Oaxaca City — Puerto Escondido — Mazunte (Zipolite) — Barra de la Cruz — Moro de Mazatan — Union Hidalgo — Zanatepec — Tonala — Mapastepec — Tapachula
We left off here, about to catch a bus from the lovely Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido, from a colonial culture-fest to a surfer’s paradise. Well, that was 9 hours of nauseating, stomach-churning twists and turns that we do not need to repeat 🤢. ‘Highlights’ include: 2 hours in a broken seat (tilted 5 degrees forward), no air-con, and a break-down resulting in unloading and reloading the bikes from the roof, twice. We now heartily encourage anyone considering bussing that route to, well, not. ‘Nuff said?
ANYWAY. Luckily for us we then had 4 blissful days recovering on Puerto Escondido’s beaches, bars and terraces. We loved it there, and could have happily spent another few days (ok, months) chilling out with Jess and Bruce (aka Team Juice). Carizalillo beach was a favourite and where we all had a couple of hours surfing lesson in the warm azure Pacific – it beat learning in the UK fo’sho. We’re not quite ready for Playa Zicatela though.
Recovered, relaxed and ready to get back on the bikes (ie. NutriGrano bars in hand), we headed East with Bruce in our midst. We knew we were in for heat and humidity and wow did it deliver! We learnt our lesson after the first couple of days and started on the bikes at around 6.30 with a breakfast stop as soon as one of us got hungry/hangry, lets just say, we’re loving the Merino for keeping us cooler but the wet dog smell does leave a bit to be desired by the end of the day.
Mazunte was a beautiful Pueblo Magico which we cycled through and onto the other side of, to a… nudist beach, YAAAAAY 🙄. Unfortunately as beautiful as the magic towns usually are, the hotels know it and charge for it. So, we got us a slightly run-down but perfect-for-us beach-front hotel a couple of steep hills over with views of bottoms and boobs aplenty. The next day had a few hills (including one steep downhill at the end of the day that we knew we’d have to face the following morning…!) but it was great to arrive at the surfing paradise and stunning beach of Barra de la Cruz, this one slightly more off the beaten track and untamed. Discussion the next day also revealed that we all thought the Most Beautiful Girl in the world was visiting when we were there. *Swoon*
One fun/unsettling element of the trip is not knowing where we’re going to sleep that night. Whilst we’ve mostly got used to that and are prepared for hotels and wild camping and anything in between, it also means that we might end the end in a tiny town that we’d otherwise not have visited. We’re not necessarily recommending Morro de Mazatan however there is a single hotel there which does offer the perfect setting for an #accidentalwesanderson #accidentalpornset… 😂
Another town we spent a night in 92k later which we otherwise perhaps wouldn’t have was Unión Hidalgo. We all got an uneasy feeling cycling into town looking for a hotel (we needed air-con at this stage!), there was lots of burning piles of rubbish, rubble and small small construction taking place everywhere. It was very sad – where have we landed?! Leaving the safety of our (cool, huge) hotel room in search of food we got escorted around town to a supermarket by the hotelier’s amigo who then told us all about the devastating earthquake that had wreaked havoc on the town last September. He showed us the remains of his house – he’d spent several hours pinned under the wreckage – and where he was still living in a corner protected from the elements by a tarp. We felt pretty awful at having judged the town so harshly and so are taking nothing at face value anymore!
Zanatepec was a HOOT! We stayed with warm showers host, Rodrigo and his family and (after the essential, cold showers) immediately were taken to a family party for his father-in-law’s 50th birthday. No-one seemed perturbed or surprised by 3 non-family members turning up unannounced and promptly welcomed us with drinks, food and smiles. Our Spanish is still very limited and so chatting was difficult and so we made up for it heartily by drinking the beer and Mezcal, eating the cricket/nut appetiser and Menudo (tripe) soup, and taking a turn on the dance floor. We felt slightly awkward as Rodrigo had set aside a table and chairs for us and him away from the main party (around the dance floor) but we weren’t sure if this was for us or for the family so they could properly let their hair down! It wasn’t a late night for us (always leave the party early and all that…) ok, 8.30, but we were drunk, fed and happy.
At Tuly’s house in La Paz, Baja we’d made a few new friends including David the French man. He joined us at Zanatepec for a couple of days cycling so now we were four! The next couple of days were beautiful and as a foursome we covered a lot of flat ground (relatively) quickly. They were early starts and so we managed to crack out quite a few k’s before breakfast but by 11 the heat would be cranking up and we’d be slowing down! HOT HOT HOT. The first day we entered our final Mexican state – Chiapas. Every day so far through Oaxaca state had been absolutely bloody beautiful but locals had long been telling us that Chiapas is the most beautiful state. We thought it couldn’t be better than Oaxaca but it’s delivered! It’s got more greens than a Pantone book and is wilder than we’d expected here. It’s still humid and we’re not sure we have or will get used to the heat/humidity, we’ve just got used to being shiny and damp!
We’d bumped into a couple of European cyclists a couple of days earlier who’d added us to a WhatsApp group set up by locals. It’s a community for cyclists run by Chiapans to help, give info or a place to stay if they need it. It’s as a result of the recent murders of two cyclists to help keep people connected and also to show that this is and can be a safe place to travel/cycle. Isn’t that amazing?! In Mapastepec we stayed with the kind Noe and his warm, generous family who are both members of the WhatsApp group and of Warm showers. I think the group really shows the attitude of many of the people we’ve met here, they really want to meet and help you in any way they can!
An early start and 125 sweaty kilometres later and we’re here in Tapachula, a border town, having our last (whispalite) dinner in Mexico! It’s the end of a chapter! We’ve spent about 3 months here and it’s been everything we’d hoped for and more! We’ll do a round up soon when we can reflect on it but for now, just know we’ve loved it. It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s beautiful and it’s rewarding. The people are incredible, generous and kind. Thank you Mexico 😘