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Coming to Oaxaca is like falling in love; you walk the streets and feel as though you’ve found a part of yourself here amidst the Sierra Madre mountains and cobblestone streets of the Old City. At once immediately familiar–like recognizing yourself in another–but exhilarating like love.

Oaxaca is located in Southern Mexico and is known for its indigenous culture, which remains remarkably intact when compared to other states in the country. Oaxaca is an odd juxtaposition–both one of the poorest states in Mexico yet richest in terms of its local cuisine, crafts and heritage. Hazy mountains rise in the distance, colorful streets extend in every direction, music plays, people dance and irresistible smells from local food markets fill your nose. Hemingway might have once called Paris “the moveable feast” but perhaps he never set foot in Oaxaca, never tasted how five simple ingredients can taste more complex, fresh and memorable than any gourmet dish served up by a Michelin-star chef.

I am traveling in Oaxaca with two local photographers from Mexico City–Samantha and Bernie–who are the sort of harmonious, artistic-type couple that draws envy. Samantha and Bernie founded Cantimplora Travel–a brand new travel company inspired by their love of Mexico and desire to take travelers off-the-beaten path. Cantimplora Travel is founded on the idea of having professional photographers snap photos of you during the trip (given to you each morning) so you can put your camera, GoPro, iPhone and iPad down and simply enjoy the moment. It’s a radical and welcoming idea in a time when self-documentation has run amok and travel is all too often measured in the number of likes and comments we get on social media.

I met with a local mezcal farmer, experienced a traditional “temascal” with a Oaxaca shaman, explored the delicious streets of the Tlacolula market, surfed at the picturesque Zipolite and did so without a screen in front of my eyes. I lived in the moment, I connected with the destination, I found inspiration and in the end, I still got the photos. For those looking for a trip idea or fuel for their wanderlust, these 10 photos taken by Cantimplora Travel will make you want to visit Oaxaca, Mexico.

Cantimplora_Travel_Nikki_122 A local artisan hand paints crafts at the Jocobo and Maria Angeles studio in Oaxaca.

 

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Mezcal farmer, Alberto Martinez, explains how he makes organic mezcal from scratch.

 

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A candid shot of me roaming the fragrant streets of the Tlacolula Sunday market in Oaxaca.

 

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A wedding procession goest through the streets of Oaxaca City.

 

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The stunning view from the top of Herve el Agua.

 

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The stunning view of sunset from Punta Cometa outside of Zipolite in Oaxaca.

 

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The colourful artwork found around Oaxaca.

 

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Delicious, handmade blue corn tortillas are made and served with fresh zucchini flowers, chiles and queso.

 

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The serene and picture perfect beaches of Zipolite at Bahia de Luna.

 

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A candid shot of me trying a local drink while roaming the Tlacolula market.

 

I once read a quote: “beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” As I traveled through Oaxaca — from the bustling streets of Oaxaca City to the beaches of Zipolite — I couldn’t stop thinking about those words. Many destinations will trip over themselves to appeal to a tourist, but not Oaxaca. Oaxaca doesn’t ask for attention, it simply is what it is and that’s what makes it beautiful.

 

*All photos taken and provided by Cantimplora Travel.