Oaxaca

Even Oaxaca is a Mexican state with hills and “cerros”, but also real mountains. Furthermore it is bordering the Pacific Ocean. The capital of the state has the same name and is well-known for the Guelaguetza. I actually extended my stay here, to attend this – in former times Catholic festival. Nowadays it is a mixture of the original and other festivals.

 

12th July 2018

Coming from San Cristobal a Las Casas (see Chiapas) on the bus to Tehuantepec a video was shown during the ride as usual. This time it was a video more for my taste, but I was mostly looking outside anyway. The bus had not only some stops in different small towns, but there were also several police controls. Did I already write, that they have started to take photos of us passengers before start? As it seems, it is because the police is looking for people – maybe some have entered under incorrect names. I think it is about drugs. Furthermore, there were big wind fields generating electricity, which surprised me a lot. I had not expected those in Mexico. The stop before my destination was the town of Juachitan. There an old woman with pink ribbons all the way down in her braids entered. Later I read, that it is usual in some parts of Mexico and that in former times, the colors used had a meaning.

To find the home of my new host in Tehuantepec was not very easy, even it was very close to the bus station. The property looked abandoned from the outside with a heavy black door. Fortunately some people were passing, which I could asked and the first tried to call the owner’s name (the parents of my host) and then told me, that I had to continue to knock that black door. I also tried to reach my host by WhatsApp. It took a while, before he was answering and soon was there. He told me, that his cellular phone ran out of charge.

Well inside I was welcomed even of his mother. She only speaks Spanish, which is good for me, but she did not like, that I was not fluent in Spanish. She told me, we could not have a conversation. They have had a restaurant before on their property, but not anymore. They have a barn with sheep including a little lamb. They also have a medium sized dog, who goes free there. Their home has clear signs of the earthquake a year ago, but it is only the ceiling – the walls are all OK.

 

Sign of the Earthquake Last Year

Tehuantepec – Earthquake memories

 

When Marco came into the kitchen and started speaking English with me, his mother was leaving the kitchen. Actually Marcos English is as bad as my Spanish. Sometimes I had to use Spanish words, though he understood. Later that day he told me, that he is going to the Oxxo shop and if I would follow him to buy something to eat for the evening. Though I did and for breakfast as well. The food I bought was for 80 MXN, almost half the price of eating out.

Back at his home, we talked until 11pm, e.g. about his education, work, travels and he also told me about the gardens in Xalapa (the capital of Veracruz), which I had missed, when I have been in the city of Veracruz. Though I changed my itinerary, because it is only a three hours drive from the town of Tlaxcala, where I will be before. In addition to that I asked him about, how it feels to live in an area with such a heavy earthquake and which could happen again. He told me, that he is used to it since he was newborn. There are earthquakes all the time, some they do not feel at all, fewer, which they feel. He added, that every day they have an earthquake they can feel, but that it is worse at the coast. He also said, that he has been in Japan, in the earthquake belt and one day, when he was sleeping on the seventh floor, there was an earthquake, which made the building swaying. He was sleeping well and his friends tried to wake him up. They could not understand, why he could sleep anyway. Unfortunately he checked his messages on his cellular phone all the time during our conversation, that was irritating for me.

For the night I was offered a hammock and I thought that this was not bad. I actually was wondering by myself if an earthquake feels less in a hammock, but in a bed. It was very hot in the room, because all the fans had fallen from the ceiling and they did not have any AC. This first night I have got a standing fan and slept well.

 

13th July 2018

I was awake between 4am and 6am, but fell asleep again for an hour. Around 8am I was going to the kitchen and had my private breakfast. I could not take a shower, because the authority did not provide water until this day – for how long and what reason I do not know. I wrote the review for the hostel in San Cristobal de Las Casas, completed my notes about the day before, answered emails and wrote a blog post – all by the data traffic I have on my smartphone. I had not seen any router in the house and because of the condition of the house I did not ask for wi-fi either.

