After giving this post it’s title I realised that the first stop detailed isn’t in Oaxaca! Would you have known? Would you have cared? Possibly not, but I own up to it more so that when we are older and greyer and the detail of where we’ve been is blurring we can look back on the blog for some clarification. Anyhow……
We loved spending a night in the cactus forest in Puebla state. One of those places were the nights are so quiet it’s a bit spooky. The night sky was fantastic.
The next day we set off into the neighbouring state of Oaxaca with a nice easy 4 hour journey to do. Earlier this year there had been violent clashes between the police and teachers with the teachers blockading roads and protesting about changes to the education system. It had appeared from the lack of anything new in the press that it was over, but not so. We joined a very long queue of stationary traffic and were advised it was a blockade and to take a different route. On the alternative route we came across the aftermath of previous protests still in place. We couldn’t find out why the streets have not been cleared of the wreckage. We got through OK but but there was a lot of debris to negotiate.
After a journey that took a few hours longer than planned we arrived in Santa Maria Del Tule a lovely little town to the east of Oaxaca city. It is famous for a 2,000 year old Montezuma Cypress tree.
It’s claimed to have the widest trunk of any tree in existence.
The tree although interesting wasn’t why we chose to stay there! From the reviews on I-Overlander the best place by far to stay was a campsite called Overlander Oasis. When travelling like this there are places you sometimes come across that are quite special and this is one of them. Calvin and Leanne who’s garden has basically been turned into a camping area for motorcyclists and campervans have travelled Mexico extensively in a converted Greyhound bus and they really understand what you need when you’re on the road for a while. We enjoyed their company and the company of those we met there enormously.
Home made pizza night with Maria and Nachi who was Head Chef that night(Argentians travelling by campervan with 2 young kids), Felix (German motorcyclist) and Leanne and Calvin our hosts.
The use of Calvin’s workshop and input allowed John to extend our kitchen prep area extensively ?and carry out other mods and maintenance. I think John would have been happy to spend all our time there tinkering and tweaking but I did manage to get him out and about a bit.
Monte Alban was founded around 500BC and it a very impressive site. It was inhabited by the Zapotecs who are still the largest group of indigenous people in the state.
This stone was the first Zapotec calendar. So dates back to approximately 500BC, I may be wrong but I think this would even pre-date the first Cliff Richard calendar and those have been around forever!
A week hasn’t gone by since we’ve been in Mexico without some kind of festival or celebration and this week was a Mariachi festival in Del Tule. These kids were brilliant, they couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old but they marched, played the drums, took part in the flag folding ceremony and one of them gave quite a long, solemn speech.
One of many Mariachi bands, we stayed for a couple of hours but we could hear the festivities from our campsite and they Mariachi’d way into the night.
There was no point taking Juanita into the city as the area has Collectivos which are normal looking saloon cars that act more like minibuses. For 11 pesos (around 40p) per person you can take the 20 minute journey into the city. Now these are definitely designed as driver plus 3 passenger vehicles but the driver will continuing picking up until he has 5 plus himself on board so 3 bodies in both the front and back. I was “lucky” enough to be the one squeezed in the middle of the front seat on our way home. So no seat belt, fast driving, on 3 lane roads in the dark! Made a ride in an Asian tuktuk feel pretty tame.
We visited the Botanical gardens and cultural museum and enjoyed the people watching and wandering around the city.
We visited more Zapotec ruins at Mitla.
These were built of individual pieces of stone fitted together without mortar. Still look pretty good 20+ centuries on! I think John mentioned they were designed and built to withstand seismic activity.
There are so many Beetles here they seem to be chopping them up to make moto taxi’s (or tuktuks).
Our planned 1 week stay at Overland Oasis turned into 9 nights! I think there is a good chance we’ll be back to this region of Mexico sometime in the future. There is a lot more to explore. We were waved off by Moreena a very lucky street dog adopted by Calvin and Leanne. She has a great temperament and enjoys visiting all the campers.
Our last stop in Oaxaca was Huerve el Agua, beautiful mineral springs in a stunning location and you can camp overnight for the equivalent of £6.
No one but us and a few stray dogs.
Adios for now.xx