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Discover the people, the sights and the flavours of Mexico`s culinary capital - the indigenous state of Oaxaca. This beautiful state in southern Mexico is a melting pot of cultures, traditions and peoples; a fact reflected in its rich, varied and delicious cuisine. Discover the ancient heritage of sites like Monte Alban and Mitla, and the stunning beauty and unique biodiversity of the Sierra Norte mountains. Experience the best food and drink of the region, learning culinary secrets from some of Oaxaca`s best chefs as well as from local chefs who still use the traditional recipes of rural Oaxaca. Buen Provecho!
Oaxaca is known for its fascinating history, indigenous culture and unique landscape. Your handpicked accommodation incorporates these aspects of Oaxacan life and creates a more authentic and comfortable experience.
Visit the colourful traditional food market at Tlacolula. Spend some time learning about Oaxacan ingredients and absorb the buzz of this lively market. Drive to the village of El Tule, where you will see the worlds widest tree, a marvel that has drawn biologists. The trunk of this Montezuma Cypress has a circumference of 36.2m and is thought to be about 1500 years old. From here you will visit Caldo de Piedra, a restaurant that specialises in a pre-Hispanic dish of Chinantec origin knows as Caldo de Piedra or stone soup made with shrimp, white fish, chilli, coriander (cilantro),shallots and water it is all cooked by adding a hot rock to the bowl. The dish is traditionally prepared by the men, and served to honoured guests.
A short drive to Monte Albn, one of Mexico's most ancient and impressive archaeological sites - dating from as far back as 500BC. Monte Albn, meaning White Mountain, is an ancient Zapotec capital and archaeological site with a spectacular mountain top location overlooking the valleys of Oaxaca. Monte Alban sits just a few kilometers west of Oaxaca city. Monte Alban, being one of the culturally and historically significant places to visit in Mexico, received the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1987. The site is situated an impressive 400 meters (1300 feet) above the floor of the Oaxaca valley.
Drive to Santiago Apoala in the lovely Sierra Mixteca mountain range. Santiago Apoala is situated in a wonderful and enchanting landscape, - a green hidden valley and impressive waterfalls enclosed by steep cliffs. Gentle hike through canyon to the village of Apoala, exploring the village (hike is optional). Next we visit Doa Marina in her house where you will learn to make some local dishes.
Doa Marina is a good old soul of Santiago Apoala. She was born in this beautiful village but soon after her 12th birthday she was forced to leave for Oaxaca city to help her family to survive. She worked for many years - first in Oaxaca city, later in Mexico city - as a chef for well-to-do families. She is passionate about food and love to cook. Her family say that she is like an old cook book because she knows so many amazing traditional dishes using only simple ingredients. She cooks traditional food using seasonal products that she finds in her surrounding environment including Cactus flowers (a.k.a. Biznaga, February-March), agave flowers (grilled, steamed or pickled, April), watercress (July), a vast array of mushrooms (around September).
Her specialities include:
"Amarillo" - a mol sauce made with chilli, guajillo capsicum and maize dough.
"Atole blanco" - maize based drink, cooked, ground by hand, sieved and boiled.
"Pinole" - a similar process to the "Atole blanco" but using toasted wheat instead of maize and adding chocolate.
Optional hike to waterfall with possibilities to swim. Or just enjoy the peaceful rural setting. We prepare lunch with Doa Marina before returning to Oaxaca. Rest of the day free. We recommend a visit to the Museum of Oaxacan Cultures. The Museum of Oaxacan Cultures, housed in the beautiful monastery buildings adjoining the Templo de Santo Domingo, is one of Mexico's best regional museums. The rich displays take you right through the history and cultures of Oaxaca state up to the present day, and emphasize the direct lineage from Oaxacas pre-Hispanic to contemporary cultures in areas such as crafts, medicine and food.
Visit Teotitlan for micro-finance tour. This tour with our partners Envia (www.envia.org) will give you a real insight into the lives of local people in this traditional Zapotec village famous for its weaving traditions. This tour will directly fund small micro-finance projects which are small interest-free loans to help people to start or expand their businesses. You will visit people's homes and they will explain what they will do with the loan from their own
homes or places of business. The benefits these small loans can bring to people is quite incredible and Envia will send you an update on the people who explained their projects once they have received their loans.
Drive to the bizarre terrains and petrified waterfall of Hierve el Agua. Take a dip in the highly mineralised water admiring the stunning landscape. Next visit the ancient pyramid of Mitla and learn the fate of the other fifty one. Lunch with Doa Chica in Mitla, Doa Chicas mols are famous in Oaxaca and considered to be the best in the whole state. After lunch we will visit a mezcal factory, learn about the distillation process and sample a variety of mescals with a variety of natural flavours across a range of ages.