I went to see the town. After a few minutes I saw a “Coppel” shop. It is a Canadian company with lots of shops all over Mexico and sell a lot of different things, even cellphones and accessories. I found another kind of charger there, but decided not to buy a matching cable. The charger came in different colors, I chose a blue one. Afterwards I asked a female pedestrian for the way to the city center. She told me, I could take a “moto taxi”. I answered her, that I would like to walk, though she described the way for me. It was around half an hours walk. Well there I had an Agua de Horchata, because I had not taken a bottle of water with me. I also found a shop selling wash(face)cloths and bought a new one, because I lost mine in the laundry and it is very useful to have one in the humid heat to dry the face and the neck with it. The lunch I ate at a restaurant, because I needed to sit down for a while and also was looking for shade respectively an AC. Furthermore I was in need of a bathroom. It was not a very cheap restaurant, but the meal was worth its price.

 

Tehuantepec – Downtown

 

I tried with sightseeing of the town, but did not find the “Casa de la Cultura”, but a tourist information. Anyway I was too tired to go back to the museum. I also felt, that I had a lot of sand on my skin. It was a little windy and lot of spaces were sandy like the streets around the market place. On the way back I bought new food for breakfast at the Oxxo.

 

Tehuantepec – Town Hall

 

Marco had called me and asked me if I will follow him to his organic garden project to see how it works. I was happy about that. He told me later, that he will try to make a hanging garden of it, but the most important is, to try to inspire the poor Mexicans to grow their own vegetables and fruits. There are people with gardens, where they also have fruit trees, but that are not the poorest of them. The people were arriving, going, arriving. There are ten Mexicans involved, but all were not attending this day. They had to water the beds. There is also living a male rabbit in the garden and Marco did take with him two female rabbits for his company.

 

 

Later I followed him to another meeting at a restaurant close to his home. It was a couple, it seemed, who was attending. Marco tries to get a foot into politics by the reason, that the town only had one candidate for the mayor last election. I did not understand a lot, what they were talking about and felt like I was disturbing even I did not say any word. I had a glass of beer (for 30 pesos), the others were drinking Coca Cola. Marco later asked me, if I was tired by the beer, but I was tired of the heat. This evening I did not get the fan in my room. It was very hot without it and I had problems to fall asleep.

 

14th July 2018

I was up at 9:30am, because I fell asleep very late in the morning. This day the shower was working again, but it was bad maintained and there was not much water running. While I had breakfast I have got to know Marcos father, who ate breakfast at the same time. He also told me, that he will go to the Oxxo shop and asked me, if he should bring something for me. I did not need anything at that point. After breakfast I checked my email and spent some time on “twitter”, brushed my teeth and made my files.

Soon I was leaving the building and went to the ADO bus station. Here I bought a ticket to my next destination, the city of Oaxaca. It was for 261 MXN, the discount of the earlier ticket (4 MXN) I was given in cash. This day was Sunday and a lot of people at the counter to buy tickets for the same day. It was only one assistant working and some people did buy a lot of tickets at the same time (for the big family), though we had to queue for a long time and it seemed, that people were missing the bus, they would like to take. One or two also could not go by the bus, they wished, because it was totally full. I was feeling sorry about the young female assistant, who made her best to sell the tickets wanted.

 

Tehuantepec – Mural

 

With my ticket I entered the Oxxo shop and bought a cold coffee drink. It was not bad and by the reason I did not have had a coffee that day also helpful. I actually could have bought a filter coffee at the Oxxo, but I did not feel for it in the heat. I entered a “moto taxi”, where already one person was in – with other words a collective “moto taxi” (they look like tuc tucs). The other woman was Mexican I guessed and thought, they will not over charge her and they cannot take more of me than her. At our destination we had to pay 5 MXN each. That was a fair price, actually I had paid more as well.

 

Tehuantepec – Artists Working with the Name Sign of the City

 

Downtown I bought an “Agua de Piña” (pineapple water), it was tasting good. Later I bought a slice of cheesecake, what was not bad either. I also found a bathroom, where I paid 5 MXN as usual. I bought flowers for the mother of my host. I thought, it was enough as a thank you, because they did not provide any meal. For dinner I had “tacos al pastor” and learned, that they are not hot spicy everywhere in Mexico. They were for 44 MXN only. I was looking for shade all the day and for a while sitting on stairs in the shade. I was going back to the ADO bus station by a “moto taxi”, because of the heat. The driver did take the main road outside the city center and asked me than for 10 MXN. I did not have more change than 6 pesos, though he was OK with that. On my way back to my host´s home, I bought a cold chocolate drink and a yogurt at the Oxxo shop.

