Archive for January 8th, 2018

Oaxaca and the Pacific Coast

Monday, January 8th, 2018

So I made the big turn and got as far into Mexico as I will go. I am now headed back to the USA, but it’s a long way off:

On the plus side the weather has been great. Sunny and warm every day. I feel bad for the people freezing up in the USA.

Crossing into Oaxaca state on December 30. (pronounced wa-HA-ka).

I arrived in the small town of Matias Romero on New Years Eve. While trying to find a hotel, I was accosted by dozens of guys dressed up as women. They were dancing and collecting money from passersby at intersections and stop signs. I guess it is a tradition. Were they collecting money so they could party later in the evening? I never did find out.

Despite all the dancing, music and partying, this old woman was not getting into the fun.

You may recall that on September 7, 2017, a strong 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit southern Mexico. As I approached the city of Juchitan de Zaragoza, I realized that this was one of the cities hit hardest by the quake.  At least 37 people were killed in the massive tremor, and one out of three homes were left uninhabitable in the city of 75,000. As I got into the city I saw many signs of the earthquake. Hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed. In fact, the hotel I was going to stay at was still closed due to the damage. I found another one and the lady said they were closed for 2 months but now open, although they are still effecting repairs to the property. Here are some photos.

A bus stop shelter that fell over.

I saw several buildings that had their walls propped up by wooden boards.

“Danger, house damaged”

Everywhere there are piles of rubble or gravel or sand in the street, making it difficult for vehicles to navigate. It’s also tough for pedestrians because the sidewalks are blocked with debris or building materials, so you need to walk in the street.

Typical collapsed building. You see these on every block.

This used to be a pharmacy.

Everywhere you look people are rebuilding.

Birds just love this van.

Oaxaca is known for mezcal which is similar to tequila. Tequila is a type of mezcal, much like how scotch and bourbon are types of whiskey. Mezcal is defined as any agave-based liquor. This includes tequila, which is made in specific regions of Mexico and must be made from only blue agave (agave tequilana).

Manicure anyone?

The cheap hotels in Mexico don’t trust their patrons. You must pay a deposit to be given a remote control for the television, and in many places the TVs are locked down. Why anyone would steal an old TV like that is beyond me.

A nice tunnel leaving Salina Cruz. Thank you for relieving me of a big climb.

Smoke on the highway. I saw smoke from a distance and thought “that doesn’t look good”. As I approached I saw a brush fire that spanned both sides of the road. I stopped and debated what to do. Push on? Turn back and get a taxi? Turn back and wait until it passes? I observed the situation for a few minutes and saw that many cars and trucks were passing in both directions, so I figured it can’t be that bad. But I could not see how big the fire was. In the end I just put a scarf over my face and carried on. It was a little scary for a few minutes as the smoke was bad and there was fire all around me but it only last for about 200 yards, then it slowly cleared up. Just another day bike touring. You never know what’s around the next curve.

The sign says no littering.  The Mexicans do not seem to respect signs. The garbage problem is pervasive in Latin America as I have noted previously. The funny thing is, the Mexicans tell me that when they visit the USA they are very careful not to litter, But the minute they get back to Mexico, boom, trash out the window.

I finally met some other cyclists. This is Maya and her brother Matan from Canada. Maya cycled from Vancouver, BC last September and is headed for Guatemala and beyond. Final destination unknown. I gave her some suggestions from my trip in 2007.

Maya cooking a very healthy dinner of carrots, onions, zucchini, rice and lentils. Me? I had a hamburger and fries. Maybe I should start eating healthier. I’ve been eating a lot of what the Mexicans call vitamin T foods: tacos, tostadas, tamales and tortas.

I met Maya and Matan at a surf camp called Cocoleoco. The host is a cool dude named Jimmy. He runs a surfing business as well as the cabanas and is working on getting mountain bike tours set up. Here he is in the kitchen preparing breakfast.

Finally, the Pacific Ocean!

I wasted no time going for a swim. Whatever happened to my beach body? Oh yeah, the vitamin T diet.