March 23, 2004

On to Oaxaca

Press HERE to see a slideshow from the Oaxacan State.

Oaxacan Park
IMG_2028: Park
Cathedral of Oaxaca
IMG_2027: Cathedral
Oaxacan Street View
IMG_2025: Street Scene
Paula and Martin
IMG_2052: Paula and Martin

Monday, March 22nd:
The day went pretty well, except I left my flash memory card in an internet shop; and I really cannot go back to get it. I checked in the cost of replacing it here. Like so much else of the electronic world, such devices cost three to four time more in Mexico than the USA, in other words, what cost less than $30 in the states cost more than $100 here.
After leaving Catemoc, I drove to east to Tuxtla then south to Isla and then east again to Tuxepec. Maybe because it was Sunday, I fond no troops at the state border to search my car. Now I was on highway 175 headed south to Valle Nacional. All day long the terrain was flat of rolling hills. I saw fields every where and all was green. In some places it was so verdant that it felt like a jungle - maybe it was. After Valle National there was much less traffic on the road. I began to climb and climb and climb - often on some incredibly winding switchbacks. Then I descended into a valley only to climb once again. Eventually I climbed into the clouds. The thick fog made for slow going always in first gear - steeper and high. Frighten that I might collide with an on coming vehicle - the flashers were engaged. Finally I began to descend again and leave the clouds behind. I also left the verdant hills behind as the landscape grew more arid. And down and down I drove. I have no idea how high the pass was, but Oaxaca is more than 5000 feet above sea level. It took all day to get to this city. I started looking for a hotel. I was surprised that most of those worth staying at were quite expensive, more than 300 pesos a night. I met a Chilean couple, Martin and Paula Perez, along the way, who were also searching. We ended up checking out several together. My now it was nearly 8 PM. I had lost my hearing in my left ear due to my cold and the trip over the mountains. So, tired and a bit dazed I settled on a hotel that was a bit expensive, but nice. The Chileans choose the same hotel, so we went out for supper and some beers. After diner we continued to talk, but I was soon exhausted I bade my leave. By morning I could once again hear out of my left ear.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004:
I wandered about in the morning on the city street. Oaxaca seems to be one of the least frenetic of the larger Mexican cities that I visited, or maybe it just isn't that big. It is laid out in a grid, and all the streets are one way with every street going the opposite of the previous. They also have traffic lights on most of the corners. All this makes it easy to get around. The buildings appear to be mostly about one hundred years old, some more, some less. They are mostly one or two stories high. The colonial look, which they give to the city, makes it a beautiful place. If you look beyond the city, it is surrounded by mountains. There appear to be a lot of tourist here, which surprised me. I thought it would be the most Mexican of all the cities that I had been to, but this is not the case.
I drove around the city a bit. The northern part of the city has some very pretty neighborhoods. On the southern part of the city is their big (?!) airport and two shopping malls. I found a great radio station here that plays a mix of blues, jazz, some folk and the occasional oldie; a real change to the all Latino and even worse all rock stations that are so common here. I have to admit that I am really starting to like this place!
Then I drove up to the mountain to the ancient Zapotec capital of Monte Albán. This is one of the best archeological sites that I have visited in Mexico. It covered several acres. The ruins are large and beautiful. Or maybe it was just the day, because the views of the city were spectacular for up here too. I could see a jet taking off four miles away. The sky was full of beautiful clouds that gave Monte Albán near perfect lighting.

Oaxaca from Monte Albán
IMG_2051:Oaxaca from Monte Albán

Photographs of Monte Albán

Posted by bill at March 23, 2004 10:16 PM


The Oaxacan market is the best. The Homemade bread and wool weavings are amazing. If you are going to the coast I assume it is Puerto Escondido next - I am curious if is still the palse I saw 25 years ago - I heard it is mostly unchanged. I ahve bee thinking of flying to Apapulco and taking the bus down early April. Puerto Angel is supposed tto be nice as well.

I am jealous - have a good time. Perhaps find a traditional priest and take the prepared mushrooms for a truly traditional Indian experience. I have heard first-hand claims of places in the mountains there that time and space folds and the past and the present and the future meet!


Posted by: Stephen Baker at March 24, 2004 02:27 PM