This day I was early to bed, but I could not sleep before late, because Marco played music and later had the TV on high volume. I did not have the fan either.

 

15th July 2018

I was finally up at 12pm this day, because I only fell asleep very late respectively early this morning. I was going downtown again by a moto taxi and bought an Agua de Horchata there. I was walking around and found a pedestrians walk way, where the train has gone in former times. I was a line to the coast. Nowadays, there is no train anymore and even it was discussed to open the train line again, the calculated, that it would become too expensive. I had lunch at the restaurant “Tomato – pizzas y pastas”. I ordered a Cordon blue as a meal of the day. It was for 68 MXN, a glass of Agua de Horchata included. The Cordon blue was strange. It was rolled and hard fried. By the way, most of the shops and stalls were open, even it was Sunday.

For a while I was sitting in the shade this day as well. Fortuitous, Marco drove that street, where I was sitting and took me home to him. Marcos was soon driving to another meeting again, without asking me, if I will follow.

His parents asked me for a Swedish meal. They told me, that it was common that couchsurfers cook a national meal of the country, they are coming from. I was actually surprised about their wish, because they did not provide me with any meal. I have never before being asked for this. On the other hand side, I had overheard a conversation between Marco and them, where they answered, that they do not have money. Therefore I think her question was for her bad financial situation. They told me, they will go for a walk, when I agreed to provide them with sandwiches. I offered first to cook Swedish meatballs for them, but they answered me, that they do not have gas. Though we were talking about salad. I told them, that we original in Sweden do not use dressing, even the younger people often do it. They were not happy about a salad without dressing and asked about sandwiches. When they were back, we were going together to the closest supermarket, which is very close, when entering from the back. She ordered ham at the fresh food bar – actually half a kilo. Together with the cheese, mayonnaise and bread (they had tomatoes and salad at home) as well as a bottle of Coca Cola and detergent for the dishes it was for 192 MXN.

We prepared the sandwiches together and I told them, that we in Sweden do not put a slice of bread on the top, but they ate them as usual. Furthermore they existed, that I do not part the big slices of ham, even half of it would have been enough for the sandwich. We had two sandwiches each and prepared two for Marco as well – which he did not eat, when he came home that night. I was full of my Swedish kind of sandwich and his mother could not eat all of the sandwiches either, though she did take away the upper slice of bread of the second one. By the way I had water to drink, I do not like soft drinks. I cannot drink water with bubbles either.

During the meal they changed their way  to meet me and they told me, that a Russian girl had made pizza for them at a restaurant. I also got the fan that night again and was falling asleep fast and had a good sleep that night, even Marco put on the TV again, when he came home.

For more photos of Tehuantepec use the link, please.

 

16th July 2018

I was early ready to go, but Marco’s mother insisted, that I had coffee and something to eat. I told her, I am not hungry, though she gave me two ham rolls (1 slice) and a muffin for the coffee. She warmed the water for the coffee in the microwave. I took good-bye of Marco and his mother, I could not see his father.

At the Oxxo shop I bought a bottle of water and a bottle of drink chocolate.  I continued to the Coppel shop nearby for a cable, in the hope, that my tablet can be charged faster with a cable without a light. Unfortunately they did not have the blue cable left, though I had to take a violet one. It looks not good, but what does it matter. Unfortunately the tablet anyway goes only to charge, when it is off.

I was already at 10am at the ADO bus terminal, even there were two hours left, before the bus would go. Anyway I preferred the terminal by two reasons. It was not so hot at the terminal as in the house and there is free WI-fi for use. I used it for emails and twitter. The bus was in time, even it was an ADO bus and not an OCC, which was stated on my ticket.

It was a beautiful ride from Tehuantepec to Oaxaca, which means going north. There were hills, “cerros” (low mountains) and mountains to see. Actually you find mountains of 2000m in Oaxaca. The ride took time, because of all the dangerous curves of the road. The bus stopped somewhere halfway, where the driver took a rest and it was possible to eat something respectively to buy snacks.

 

District of Oaxaca

 

I actually bought some biscuits, I was not really hungry. Even the bus has a bathroom, the passengers, incl. me, took the opportunity to use the bathroom at this place. Soon after we have had the rest, we were checked by police. The police was not only coming into the bus and going through it, the passengers also had to leave. One of the elder women told me, that I could stay onboard – all the little elder women did. The policeman, who checked the bus was not complaining about it. For safety reasons I told the officer in Spanish, that I did not understand, what to do. He did not answer me, just passed.

