Today we bring you El Centro, Mexico and specifically about in Oaxaca, and a chance to win an adult coloring book, designed and created by the authors, and based on their travels.
Outside my Front Door is a series of posts by fellow travel bloggers who share what is … outside of their own front door.
Together with her husband.
Travel Between the Lines
Geoff, former Communications Manager Katie Matthews quit her job in 2013 to travel full-time, spending the first 1.5 years in Europe before shifting gears to experience the Americas. They recently published their first adult coloring book, Travel Between the Lines Adult Coloring Book, which contains 47 illustrations based on their travel photographs from 29 countries. Katie blogs about her life at wandertooth.com.
To win one of 2 copies of Travel Between the Lines Adult Coloring Book, just subscribe to our email list. Winners will be announced on our Facebook page on the 29th February – seems appropriate as it is a leap year.
Exploring El Centro, Mexico
We live right in the city centre, about 5 minutes southeast of the Zócalo, on a busy street lined with colorful one- or two-story buildings. If we turn right outside our front door, we can stop and buy tamales from an old woman who sets up in the same spot every day. If we turn to the left, we can stop in at an organic market filled with food vendors.
In most Mexican cities, the Zócalo, or main town square, has historically been the heart of the city. The same is true for Oaxaca, and today the Zócalo is partly a place for families and friends to meet for a coffee or meal, and partly a place for political protest: teachers groups regularly gather in the Zócalo to protest the government, and while it feels safe, there is often a heavy police presence.
Also in El Centro are two of Oaxaca’s most important markets: the Benito Juárez and 20th of November markets, both of which take up an entire city block each.
The Benito Juárez market contains a mixed bag of goods: you can buy fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, beans and dry goods, leather bags, handicrafts, party supplies, baskets…just about anything you can imagine. We stop in at this market to buy Oaxacan coffee for home, fruit and vegetables, and odds and ends for our apartment.
The 20th of November market is full of food stalls, and is a great place to try local Oaxacan cuisine. I like to go to this market in the mornings for traditional Oaxacan hot chocolate made with water, locally-made chocolate and a wooden molinillo frother, and for squash blossom quesadillas.
Calle Macedonio Alcalá & Area
One block north of the Zócalo, the city’s main pedestrian street — the Alcalá — begins, cutting through the heart of the historical center.
The Alcalá is the kind of street I imagine when I think of inland Mexico: bright and colorful buildings, large cobbled streets, friends meeting at street food vendors, and lots of interesting shops and cafés. Near the north end of the Alcalá, the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán provides a natural meeting place, and you can often find locals sitting under shady trees, selling food and crafts on spread-out blankets.
I spend a lot of time on the Alcalá and the two streets running parallel on either side: Calle 5 de Mayo, to the east, and Calle de Manuel García Vigil, to the west. If you’re visiting Oaxaca, this general area is the best place to go for cool restaurants, mezcalerías, and cafés.
If you’re only in town for a short visit, you can buy all sorts of handicrafts on Alcalá — tapete weavings, colorful alebrije wood carvings, and barro negro pottery, for example. However, if you have more time, it’s much cheaper to travel to the surrounding villages to buy direct from the artisans, or even at the non-touristy abastos market in town.
El Llano is a large park 3 blocks east of the north end of the Alcalá, and is similar to the Zócalo in that it’s become a social heart of the city. Every Friday, El Llano hosts a market that takes over almost the entire park. Along the edges, tented vegetable, meat and pastry stalls form a long shopping aisle. This is where I typically buy our fruit and vegetables for most of the week.
As you walk further into the market, the food gives way for clothing and cheap jewellry, toys, and knicknacks and homeware, before finally opening up into a massive open air food market, where you can get pretty much any type of typical Oaxaqueño food: meat with mole sauce, open-face tlayudas (sometimes described as a Oaxacan pizza made with tortilla), aguas frescas, spiced hot chocolate…
On non-market days, El Llano is still busy with families and friends walking around, enjoying a chat on a bench, or checking out a smattering of vendors that set up for the day.
The Colors of El Centro, Mexico
Oaxaca is nothing if not colorful, both physically and in spirit…it feels like there’s a fiesta here every week, maybe even more.
The city is really shaped by the traditions of the indigenous groups in the region, and you see it everywhere, from the clothing, to the textiles hanging from storefront displays, to the colorful decorations that show up during major festivals, such as Dia de los Muertos or Christmas.
WIN an Adult Coloring Book
[clickToTweet tweet=”It was the colours of Oaxaca that inspired us to create an adult coloring book for travelers” quote=”It was actually the colours of Oaxaca that inspired us to create an adult coloring book for travelers!” theme=”style5″]
Don’t forget to win one of 2 copies of Travel Between the Lines Adult Coloring Book, just subscribe to our email list. Winners will be announced on our Facebook page on the 29th February – seems appropriate as it is a leap year.
Read more of these wonderful posts Outside my Front Door Posts right here