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OAXACA

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A Franciscan priest, who due to those coincidences in life, was named Francisco, declared in 1763, in a mood ranging between beatitude and irony, that God had put all the remaining hills and mountains in Oaxaca after creating the world.

The fact of the matter is that the words of Francisco the Franciscan bore, pardon, bear much truth for God’s remaining mountains can still be seen in the historical, multiethnic and traditional lands of Oaxaca, conforming an abrupt and mountainous panorama resembling a crushed piece of paper.

But what Francisco de Ajofrín (that was the full name of the already cited Franciscan) did not say in that occasion, was that besides its undulating sierras, the state of Oaxaca was blessed – By God, or by Mother Nature? – with a kilometric coastal fringe, in which the Pacific Ocean forms bays and exceptional beaches.

Mountains and beaches; yes, it is an interesting combination, but what happens if we add history, archaeology, craftsmanship, popular markets, and adventure as well? Travelling ingredients of an irresistible tourist dish, in as much as the exquisite stews prepared within the region, true culinary art deeds which are among the most sought for and palatable in Mexican’s Gastronomy, or even more.
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Diverse, varied, surprising, are some of the adjectives that could well define the millenarian land of the Zapotecas and the Mixtecos, the prevailing human groups in the area before the arrival of the Spaniards. They built ostentatious cities such as Monte Alban and admirable ceremonial centres like Mitla, clear evidence of the Mesoamericans’ architectural abilities.

Nowadays, the City of Oaxaca, capital of the homonymous state, is – according to many – the Mexican city with the most native influence. The Amuzgo, Cuicatecos, Chatitos, Chinantecos, Ixcatecos, Mazatecos, Mixtecos, Zapotecos and Zoques, are some of the ethnic groups rooted in this region of gentle weather (it does not suffocate nor freeze), located in the South-eastern part of Mexico.

It was founded in 1529 at the outskirts of a town of pre-Columbian roots called Huaxyacac (“Place of Pumpkins”). But at that time it was named as Villa de Antequera de Guaxaca, which, perhaps owed to its lengthiness, was reduced to Oaxaca only.

With imposing colonial buildings and vibrant markets, the state capital, located at 488 kilometres from Mexico DF and at a height of 1500 meters above sea level, is the perfect starting point to travel through history in the ancient Zapotecan domains, tour about cheerful artisan towns and adventure towards the pleasure of the paradisiacal Bays of Puerto Escondido, Puerto Angel and Huatulco.

History and nature get mixed and forever embraced at Oaxaca. A state in which traditions are respected, an Indian, crossbred and Hispanic city that seduces by its high spirited racial melting pot, and by the evocative presence of its edifices and temples, so beautiful and impressive that UNESCO considers them as part of the Cultural and Historical Patrimony of Humanity.

And if two plus centuries ago Francisco the Franciscan – pardon the redundancy – declared that God put all the remaining mountains after creating the world on these lands, today we dare to say that the Almighty performed very well in making this decision. Thousands of travellers – believers or not – are thankful for it with all their hearts.

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