Oaxaca Time

Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
Trip End Jun 20, 2006

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Since we last wrote, we have travelled to Oaxaca City and from there to Puerto Escondido on the Oaxaca Coast.

We took the night bus to Oaxaca City from San Cristobal on May 13, arriving in Oaxaca City to surprise Andrew's mother, Leslie, for Mother's Day. We had planned on meeting her between the 15th and the 18th, so she was not expecting us. Her ATM card would not work (and was later eaten by a Scotiabank machine, and the bank would not give it back), and she was not feeling well, so it was really not the best start to her vacation. Luckily, we were able to have money transferred into our account from hers (Sterling Savings is the best!), so money worries were quickly quelled, and we went about exploring Oaxaca. It is a great old city, with a big art scene and a lot of craft/crap stores. Andrew and I had spent time there two and a half years ago, and it was nice to go back.

We went to Monte Alban again, but unfortunately a bug bit Leslie and gave here an ankle infection, so she had to keep her leg elevated for a few days, which meant that we were unable to go to some of the outlying villages and explore the rug-making scene. Definitely having a rough time.

At first, we were a bit discouraged with Oaxaca as hotel prices seem to have jumped quite a bit in the last few years. A hostel listed in Lonely Planet for $17-19 for a private double was asking 300 pesos for the same room (about $27.50). We ended up spending our first night at Hostel Santa Isabel, which was terrible--rough planks for floors, no curtains (on windows that opened to the corridor), no toilet seats, no hot water, and lots of smelly hippies. Oh, and the room had 2 twin beds with mattresses so hard we might as well have slept on the plank floor. All for the not-so-low price of 160 pesos. Our second day in Oaxaca, Andrew spent some time running around, and we were able to find a pretty okay room at the Hotel Lupita for 150 pesos. It had shared baths, but the showers were big with hot water and the toilets had seats (hallelujah!)

Evidently, every May in Oaxaca is official teacher's strike month. The first week we were there, the teachers marched one day (thousands and thousands of teachers), blocking all traffic into downtown Oaxaca. The next week, they reemerged on the day we were leaving for Puerto Escondido. They appeared to have set up camp on the zocalo, and it took us 45 minutes in the taxi to go 12 blocks!

From Oaxaca it was a 6-hour 18-passenger van ride (with only 6 passengers) across the mountains to Pochutla, then a taxi to Puerto Escondido. Andrew and I were both quite happy with the van ride, as it took the Highway 175 route, and was far superior to the Highway 131 route we took a few years ago. Leslie didn't like it one bit, and appeared to be half-ill most of the time due to the windiness and vertiginous drop-offs.

In Puerto Escondido, we found the most interesting toilet situation yet--half a seat (the side half, not the back, in an internet cafe).

We spent our first 3 nights in PE staying at the Hotel Tower Bridge, run by an ADHD afflicted Brit named Steve. We'll refer to him from here on as ADHD. Steve has abandoned England and has a nice place (albeit a bit out of the way) with 5 bungalows and his house. Two of the bungalows have their own kitchen, and the other three share a particularly well-stocked one. There is also a pool and nice trees and ADHD has a friendly lab, Blackie (how imaginative!). For 200 pesos, the room at ADHD's was by far the most luxurious one we've had in Mexico--living room with separate bedroom with California-king bed. Unfortunately, it was a bit hot in the room during the day (not too much ventilation). But sitting in the pool was good.

The closest beach to ADHD's is a small cove set below a cliff (with steps down it). It is beautiful and calm, good for swimming. The highlights of our afternoon there included the girl with HUGE fake breasts sitting next to us (I wanted to poke them), and the girl covered in tattoos running around topless. She had so many tattoos that when Andrew saw her from a distance, he thought she had sand stuck all over 1/2 of her body.

After 3 nights at ADHD's, we decided to switch to a hotel closer to the main parts of town. Also, Leslie's room at ADHD's was sort of a dark little hole (but the only one with a/c). We are now staying at Le P'tit Hotel, run by a sweaty, jeri-curl mulletted, fat fat, harley-riding Frenchie named Michel. It is clean and Leslie's room has freezing a/c (Andrew and I have fans). Unfortunately, it is trying to rain today...

We have purchased tickets home from Mazatlan, and are sad that this trip is slowly coming to an end. Although it will be stretched by staying with my brother in LA for a few days, then going back to my parents' ranch for awhile, perhaps with a Hell's Canyon trip somewhere in there.
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