Our encounter with the toll booth protesters turned into the beginning of a great week in Oaxaca, with no further scary enounters, other than a bunch of American hating Canadians and Frenchies at the so called "Overlander Oasis," where we made camp for 4 nights with some other overlanders. ;)
|Swapping overlanding tips with the haters at the OO :)|
|The Tule tree! 2,000 years old, and the widest tree in the world, 138ft around!|
Each day in Oaxaca brough on a new adventure for us. Eager to see the city, we rode our bikes the 12kms to the city center to check out the rumors of the vibrant foods and crafts. We wandered the streets and many markets, and ate some delicious Oaxacan street foods.
|Chapulines, fried grasshoppers and crickets, yum!|
|Market food stalls with delicious Oaxacan food|
|Food tour of the city|
We spent a day driving out to Hierve de Agua, petrified waterfalls, made from bubbling springs that run down the side of the mountain. The calcium carbonate eventually forms what looks like a white stone waterfall, supposedly this exists in one other place in the world, Turkey. This place was awesome! We swam in the infinity pools, wandered around on the smooth, brain-like surfaces, and hiked to the other fall, all with a spectacular view of the mountains in the background.
|Hierve de Agua|
|Infinity pool ballers on a budget!|
|The other side of Hierve de Agua|
We hit up some Mixtec ruins at Mitla, marveling at the geometric designs of each structure, and wondering how in the world builders in the years 900-1520 knew that their designs would be earthquake proof, and merely get tighter with each rattle of the ground! We also had a good time admiring the crafts in the small viallages around Oaxaca, wishing we had enough room in Lola to bring some back to the states with us!! The artistry was amazing, and each little town has its own particular specialty like embroidery, woven rugs, wood carving, pottery, etc
Our last day at the "OO" (Overlander Oasis) was spent hanging with the hosts and other overlanders learning how to cook some delicous Oaxacan food from a local with a little impromtu cooking class. We ground up our spices, made a sauce from chilies and fresh garlic, onion, and tomato, and added some fresh and dried avacado tree leaves to the sauce to cook the chicken in a dish called Pilte de Pollo or Barbacoa de Pollo. MmmmMmm. The avacado leaves made this dish... We will definitely be trying to replicate this in our dutch oven along the way! The food and the lesson were great, and the company of wonderful dynamic people was even better! :)
|The crew at the OO|
|Midway through class a street food vendor rolled by with Molotes, perfect timing to compliment our Mezcal shots for appetizers!|
Civilization and semi-paved roads were nice, but it was time to get back to nature. Wilderness and steep, challenging dirt tracks led us north into a forested and mountainous area known as Pueblos Mancomunodos. It's a rugged region with about a dozen small villages spread around and connected by dirt roads and hiking/biking trails.
Downside to these off the beaten path type places is that it requires every bit of Espanol skills (that we are severely lacking) to try to make sense of anything. After paying a few pesos for who knows what and some conversations with friendly locals that left both parties scratching their heads, we found ourselves camping near the peak of a mountain, complete with a fire tower, suspension bridge, and an amazing sunset. Cue bottle of wine and some delicioso food a la dutch oven.
|Mountain top wine guzzling while waiting for amazing sunset|
|Typical night in paradise|
Next morning we headed over to an adjacent village for some mountain biking action. We hired a local guide, and took off on our bikes on a mostly downhill 28km ride! The uphill was somewhat torturous, but all in all so much fun. Unexpectedly one of us rode her brakes a lot more than she would have had she still been in her 20's... What is it about being 30 that makes me so much more cautious, to a degree that I notice my lack of reckless abondon!?!
The ecotourism up in these secluded little mountain towns was quite impressive. We camped that night at the campground in Cuajimoloyas, which had a big grassy field, picinic areas, and a real life Lincoln Log cabin restaurant, who offered us fresh fish for dinner. First of all, fresh fish sounded, well, fishy. We were so far away from any body of water greater than a trickling stream, and this restaurant and campground didnt seem to have many regulars... They were so excited about their fish though, so we inquired for a minute, and quickly realized that there was indeed fresh fish here, a whole little trout farm right on the other side of the field!! Here is Mexico again, surprising us with something exceptional when we were just expecting to be out in the woods alone roughing it for the night!! The minute I change my order to fish, the dude runs across the field and catches a trout for my dinner, cleaning it, and frying it within a few minutes. Who would have ever guessed. So yea, the food and accomadations were a surprise, but we also loved the time we got to spend playing frisbee with some random kids in the field after dinner, working on our spanish with the couple running the fishery restaurant. Before they left for the night they asked "What would you like for your breakfast tomorrow? I'll go to the store before I come back." You'd think at this point we were in a little resort or something! We left there hoping that this ecotourism would eventually flourish up in the Pueblos Mancomunados, the towns have really worked hard, and it is a off the beaten path destination that is definifintly worth while to see and support!
|Random trout farm|
|Bringing a new meaning to the word fresh!|
Chris on the other hand apparently hasn't lost the fear of danger, especially the morning we left to drive out of these mountains. Chris thought he could tackle his own "coast challenge" and stay in nuetral for the entire 10+ mile downhill section. Halfway down came the "do you smell that?" After a few mushy brake performances while coming around tight corners, it was decided that we pull over and let the brakes cool and hearts slow down. Challenge failed, time to stay in low gears...
Pacific Ocean here we come!