Árbol del Tule + Mitla + Hierve del Agua, Oaxaca, México

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I joined a day tour (9.45am-8pm) from Oaxaca City to several places, including Árbol del Tule pictured above. It can be as cheap as $150. Very economic.

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It is a place that the van has to pass by to go to the other sites, and the town itself seemed pretty nice.

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We only went to the main square and nowhere else, since the only thing to visit was…

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This tree, holding the title of the tree with the largest base in the world.

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It was rather impressive, but unfortunately, it’s now slowly dying.

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A very old tree, one needs to pay a little to go close to it and the church next to it. If you want to spare that tiny amount of money, you can quite obviously still take photos from afar.

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We were there for only 15 minutes after a brief introduction of it.

Next stop was the mescal factory. A shopping stop. That’s why the tour was so cheap.

But actually it’s pretty good. Not only did we get to see how it’s made, we got to try tonnes of different favours, and everything was cheap!

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Another shopping stop was Teotitlan. It’s interesting to see how the different colours were made but everything that’s actually made from wool was really costly.

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The “main dish” is the archaeological site Mitla, which is 1500 years old.

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It’s not particularly big, but what’s unique about it is the fact that it’s mostly original instead of a reconstruction. 

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Why? Mostly because it’s more of a political place (a palace) instead of a religious one. But the Spaniards did build a church right next to it.

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The palace complex also contains two small tombs. Very short and narrow entrances. More so than the Egyptian ones.

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The aforementioned church before going for a very late lunch.

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The final attraction is the best one to some.

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Hierve del Agua basically is a place with springs.

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The pools from above didn’t seem that impressive, and maybe because it’s the dry season, there isn’t really much of a waterfall.

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But the scenery around it was breath-taking, and the pools looked like infinity pools.

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Some people swim in them (sunscreen not allowed), but the water is pretty cold.

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The pools are very shallow so it’s really about taking photos.

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There were holes like these everywhere too.

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It’s actually a cliff to the left so slipping off could mean death.

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Monte Alban + Cuilapan, Oaxaca, México

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Monte Alban is the most famous Zapotec city.

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Once again, it’s a part of a day tour. One can actually get there alone easily, but the tours are so cheap, and they include multiple things, so I figured I would join it.

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The historical site is actually pictured on the $20 note.

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Even though these are called “dancers”, it’s been speculated that they represented foreign rulers who were captured and had their dicks chopped off.

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Somehow there’s an art exhibition in the museum.

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Monte Alban is a grand city that is certainly Chichen Itza level. The fact that it’s got two points to overlook the whole thing just made it even better.

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Like many other places in Oaxaca, the ruins were affected by the 2017 earthquake, but everything’s fine now.

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The state was named after the tree.

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The ball court – no human sacrifices here.

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From the sacred mountain, you can also see Oaxaca.

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After this, we went to a woodcraft shop (quite interesting stuff actually). They even have two dead dogs having sex craved.

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An archaeologist at work.

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The next stop was Cuilapan. 

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I didn’t even intend to come, but it’s certainly a pleasant surprise.

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It has a church to force-convert indigenous people, a church that was never completed due to the lack of funds from the Crown of Spain.

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And it’s open air due to the roof having collapsed, and with no walls since there were too many converts at the time.

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It’s also got a terrace inside the museum (ex-convent). Very few people went in since there’s an entrance fee (not for me, of course).

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It was additionally the site of the secret execution of then-president Vicente Guerrero. Who might or might not have been black.

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Some people were rememing someone there, then they had a picnic after.

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A very one-of-a-kind architecture.

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It looked as if it was going to rain the whole time.

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Cuetzalan, Puebla, México

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Cuetzalan is one of the magical towns of the state of Puebla, the state that defeated the French initially in their intervention to install Austrian archduke Maximilian as the Emperor of Mexico.

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One attraction is the archaeological site. It was built by the same culture that built El Tajin near Papantla in Veracruz.

The site is not particularly big, but is not small either. What’s special about it is the rectangles all over the pyramids. It’s also good that it isn’t that much warmer than the city itself.

We took a taxi from the city, asked the driver to wait for us, and then had the driver taken us back to the bus station. It was $320 in total only.

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Another main attraction, and arguably the bigger draw, is the waterfall. Or rather, the many, many waterfalls and caves in the area.

We opted for a three-hour tour that cost $400 per person to see two waterfalls.

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The town itself also contained several beautiful historical buildings, with the cathedral having a very tall wooden pole installed in front of it.

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You can also swim in it.

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The city centre is very colourful and there are streets of artesanal products sold.

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Around 9 minutes on foot from the centre of town, is the gothic church with its graveyard.

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The waterfalls tour included around an hour on this.

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In the centre, there was also an interesting restaurant that doubles up as a museum. They are at the same time like a pawn shop and they sell interesting items.

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The town and its surrounding area are very hilly.

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The wonderful public square.

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The gothic church. It has a lot of little jars at the top.

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We stayed at an AirBnB a bit farther out in the forest.

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Like many typical Mexican towns, it’s very lively at night.

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Our hotel.

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A highlight for me was this performance of an indigenous ritual.

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Some other photos of our hotel.