I Moved To Oaxaca

Monday, February 25, 2008

Life in Oaxaca: often exciting, sometimes infuriating, but never a dull moment. Great cuisine, history, culture, shopping, scenery, sports–all on the peso and in lovely, warm temperatures.

Finding a place to stay is a cinch–47 weeks out of the year. During the week of semana santa in spring, July's Guelaguetza, Day of the Dead celebrations during late October/early November, and the last two weeks of December, everybody and their mother comes to town so accommodations are tight. Not impossible, just expect to pay a little more.

Oaxaca has two English-language newspapers with good tourist and resident information, the free Oaxaca Times and the bilingual Go-Oaxaca. And you can't beat the local, all-Spanish Noticias for sheer balls, what with the paper being the target of a siege/vendetta by Gov. Ruiz of the PRI Machine.

Plenty of schools have Spanish classes, but I'm partial to Oaxaca International, Los Libres 207. Their rates are very reasonable, and they include fieldtrips; homestay options available, even if you aren't studying there.

Oax-town has plenty of internet cafes around town, ranging in price from 5-10 pesos an hour. Inter@ctive, Alcalá 503 (across from Santo Domingo), has DSL with all new equipment with USB ports, supplies like cds and diskettes, a scanner, color and b/w printers, and direct connections for your laptop. 5 pesos per half hour.

Oax-town is also a good walking town, though take care on the sometimes sketchy sidewalks. If you get tired, the city has plenty of cabs; negotiate and agree on a fare before getting in. Also take note of the cab's sitio in case you leave something in the cab. For destinations in and around Centro, figure no more than 30 pesos. City buses are usually 3.50, 3 pesos for the older ones; almost all have the fare marked on the outside of the bus. Drivers give change, too. No transfers. Destinations and major landmarks are written on the windshield or on signs hanging from the windshield. Signal for a stop by pushing the buzzer at the back door.

Hey, sports. Head out to Gringolandia for a pick-up game of basquetbol or futbol, or over to the Llano for early morning jogging. I hear there's a bowling alley somewhere, too, though I never did find it. Co-ed Zinacantli Rugby, Alcalá 902-BIS, www.planeta.com. Open practice every Saturday from 11a-2p at the sports field near Gringolandia. Beginners welcome!

We're also lucky to have several bookstores with good selections of English-language books. Amate Books, on Alcala, carries cookbooks, history, art, and handicraft books, magazines, and a choice selection of art. Provedora Escolar, on the corner of Independencia and Reforma, has tons of books on Oaxaca and Mexican history, including many obscure titles. The gift shop in Santo Domingo also has a good selection of books, and the full range of the excellent (Spanish-language) Archeologia magazine.

Oax-town has a number of movie theatres. Cinepolis shows first-run movies in both Spanish and English; their schedule is online. Same with Multimax, though their website is infuriating. Both are in Gringolandia. Take any bus marked Plaza del Valle. Admission is normally $37 pesos, with 2x1 Wednesdays. Both have stadium seating and cupholder armrests.

Over at Garcia Vigil 817, Cine El Pochote plays movies from around the world, poorly projected via LCD projector onto a wall in a small theatre with hard wooden seats. But it's free if you're cheap, or you could toss a 5-pesos coin in the collection box. Movies usually play nightly at 6pm and 8pm, though this being Mexico times do change. The Oaxaca Times carries their schedule.

Don't bother with Sala Versalles, on Av. Juarez, which plays first-run movies. It's crap. (Is it even open still?)

Tourist Office, Murguía 206, tel. 516-0123. Very friendly, and fairly knowledgeable if you stick to the usual tourist stuff.

The American consulate, Alcalá 407-20, tel. 514-3054. Yes, it's in a mall. Surprise.

Post Office, Independencia across from the cathedral. It's open Mon-Fri 9a-7p, and on Saturday from 9a-1p. It costs Mex$8.50 to send a letter to the U.S.

Airport vans, Alameda de Leon 1-G, across from the cathedral. It's the Transportes Aeropuerto Oaxaca, and they're open Mon-Sat 9a-2p, 5p-8p.

Finally, if you don't know a tlayuda from a tostada, here's a little glossary of Oaxacan words and terms. Did you know that iguana means "full of gristle" in any language?


  • Hi there,

    I came across your blog when doing a google search on the shelf life of Oaxacan chocolate. Would you know what the shelf life of those bars of chocolate that are shaped like KitKat bars.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:56 PM  

  • No.

    By Blogger Bones, at 8:38 PM  

  • Hello,

    My name is Laura and I am a college student and a citizen of the U.S.
    I ran across your blog and was hoping you could give me some advice. I normally don't contact people out of the blue but some words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

    My quick story:
    I am 20 years old and I live in Dallas, Texas. I am currently a student but am interested and determined to study abroad in Mexico. I have had a passion for the spanish culture, travel, and change so I thought this would be a great opportunity for me. (My major is still undetermined.) The city that I have been leaning towards is Cuernavaca. I have never been to Mexico so I was hoping I could find someone to give me a few pointers...things to look forward to, things to expect, and things I should prepare for.

    Do you have any recommendations on a city?, where to live/housing?, a school?
    Again, I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give me.
    Thanks for your time,


    By Blogger Laura, at 9:49 AM  

  • Laura:

    An email address sure would help...

    By Blogger Bones, at 7:53 PM  

  • Lol It would wouldn't it... Laprezive@yahoo.com ... thanks!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:04 PM  

  • Hi Suzanne. I'm the Copper Cyn. hot spgs guide guy. Your yahoo email bounced, so contact me if you'd like to stay on my list: evan at vote dot org. Or search for me on Facebook. It's become the best way to network. For example, if I take people who are strangers on the trip, they can get acquainted through FB first.

    I love Oaxaca. I used to ride my bike to Monte Alban many early morns and sneak in.

    By Blogger Evan Ravitz, at 3:53 PM  

  • Hi how are you?
    I was looking through your blog and found it interesting and wanted to leave you a comment.

    I hope you will visit my art blog, and become friendly.
    Hope to hear from you soon,
    Jesse Noe

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:06 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Michal, at 6:00 AM  

  • Good info.

    By Anonymous Frenk, at 2:22 PM  

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