Alice Friedemann Goes South of the Border: Oaxaca, Part 2 – Day of the Dead and Other Adventures

Posted on May 24, 2016


By Alice Friedemann

Photos by Jeffery B. Kahn

Alice Friedemann continues her travel adventures through the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  If you missed Part 1 last month, you can see it at The Magic of Oaxaca.


San Francisco has a wild and colorful Day of the Dead parade and altars every year, but it can’t touch the several days of celebration in Oaxaca City. Every night there are roving bands, parades, and all night celebrations in graveyards.  We went to the Xoxocotlan and Atzompa cemeteries, where families remembered lost loved ones.


There are altars in many lobbies.


During the day, markets sell Day of the Dead bread.


crittersAlso during the day, you can shop for the wonderfully imaginative Alebrijes, carved wooden animals inspired by mescal. In San Martin Tilcajete, about an hour south of Oaxaca city, there are dozens of family shops producing these wonderful creatures. The best can take several weeks to carve and paint, with the finest details done using hypodermic syringes .   Here I am holding my purchase along with the family who made it, and a couple of the other Alebrijes I bought from other shops in town.


We also brought home several hand-made rugs such as the one below, from the town of Teotitlan del Valle, to brighten our kitchen.  Artisans spin the wool, dye it, design and weave the rugs, and many of the family stores will show you all the steps in the process.


Oaxaca city and nearby towns have lovely markets, where you can buy many kinds of chocolate, peppers, turkeys, and more.  Jeffery is drinking hot chocolate in the courtyard of a hotel where chocolate is made on the ground floor – it must be heavenly to have Willy Wonka chocolate factory dreams all night long.


If you want to get some exercise, head over to the world famous Mitla ruins…


… or go swimming in the lovely pools at Hierve del Agua, where it appears that women grow on trees!



And then, finally reward yourself with a fantastic meal in one of the many courtyards in the beautiful colonial buildings of Oaxaca City!


Alice-thumbnailAfter 25 years, Alice Friedemann managed to escape her day job as a systems engineer and architect. When she’s not traveling, throwing dinner parties, reading non-fiction, baking, volunteering to take 4th and 5th graders on hikes at Audubon Canyon Ranch, gardening, or walking, she’s in the back yard with her husband Jeffery listening to the birds and breezes, watching redwoods sway, and enjoying the cats, squirrels, scrub jays, skunks and other wildlife that roam our back yard. She’s been baking with whole grains for ten years, and spent the past three years making many batches of chips and crackers, which resulted in her cookbook “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers.”