This past weekend a few of us exchange students decided to take a rather impromptu trip to Oaxaca City.  Oaxaca is located in the state of Oaxaca, about four and a half hours south of Puebla.  After we finished our classes on Friday, we took taxis to the bus station and were on our way.  We arrived in Oaxaca around one in the morning but after finding our hotel (which only cost eleven dollars per night) and checking in we didn’t get to sleep until almost three.  When we woke up on Saturday we immediately began our exploring, in order to make the best use of our short amount of time in the city.  We wandered through the streets looking for a good place to eat and came across a huge indoor market.  The market was absolutely amazing, as most markets here are (well at least to someone like me who doesn’t experience the market atmosphere often.)  We looked around a little bit and found lots of interesting items in the many different stalls, but as we were on a mission for breakfast we left and went back on our hunt for food.  We stumbled across a little place called “La Rana Feliz” or “The Happy Frog” which judging by the name sounded like the perfect place for breakfast and planning.  We decided to spend the afternoon exploring the ancient Zapotecan ruins in Monte Alban which are located about six miles outside the city.  After a very crowded and sweaty taxi ride to the very highest point in Oaxaca we arrived at the ancient city of Monte Alban.  What an incredible experience! I have learned a lot about the ancient mesoamerican cities in my class on culture, but the pictures cannot prepare you for the impressive architecture and size of the pyramids.  We spent almost two hours exploring and photographing the ruins, even climbing some of the pyramids that were open to the public.  After such a long time on top of a very sunny mountain however, we were tired and some were sunburnt so we decided to head back to downtown Oaxaca.  We stopped for dinner, and some absolutely delicious ice cream before doing some more wandering through the market.  Although many of my companions bought some incredibly beautiful handmade leather purses, you all will be happy to know that I refrained and focused on my photography.  After our long day of exploring we did some wandering through the night life of Oaxaca as well, and even met some people from New York and Alaska! On Sunday we obviously didn’t have as much time to see the sights since we had to factor in our return bus trip.  We decided to go to “el Arbol de Tule” which is a huge tree a little outside the city that is said to bring good luck.  After a lot of picture taking and some ice cream eating we went back to the downtown area to find some “agua frescas” or fruit water that had been recommended to us by a friend.  Most restaurants here serve agua fresca, however this certain stall in the market had a wide variety of flavors that were even more delicious that usual.  Instead of the usual fruit blended with water and sugar combination these aguas had much more flavor and even pieces of the fruit in them! It was a delicious way to end our weekend of exploration, and afterwards we made our way back to the bus station for our return trip home.

I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend adventure and cannot wait to have more experiences like it.  I am finding that living in a culture that is much more laid back might actually be making me more laid back.  I can honestly say that two years ago I don’t think I could have taken a barely planned trip to a place that noone in my group knew anything about where everyone spoke a different language than I did.  I know especially my mom and dad can appreciate this acceptance of spontaneity on my part, and I hope that I can translate this new found relaxed mind set to the US when I come back in May.