Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Zihuatanejo - Acapulco (165m) - Pinotepa Nacional (184m) - Puerto Escondido (91m) - Zipolite (49m) - Oaxaca City (166m)

The road here from Zipolite to Oaxaca was amazing. It was quite a crazy mountain road constantly twisting and turning and climbing, reaching it’s highest pass at just over 9000 feet. The landscape changed as we climbed. Early on in the ride and closer to the coast it was still jungle. As we moved further from the coast, and without noticing the transition we were soon in pine forest! (and in places so very like Cyprus!) For the first 90 miles it was so twisty we never got out of 3rd gear (out of 5!) and according to the GPS our average speed was just 29 mph!!

Once up and over the mountains the road came quickly downhill onto the plains at about 5000 feet and straight away we noticed the change in temperature – hot again (we’d been so cold in the mountains but never quite got around to putting on our fleece jackets!) Passed through Ocotlan on our way into the city of Oaxaca and saw all the shops selling the black pottery that this part of Oaxaca Valley is famous for.

We were on a mission to get the punctured rear tyre sorted and stopped at the first place we saw. They sent us off around the city to another place, who also couldn’t help but on our way to a 3rd possible we found somewhere ourselves. It wasn’t the ideal tyre but it’s the right size and was fitted for free straight away by a frightening bunch of cowboys (who Chris had to keep an eye on to stop them from doing things wrong and damaging the tyre and the wheel rims) It’s a job done and ticked off – one that might not have been much fun trying to sort out. By chance as we drove away from the shop, took the first turning signed for ‘centro’ we’d ended up on the exact right street for the Hostel we were looking for! It's a tidy little place just 3 blocks from the Zocolo and is just less than $15 a night!

We dumped our things and went striaght back out to explore. As we'd ridden into the centre I’d got to see how beautiful the city is. It’s crammed packed with old buildings, most restored and bustling with people and street vendors galore. Several blocks have been pedestrianised and full of art galleries, handicraft shops and restaurants. Of course there’s the magnificent Zocolo and huge cathedral – the centre piece of the city. We walked to the market which takes up a whole block, and even this late in the day was still really busy. It seemed you could get anything there – fruit & veg, handicrafts, clothing and lots of weird and wonderful food many of them specialities of the region. There was Oaxaca cheese ‘quesillo’ which is a stringy goats cheese, a variety of it which came packed full of herbs and chillis which was a particular fav of ours! There was lots of chocolate and dozens of varieties of ‘Mole’ which is a black paste substance made from chillis, herbs and chocolate. It’s basically a savoury flavour with a kick and is commonly served with chicken. All of these things were available to sample as we wandered round the market. Chris also sampled some grasshopper larvae ‘chapulines’ – it was finely chopped and spicy and apparently quite nice...!

Today we spent more time wandering around the city. It's just such a great place! This morning we visited the ‘Centro Cultural de Santo Domingo’. Here is the Oaxaca Cultural Museum and next door the Church of Santo Domingo. The church was spectacular with incredibly ornate ceiling Sistene chapel styley and a massive Nave centre piece.

The museum occupies a completely restored convent and is enormous. Sadly for us all exhibit tags were in Spanish but just wandered around the place was an event in itself as the building was beautiful – wide open corridors, windowless picture windows overlooking the various aspects of the city, chunky wooden doors leading into the individual exhibit rooms.

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