as the locals call it, is a small agricultural pueblo, distinguished by an extraordinary church topped with three red domes that is slowly undergoing renovation. Throughout the village ancient adobe walls are pocked with eroding stones and spider webs.


A community museum adjoining the church holds ceramics excavated from pre-conquest history and church ritual relics and paintings hang suspended from walls torn from the Zapotec temple below.


Rural Oaxaca life has its treats.  Now, the fields are being prepared for planting.  The hefty bulls, guided by an aging farmer who has done this his entire life, are hauling ancient wood plows worn smooth from time.  The smell is loamy and rich.  In another field, younger men stoop to cut alfalfa to feed their livestock or sell in the morning market.

A few days ago during a late afternoon walk along the foothill path that leads to the dam,  I bumped into a friend along the way.   Together we climbed the rocky outcropping of road lined with blooming nopal cactus and came upon a herd of goats grazing at water’s edge.

A woman and her son, who introduced themselves as Josefina and Helario, came toward us on the path carrying a bundle of firewood they had gathered farther up the hillside.

We followed the goats, the goat-herder, his tethered mares , several dogs, and the mother and son, back down the path and across the river.  Night was falling and I continued on home down the cobbled streets after we all said goodbyes, finishing up my three-hour walk in the country.


The next morning, I caught a collectivo and was off to Oaxaca for a two-night, three-day stay.  The city is a burst of color, energy, traffic, noise, excitement, great food and music, and full of commercial bustle.  In Jalatlaco I found respite at Hostal del Barrio where Dueña Oliva (below) and her daughter offer clean, basic lodging for 200 pesos a night.  (Courtyard pictured below.) The hostel is on a narrow, dead-end cobblestone street that reminds me of Italy (above, right).  A block away is a terrific, though pricey Italian trattoria called Toscana.  The pizzas, cooked in a wood-fired orno, are just like those in Rome with perfectly crunchy thin crust and probably the best buy on the menu.


I savor the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds I love — the country and the city, worlds apart though only a few miles from each other.

More Than 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico — Where To Stay, Hotels, Hostels, B&B’s

Where to Stay in Oaxaca, Mexico: Hotels, Bed and Breakfast Lodging and Hostels. The list that I sent to Freda Moon, The New York Times travel writer who crafted the feature 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico, included recommendations for where to sleep in Oaxaca City.  She was only able to include one, El Diablo y La Sandia.  So, I’m sharing with you what I sent to her and a few more that I recently discovered.

El Secreto de las Bugambilias, NEW, Reforma #522, Col. Centro, Oaxaca, (951) 514-9536; USA (866) 829-6778, 3 rooms, Single/Double, Dahlia Room, $70 single/$80 double; Begonia Room, King Bed, $80/90; Azalea Room, King Bed, $90/$100.  Extension of Las Bugambilias B&B one block away, owned by the Cabrera Arroyo Family.  Just opened in June 2011.

El Diablo  y La SandiaNEW Libres #  Maria Crespo, owner. $80 USD per night double, $75 per night single includes breakfast. Email: info@eldiabloylasandia.com

Clean, basic and convenient Hostal Paulina, Trujano #321 at the corner of Diaz Ordaz, 4 blocks from the Zocalo. Phone (951) 516-2005.  370 pesos per night including breakfast, shared baths. reservations@paulinahostel.com  www.paulinahostel.com/ing10/localizacion.html

Lovely, European-like, quiet neighborhood of Jalatlaco is just a few minutes walk from El Llano Parque and the ADO bus station. It is easy to imagine being on a back street in Florence, Italy.  For 200 pesos a night you can stay at Hostal del Barrio, Privado de la Noche Triste #5, delbarriohostal@gmail.com or (951) 515-2910.  Innkeepers Señora Oliva and daughter Señora Julieta offer a warm welcome to their quiet home. Each very spare, small bedroom has a private bath and hot water. It is clean and adequate with no frills. Go around the corner to Casa Arnel for a healthy breakfast a la carte or during the week or Saturday morning to Xiguela, the organic market/cafe.  It’s a 30-minute walk to the Zocalo.

In Teotitlan del Valle, our workshop groups stay at Las Granadas Bed & Breakfast and at Casa Elena.