Thursday, 19 January 2012

Oaxaca & Puerto Escondido

Welcome, amigos, to the third installment of our travels!

Since we left you in Puebla, our time has mostly been spent relaxing, with a couple of nasty hiccups. One interesting thing we didn't mention about Puebla is that it doesn't seem to be a huge tourist destination. This was evidenced by a few groups of high school students who were excited to see us (browsing and purchasing extensively from one of an entire street of candy stores! - Kevin) and took advantage of us being gringos to interview us for a school project.

Our hostel in Oaxaca was nestled way up in the mountain with an incredible view of the valley and city below. It came complete with a small restaurant (that had very little in the way of food for Juliet), a pool, and 'matrimonial' (2-person) hammocks. We met a Polish couple who are flying out to Cuba on the same day as us, but at a more reasonable hour (we realised after we bought it that it gets to Cuba at 12.35 am). We got in around 3, already hungry, so headed down to the city. The driver of the bus we got on said he was going to the zocalo (central plaza that most Mexican cities have). We patiently waited to see anything like a zocalo to no avail and ended up getting off the bus at the end of the line. Getting to our restaurant meant catching a taxi back in and the driver got confused about where we were going, so we had very rumbly bellies when we finally got there.

The horrible experience getting around Oaxaca combined with the opportunities for relaxing at the hostel meant Kevin was keen to just stay there for the day. I (Juliet) wanted to see the city so headed out on my own. I caught a taxi in with no trouble. For a measly 35 pesos I got a three course meal with a drink! I meandered through the streets, saw some traditional and modern art and found a huge market. I bought chocolate and packets of mole sauce to take home since those are two of the things that Oaxaca is known for and tried a hibiscus and cactus iceblock (surprisingly tasty). I happened upon some sort of town celebration, complete with multiple brass bands, dancing, fireworks that were set off from a small bull-shaped structure, dancing, and many people holding crepe paper flowers tied onto sticks of sugar can. Eventually I got back to the hostel to see a very relieved Kevin – I had gotten back after dark and he was worried. At least I had food with me.

Next, it was time for the second of the tours included in our bus pass. The first tour was slightly unpleasant due to two Kiwi men and two Aussie women who made us a tad embarassed to be from the same part of the world. Fortunately, the Aussies we encountered on this tour were a different sort. We saw the widest tree in the world, the production process of mezcal, and the traditional process of making rugs (where we left poorer in pesos but rich with a hand-woven, natural-dyed rug of Aztec calendar). Kevin decided that insects don't count as meat in his vegetarian diet and partook of one of the local specialties – fried grasshoppers. We also inadvertently ate worms – we found out after the fact that they were one of the ingredients in the salt we were given with the mezcal we tried. Third stop was to some remarkable examples of the local pre-hispanic architecture. Rather than going for pyramids and giant temple, the people of Mitla put huge amounts of time and effort into creating stunning 3D mosaics from shaped pieces of stone. Each mosaic was composed of hundreds of small stones, each shaped to make a tightly fitting geometric design such as :

The final destination of the tour was Hierve al Agua, literally boiling water. It is so named for the springs that bubble with an intensity that you'd think the water was boiling. What was more impressive was the way this water had flowed over the cliffs over the centuries, leaving behind sediment that created the appearance of waterfalls.

Onwards we headed to Puerto Escondido! After the two pleasant buses so far, we thought we'd be fine on an overnight bus. Sadly, this was not the case. The bus was just as comfortable, but the roads were incredibly windy. Juliet spent a substantial portion of that journey vomiting. We have now invested in Dramamine.

Life is sweaty but easy here in Puerto Escondido. Our 'hotelito' makes scrumptious vegan food and has four cats, and we're minutes away from the ocean. Our hostel here may lack hot water, but I think you'd have to be sick to want that here due to the temperature! The climate means it's possible for skinny Kevin to enjoy for more than a few minutes in the ocean, although the swell is too strong for us to go out very far. We think the real reason people stay for longer than they mean to in places like this is that the heat drains your energy to do anything. Speaking of draining of energy, it also seems to be draining Kevin's brain cells. 20 minutes after he got money out, he lost his wallet on a local bus. Juliet hadn't brought her wallet with her that day, so we had a long, hot walk beside a main road back to our place. The wallet is officially gone, as Kevin found the bus we were on and beyond that the people we've talked to say there's no hope of finding it.

Feline Therapy post "loss of thousands of peso and my drivers license"
Extra time in this part of our schedule means that we're spending tomorrow night in a different beach town.
That's all for now from tropical paradise!


  1. Great to hear from you two again, and that you're having an interesting, if not always enjoyable, adventure. Poor Kevin RE: his wallet!! I'm so glad you like Puerto Escondido - I stayed almost two weeks there, 32 years ago. do they still have the 'gringo ghetto', a camp site where everyone slept in hammocks tied between coconut palms, situated almost on the beach? Jewels, I'll email you about news from home, hey. Love you, mum

  2. Hi guys

    Sorry to hear that some of locals have light fingers...keep the money close and the passport closer.
    Glad to hear you are having a relaxing time and the photos look awesome, keep up the bogs.