SMr Road Trip Mississippi to Nicaragua
Day 11 and 12 - October 13th and 14th - Puebla, Mexico to Oaxaca, Mexico
We left the Puebla Marriott early in the morning. At this point in our trip we had to open up Shakira's hood and connect wires anytime we wanted her to start, it was quite amusing for onlookers. We caused many laughs and sympathetic chuckles everywhere we went actually. Whenever we pulled in somewhere, we would turn the key to the engine off, but the Shakira would keep running. Three gringos would file out of the rusty hot-wired Jetta, pop the hood, and pull the wires apart in order to kill the engine. This truly was driving in style (if 'style' means cruising in one of the oldest, duct-tape-rigged cars on the road.) The Mexicans in this region drive very nice new cars. I often caught myself fantasizing about riding in other vehicles that went zooming by us. For example, a bright yellow Toyota Yaris seemed to purr while floating over the asphalt, providing an airtight seal that protected it's passengers from the thick exhaust on the Mexican highways... not to mention air-conditioning... a radio... functioning keys... or, well I could go on! lol
Today on our drive, Shakira did OK, for an old gal. We love her, like anyone loves their old, antique great-grandmother. However, I'd never sign my great-grandmother up to run a marathon with me... Unless I planned to roll her to the end... Which very well may turn out to be the case now!
The drive was glorious starting with lovely rolling hills covered in cacti and getting more beautiful as we drove on. We entered the Mexican state of Oaxaca and were greeted by lush, beautiful forests with soaring mountain peaks jutting out behind. We wanted to camp so badly! We had packed all of our gear including our Nubé Hammock Shelter which we were desperate to use. But with the time we had already lost from numerous car problems, we just couldn't afford a stop. We passed quickly through these gorgeous forests and were only able to view the highest peak in Mexico, Mt. Orizaba, through the dusty windows of the car.
As we rolled into Oaxaca we were all on edge. We had not taken any time to eat all day and we were like three cats in a bag. We all went our separate ways because making a group decision on food was more than we could mentally handle in our current states of hunger. As I walked down the sidewalks of Oaxaca, I was lost in the beauty of the old stuccoed buildings, painted many different colors that strongly clung to the Mexico of the past. I could almost envision Frida Kahlo designing this town herself.
I finally found an eclectic looking restaurant that was dimly lit with very low ceilings. I went inside and ordered an "Ensalada de Oaxaca." I had not had a single leaf of lettuce in weeks, and thought if I had to eat another taco I would go into anaphylactic shock! As I was enjoying my salad, I noticed that the delicious parsley flakes that were covering my salad actually had six legs. Looking closer, I realized it was not parsley at all but that my salad was COVERED in roasted crickets. Welcome to Oaxaca!
Eli on his own did what Eli does best, found a way to peer into the lavish color, vigor, and heart of Oaxaca's culture through the window of his camera. He ventured around the city taking shots of the town and it's people, then, as he was shooting down a corridor, he came upon a strange figure hovering above the ground and staring down at him. The looming figure, to Eli's delight, was one of many colorful characters. Eli had discovered a festive parade passing by filled with shouts of joy and songs of celebration! He spent his lunch blending into the scene with his camera as his guide.
We stayed in Oaxaca for two days. Our hostel, "Don Niño," was roomy and allowed us to get some movement and space. The staff treated us to a complimentary shot of their house made mezcal, a liquor that is the 'champagne of Oaxaca'. We had three options: the mild mezcal, filled with herbs and "good for digestion;" the medium mezcal, which also contained a heavier form of various herbs, and the strongest mezcal which was filled with worms! I choose the mild for it's digestive benefits after eating so many crickets for lunch, and of course Eli choose the strongest.
What was starting to stand out so much to me in this city was the feeling of community. At night the parks filled with young and old alike, all laughing, eating, and dancing together. The elderly would fix and sell delicious food, while laughing and talking to young couples or shooing children away. I had to wonder why the whole world was not more like this. Maybe it is because of the nice weather here. : )
Eli and I ventured out into the park and had delicious tacos for less than 2 dollars accompanied by a local favorite dessert of "elote," an ear of corn slathered in mayonnaise, lime juice, picante, and covered in Oaxaca cheese.
This city was absolutely beautiful and took my breath away. The street art was inspiring, the cathedrals were spectacular, and the vibrant young culture made me almost give up on the trip altogether and make Eli and Amanda leave me behind! Oaxaca is a gorgeous state filled with gorgeous forests, historic cities and beaches in the southern region. I will definitely return for a much longer stay in the future!
*Photos by Eli Baylis*