Bam, it hits me with all its force…..I fall for Oaxaca like a ton of bricks! This city, about six hours south of Mexico City by bus or car – it’s pronounced as Wa-ha-ka, is a great discovery! Oaxaca had featured on my ‘wish to visit’ list for a long time, and this summer, while traveling through Mexico, I was able to cross it off the list. And already I have made a deal with myself to come back as soon as possible!

What makes this city so unique? I think it’s the ideal mix of authenticity and modernisation. Besides the many beautiful colonial buildings, this city also has a regional function for surrounding villages where arts and crafts are still an important part of everyday life, and this folklore blows over the city. These traditional influences in their turn inspire a new influx of creative people, who bring an artistic vibe to the city: lots of galleries, innovative projects, etc. And in addition it is Mexico’s foodies’ capital – food has been turned into an art, back to basics and lots of pride for the rich culinary tradition! For instance, this is where mole is from – a traditional Mexican thick sauce made of chili peppers, herbs and chocolate. And the Mezcal, made from the agave plant – tequila’s little brother, but with a more smoky flavour owing to its production process. And chocolate, which was developed as an elixir with which the Mexicans honoured their gods. And I haven’t even mentioned the coffee and grasshoppers ;-), both of which are on Mexico’s list of delicacies. Food is everywhere here: colourful markets, an endless range of street food stalls, coffee bars and many restaurants, some of them of Michelin star quality. Last but not least, the climate in this city is lovely. Oaxaca is situated at approx. 5000 ft and the climate is mildly subtropical. It is therefore not as hot and humid as many other Mexican places. Have I convinced you yet? Then let me tell you where to spend the night!

I found a lovely Local Hideaway in the middle of the city centre, all the highlights within walking distance, called ‘El Diablo y la Sandia’ – which literally means ‘The Devil and the Water Melon’ ;-). Its owner, Maria, escaped the large and hectic city of Guadalajara and started a Bed & Breakfast in Oaxaca. This turned out to be an instant hit, so much so that some years later she started looking for a second place in the city – larger, providing a more comfortable home for herself and her family, and ‘El Diablo y la Sandia’ was born. A colonial house, tucked away in the city, with six funky rooms of different sizes (the largest one with a king size bed and a mezzanine with two twin beds). There are plenty of outside spaces on the large ‘green’ patio or the roof terrace. Breakfast is included and is hearty and fresh – it also provides a perfect introduction to some Mexican breakfast delicacies. The cosy common living room, decorated with funny Mexican items, features an honesty bar for drinks and guests are free to use the kitchen. This creates a wonderful domesticity, which is exactly what Maria aimed for…she loves to find solidarity and commonality in her home, and considering the variety of global guests who visit her home, it is exactly what she achieved!

This Hideaway is also the perfect starting point for an exploration of the city. The city map that was drawn up especially for the B&B’s allows you to find your way in the city easily. It also provides some great insider tips….quite a few of them actually and all very good, which makes staying at ‘El Diablo y la Sandia’ even better!

With her B&B, Maria has managed to create a lovely and contemporary home away from home, a wonderful starting point to get to know this must-see city… I left my heart in Oaxaca!

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