wonderful weekend wandering Oaxaca! (not sure how that’s pronounced? hint…think alliteration)

So Thursday after work I decided I wanted to travel somewhere outside of the DF for the weekend, and after a quick email my wish to take Friday off for a long weekend was granted by my wonderful advisor. Luis recommended that I check out Oaxaca, which is a state southeast of here a little over 6 hours away by direct bus. I thought about it for a bit while I went climbing at another sweet gym that I frequent about twice a week now. It takes like an hour to get to the gym via metro and metrobus, but it’s worth it. Basically the gym is the backyard of somebody’s house, which is really random but it’s pretty killer (in that it is destroying my hands). The first time I went I got the address and showed up and was really, really confused since it was just a house and there was no sign for the place. After like 5 minutes of me just standing there somebody went in and I suspiciously peered inside. Fortunately somebody asked me if I was there to climb, and I said sí, probably looking quite bewildered. But it’s sweet. There are a crazy number of marked routes, and some have over 50 moves which is wild since it’s all bouldering. It starts to get pretty crowded at like 8, but everyone there is cool and there are some seriously crazy good climbers. I found a group of guys that I go with twice a week, and they go climbing outside the city on real rock on the weekends, which is what made choosing to go to Oaxaca difficult.

ouch

ouch

Anyways, I ended up deciding to go, read a little bit about Oaxaca at like midnight, and bought a bus ticket around 1 am for a 9 am departure. I’ll figure out housing later. The bus ride cost like $40 and was very easy. It’s a hassle getting to the bus station cuz you have to take the Metro and such, but other than that it was easy. The drive was very scenic as well–farms, cacti, mountains–very green and really weird to see after living in the same city as 20+ mil people for the past 4 weeks. Here are a few photos.

The many different faces of mexico. This beautiful one along the drive to Oaxaca actually isnt very far from the concrete jungle of MC.

The many different faces of mexico. This beautiful one along the drive to Oaxaca actually isn't very far from the concrete jungle of MC.

pretty stuff

pretty stuff

me gustan las montañas (i also like montana without the ñ) edit Delete caption

me gustan las montañas (i also like montana without the ñ) edit Delete caption

even got some red rock

even got some red rock

Oaxaca is known for its artisans, their crafts, and the indigenous cultures that have been well preserved over the years. History and culture are great, but really I ended up going because there are a lot of adventure/ecotourism travel opportunities like hiking, mountain biking, climbing, etc. Since I planned this trip out so well, when I got in to Oaxaca at 4 I had to wander the town and find a place to stay and line up some guides for things for me to do. It worked great. Within a couple hours I found a nice hotel (probably should have just stayed at a hostel, but I’m making good money through Emphasis heh), lined up a mountain biking trip with a guy who had been on the Mexican national road biking team for Saturday, set up a hiking trip to the mountains for Sunday, and had a delicious traditional Oaxacan dinner of mole negro. Then it was like 8 pm and I was toast since I got like 4 hours of sleep last night, but I walked around the centro area for a while, and it was all very bonito with all the people and all the posts selling arts, crafts, food, pirated music, etc. Here’s some pics from around the town.

arriving in Oaxaca City...very pretty place among the mountains, aside from the abundance of slums (sadly Oaxaca is the poorest state in Mexico, but you wouldnt know it from the centro area)

arriving in Oaxaca City...very pretty place among the mountains, aside from the abundance of slums (sadly Oaxaca is the poorest state in Mexico, but you wouldn't know it from the centro area)

i checked to see if this was true, and it was :-)

i checked to see if this was true, and it was 🙂

so i was eating dinner and then i hear a ton of music and people walking by...random parade...i paid the bill and joined in though i was clearly out of place cuz it was just a bunch of kids who i think just graduated from high school (called preparatoria here)...it was pretty wild

so i was eating dinner and then i hear a ton of music and people walking by...random parade...i paid the bill and joined in though i was clearly out of place cuz it was just a bunch of kids who i think just graduated from high school (called preparatoria here)...it was pretty wild

