11-28-2013, 11:27 AM
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Somewhere in Latin America
29. On The Road Again, Oaxaca
I have been in Mexico City now for 3 weeks. Being in one place for a while can have a lot of positives. I’ve gotten a feel for the city, experienced some of the many things it has to offer, and been able to meet great people. I’m intrigued by this place and have started to get comfortable here. Having a set of keys to an apartment, getting to know local food vendors, and putting my head in the same spot every night starts to make daily life here feel typical. It brings a sense of stability and normalcy that is usually so lacking when you travel. I’m realizing though that this sense of stability is beginning to have the opposite effect on me. I’m especially aware of this opposite effect when I talk with other people. When people tell me about where they are from and what they love about their home, the Yucatan, Columbia, Southern Argentina, I’m thrown back into yearning for the road that will take me to those places. It can be difficult leaving any spot that you have grown comfortable in, but I find myself becoming uncomfortable with the comforts of normalcy. I want, I need to be on the road again.
The day before I left I knocked back my favorite street tacos, snagged dinner at my favorite restaurant, and ate my favorite dessert from the local cafe. In the early morning the next day I loaded the bike and worked my way towards the exit of the large apartment complex I had been calling home. It felt weird to be leaving and I had a sense of nervousness. A sense of not knowing where I was going or what I would find when I got there. I wound my way through the city heading south east, observing the cities people getting ready for the work day as I rolled by. I kept thinking about why I felt nervous. I didn’t feel this way at all when I left Seattle 3 months ago? What was different now? As I reached the edge of the city the road became less congested, the buildings and sidewalks were traded for fields and cattle, and I was hit by the beauty of it all. I put on some music and everything felt normal again. A smile cracked itself across my face as I chucked the bike into beautifully repeating corners. The road is exactly where I want to be.
I decided to head towards the southern coast of Mexico in the state of Oaxaca, first going to the city of Oaxaca in central Oaxaca.
There are several routes towards Oaxaca but I wanted the more scenic and less populated one that cuts through the Sierra mountain range.
I crossed through the state of Puebla on my way and grabbed food in a small pueblo called Izucar de Matamoros.
This place had some damn fine smoked meat. I talked with the owner for a while about the food and his restaurant. He told me about the history of “pastor” and how it means food from the pastor, pastor is grass, so food from the fields and cooked in a way that people would have cooked it while in the fields. This means cooking the food over a wood campfire. Hence why he cooks with wood burning stove/oven/thing.
The drive from DF to Oaxaca city is about 6 hours by bike. It’s a beautiful ride and very relaxing as you carve through the sierra mountains dipping in and out of small towns. Each one seems to be quite proud of it’s history and what it contributed towards Mexico’s historical moments.
I made it into Oaxaca city and found the hostel I would be staying at, Casa Angel.
It’s a chill and clean place with a nice homelike feel to it. It’s a decently sized place and the staff and other guests are cool. I met two girls from Spain, Helen and Tucan, the first night while out for food in the local zocalo (park/square/market). There are some pyramids here in Oaxaca called Monte Alban, so the next day we went to go check those out.
Monte Alban was founded around 500 B.C. and was one of the earliest mesoamerican cities. It would reign as the socio-political and economic capital of the region for nearly 1000 years before it lost it’s power and was soon after abandoned. The original Zapotec name is unknown as it ceased to be populated before people were really writing anything down.
The sits 1,300 ft above the surrounding Oaxaca valley allowing great views for the people who ruled over the land.
This is the highest point where the royalty and higher classes would gather for ceremonies and the sort. On top of each of the structures sat adobe temples.
Lots of different structures and stairs to climb.
Their ability to build lasting structures and their attention to detail is pretty interesting for being so old.
There are lots of carved stone monuments throughout the plaza. They depict the captured and tortured rulers of other surrounding towns and cities. Usually they are shown having blood collected from their mutilated genitals and their bodies contorted in weird positions.
Here’s a pretty flower.
I’ve spent several days here now hanging out with some people that are also traveling. This is Shaked (Shuh-ked), he’s a funny dude from Israel. He made us Israeli coffee.
Got the recipe for some pretty killer fish tacos when a girl from Tijuana made us some for dinner.
Nancy, who works at the hostel, showed Shaked and I some of the local digs.
And checked out some of the art scene.
The food is good here, with Mole being the name of the game. Mole is a popular dish for the states of Puebla and Oaxaca but it’s said that 99% of Mexicans have tried it at least once. There are about 7 kinds but the most well known/common is Mole Poblano and is typically dark red or brown and served over meat. It’s weird having a chile and chocolate tasting sauce poured over meat but it works really well.
After eating some grub and some number of drinks we came back and I met a guy named Ulises. He really liked my bike so I let him take it for a spin around the block (don’t worry he was tipy-drank free). The next day he took me up into the sierra mountains outside of Oaxaca for some brunch.
Good traditional food and my favorite rendition of chorizo that I’ve had.
He took the bike for another spin after eating.
Been hanging out here with Helen, Tucan, and Shaked and having a good time. We are all headed south next so are probably going to meet up in Puerto Escondido which is a surf town on the coast. Until then.
SeanPNW screwed with this post 11-28-2013 at 03:32 PM