To all friends and family,
Miss ya and wish you could be here in Mexico. It is great! I was recently in Puerto Escondido, a popular surfer and international traveler destination, on the coast of the state of Oaxaca (Wa-Ha-Ka). It’s been hot, sunny, and humid; typical coastal weather. We’ve been taking some nice side trips and pauses that has really enhanced my enjoyment of this cycling trip.
One important bit of information I left out of my last update was that my partner Alexandra decided to call it quits and return home to Quebec. She made me keep this news a secret so she could successfully surprise her mother and family when she arrived back home. Like I mentioned in the last update, Alex, Adrian and I spent some time together regrouping in Acapulco and exploring Mexico City. The day Alex and I arrived Acapulco, she told me she was not going to continue cycling. The news was a shock, but I felt I understood her motives. She missed her family, had been having money issues, and we weren’t getting along too well either. I told her she should be proud of what she had accomplished and wished her the best in her future projects. Cycling with her had certainly been a learning experience for me after 6 and a half months of solo cycling through the US and Canada. I had the opportunity to learn a few things about myself and how to adapt to partnerships. There were good times and bad times, heated debates and intense conversations, and in the end, I know it will remain a memorable aspect of the two months of cycling in Mexico.
After Alex left by bus for the north, Adrian and I cycled for 4 days out of Guerrero and into Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido and are still making our way down through southern Mexico together. I was really looking forward to entering the state of Oaxaca. I had heard so much about this large multicultural state. Someone told me that as much as 70% of the people have indigenous heritage. It was smooth sailing into Oaxaca along the flat coast through farmland and small towns. The day we arrived Puerto Escondido, we cycled through a huge storm that dumped tons of rain on us. Loud lightning cracked all around us and we saw one bolt hit the ground right in front of us no more than 50 meters away. It was a nice reminder that making good time is not the most important thing. At that moment, not being electrocuted was the most important thing. We made it to Puerto Escondido, or Puerto, safe and sound. We decided to settle in at Hostel Shalom, where we were surrounded by many international travelers and a good atmosphere. The waters here are ideal for surfing and not so ideal for swimming. The same currents and forces that create the famous Mexican Pipeline can easily pull you out to sea or drown a careless swimmer. Watching the waves roll in was a wonderful sight. I had never seen or swam in such huge waves. After body surfing a couple of big’uns, but mostly getting tossed around, me and a couple other swimmers were swiftly ejected from the water and reprimanded by the lifeguards. Adrian and I spent one night in Puerto and then took a night bus to the capital city of Oaxaca for a side trip. It was a long windy road through the mountains. We arrived at 6:30am and were greeted with temperatures I haven’t felt since cool evenings in northern Baja. My wallet fell out of my pocket on the bus and just when I thought there was no chance of recovery, the man at the ticket booth located the bus in the parking lot and I got my wallet back. Yes! We found out we had come to this beautiful city during their annual fiesta called Guelaguetza, which symbolizes the uniting of seven regions of the state. We were informed there would be lots of festivities, music, dancing, and mezcal drinking. Adrian and I settled in at a cool hostel called Luz y Luna and met some other travelers who were either passing through like us or staying for a little more time to study Spanish. We spent about 4 days in Oaxaca before returning. For me there were a couple of highlights. The first was waking up at 5am to get seats to the opening cerimonies of Guelaguetza in a special stadium made just for the festival. The ceremonies included the performances of traditional dances and songs in colorful clothing to represent the heritage and culture of the many groups. It was a great experience, though exhausting. The night before, we were out sampling mezcal and watching fireworks. The sun was beaming and I was on 3 hours of sleep, but I stuck it out until the last dance and I was glad I did.
The second highlight would have to have been renting bikes on the recommendation of a couple other travelers and taking them to the ruins of Monte Alban, a famous pre-Hispanic archeological site. The day started out with an almost disaster. I was hit by a bus while trying to navigate the city streets. The bus made an immediate and unanticipated right turn while I was passing it and I was knocked to the ground and the bike’s front tire was promptly crushed by the bus. Luckily, I was thrown away from the bike and didn’t suffer the same fate of its front wheel. The bus driver acknowledged some fault and gave me some money for the rim before driving off. I was too much in shock to realize there was more damage done to the bike, which I had to pay for, but in the end, I realized how lucky I was to be without a scratch. I would have paid much more to get myself out of a hospital if things had been a little different. The amazing bike ride to the top of a mountain, to the ruins of Monte Alban, also helped to keep my attitude positive given the rough start of the day. By the end of the day, we had seen some great ruins, experienced some amazing views of three large valleys, and had ridden a wonderful 30 mile loop through the fertile farmland of the outskirts of Oaxaca. We returned to Puerto Escondido on a day bus to see the intense mountain scenery we could only feel on the way up during the night. The road was nothing but curves, inclines and descents, and on the borderline of nauseating, but we survived.
We stayed a few days in Puerto before moving on. We helped out our new friend Ruben paint his falafel stand and were even there for the opening day to try the tasty sandwiches. Ruben stored our bikes for us when we took the Oaxaca side trip, so it was the least we could do to help him out, plus it was lots of fun. I met up with a friend of my brothers who coincidentally was in Puerto at the same time. We hit the beaches and had a nice time talking about our experiences in Mexico. I met a lovely Columbian traveler and had a short but sweet romance that I hope to continue when I reach Bogota.
We left Puerto Escondido and cycled a day to a tiny beach town called Mazunte. The scene here was even more laid back than in Puerto. This was a place you could spend two weeks in and not even realize. We ended up spending 3 days, eating cheap and tasty fish sandwiches, body surfing huge waves, playing Frisbee, snorkeling, and having great evening conversations under starry skies. We only put shoes on for a nice hike around a point for great views of the beaches and a quieter atmosphere, far from big crashing waves. We pulled ourselves away from Mazunte for mileage and had a beautiful, scenic and hilly two and a half days to Salina Cruz. We must have taken some great vibes from Mazunte because our first night out was spent in the company of two older locals in a tiny ranch town called San Isidro Chacalapa. We arranged to camp under their roof and Sofia fed us and entertained us with good conversation and iguana recipes through the night. I really enjoyed the mountainous scenery of the last bit of coast on our route. Most of the hills were forested and sparsely populated and reminded me of cycling through the state of Michoacan. Spectacular views of the coastline could be seen from the road. We spent one night in a secluded beach town called Morro just before reaching Salina Cruz. Our evening swim would be the last time we’d be on the ocean for a long time. We’ve got our memories, photos, and the sand still stuck in my scalp. Now it’s time for the mountains. I was surprised to learn we were cycling north to Salina Cruz. Now we’ll be heading east for a while, into a through the state of Chiapas to the Guatemalan border. I’ve heard great things about Chiapas and look forward to the people and the land. I’ve heard of jungles, forests, and a beautiful wild land full of culture. I know for certain it will be an adventure and a great experience.
Wish you were here,