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Sunday December 17 2017
Affordable Oaxaca as a Locale for any Fiesta

Alvin Starkman

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They say that Mexicans really know how to party. Here in Oaxaca we do it in spades, part of a longstanding cultural tradition, and because it’s affordable. What you would love to do back home in the US or Canada but can’t because it would cost $50,000, or more, you can do here in Oaxaca for $10,000, or less, with a large glossy photo album of memories to boot.

But you and your partner first and foremost must be passionate about the city, its people and its institutions, and willing to experience all that Oaxacan customs have to offer for your next big celebratory rite of passage. Once you’re convinced that at least some of your closest hometown family and friends would be interested in making the trek and participating in the festivities, you’re Oaxaca-bound.

Even better if you have relatives and amigos scattered throughout the continent and further abroad who would be willing to gather together in Oaxaca, making the fiesta a reunion of sorts, á la The Big Chill (albeit different circumstances). A few of years ago an American couple in the entertainment industry decided to marry in Oaxaca. Actors, singers, musicians and producers came from all corners of the globe, and shared magical moments with the bride and groom in a storybook setting just outside of the city.

For our part, over the past dozen years we’ve thrown three such grand galas, each one in a totally different setting: a downtown banquet hall noted for its revolutionary period décor; a former hacienda with expansive, immaculately kept grounds; and a rural venue with a rodeo performance as part of the merriment. Of course there are other more familiar options such as hotel ballrooms, and restaurants serving up the best that this Mecca of Culinary Seduction has to offer.

The combination of a broad diversity of options and the instant pageantry it all brings, goes further in making events so extraordinary. You can have it all: a colorful folkloric troupe performing a guelaguetza (a ritual celebration of the state’s 16 cultures); an eight-piece dance band playing to both modern and traditional tastes; mariachis, marimbas or Andes style troubadours; the most exotic arrangements of tropical flower centerpieces; an array of unique, custom-made adornments for the hall; and other regional rituals, yet tailored to your particular celebration.

Meal options range from high end continental cuisine as prepared by one of Oaxaca’s top creative geniuses such as Chef Alejandro of Casa Oaxaca, or Chef Juan Carlos of La Catrina de Alcalá, to traditional Oaxacan fare, to the ritualistic barbacoa – goat or sheep with all the trimmings prepared in an in-ground oven, with its own peculiar pomp and ceremony – and everything in between.

A well-orchestrated evening (or daytime event stretching into the night) should maintain a continuous upbeat rhythm for seven to 12 hours. And then after cake, coffee and cognac have been consumed, tables have been cleared, and dance legs have lost their stamina, tradition dictates serving a further (and yes final) meal, usually consisting of tamales, chilaquiles, pozole or tlayudas with tasajo.

From the following day forward, after the event is but a memory, you don’t have to worry about entertaining guests for the balance of their trip. Oaxaca boasts several small tour companies as well as individual drivers and guides with vans accommodating up to 18 passengers. Friends and family, perhaps in groups based on particular interests, can easily spend two or three days exploring a couple of the traditional touring routes in the central valleys just outside of the city, visiting craft villages, towns on their market days, pre-Hispanic ruins, mezcal factories, nature preserves and a plethora of other sights. And of course Oaxaca’s quaint, historic downtown core with its central square lined with cafés and restaurants, colonial churches, museums, art galleries, and shops featuring hand-woven woolen rugs and tapestries, cotton textiles and embroidered blouses, a variety of pottery styles, and more, supplies ongoing activities and entertainment for everyone for several additional days.

With Continental Airline’s attractively priced flight routes, travelers from virtually everywhere in North American are able to reach Oaxaca via Houston and avoid Mexico City as a transfer point. Other airlines have come to the table with their own discounted fares, the implication being that your guests can now land in Oaxaca for less than it would have cost them seven or eight years ago!

Making the trip even more affordable, just for the asking most restaurants, hotels, and members of the Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast Association should be more than accommodating in terms of offering group courtesy reductions. You’re providing your guests with not only a remarkable cultural encounter they would not otherwise experience, but a vacation at an extremely attractive price.

Cuba, Hawaii and Mexico’s Caribbean and Pacific resort towns have become popular destinations for nuptials and other celebrations. Oaxaca will not be outdone by such venues, offering more. In addition to providing unmatched richness of past and present cultures (contributing to the city’s designation as a UNESCO world heritage site), the State of Oaxaca boasts its own beaches for swimming and sipping margaritas. The sand, sun and surf worshipers in your crowd have the option of extending their trip with a quick jaunt to the coastal resort towns of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido.

Oaxaca’s social event planning industry is ready and anxious to accommodate just about every fiesta prospective visitors might contemplate, with color, flare and imagination unmatched. And with a resident rabbi rumored to be on the horizon, soon we might even be able to accommodate that Bar Mitzvah you’re planning!

For more information contact Alvin Starkman at:


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