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by Rachel Toyer, student writer

While most of the world perceives Mexico as a poor third world country, speaking from experience, there is most definitely another way to look at Mexico, specifically the state of Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-ha-ka), a beautiful, mountainous state that is home to several indigenous peoples and rich cultural traditions.

With ruins dating back to pre-Columban as well as the Spanish Conquest, Oaxaca is the kind of place people want to visit if they are seeking old Mexico, including 100-year-old convents, restored churches such as Santo Domingo, and ancient cities that took more than 300 years to build, such as Monte Alban.

The capital of Oaxaca State was named after Benito Juarez, a Zapotec Amerindian who was born in San Pablo Guelatao, who served as governor of Oaxaca and president of Mexico for two terms. Leader of the revolution which ousted the European powers, Juarez is considered one of Mexico’s most beloved leaders.

El Zocaló or the center part of Benito Juarez town, is lined with cafes and antique shops that are accommodating to tourists who seek handcrafted souvenirs. Men and women stand on the street selling paintings and hand-made baskets for affordable prices.

Also near the center of town are several older but magnificent churches, center of attention during the day as the lively clubs, Azucar or La Candela, famous for salsa dancing and candles, are at night.

Dining in Oaxaca is continental, but some local favorites include mole, which is similar to curry, thick and soup-like in consistency. The drink of choice in Oaxaca is mescal, which is very similar to tequila.
Oaxaca is altogether a wonderful choice of vacation spots for visitors who don’t mind a few rough edges. In addition to the city, and the magnificent Mayan ruins, it also offers access to the Pacific coast, and can accommodate the beach goers at such beautiful places as Puerto Escondito and Hualtuco.

Oaxaca, Mexico is definitely worth seeing.

Photos Courtesy of Rachel Toyer

:Rachel Toyer standing in front of the Mexican flag in the center of Mexico City.

Famous mural painted by Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist who was married to Frida Kahlo, painted in the old government building in Mexico City.


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