all these kids were pounding beers or other alcoholic beverages...while walking around the city i felt like the architecture and colors of the buildings were similar to New Orleans...especially with hundreds of 18 year olds making very good use of the apparent lack of open container laws

all these kids were pounding beers or other alcoholic beverages...while walking around the city i felt like the architecture and colors of the buildings were similar to New Orleans...especially with hundreds of 18 year olds making very good use of the apparent lack of open container laws

this is what i mean by the similarity to New Orleans, except for that flag thing edit Delete caption

this is what i mean by the similarity to New Orleans, except for that flag thing edit Delete caption

this only might be funny if you were in my AmeriCorps group last year...hot dogs wrapped in bacon have a special place in the hearts of a few of us (in addition to the plaque lining our arterial walls)...if you ever make it to Tucson, AZ, try a Sonoran Hot Dog...its quite an experience...

this only might be funny if you were in my AmeriCorps group last year...hot dogs wrapped in bacon have a special place in the hearts of a few of us (in addition to the plaque lining our arterial walls)...if you ever make it to Tucson, AZ, try a Sonoran Hot Dog...it's quite an experience...

The next day I went on a really cool mountain bike ride with Pedro. He drove us like 30 minutes out of the city, and then we got riding. It was a really beautiful area surrounded by the mountains. The ride was awesome. It had it all, concrete, dirt, mud, river crossings, brutal uphills, crazy downhills. I was pretty exhausted at the end, but i don’t think altitude is a factor anymore–pretty well acclimatized after 4 weeks i think. Well here are the pics and captions.

picture of my wonderful breakfast...enchiladas with chicken and red mole. mole is a type of sauce native to Oaxaca, and moles are delicious...one thing about Mexico is I cant tell the difference between breakfast, lunch, and dinner--regardless it was serious fuel for my bike trip

picture of my wonderful breakfast...enchiladas with chicken and red mole. mole is a type of sauce native to Oaxaca, and moles are delicious...one thing about Mexico is I can't tell the difference between breakfast, lunch, and dinner--regardless it was serious fuel for my bike trip

and hes off, and Im trying to catch up...youll notice that in the following that I appear to take a lot of pictures while riding, and yes its a bad habit that I have. its bad enough on a road bike going 30+ downhill, but im just an idiot to be taking pictures while riding a mountain bike on rocky dirt roads...and thats why i have an unbreakable Olympus camera

and he's off, and I'm trying to catch up...you'll notice that in the following that I appear to take a lot of pictures while riding, and yes it's a bad habit that I have. it's bad enough on a road bike going 30+ downhill, but i'm just an idiot to be taking pictures while riding a mountain bike on rocky dirt roads...and that's why i have an unbreakable Olympus camera

theres not much I can say for the following pics...the scenery was epic

there's not much I can say for the following pics...the scenery was epic

heres Pedro hammering up the hill...he recently got hit by a bus and broke a lot of stuff, has had about 10 surgeries, and still is dropping me (while I take pictures)...very cool guy Pedro. Im very grateful that he went out of his way to take me biking today since normally he requires groups larger than 1

here's Pedro hammering up the hill...he recently got hit by a bus and broke a lot of stuff, has had about 10 surgeries, and still is dropping me (while I take pictures)...very cool guy Pedro. I'm very grateful that he went out of his way to take me biking today since normally he requires groups larger than 1

Yo (I in español if you havent figured that out yet)

Yo (I in español if you haven't figured that out yet)

ive gotta be honest the ability to go anywhere on a mountain bike gives it a hugh advantage over the road bike...however, theres no limit to the grade of road on a mountain, and there were some points on this ride that were pretty freaking sweet...thank you mountain bike gearing!

i've gotta be honest the ability to go anywhere on a mountain bike gives it a hugh advantage over the road bike...however, there's no limit to the grade of road on a mountain, and there were some points on this ride that were pretty freaking sweet...thank you mountain bike gearing!