We arrived in the town of Oaxaca around 5pm. Soon I found a bus to my host, even I did not find the destination bus stop, he had told me and was going back (and paying one more time) some stops, where I could see the church in front of his house. My host was an 71-year-old citizen of the USA, who decided to live in Oaxaca as long as possible. He rents an airbnb room with a monthly rate. Even he asked me to buy my own food. He has a nice little supermarket next his door. Jay, my host, walked with me in the surroundings of his place after we had made each other comfortable. He offered me his bed and was sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the combined living room / kitchen. I bought corn flakes and milk for breakfast and eggs and bread for my evening meal. The eggs were enough for my whole stay in Oaxaca – it was the fewest number of eggs I could buy and I ate almost two eggs everyday. Even he was going to bed early, so did I for not disturbing him, because there were no door between the bedroom and the living room.

 

17th July 2018

I awoke of, that a phone was ringing around 6:30am, but started my routines an hour later. There was no water for shower and it took a while, before Jay had managed to bring water from a big container to his container, though I prepared my change of clothes and my little bag, which I use, when all my pants are for laundry. Afterwards I checked my Swedish account and it looks good! I continued with my files and transferred money from my Swedish account to my HSBC account as well as I paid my brother for my part of the costs of the care of my mother’s grave. Unfortunately she had signed a contract for 40 years – the maximum possible. Now it was time for the shower and I left directly afterwards to leave my dirty clothes to a laundry nearby. The woman at the laundry told me, that I could get the clean clothes at lunchtime the following day. I really asked for getting them the same day, but she did not change her mind. Then I was going downtown.

 

Oaxaca Cathedral

 

Well there I soon bought slices of Papaya. I walked around the city center, found the main shopping area, the market place “Zocalo” and the cathedral. Later I had a “Tlayuda” and an Agua de Horchata at the “Mercado Juarez” area. The meal was for 65 MXN, which is really cheap. This meal contents of a kind of hard tortilla and will be filled with different ingredients. The first layer seems always to be black beans sauce. I also bought postcards with views from Oaxaca. I have got five of them for 20 MXN, that was a very low price. I had already seen hotels, selling tours to Monte Alban and Mitla – both archaeological sites of the Zapotec, who are the indigenous people in this area. With one I booked a full day tour each for Monte Alban and Mitla. The tours were for 250 MXN each, with a guide included, but the admission fees and the meals were additional.

 

Tlayuda – a “dry” Tortilla with Bean Sauce, Salad, Oaxaca Cheese and a Piece of Pork

 

My beige Fjällräven pants I already had to repair before, had a new, even worse scratch, though I looked for motives to sew on the top of it. I actually also found some. One card with three was for 25 MXN, the other card, with one, but much bigger motive, was for 50 MXN. Actually much cheaper as a new pair of pants. Now I took time to visit the cathedral. It is very Baroque and that is actually not the style I like, even I accept it as art. I was going back to Jay by bus and was again going too far, because I did even this time not see the stop, where I have to leave. The bus uses back to San Felipe, the place where Jay lives, another street as coming from the last stop and going downtown.

 

My Fancy Pants

 

Well back at Jay’s place, I fixed my pants. It was the big motive I had to use and the pants now look a little fancy ;-). I tried to cook a couple of eggs for my evening meal, but I could not start the gas stove (even I had done it before), though I asked Jay for it. I had the feeling, that there was no gas. He tried and told me, that I was right, but wondering about it, because he had bought gas three days ago. He called the provider and they realized, that they had done wrong. There are two containers, which can be filled and they had opened the tap to the wrong container. The told him, they will come the next morning and correct it. He was fine with it, even I had preferred, they would have come immediately, because it was their mistake. I think, he knows the Mexican system better than me and probably it is not possible to make them come in the evenings. Also this day I was to bed at the same time as Jay. He does not talk a lot, is mostly working with his Mandelas and is spiritual, even he did not make a lot of stuff, while I was with him. I have read, that he loves to talk about spirituality, but I want risk anything and did not ask him about it.

