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Monte Albán

8 days in Oaxaca

Story by
postedFebruary 7, 2020

What an incredible experience my fiancé, Creigh, and I had in October with NTA-member A Closer Look Tours during their Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Muertos) tour in Oaxaca.

We traveled in a group of 16 that included the company’s president, Augustin Caparros, and his wife (Anne), son (Colin), sister (Theresa), and brother-in-law (Gabe). What a family to travel with to explore this beautiful part of southern Mexico!

We were able to experience firsthand the people, the food, the history, the art (and did I mention the food?) of Oaxaca.

Let me just say … moles! These are sauces that are indigenous to the Oaxaca region. Mole (moh-lay) is a chocolate-based sauce with a fabulous rich, deep taste that goes with beef, pork, or chicken.

The Zócalo, or central plaza, in Oaxaca was teeming with arts and crafts, people, and sidewalk cafes. Everywhere we turned we were met with color, parades, and beauty. Within the Zócalo is the Church and Convent of San Agustin, which is full of religious artwork.

Each day we were greeted by our tour director, Ivan, who was so incredibly knowledgeable about the region. We took daily trips to smaller villages in the state, which allowed us to experience the true Oaxaca. The artistry! From woven wool rugs and wood carvings to silver and gold jewelry, the abundance of artistic skill is awesome.

The warmth of Mexico truly comes through in Oaxaca, and I recommend that you put this tour on your list for 2020. And if you want to see more pictures, I’d be happy to share! 

Monte Albán

One of the most memorable parts of the trip was visiting Monte Albán. This is one of Mesoamerica’s most spectacular archeological sites, and the vistas are incredible. It’s located on a flattened mountain top, and its buildings are perfectly aligned in large plazas.

Creigh and Augustin with A Closer Look Tours cooking together

A Mexican cooking class with a renowned local chef was a morning adventure. We all cut, sautéed, and grilled—then were able to eat our creations. Held in the chef’s home, this was such an authentic experience.

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos is a three-day event, typically celebrated Oct. 31–Nov. 2. It’s a beautiful celebration of loved ones traveling from the world of the dead to return to visit the living, and cemeteries are adorned with flowers, candles, and personal items. We felt so honored to witness these incredible and moving tributes.

Dia de los Muertos display

We enjoyed so many parades during Dia de los Muertos. The children, full of dance and song, were the highlight. In the smaller towns, we were able to see a parade and then view an incredible display of memorials.

San Bartolo Coyotepec pottery

San Bartolo Coyotepec is a town that's known for black pottery that artisans mold by hand without a potter’s wheel, as they have done for nearly 2,000 years. I was able to bring back several pieces for our home.

Beth Engel is NTA’s director of sales.

Top photo: Monte Albán
Photos by Beth Engel


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A Closer Look Tours