When I spent a month in Puebla almost 10 years ago, a lot of people I met there were traveling through Puebla on their way to Oaxaca. I didn’t know much about Oaxaca then. When I was living in Mérida a few years back, there was a group of artisans and vendors from Oaxaca that came for a festival. There I got a little taste of the famous Oaxacan chocolate, mole, mezcal, and saw a bit of the fantastic crafts that came from Oaxaca. I always knew I would visit Oaxaca one day and well, here I am. Usually I do a lot of planning and research before visiting a new place but with Oaxaca, all I did was pick a Spanish school I wanted to enroll, check the weather for the month of April, and buy my plane tickets. I didn’t even invest in a guide book.
I know for a fact that this way of traveling would not have gone down very well with me 4-5 years ago, but so far it’s working out just fine. I’m learning about great restaurants, places to visit, and museums to check out by talking to people and the fact that I don’t have a set list of places and things to do is kind of liberating. I’m beginning to think that maybe a “type A” person can change… a little??
I’m staying about three quarters of a mile north of the zócalo in a quiet residential area on a hill (it’s not San Francisco steep but steep enough to want to walk it not more than 2-3 times a day). I’ve been taking different routes back home from here and there of course, and discovered this small area below the hill where a series of old stone arches run up north towards the mountains.
It turns out that a few centuries ago the Oaxaca’s city founders had an aqueduct built to bring water down from the natural springs up north in Cerro San Felipe. While the ancient aqueducts are no longer in use, the town where the aqueduct begins is still called San Felipe del Agua and these arches (los arquitos) still stand. The fun thing is that the inhabitants of Oaxaca have utilized the spaces behind the arches to build various stores and houses.
It’s a nice stroll from the famous Iglesia y Ex-Convento de Santo Doming up to Los Arquitos, and there are plenty of quaint little nooks to explore along the way. I usually take Acalá part of the way or just follow García Vigil to the arches.