 

18th July 2018

Also this day I was going downtown after breakfast, but I had to be at the Riviera Hotel at 10am, because it was the day of my tour to Monte Alban. I was there in good time, because I was afraid to be too late. I did not really know, how long time the bus needs as well as there often are traffic jams. Most streets in the city of Oaxaca are one way streets, but there are cars allowed to park, though there are traffic jams anywhere. Often police is managing the traffic in the rush hours – almost at the most critical junctions, even there are traffic lights.

It took a while until I was picked up and I was brought by a usual car to a little bus. It took time for the car driver to find the right bus for me. I had booked a guided tour to Monte Alban. Well in the bus all was OK until later. The archaeological site of Monte Alban is quiet close to the city of Oaxaca. It was built by the Zapotecs, one of the many indigenous people of Mexico. By the way the Zapotec language is still alive. The admission fee to the archaeological site was 70 MXN – the use of the bathroom was included. We had a guided tour and then an hour of free time for photographs and if we would like to have something to eat. I was really hungry at that time and tried to find something. There were only snacks and biscuits sold and beverages. Though I bought some biscuits and a one liter bottle of water.

 

Archaelogic Site Monte Alban

 

The next stop was a little village called Zoachila, where we were taken to a restaurant. I was not sure, that this was outside the price of the tour and also I was not expecting that all the main meals were spicy. The restaurant was called “La cabanas de India”, but with Mexican food, There were plates with vegetables, where I took of and eat. Before taking of the main dishes, I asked, what was spicy and what was not. Though I have been told, that all is spicy, but one soup. The soup did not look good. The three sisters I shared the table with, told me, I could have chicken and mole. Actually the chicken was cooked and not looking good either, but I took anyway of it, because I did not have any other choice. I only took a small amount of the mole, what I was happy for, when I tasted it, against usual it was spicy as well. There were desserts to take, but there was a member of the staff and explaining, what each was. Though I could not take bigger amounts of it and I thought, she will recognise, that I have been there before, if I take one more time of it. I had a glass of Agua de Horchata as well and had to pay 170 MXN for it. Therefore I decided to have my own food with me on the next tour.

The tour continued to the village of Culiapan, where we could see the ruins of an Dominican convent.

 

Domincan Convent in Culiapan

 

I was happy, that there was a man selling ice cream. I really needed something more for my stomach. His ice cream was quite cheap as well. Next stop of the tour was the village of Arrazola, where we visited artists, working with wood and others, who painted this wooden figures. They were really nice to look at and in different sizes. It takes a lot of time to make them, but on the one hand side, they are too expensive for me and on the other hand side, they take too much space and for the small figures I was afraid, they would break in my backpack. I took a very few photos, but when I tried to take a photo of a cat with an interesting painting, I was told, that I was not allowed to take photographs – I think they are afraid, that I will copy the paintings.

 

Wood works

 

The last stop was in the village of Arrazola, for the “Barro negro” (black ceramics). The artists go in the family. The mother, who started it, is very old or not living anymore. There were interesting items to see as well, but black is not my color. In the contrary I like silver jewellery with black stones, but the jewellery they had here, was not only silver or other chains and black ceramics, but also big textile tassels. Though I did not like them either, what was a good reason not to buy anything.

 

Black Ceramics

For more photos of this tour click here, please.

 

We were back in Oaxaca city around 6pm and I was directly looking for the bus stop to go home to Jay. It took a while and I had to ask again, but I did find and leave at the bus stop close to Jay this evening. I was really proud of me, even it was by the help of Jay, who had been with me in the morning to this stop. Unfortunately it was too late to pick up my laundry.

Before going into Jay’s home, I bought a glass can of mayonnaise to have instead of butter on my egg sandwiches. The evening was came as usual. We were both on the Internet, but he was also asking me about the trip. My experiences will be good for other couchsurfers. I told him, that I think it would have been better to go by bus to Monte Alban only. It would have been much cheaper as well. I might have asked him before I booked the tours, how easy it is to go to Monte Alban as well as to Mitla.

