Day 6 — Details

“There's something magical about Oaxaca and the vibe of the people.” — Mike White
Day 6

Market Day, Frida, Murals & Alebrijes

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks & Beverages

At this morning’s breakfast, we urge you to try fresh papaya with a squeeze of fresh lime juice — a great taste combination!

Originally from southern Mexico, the papaya is grown all over the tropical world today where it is perhaps the most popular fruit of all. Interesting fact: papaya plants grow in three sexes: male, female, and the self-pollinating hermaphrodite; almost all commercial papaya orchards contain only hermaphrodites.

So enjoy a few slices of this colorful, tasty fruit with lime juice — see for yourself why we eat over 28.6 billion pounds of papaya worldwide each year!

¡Buen provecho!

Our Academic Exploration today takes us to the town of Ocotlán de Morelos.

The name Ocotlán is from Nahuatl — the Aztec language — and means “among the ocote (pine) trees” with “de Morelos” added in honor of José María Morelos y Pavón — a Catholic priest and Mexican independence fighter. The Zapotec name for the area is “Lachiroo,” which means “large valley.”

The town is famous as the home of the late Rodolfo Morales, one of Mexico’s most important artists.

We’ll tour an important and beautifully restored Dominican monastery, established here in the 16th century, which contains a small shrine to Rodolfo Morales.

Next up on your Academic Exploration is the Ocotlán market — a food lover’s paradise!  

You’ll be shown around the market to see it all and get a few tastes of not-to-miss Oaxacan treats like tejate — a non-alcoholic, pre-Hispanic beverage. It is made from toasted corn, fermented cacao beans, toasted mamey pits, and flor de cacao, which gives the drink its perfumed flavor and rich froth. The drink, served cold, is delicious and refreshing!

As you mingle among the local vendors in the market, always remember, as a courtesy, to ask permission to take their photo.

Our Academic Exploration in Ocotlán de Morelos continues on to the Palacio Municipal — government building — to see the murals of the famous Zapotec artist Rodolfo Morales.

Known for his surrealist paintings depicting Mexican culture, Morales is considered one of the most important artists of the Oaxacan contemporary art movement, and one of the most renowned indigenous artists in all of Mexico.

We’ll see more of Morales’ colorful and evocative work at the nearby museum — the only museum in the world dedicated to his work!

Lunch with “Frida” is next on the agenda for our Academic Exploration in Ocotlán de Morelos.  

La Cocina de Frida is a renowned local restaurant in the Ocotlán market where the owner — who looks and dresses uncannily just like the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo — prepares home-cooked local cuisine that is raved about by everyone who eats there.

You’ll enjoy a 3-course lunch of local specialties as well as fresh aguas frescas – fruit waters — and “Frida’s” delightful company!

Don’t hesitate to take pictures with her as this is a highlight of the day and one of those places that people hear about but rarely get the chance to visit.

After lunch, your Academic Exploration in Ocotlán de Morelos takes you the Rodolfo Morales Museum.

You’ll have time to leisurely enjoy this intimate museum. Alternatively, you’ll have a number of other options: you can return to the monastery, or take the rare opportunity to visit the home where Mr. Morales lived and painted — a Spanish villa just around the corner — or just enjoy hanging out and taking photos in the city’s central plaza.

Fueled with plenty of artistic inspiration, your Academic Exploration moves on to San Martín Tilcajete — a traditional and historically important Zapotec village. 

The town is known for its production of alebrijes — wood carvings of real as well as fantastic creatures hand-painted in bright colors and intricate patterns.

We’ll visit the most famous of the alebrije studios — Jacabo y María Ángeles — and learn how the artists carve and paint these incredible creatures.

Then — it’s your turn! You’ll choose a hand-carved figurine and have the artists teach you how to paint the colorful and whimsical figures. This workshop lasts about an hour. At the end, you’ll carry off your own masterpiece!

After this creative interlude, we head to the center of this charming little village where you’ll have time to check out all the local artists selling their alebrjes and find some of the best prices anywhere for wonderful souvenirs and gifts.

Our Academic Exploration ends with our return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

You’ll have time to rest, relax, or take a swim, before we head out to dinner — a pizza and dance party on the rooftop terrace of a local pizzeria!

We always find it fun to try the local version of some of our most common comfort foods from home. In fact, we think the pizza at Ciao Italia is some of the best we’ve had outside of Italy!

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