theres the rain...fortunately our loop went the other direction before hitting that

there's the rain...fortunately our loop went the other direction before hitting that

im dirtier than i appear

i'm dirtier than i appear

So yeah, that was a lot of fun. I made it back to the city by 3 and had the whole afternoon to walk around. I ran into one of the guys from the Mexico City couchsurfing community and hung out with him and his friends for a bit. He’s from Denmark, and at one point our table had me from los Estados Unidos, Thomas from Denmark, a guy from Mexico City, a guy from Oaxaca, and a girl from France. The two guys from Mexico were actually medical students, so it was pretty interesting to talk to them and compare lives. Med school’s pretty different in most other parts of the world. Basically they graduate from high school and then go to med school for 7 years. Slighly faster than our system, but I prefer ours since there’s a lot more flexibility and we don’t have to have the rest of our lives planned out at the age of 18.

lots of people selling stuff and walking around in the zocalo

lots of people selling stuff and walking around in the zocalo

think magic bullet but in Spanish

think "magic bullet" but in Spanish

this kid is performing thriller by the late MJ...not sure why tho

this kid is performing thriller by the late MJ...not sure why tho

weird but interesting...there are some major holiday celebrations here in Oaxaca, and I have a feeling these come in handy during those times

weird but interesting...there are some major holiday celebrations here in Oaxaca, and I have a feeling these come in handy during those times

all right this church is quite beautiful

all right this church is quite beautiful

my hotel

my hotel

Sunday morning I had to get up early to walk to the 2nd class bus station to catch an 8 am departure to a pueblo called Llano Grande in the Sierra Norte mountains north (suprise) of the city. Basically the plan was to take a 2.5 hr bus ride up to the town, go on a 5 hr hike with a guide, then take a bus back down with a couple hours to spare before my night bus ride back to the DF. Didn’t exactly happen that way, but actually it went better than planned.

the lighting was very nice in the morning...even the traffic light provided a yellowish hue edit Delete caption

the lighting was very nice in the morning...even the traffic light provided a yellowish hue

when i have a choice between a window seat and an aisle seat, i generally prefer the aisle because i seem to have a small bladder..its a no brainer, and i certainly didnt have a brain yesterday when i was choosing my seat while purchasing the ticket cuz theres no way the 2nd class bus is going to have a bathroom on it...thus, i dont have much documentation for how amazing the scenery was on this 2.5 hour bus ride...heres one pic that i snapped while holding my camera way above my head...the mountains were beautiful!!

when i have a choice between a window seat and an aisle seat, i generally prefer the aisle because i seem to have a small bladder..it's a no brainer, and i certainly didn't have a brain yesterday when i was choosing my seat while purchasing the ticket cuz there's no way the 2nd class bus is going to have a bathroom on it...thus, i don't have much documentation for how amazing the scenery was on this 2.5 hour bus ride...here's one pic that i snapped while holding my camera way above my head...the mountains were beautiful!!

no flush toilets = legit isolated mountain pueblo

no flush toilets = legit isolated mountain pueblo

 went on a hike in Llano Grande...ecotourism has been developed in some of this remote areas in the mountains...oh yeah, also when you think about mountains, you generally think cold...for some reason i forgot to make that connection today and was a bit chilly in shorts and a t-shirt after stepping off the bus...fortunately i happened to have my favorite polypro thermals from NZ with me...of course then going uphill for the first hour made me overheat

went on a hike in Llano Grande...ecotourism has been developed in some of this remote areas in the mountains...oh yeah, also when you think about mountains, you generally think cold...for some reason i forgot to make that connection today and was a bit chilly in shorts and a t-shirt after stepping off the bus...fortunately i happened to have my favorite polypro thermals from NZ with me...of course then going uphill for the first hour made me overheat

there was some nice scenery in the mountains..interesting environment at 3100 meters (10,000ish feet)

there was some nice scenery in the mountains..interesting environment at 3100 meters (10,000ish feet)

whoa

whoa

move along clouds, i worked hard for this view

move along clouds, i worked hard for this view

anyone know how to say zoom in spanish? i should probably figure that out

anyone know how to say zoom in spanish? i should probably figure that out

made it! 5 hour hike done in 2 hr 40 min...i guess i still have some fitness and acclimitization has gone well...probably cuz we were just not taking breaks because of the imminence of rain and once it did start just hammered

made it! 5 hour hike done in 2 hr 40 min...i guess i still have some fitness and acclimitization has gone well...probably cuz we were just not taking breaks because of the imminence of rain and once it did start just hammered

Llano Grande (150 people = grande ???)