 

19th July 2018

I had enough with days in Oaxaca city, though I did not need to take the next tour this day and I was happy about it, because the tour the day before had been so tiring. I was still in bed, writing an email to my youngest son and started to write a message on twitter – it was around 8am – when I felt the first earthquake in Mexico. It was not very hard, but unusual to the two we had in the late 1980s/first years of the 1990s in Sweden. It was like the ground under the house was rumbling. Jay told me with calm voice, that it is time to leave the apartment. We came to the stairs before all was over. Though we did not need to leave the house. Anyway we were standing there with bare feet and without anything else, but the clothes we were dressed in. I always was thinking, that I would try to take my passport with me, but my pants with my passport were not so close to me, that I had the idea to pick them. I was very happy, that it was no stronger earthquake. Back in the apartment, we tried to find out, where the epicenter of this earthquake has been. Jay and I found out it at the same time, but by different sources. It had been a 5.7 earthquake, which hit Huajuapan de Leon, also in the state of Oaxaca. There were no death reported. This place is situated around 100 km bee line from Oaxaca city.

When I was dressed and have had breakfast I was taking the bus to Walmart. It is the same bus without any change, I always take downtown. I had read before on the bus, that it is going there and I was in need of new tissues. From the bus I could also see another big supermarket and a big Coppel shop. Well at Walmart I also bought some other items like mold pepper, salt and so on, though I could prepare Swedish meatballs for Jay. Even he did not provide me with food, he hosted me for five days, which really was worth a meal – and I was looking forward to finally eat Swedish meat balls again, as well. I also was looking for a netbook, but did not like what I found there. I was interested in to buy one of a well-known chain like Acer or Lenovo for the quality. By the way I had not bought the molded meat, because of the heat and for the big packs, because they sold molded meat in the supermarket next door to Jay and there it was not packed and I could asked for exactly as much as I want.

I walked back with my shopping to the Coppel, but had a meal before I came there, because it was a little longer, than I had expected. Unfortunately the “torta” (kind of sandwich) with fried pork Milanese (similar to a very thin snitzel) was very spicy. Of a dish “Milanese” I had not expected that and I have had such dishes before. None of them has been spicy. I had ordered French fries as well. They were fried for too short time and I think the oil was not hot enough, when they were put into it. Anyway I ate the French fries for not going hungry.

Well at Coppel I looked for all the small notebooks they had and I also was interested in a low price. I found two for 6599 MXN (ca 300 EUR), one of them Lenovo and the other one an HP. I decided to buy the HP, because it had much more ports for USB and a card slide for SB-cards. They both had similar sizes of memories. They have the same low memories like a tablet, but I have USB-ports (even only for USB 2) and the SD-card-reader, which helps a lot. It also has a camera and microphone, though I can use Skype, when I well have installed Skype correctly. By the keyboard it is so much easier to update my blog and surprisingly – that was not announced, it has a touch screen as well. I think it is worse its price.

I was going home by the bus again, but left a bus stop to early, which did not matter. At the nearby supermarket I bought a half kilogram (the easiest way to buy around the amount I would like to have (in Spanish it is a medio kilo) of molded meat. They mold it quite grove, but it was working well and Jay told me during the dinner, that the meatballs were delicious. He did the dishes!

The rest of the evening I was occupied with personalizing my netbook and also had a chat with Jay, of course. I was to bed as usual and to tired to update my blog. I actually tried, but was not able to.

 

20th July 2018

I awoke around 6pm. It was already daylight, though I was on the Internet. I was keen about not to disturb Jay. At 7am I started with my usual routines and disabled the alarm before it could start ringing. I also made a lunch package for me, cleaned the dishes and made the bed. I caught a bus at 9am. Usually the drivers have crosses and pictures of Saints in their vehicles, but this one had a dream catcher and incense.

I was in good time at the hotel and a small bus came directly to the hotel to pick me and a couple up. It was a guided tour for Mitla, another archaeological Zapotec site. He was a little late, but that always depends on the traffic and if the other tourists were ready. The first stop was the village of “Santa Maria del Tule”, where a big arbol tree is shown for the tourists. For coming close to the tree, one has to pay 10 MXN. They explained it, that it will be used for the maintenance of the garden. We had 20 minutes to look at the tree and take photos. There were also a church close to the tree, but it was not open.

