Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D.

Alvin Starkman draws upon his years of traveling to and living in Oaxaca, and his training as a social anthropologist, to help him write interesting and informative articles about the city and surrounding valleys. His subject matter is rarely covered in tour books or on the web. Alvin leads couples and small families on day trips to the craft villages, market towns, ruins and other sights, and is Oaxaca special advisor and locations consultant for documentary film production companies.





Click on the titles below to read the articles, and go to to read my more recent articles on a variety of interesting topics:


Oaxacan Art at Auction – CORAL charity raises money in Mexico City and the US

Angélica Vásquez Cruz – Atzompa ceramicist rises above the rest with natural clay

Armando Lozano Ramírez: Master Jeweler – handmade bronze jewelry and sculptures

grana cochinilla fina…The Best Kept Secret in Oaxaca – natural red dye for the world

Sculptor Extraordinaire: Adolfo Cruz – 30 years of bronze and cantera stone sculpting

A Proud Family Tradition…Casa Santiago: Rug Weavers of Teotitlán del Valle

Touring Oaxaca's Art Galleries
– a walking tour and helpful buying advice

A Rich Woodcarving Tradition – spotlight on Jacobo Ángeles

Artist Manuel Reyes – extraordinary renaissance man from the Mixteca Alta

Artist Enrique Flores – prolific artist gives back to the community

Women potters of San Marcos Tlapazola – humility, hard work ... and quality

Mexican Folk Art From Oaxacan Artist Families – review of Rothstein book

Canadian Artist in Oaxaca: Fiona Dunnett – images of self, death and comic style

The erotic art of Gerardo Navarroplease, do not open if you are averse to seeing an erotic image

Chango Mezcalero from San Bartolo Coyotepec Oaxacan black pottery mezcal bottle has a curious history

Tattoo Artists (tatuadores) in Oaxaca Tattoos and body piercing, another aspect of Oaxacan artistry

Barro Negro (black pottery) of San Bartolo Coyotepec Family of Doña Rosa continues tradition


The Magic of Mushroom Culture – Sustainability Grows in the Oaxaca Sierra Norte

Public Education in Oaxaca, Mexico – The Warm Story of Luci from San Marcos Tlapazola, Tlacolula

Globalization in Oaxaca, Mexico – Review of Tehuantepec book by Wendy Call

Death of an Infant in Oaxaca – where divergent Catholic and Jewish traditions merge

Ethnocentrism…Which Legal System is Better?
– resolving spousal abuse claims

Mexican Penal Reform – it’s definitely on the way, but at what cost one wonders

Not a Jew to be Found
– in a Latin American City of 400,000?

¡Hey Compadre! – who says you can pick your friends but not your family?

Garage Sales in Oaxaca – “But that’s almost what it costs new!” Learn why.

Monsanto v. Schmeiser – GM foods, Canada and Oaxaca (an attorney speaks out)

Unrest in Oaxaca: Perspective from the Ground
– succinct 1,000 word summary

– co-operative community labor is the norm in Oaxacan suburbs and villages

Temazcal in Oaxaca – pre-Hispanic steam bath uses heat, vapor and curative herbs

Filming a Documentary in Oaxaca – Advice for the executive producer

Fiddler on the Roof in Oaxaca – a theater review

Nuptials and baptism in rural Oaxaca: the mandate of tradition – 10 hour celebration wasn't enough

Am I Paying My Staff Too Much? – profit and peace of mind; a Oaxaca case study

The Veria Network's Sustainable Living Series, Under The Sun – review of the Oaxaca episodes

Zapotec Culture One of the World's Six Great Civilizations – New book outlines the evidence

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca – Feature-length documentary "Acquainted with the Night" reviewed.

Family, Culture & San Bartolomé Quialana – A woman's interesting story of migration


Cooking School in Oaxaca Revisited – After four years Casa de los Sabores maintains high grades

The Molino (mill) in Mexico – Visit a Oaxacan molino for a lesson in food in Mexico

Mayonnaise – you say miracle whip and I say mayonnaise…a Oaxacan obsession

El Patio in Tlacolula – restaurant review (one thumb down)

Azucena Zapoteca – restaurant review (traditional fare and ambience at its best)

Fonda Mexicana – restaurant review (fast, typical, economical and safe comidas)

– restaurant review (excellent seafood, that simple)

El Mirador – restaurant review (great panorama and no gringos…need we say more?)

Los Almendros – restaurant review (great local haunt with a Cheersesque ambience)

Burger King in Downtown Oaxaca – let us lament

Dining and Indulging Do’s and Don’ts – commonsense advice from experience

Sí Señor, Will That Be Testicles or Head? – the rich tradition of BBQ goat

Casa Oaxaca Café Restaurante – restaurant review (suburban branch doesn’t cut it)

El Faro
– bar none, a great cantina with down home good local botanas…and safe!

