We initially planned to spend 3-4 days in Oaxaca city. We were super pumped to check out the colonial city centre, eat some incredible food, and shop for some of the locally made handicrafts. We found a great camp spot just outside of the city called The Overlander Oasis, and even arranged to get the truck into the Ford Dealership for a routine oil change, brake check, and to get clear on why we were often having trouble starting the engine when it had been running. We were on a tight timeline, as we had already extended our stay in Acapulco visiting teacher training for an extra week, and had to be all the way up near Cancun for the WAYcation yoga retreat very soon!
But as we’ve learned from our previous experience on the road, sometimes despite our best efforts to plan and stick to a schedule, we need to be flexible when things change unexpectedly. At first we were told that the truck should be ready in one day, then it was three days, then they had to look for a part that might not even exist in Mexico, and so on.
When we left the Earthroamer at the Ford Dealer for a tune up, we checked into the Azul Cielo Hostel. We enjoyed staying in a hostel in Mexico City, too, so we could park the truck somewhere safe and be right downtown where all the action is. We like hostels over hotels for the kids because there's often a kitchen with breakfast included and common areas for them to run around in. When the truck took longer than we expected to get fixed, and Azul Cielo was booked up for the weekend, we moved into La Villada Inn, just outside of Oaxaca and up a mountain. This place was awesome because we had our own adobe cabin, a swimming pool, yoga room, and incredible view of the city.
We loved the colorful buildings and churches in Oaxaca. So much of the jewelry, rugs and handicrafts that are sold all over Mexico are hand made right here. We visited the epic Sunday market in Tloclula and found a new throw rug for the camper that is hand made and dyed naturally from materials in the local environment like grasses and even ants! We also loved the artisan markets all over the city where we got to sample all sorts of food, sweets, and even mezcal!
For us, the highlight of Oaxaca was the food and the cooking class we took, which we wouldn't have had time to do if the truck had been ready on time! We were picked up at our hotel, taken through a huge local market with our teacher, where we sampled ingredients, saw how mole is made from scratch, learned about the range of peppers and where to get the freshest herbs. We even had the chance to sample some crickets, which we declined. The market was so huge that without our guide, we might have gotten lost! We then went back to his house where he and his mother taught a small group of us how to prepare a 4 course Oaxacan meal. They even had a vegetarian option. We learned to prepare Aztec soup, tamales, guacamole, tortillas, and red mole -- one of the freshest and best meals yet.
So even though our time didn't go exactly as we planned, and several times we were cursing the mechanics who kept telling us one day, no three days, no one more day, ok one more hour, this extra time gave us more opportunity to experience Oaxaca. In the end, we stayed for nearly 2 weeks while we waited for the truck to get fixed. At times, it was stressful waiting around and feeling uncertain about our travel schedule, but it all worked out. We managed to get the truck fixed properly, we did make it to the yoga retreat on time, and we also got to spend additional time in our favourite city in Mexico so far.