Archive for December, 2008

¡Feliz Navidad!

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Playa del Panteón, Puerto Ángel, Oaxaca

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!

Playa Manzanillo

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Located along the sheltered bay of Puerto Angelito just 1km west of Puerto’s main beaches is Playa Manzanillo.  Unlike its neighbor to the west Zicatela, Manzanillo boasts calm, clear, warm waters perfect for swimming.  Just ask Carlos who, over the past week, has taught himself to swim and has been happily floating around ever since.  The sloping beachfront also makes for excellent lounging while taking in all the sights.

Having moved from Dan y Carmen’s to our new temporary home at Cabañas Edda we no longer have access to a swimming pool, so stumbling upon such a great swimming spot was perfect.  Our only regret, that we didn’t discover Playa Manzanillo sooner.  Here are a couple pictures of our cabaña at Edda’s:

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More rustic, without cable tv, a private bathroom, or an ocean view it’s kind of like camping on the beach.  Our cabaña at Edda’s is only costing us around $8/night, less than half of the $19/night we were paying at Dan y Carmen’s.  That being said, it might be time to sample some of Puerto’s excellent seafood restaurants!

Procession to the Sea

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On the final day of celebration of the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad the statue of the patron saint is carried out to sea in an elaborate procession.  Accompanied by live music and following a trail of firecrackers, the statue is carried from the church to the beach, hoisted aboard a boat, and carried out to sea.  pc180112

Puerto’s entire fishing fleet is on hand to carry the town’s faithful into the sea alongside their beloved statue.  Flowers are thrown into the water and a ceremony held, after which the prcession returns to the beach and the fiesta continues well into the evening.

Calenda

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The first of a series of candelight processions, or Posadas, the Calenda is also the start of three days of festivities in Puerto Escondido celebrating the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.  Traditionally, Las Posadas take place nightly on each of the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve, however the term has come to include most holiday parties that are held throughout the Christmas season.

Puerto Escondido

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After a seven hour roller coaster bus ride through the mountains of Oaxaca we finally arrived in Puerto Escondido.  Once a remote fishing village and coffee port, Puerto Escondido or Hidden Port, has been popular with surfers long before it began attracting travelers and tourists to its shores. 

The legendary Mexican Pipeline runs just offshore and attracts some of the most experienced surfers from all over the world.  This is especially true during the month of November when Puerto Escondido is host to several national and international surfing championships.

Surprisingly inexpensive with a great travelers scene, Puerto Escondido is the perfect place to chill out and relax.  Here the most popular activity for us non-surfers, besides lounging on the beach, is spending a few hours at one of the many beachfront restaurants, sipping cervezas and watching the surfers ride waves while taking in the spectacular sunset.

We’re staying at Casa Dan y Carmen, an awesome place right off the beach.  Check out the view from our terrace!

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Hierve el Agua

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Located along the edge of a steep and difficult to reach hillside several kilometers east of Mitla is Hierve el Agua, or the Water Boils.  Here mineral springs bubble up out of the ground and run into a series of bathing pools that overflow down the hillside leaving behind mineral formations resembling giant frozen waterfalls.  The striking cliff-top location, expansive panoramas, calm turquois pools and popular belief that the mineral-laden water has beneficial effects on the skin all contribute to the appeal of Hierve el Agua and make the slow, rough ride up and down the steep, unpaved mountain road well worth the bumps and bruises we got after being bounced around in the back of our guide’s pick-up truck.

La Guelaguetza

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This past weekend we attended a performance of La Guelaguetza at the Casa de la Cultura Oaxaquena in central Oaxaca City.  La Guelaguetza is a festival of folk music and dance unique to Oaxaca.  The cultural center presentation was an imitation of the much larger annual festival that takes place each July during which elaborately costumed dancers representing the seven regions of Oaxaca perform a series of traditional dances, including the colorful pineapple dance by the women of the Papaloapan region and the mens’ Zapotec Danza de las Plumas, or feather dance.

The festival takes place each year in the large, open-air Auditorio Guelaguetza located atop Cerro de Fortin and overlooking the entire city.  The smaller version of the performance that we attended was not held in the Auditorio, although we did end up there later on that evening to attend a concert featuring several of the best Mariachi bands from across Mexico.  Their performances were extraordinary and ended in a huge fireworks display directly overhead.  The mild temperatures, clear skies, beautiful views of the city below and magnificent music and dance resulted in nothing less than a perfect Oaxacan evening.

No visit to Oaxaca is complete without taking in the sights and sounds of a live Guelaguetza performance.  Luckily, finding a performance to attend is quite easy.  For those unable to visit Oaxaca during the month of July for the annual festival there’s a good chance of catching an imitation show, or several, as we have over the past couple of weeks.  A few restaurants in the city center stage their own Guelaguetza performances nightly charging between $8 and $30 for admission, the latter including dinner.  From time to time the cultural center stages performances that are free to attend and open to the public.  There’s also a good chance of stumbling upon a performance in the form of  parade and fireworks celebration as it winds its way through the city streets.  We’ve been fortunate enough to catch a few of these, including one on the evening of our arrival in Oaxaca.