La Biznaga – restaurant review (great food, ambiance, and best of all, improved service)

La Olla – restaurant review (good healthy food)

La Casa de los Sabores Cooking Scool – wonderful experience

Cocina con Nora Cooking School – educational as well as gastronomic

Vieja Lira Restaurant Review – Trattoria & Pizzeria is tops

Seasons of My Heart Cooking School – with Susana Trilling

Caldo de Piedra – restaurant review

El Tigre: Oaxaca Restaurant Review – food doesn't get any fresher ... or better

Guadua, Puerto Escondido – restaurant review (the best on the Pacific coast)

Oaxacan Chef Inadvertently Sets City of Toronto Ablaze – steals limelight from Clinton, Clooney

The epic journey of a Oaxacan chef – Pilar Cabrera's sojourn in Southern Ontario, Canada

Oaxaca Culinary Tour Recap – Future tours are a given, so read on

Children's Cooking Classes in Oaxaca – emphasize kitchen safety & hygiene, nutrition, recycling


Sustainable Industry in Oaxaca – Mezcal and agave espadín showcase green Mexico.

ProMéxico and Mezcal – The government of Mexico assisting Oaxaca mezcal producers to export

Mezcal in Oaxaca – Attending the annual Feria de Mezcal just got better for Oaxaca & tourists

Five Generations of Mezcal Producers – One of the finest mezcals

Mezcal in Oaxaca – ancient production techniques, “factory” tours and tasting notes

Hilarino Olivera Cruz
– rural Oaxaca mezcal producer

Mezcal from the Mixteca Alta – as close to pre-Hispanic production as you'll find

Pulque Production in Oaxaca – Case study of a Matatlán family

A Second Family of Pulque Producers – Keeps the tradition of their ancestors alive

Oaxaca, Mezcal and Slow Food, A Treatise – Is Slow Food in Mexico Waning

Craft Beer in Oaxaca Makes Inroads – Mexican Microbreweries Take on Mezcal


Tourists to Oaxaca Participate in Microfinance – Funcación en Vía is a worthy Mexican charity

Mushrooms in Mexico – Feria de Hongos a worthwhile event in Oaxaca for food, fun, ecotourism

Hunting for Mushroom at Annual Oaxaca Fair – Hunting for hongos in Oaxaca half the fun

Tour Routes around OaxacaEmail us for improved, up-to-date and greatly expanded tour routes

Rules of the Road in Oaxaca – quick…what’s the definition of an oxymoron?

Stormy Weather: Rainy Season in Oaxaca – but don’t let it deter a visit

The Rich Sounds of Oaxaca – remember your auditory sense when wandering streets

The Oaxacan Shoeshine: A Relaxing and Rejuvenating Treat – wonderful $1 bargain

Baseball at its Best: The Guerreros of Oaxaca
– superb Triple A entertainment

Accommodations in Oaxaca – looking for a cultural experience B & B style

Traveling with Children to Oaxaca – Oaxaca as a bona fide travel destination for kids

Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido – the Drive – and to Mazunte, Puerto Angel, Zipolite, etc

Mexico City to Oaxaca – the Drive – good road, easy and scenic

Where tourists flock, so go the thieves – no different than in any tourist mecca

Travelers' cheques, ATM machines or cash – advice about what to take and why

The Drive into the Mixe – a rewarding two-day trek

Should I rent a car in Oaxaca? – beware of recent licensing changes

Traveling light to Oaxaca? – how to fill that extra suitcase

Oaxaca to San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque – a driving tour

Oaxaca Swine Flu – personal history and some thoughts

Drivers in Oaxaca now subject to seatbelt, cell phone and radar laws – another reason to think twice about renting a car

Ecotourism in Oaxaca – Arroyo Guacamaya site has nature, cabins, hiking and fresh trout

Charitable Donations for Oaxacan Hearing Impaired – CORAL is a very worthy cause

Violence Against the Innocents in Oaxaca: – the truth about newspaper and government reports

Antique Collecting in Central and Southern Mexico – what, where, and take care

Hierve el Agua – Oaxaca's spectacular bubbling springs and "waterfalls"

Premier Mitla Guide – Gilberto is multilingual, engaging, and ready to elevate your Mitla experience.

A Oaxacan Vacation with the Family Pet – one viable option to leaving Fido at home

Found Object as Visual Art in Oaxaca – useful observations for visitors to Oaxaca


Avon and then some – Oaxaca takes door-to-door salesmen to new heights

Please, find me a gardener – how to change trades in three easy steps

Walking the Dog
– yet prospective guests still want to bring their pets vacationing

Law and Dis-Order Oaxaca
– move over CSI’s Grissom and Marg, Salma calls


The Weekend Cottage Guest, Oaxacan Style – HERE you can’t send them home early!

A Matter of Respect – leave your t-shirt behind when attending a cocktail party

Bringing Household Contents into Mexico – doesn’t sound easy, and in fact isn’t

A Primer on the Politics of Socializing in Oaxaca – what you should know

Rent, Buy or Build? – a key decision when making a permanent move to Oaxaca

Motorcycle Diary
– advice and interesting observations regarding riding a moto

Bureaucracy at Its Best…Our Oaxaca – learning to be patient takes time

Affordable Oaxaca as a locale for any grand fiesta – wedding, anniversary or birthday

Medical and Dental Treatment
– almost all you need to know

The Allure of Oaxaca for Snowbirds – offers much more than San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta

Consumer protection in Oaxaca, Mexico: A case study – The fair trade practices commission

Universal Design, Collaborative Housing and Sustainable Living – New Oaxaca housing project for expats

Digging a Well in Oaxaca, Part I – The three-year project continues

Vivo Resorts Shows Puerto Escondido Coming of Age – New Pacific Luxury Home & Condo Development

Oaxaca Lending Library – For visitors & expats to get involved in social & charitable programs