Monte Alban Oaxaca
Panorama of Monte Alban, Oaxaca

The waiting game in Oaxaca

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Long term traveling is not for the impatient person. Either that, or it teaches patience. One expired credit card and another about to expire had me laid up in a cozy hostel for two weeks. I was playing the waiting game in Oaxaca.

Several days before arriving in Oaxaca Spontaneous, Sky and I set off from our base in Tlachichuca to Ciudad Serdan to see in the new year. Our failed attempt at climbing Pico de Orizaba left us tired and bruised. We wandered around the streets of Ciudad Serdan looking for the fiesta. Something wasn’t right, there was no fiesta. Most people were in bed by 11pm, even the local bar was all but empty. We all went back to our rooms. I saw in the new year alone in bed.

It took us four days to cycle the 311km to Oaxaca. Camping in farmers fields and stopping for lunch everyday in small restaurants. Sky had another incident with the hard ground and her bruises got bruised and her scratches got scratched. No more crashing and falling Sky. Oh, and my stomach bug that blocked several toilets earlier has all but repaired itself. My energy levels returned somewhat slowly.

There were some big climbs on route which caught us by surprise. My normal route planning would avoid such boring paved roads as the main interstate highway but I felt the call of southern Mexico. I was feeling the call to get to a beach, to feel the strong sunlight on my back. My desire also had me hankering for remote jungles, the sight and sounds of the birds and animals. I have spent more than a year in either deserts or mountains, I needed a change. It was time to make some easy miles and move south.

Oaxaca cycling
The morning coffee ritual in a farmers field

Settling into Oaxaca

We took several attempts to find a place to stay in Oaxaca. I rarely make a booking for a room when cycling, preferring to just make it up as I go. The Hostal Cielo Rojo was cyclist friendly with a cool courtyard to hang out.

There was the constant stream of changing clientele which kept all things social. It was both a relaxing place to rest and many activities kept me moving. Did I mention the food of Oaxaca? More on that later.

Hostel Oaxaca
Hostel Life in Oaxaca

 

Monte Alban

Several vagabonds from the hostel joined Spontaneous, Sky and myself for a sojourn to the nearby ruins of Monte Alban. The 2500 year old ruins were built by a civilisation known as the Zapotecs. In fact most of the local indigenous people still refer to themselves as the Zapotecs. There was no written language from the peoples of the time so all the stories are little more than educated guesses based on the limited archeological evidence from the area. Of note, I’m currently reading an interesting book on the pre history of Mexico called, Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. Anybody interested in the pre history of Mexico should consider reading it. I’m only 1/3 of the way through. So far it is a great book and very easy to read.

Monte Alban
A group of Vagabonds enjoying the vistas of the ancient ruins of Monte Alban
Monte Alban
Contemplating the ancient past of Monte Alban
Monte Alban Oaxaca
Panorama of Monte Alban, Oaxaca

Luche Libre

Lucha Libre is that crazy version of Mexican wrestling. A lot of the wrestlers wear a crazy mask for reasons unknown to me. Wrestling is a bit of a thing in Mexico.

Rumours spread of a match taking place in Oaxaca. It wasn’t long before a group of 6 found our way to the stadium. Firstly we consumed a beer or two then we found ourselves cheering along with the locals. It’s all show, even the referee was involved in some of the rehearsed moved. What a dirty referee. But lots of entertaining fun. Anybody traveling to Mexico should seek out a Lucha Libre at some stage.

Lonche Libre
A ragtag group of Vagabonds getting lubricated while waiting for the wrestling to commence
Lonche Libre
Acrobatic dudes entertain the crowd. Although this is only a small regional event the crowd are knowledgeable about their local hero’s.
Mexican Wrestling
Stomping on somebodies head might be considered unacceptable behavior, unless you are into Mexican Wrestling.

The food of Oaxaca

The majority of my time in Oaxaca was spent trying my best to fatten myself up. The food is on another level here. I sampled the best pizza in Mexico at a place called Pizza Rustica. The 70cm pizza was an orgasm for the taste buds. I will throw it out there and say it was possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had! If in Oaxaca, give it a try.

70cm pizza
That is a 70cm (28 inch) pizza. Possibly the best pizza I have ever eaten.

Mole is a big thing in Oaxaca. It’s a thick sauce that is drizzled on meals. Mole Negro and Mole Coloradito are the most well known. The later is my favourite, kinda like a mild Asian curry flavour, without the curry. It reminded me a little of home. I miss the food from my hometown so much right now. The amazing fusion of Asian / Australian food. Mentioning missing home, I am really craving a meat pie and an ice coffee right now, or a Laksa, yes, definitely a Laksa. Only people from Darwin, Australia will feel my pain.

There is also the meat market. Meat is ordered by the 1/4 kilogram and served with tortillas and a choice of sides. The perfect protein overload for the weary cyclist. I liked it so much I ate there several times.

Oaxaca markets
The meat market in Oaxaca. I overloaded with protein during my many searches for quality, cheap eats.
Meat market
The meat is sold by the quarter kilogram. Then it’s cooked and bought out to be devoured with tortillas and salads. About $5US per person for a monster loading of protein. The smell of BBQ meat being cooked is a meat lovers heaven.

A time to relax and plan

My extended break in Oaxaca had me tinkering with my bicycle. It’s been a long time since I did anything other than oil the chain. My bike has been so reliable but it is craving some much needed care. While chilling in Oaxaca I made a long list of parts that need to be replaced. I’ll order all the parts while I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail, which will be happening real soon. Only a couple more months of cycling to go, I hope my bicycle holds together.

San Francisco church, Oaxaca
San Domingo Temple in the afternoon light. My first Try at HDR photography with my new program, Lightroom.
Oaxaca
The Oaxacan streetscape
Internet cafe
Oaxaca is filled with many choices of coffee shops. My new present to myself was the photo editing and sorting program, “Lightroom”. Hopefully my photos will start to improve when I learn how to use it. Many mindless hours were spent on the internet looking at where my future travels would take me. I am very excited about the future, stay tunes.

 

Before leaving Oaxaca I organised an old wallet and filled it with my expired credit card and a small amount of cash. Should I ever find myself being robbed on a remote dirt road somewhere I can throw the wallet at the perpetrator and ride away, or run, or fight back depending on the situation. By the time they find out they didn’t get anything useful, hopefully, I’m gone. It’s a tip many long term cyclists use. Of course, many cyclists carry a machete and others carry their ‘Bear Spray’, that they carried in USA and Canada as they cycle south. Mexico is such a safe place I feel little need to be worried.

By the way, my credit cards arrived. I’m off to the beach.

 

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