 

 

I was the first at the bus, the most came in time, but one tourist the guide had to look for. Even now we did not continue directly to Mitla, but was brought to Teotitlán to see a weaving family. We were welcomed in Zapotec, but soon Spanish was spoken. This family did use natural colors only. They explained, of which trees, flowers etc. they get the colors and who they can change the intensity or to another color in the same spectrum, e.g. how they get a violet color of a red one. They use salt and seeds. I was surprised, that the colors were so clear. I remembered the “homemade” colors from Germany and Sweden and they did not have these intensity. I think it belongs to the natural material here in Mexico. These family had modern looms. The teenage boy showed us, how they get all the pattern. The maybe 5-year-old little brother had a chair up and down with a weave and showed us, what he can. Afterwards we were invited to see the gallery and to buy items. Obviously they were expensive. I could not even afford a very little rug.

 

Yarn in Natural Colors

 

The next stop was a Mezcal distillery. There were lots of big buses and small ones as well with groups, though our guide was explaining us the process from the agave to the end product. Afterwards we were invited to test the alcoholic drink. It comes in three different qualities as well as there are lots of flavored variations. I liked the Mezcal with the Cappuccino flavor best and actually bought a very little bottle (for 70 MXN), because they were so generous during the tasting. By the way, the served small worms on a saucer – one should eat it with salt to not get drunk ;-). I was the only foreigner in the group and therefore also the only one, who did not taste the worms. Even here one of the other tourists was late.

 

 

Finally we came to the Mitla village. There are lots of stalls selling souvenirs, food and beverages. We had to pass them to come to the archaeological site. We started at the church. I had already read about it on the Internet. It is an unusual one, because of the three cupolas it has. The guide only concentrated on, that this church, was built on a Zapotec temple. The highest layer was broken down and used to build the church. The basis is still an old temple. We did not enter the church, but continued to the Zapotec site. This one is really special with all the stucco still there and, because of the geometric patterns. I actually did not understand, when we were beside the church, that we already were at the Zapotec site. We had paid the entrance fee of 70 MXN to the driver and I did not see a guard. The ruins did explain it for me soon. Even here, part of our group was late for the bus, even we had got extra time for photos. I used the time to eat of my lunch pack, because I was very hungry now. I anyway was the first one at the bus again.

 

Zapotec Ruins, Mitla

 

From the Zapotec ruins, we were driven to a restaurant, even this in “nowhere”. I was told I should eat there as well and that the food will not be spicy, but I told them, that “not spicy” for Mexicans means something else than for me. I ate the rest of my lunch pack outside the restaurant. There was a souvenir shop as well, of course.

The last stop was Hierve el Agua. The admission fee was 50 MXN and it was actually possible to take a swim there, but it was not a hot well. From the waters (it was like some different natural basins) I also could see a waterfall, which had become stone. Fortunately it was not slippery here and I could walk around and enjoy the nature. As I told you, some people of our group always has been late back to the bus. This time it was worse. We arrived as late as 4:30pm and got a well calculated time frame of an hour. When two third of us were in the car, it was time to go, but there were still three or four people missing. One of them was a family and this was half an hour late. I think, you can imagine, that the driver did not care about speed limits on the way back. By the way, close to this site, which is really situated at the countryside, I have seen a lot of donkeys.

 

Hierve del Agua

For more photos of this tour click here, please.

 

This evening I actually managed it to leave the bus at the right stop. Jay and I was talking about this tour before we were going to bed early as usual.

 

21st July 2018

This day I was up around 9am, because I did not have a hurry. I followed my usual routines including breakfast and packed afterwards. It was time to go downtown to a hostel, which I had booked for three nights. I actually had changed my itinerary and asked hosts, to change dates, if possible. The most were very understanding. One or at the most two did not answer. The reason for my change was the Guelaguetza the 23rd. I had been told of people in the district of Oaxaca, that I should attend the fest (see above). I had two reasons to go to the hostel. The first one was, that I am very happy to get hosted and will not exploit my hosts. The other reason was, that I want to be sure, that I can come back to my bed late in the evening without spending a lot of money on a taxi. When I told Jay, that I am going to a hostel, he told me, that I could have stayed with him.  I thanked him, but explained, why I am not taking his offer, even I still could cancel my reservation for the hostel without any fee.

I had my big backpack on my back, though it would be easier for me to enter a bus, but the buses were not stopping for me. Before a third bus arrived, a Mexican woman with a car stopped and asked me, if I want a ride downtown. I was happy about the offer. She did not go all the way to the hostel, but it was just straight forward for 15 minutes more, when I left her car.