Llano Grande (150 people = grande ???)

how idyllic

how idyllic

this is the police station with a basketball court...i direct your attention to the symbol on the backboard...the other MJ (the true MJ, that is)...plus its light blue and white (Tar Heels colors and Michael Jordan)

this is the police station with a basketball court...i direct your attention to the symbol on the backboard...the other MJ (the true MJ, that is)...plus it's light blue and white (Tar Heels colors and Michael Jordan)

thinking it was gonna be a 5 hour hike, i figured the 6 oclock bus ride back to the city would work well...but when we finished the hike before 2 pm, i was a little confused. i mean, these flowers are pretty, but 4 hrs of this? fortunately a taxi drove by and i hopped in. it wasnt going to oaxaca city directly tho, so i had to get off at some random town and then get in another taxi...worked out perfect--back in the city at 3:30

thinking it was gonna be a 5 hour hike, i figured the 6 oclock bus ride back to the city would work well...but when we finished the hike before 2 pm, i was a little confused. i mean, these flowers are pretty, but 4 hrs of this? fortunately a taxi drove by and i hopped in. it wasn't going to oaxaca city directly tho, so i had to get off at some random town and then get in another taxi...worked out perfect--back in the city at 3:30

and this time i got my window seat (but it was on the wrong side heh) edit Delete caption

and this time i got my window seat (but it was on the wrong side heh) edit Delete caption

bonita

bonita

So I made it back to Oaxaca City in the late afternoon and got a chance to go the Oaxaca cultural museum. I actually had tried to come to this museum twice yesterday but couldn’t find the entrance. I felt so stupid walking around the entire thing twice and not being able to find the entrane. Today I was finally able to figure it out, and well, let’s just say that I’m an idiot…hopefully I’ll be smart again in about a month when I have to go back to school ugh. Anyways, the museum was pretty cool. I really didn’t care much about what was inside, but the architecture was beautiful and the views from the inside were incredible.

museum/church...youd think this would be the entrance to the museum (and youd be right...and smarter than me)...i went in on the door on the right, which is the church...naturally, you might think the door on the left is the museum entrance. it only took me 3 attempts to figure that out haha

museum/church...you'd think this would be the entrance to the museum (and you'd be right...and smarter than me)...i went in on the door on the right, which is the church...naturally, you might think the door on the left is the museum entrance. it only took me 3 attempts to figure that out haha

cultural museum of oaxaca...nice architecture

cultural museum of oaxaca...nice architecture

lots of pretty views from inside the museum (yep i care more about whats outside rather than inside the museum) edit Delete caption

lots of pretty views from inside the museum (yep i care more about what's outside rather than inside the museum)

this is the botanical garden found outside the museum...lots of nice cacti

this is the botanical garden found outside the museum...lots of nice cacti

Jesus, tho looking a bit more Asian or Mexican than I normally picture him

Jesus, tho looking a bit more Asian or Mexican than I normally picture him

and here comes the rain

and here comes the rain

After the museum I was just wondering around and ran into this Belgian guy that I had met earlier in the morning at the 2nd class bus station. We walked around and chatted over some coffee and beer (in the wrong order for me). He speaks 7 languages, which makes me feel pretty small in my attempt to reach like 1 and a half languages. Very friendly and interesting guy tho. Kind of ironic because my brother was leaving for Belgium the next day (wakeboarding trip to Belgium?). Well that’s about it for this really good weekend. Took the 1st class bus back to Mexico City. Left at midnight and arrived at about 6:30 am. Too cheap to get a taxi, I dragged all my stuff through the jam packed Subway, took a 30 minute nap, and went to work. Kinda tired heh.

Nate

*this blog has somewhat (d)evolved into a rehashing of my pictures from the picasa site…read the blog or just check out the pics…they’ve got pretty detailed captions and capture the essence of my travels

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