Hello and happy New Year from Oaxaca, Mexico. We arrived here from Panama City, Panama on December 23.
Panama City, Panama wasn’t my favorite place. Andy liked it a little bit more than I did. Some cities are soul filling, and some cities are soul sucking. Panama City, Panama sucked my soul. Maybe my opinion was clouded because of the pandemic. Maybe the unbearable heat and humidity made for a less than optional experience. Living in Panama City was very much like living in the United States. In fact, if Spanish had not been spoken everywhere, I would have thought we were living in the United States. Panama even uses the U.S. dollar as its main currency (in addition to Panamanian currency). In my prior post, I talked about how expensive things were, even pricier than our time in Japan.
We rented two places in Panama, a modern, hip loft, and a super chi-chi Airbnb, something we normally don’t do. But due to Covid 19, the owner cut us a great deal. After the loft, we stayed on the 29th floor of a three-bedroom five bathroom penthouse in a secure building in a hip neighborhood called San Francisco. The penthouse had a stellar, jaw dropping view of other high rise buildings in Panama and of the ocean. If we looked really carefully, and squinted a bit, we could see ships lining up ,waiting to enter the Panama Canal! We spent a lot of time in the penthouse, happily starting out the floor to ceiling glass windows.
It was magical, a once in a lifetime experience (especially for the price we paid) and the owner turned out to be a great guy. He asked us for several suggestions on how he could improve his already amazing place, and when I emailed him my long list of suggestions, he took them all!
The neighborhood where the penthouse was located turned out to be great too. At first glance it seemed to be mostly residential consisting of high rise after high rise, and a smattering of regular houses. But once we started exploring, we realized that it had a lot of great high-end grocery stores, nice cafes, and a high-end cheese shop where I bought some divine truffle cheese.
We didn’t really get to check out the Panamanian countryside, which is really unfortunate because we’ve heard this is the best part of Panama. Perhaps the best part of being in Panama City was the incredible Covid 19 precautions the entire country took. We never saw ONE person without a mask in our 7 week stay. Our temperatures were taken in every single place we went and we were always offered gel. We felt really, really safe. We left just as the country was cracking down on its population. A strict stay-at-home order was ordered for Christmas weekend and for New Years weekend. Everyone was asked to just stay inside. And during the week, women were allowed to shop only during certain days for two hours, with men being allowed out other days. And an evening curfew was set for 7 PM countrywide.
Now we’re in Oaxaca, Mexico which is simply incredible. We’ve been to Oaxaca once before, two or maybe three years ago? I think we came for 2.5 weeks and we stayed a bit outside of the city center. I don’t actually remember that much from the trip here, but here’s what I do recall.
- I left my brand new Google Pixel phone in the back of a taxicab. Goodbye phone! We spent 2 days using the “Find my phone” feature but never found it.
2. We stayed in a nice apartment complex where many American’s stay. It was called Suites Le Fe. The apartment was nice, but it had a lot of ants! We came in low season and we were the only people in the entire complex for our stay.
3. We took a day trip and visited several small towns where we saw a lot of fantastic indigenous art.
4. We ate a few really great meals, including one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Mexico. I think we will go back again this trip.
Now we’re staying at an Airbnb about 10 minutes outside of the city center. The house is great! It’s got three bedrooms and 2.5 baths. It’s in a great area, and because it was designed by an architect it’s got a great aesthetics. We are very glad we rented it. Unfortunately, the only thing it doesn’t have is comfortable furniture. The couch isn’t a great place to lounge. And it’s a bit dark inside, but it’s still a beautiful house. You can see the listing here.
We’ve been spending our days working, and going to outdoor cafes. Unfortunately, Oaxaca is not doing very well Covid wise. Cases are rising and rising. For this reason, we are trying to spend more time at home than we would normally spend. We rarely go out for dinner, and we try to avoid the tourist center. There are many unmasked people in the tourist center–sadly they seem to be mostly Americans. I am saddened by the disrespect they show for the Mexican people. They do not have the common decency to wear a mask to protect anyone–especially the local indigenous population. The hospitals in Oaxaca are already saturated and if a local person or even if an American gets sick, I am not sure where they will be able to go to get care.
Even though we are not visiting as many cafes, shops and restaurants as we would normally visit, we are enjoying the vibe of Oaxaca tremendously. The weather is fantastic! Sunny days (78 or so) with cool nights. There is no humidity and this climate feels great after sweating it out in Panama. We are enjoying all of the art surrounding us. We see beautiful murals on so many buildings. We see stunning examples of modern Mexican architecture and great examples of old, historical buildings. Then there’s mezcal galore, and chocolate, and mole. I have a sneaky suspicion we’re going to want to spend a significant amount of time here in the future. Our hearts still belong in Morelia, but Oaxaca is giving Morelia a good run for its money!
In February and March, our plan is to hangout in Zihuatanejo with my mom for two months. Then we are not sure where we will be or what we will do. We don’t have any definite travel plans for 2021–although I would love to do an extended trip to Asia including Thailand and Japan. But we cannot make any plans until the pandemic gets more under control.
I will write again when we get to Zihuatanejo