Kidzone: Exploring Oaxaca With Children

Insight the beautiful grounds of BS Biblioteca Infantil de Oaxaca.
Walking the beautiful grounds of BS Biblioteca Infantil de Oaxaca.

Words and photographs by Ehren Seeland

Historical, gastronomical and cultural are a few of the attributes commonly employed when referencing Oaxaca, however another descriptive also rings true: child-friendly. From museums and workshops, to adventure outings and cultural learning experiences, there is an impressive selection of activities at the ready for families who are visiting the city for a few days, a few months or even a few years. Some of the highlights in and around the city are featured below.

Baseball with the Guerreros
Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos
Blv. Eduardo Vasconcelos y Calz. Héroes de Chapultepec, Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez
A group of entrepreneurs first brought this AAA-level minor league baseball team to the city of Oaxaca in 1995, with an inaugural match played on March 14, 1996. The Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos, home to the Oaxaca Guerreros (Warriors) baseball team, holds 7,200 spectators, with games taking place regularly during the season from March to August, and during playoffs in September. Prices are reasonable for the entire family and cheap seats can be found behind the outfield.

BS Biblioteca Infantil de Oaxaca
José López Alavez 1342, Xochimilco, Oaxaca de Juárez
Email: bs.difusion@gmail.com
This bibliographic and recreational center provides a range of services for children and adolescents, free of charge. These offerings have been in place since 2007 in order to connect the local community and to provide a balancing factor against socioeconomic differences that exist in the region.

Resources include a computer room with online access and educational games, an exhibition area with workshops around literature, painting and music, along with a 70-person auditorium for film screenings, dance performances, puppet shows and plays. In addition to the ongoing calendar of events, the grounds are impressive and the library is located in one of the most intriguing neighborhoods in the city – complete with ancient cobblestone streets and an impressive selection of street art.

Practice and training time at Erikuas Club de Escalada. Photo provided by Erick Lopez.
Practice and training time at Erikuas Club de Escalada. Photo provided by Erick López.

Erikuas Club de Escalada
Calle Laureles #406, Colonia Reforma, Oaxaca de Juárez
Email: ericuas@hotmail.com
Currently positioned as one of the finest rock climbing destinations in Mexico, Oaxaca boasts accessible routes that are close to the city and suit a range of levels. There is a growing community of active climbers in Oaxaca, and this network includes a number of young people, as it was not until the last 10 years that local youth have had the opportunity to regularly work with professional coaches. Given the stellar outdoor climbing sites and two local dedicated indoor climbing gyms, individuals have a chance to practice their technique before venturing out onto the rocks.

At Erikuas Club de Escalada, families can register their children for the day, week, month or longer. Day rates are $50 pesos without intructor ($70 pesos with), weekly rates are $150 pesos without instructor ($250 pesos with), and monthly rates are $380 pesos without personalized training ($550 pesos with). The gym is open from 5 – 9:30pm from Monday to Friday, and is closed on weekends. Family rock climbing outings can also be arranged for $500 pesos per person (minimum two people). These day trips run from 9am – 1pm and include transportation, guides, and all of the necessary gear required to take on this family challenge.

A borrower prepares her newly built stove after the completion of a community build.
A borrower prepares her newly built stove after the completion of a Fundación En Vía community build.

Fundación En Vía
Avenida Juárez 909, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez
Email: info@envia.org
This special Project Tour is inspired by the weekly half-day tours that Fundación En Vía currently leads to introduce travelers to the concepts, benefits and challenges that are involved in microfinance programs for development in Oaxaca. The program gives participants the chance to meet women entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses with En Vía interest-free microloans. This experience also provides the opportunity for a deeper cultural understanding of the region and a real connection with the people by giving back to host communities through voluntourism.

The Project Tour is an excellent chance for families to participate in a variety of activities alongside community partners including stove-building, cooking classes, a microfinance tour and inspiring interactions. This excursion runs the duration of five days and four nights, and includes meals, transportation and lodging (as outlined in the itinerary in the link below). The next available dates are October 7 – 11, 2015 and the cost is $995 USD per person, or $1850 USD for two people (must share a room). Click here to review the full details.

The front face of Templo de Santo Domingo in the city center.
The front face of Templo de Santo Domingo in the city center.

Jardin Etnobotanico
Corner of Constitución and Reforma, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez
Housed on the former monastic grounds that sit behind the famed Templo de Santo Domingo in the historic city center, these informative 2-hour tours are offered in Spanish, English, French and German, on specific days and times. Given the precious contents of this garden that includes a staggering array of cacti and local flora, visitors are not able to move through the premises on their own and must join a guided tour for the full experience. With this in mind, these tours are generally best suited to children who are 6 years and older. Prices are $50 pesos for Spanish tours and $100 pesos for tours in other languages.

A view of one of the stamp collections rooms at MUFI.
A view of one of the stamp collections rooms at MUFI.
A detail shot of the minimalist design of the MUFI.
A detail shot of the minimalist design of the MUFI.

MUFI: Children’s Philatelic Club
Reforma 504, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez
Email: info@mufi.org.mx
The Museo de la Filatelia serves as both a peaceful refuge and a dedicated space for philately, which is the study and collection of postage stamps. Featured works include stamps from all over the world, housed in sliding drawers and mounted on gallery walls, along with arrangements that speak to these collections in the library, exhibition spaces and a special workshop for kids with the Children’s and Junior Club. Entrance to the museum is by donation and a full list of events and workshops can be found here.

Wandering the Markets
With a seemingly endless selection of markets in and around the city, these locales are full of local food, drink, textiles, produce and other wares. A visit to any of the destinations throughout the week is an ideal way to mingle with local residents and learn more about the traditional way of life. These venues can generally be reached via colectivo or bus, though a car rental would also do the trick.

A few highlights include the Sunday market in Tlacolula (one of the largest and oldest in the central valleys), the Pochote organic market behind the Xochimilco church on Fridays and Saturdays (try the made-to-order blue corn quesadillas, fresh off of the comal), the daily market in Teotitlán del Valle, the San Agustin Etla Tianguis Market on Wednesdays (go hungry), where you can also visit the stunning Centro de Artes de San Agustin and the Taller de Arte Papel Oaxaca, which offers papermaking and green building courses.

Poing Poing
Manuel Ruiz No. 300 – A Colonia Reforma, Oaxaca de Juárez
Email: poing_poing@prodigy.net.mx
Fun rules in this family entertainment center that features a cornucopia of activities including a selection of inflatables, trampolines, ziplining, a bungee wall, a 3-story softplay system, slides, bumper cars, archery and more. There is also a padded area with early stimulation activities for babies from 6 – 12 months, along with an adult area with magazines, board games, video games and wifi service. A trip to this venue can easily span a number of hours, so it’s wise to pack water, snacks and other important considerations for the day.

While this list includes a fairly diverse range of possible venues in and around the city, this is only a small fraction of what is on-hand. All of the listed destinations are easily reachable by foot (depending on homebase), by local bus or by colectivo. For those researching a future visit, or even a potential move to the region, it is also worth checking Que Pasa Oaxaca and the Oaxaca Calendar on a regular basis.

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