I had an early start yesterday, and two flights later, after a short delay in Mexico City, I arrived late afternoon in Oaxaca (pronounced “Wa-haka”). A shared taxi minibus, at a bargain price of 44 pesos (less than $4) dropped me off right at the front door of the hostel I had booked.
I left my bag, and had to go out to find a bank for enough Mexican cash to pay for the hostel. Two blocks away I came across my first taste of the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, as a huge parade with a couple of marching bands blocked the streets. Everybody was in costume, and the air was very festive and fun.
In the hostel I met Rebecca from England, who was sharing the dorm room I was in, and we arranged to meet a couple of her friends that evening, Mark and Karen.
We met at 8pm in the main city centre square, the Zocalo, which is just around the corner from the hostel. The square is wonderfully festive, filled with brilliantly coloured and shadowed sand paintings or sculptures. Everywhere people are selling candy skulls and skeletons, and a Mexican band was playing.
We had dinner at a local restaurant, where I was introduced to the local dish, or sauce, mole, with chicken enchiladas. Afterwards we ended up in a local bar, where beer was on happy hour – “two-for-price-of-one” – and Mark insisted on shots of Mezcal, his including the worm from the bottle. What a great first evening in Oaxaca.
For a great overview of the Mexican Dia de Muertos beliefs and customs, take a look at this informative British Airways advert:-