I checked in at the hostel before the official check in time, that means in that case, that we made all the paperwork and I paid as well, but I had to wait to enter the room and use my bed until the officially check in time, even it was less than half an hour left. I was allowed to use the kitchen and had my lunch there. After I had checked in totally, I had a chat with some females at the room. One was from USA and three from Denmark, but they were not all traveling together. I left soon and was looking for a tourist information, which I also found. I was interested in to buy tickets for a theater play the next evening (22nd) about the history of the Guelaguetza. Unfortunately all tickets were already sold.

 

The Altar of the Cathedral

 

The tourist information was close to the Cathedral and it was open, though I did take a look inside. I also made an exception and gave a female beggar a 5-pesos-coin. She got very happy and thankful about it (I saw then, that she only had got some 1-peso-coins before. Afterwards I was looking for a stall to buy an “Agua de Horchata”. I also found one. They had a different system to serve it. They had water with cinnamon and sugar, which they put something in the bottom of the mug and added then the rest of the drink.The seller actual asked everyone if they want “Agua de Horchata” or “Agua de Tuna”. I did take the Horchata, of course and was wondering for myself, how the sweet cinnamon water would taste together with tuna soup. I did not think about, that the Spanish word for the English word tuna is atún ;.).

 

Contemporary Art of Isabel Sanchez S.

 

It was around 3pm, though I continued to the Museum of Contemporary Art. There were signs for it and it was easy to find. There are a lot of signs in Oaxaca city for the tourists, which I appreciated. The admission fee for this museum was only 20 MXN. It took not very long time to see the exhibitions and I was looking for a meal. I ate Spaghetti Carbonara at a restaurant. Unfortunately it came without salad and on a big flat plate. It was enough to get satisfied, but no problem to eat all of it. Together with a beer it was for 160 MXN, not worth its price. Disappointed by myself, that I did have had such an expensive meal, I went back to the hostel, where I finally got a bottom bed by changing with another woman. The receptionist had told me, that a man is sleeping in that bed and he would asked him for the change as soon as he will be at the hostel again. This shows not only, that this hostel was bad in organizing, but also, that they did not really know, who is using the beds. The woman was together with her sister, who had an upper bed, a part of a group. As this part they came always back to the hostel at 11pm, I have been told by the American woman.

Before going to sleep I had another nice chat with the Danish girls. It was some minutes before midnight, before I was going to bed.

 

22nd July 2018

I was already up at 7am, took my medicine, a shower and had breakfast. When I had finished with that, I made my files. There were no problems. In the middle of the day I skyped with my youngest son and his family. My 3-year-old grandson did not really remember me. The 5-year-old grandson did not care about me. I also installed the waiting updates for my notebook, but I had not configured Skype on my notebook, though I had to use my tablet. Fortunately it was working.

Before I went outside, I bought a big bottle of water for 14 MXN at the hostel – they also sell beer – and had a meal. It was around 3:30pm before I Ieft the hostel for another adventure. I was looking for the Textile museum. First I did not find the entrance, but after asking a security guard close to it, that was no problem. The entrance was for free, even it was a very interesting exhibition, but not very big. Well enjoyed this museum with its items I bought a big mug “Agua de Horchata” for 20 MXN.

 

Textile museum Oaxaca

 

I was hungry, but I thought it would be nicer to have company. Though I went back to the hostel. The woman from the USA was there and I asked her, if we could make company to a restaurant. She told me, that she is waiting for a message from two of the Danish girls (the other one was going further in the morning), but that we could have company all together. It took a while until we found each other, but we went then to a special dinner place, I have been told, which even serves vegan meals. It was not so wonderful as people had told, but I have been in worse restaurants with almost the same bad service as at this place. When we had eaten and paid – I was surprised, that none of my company left a tip, we were going to a bar, where the other drank beer and I had the first Margarita cocktail in my life. I did not really like it and ask the other for tasting it. They all told me, that it was a good one. I was drinking very slowly for not getting drunk, though the waiter, who did not know the reason, came and asked me if I want more Tequila in the cocktail. I thanked him and told him, that I am not interested in more alcohol. We had a nice girls night out and a save way back to the hostel, where we arrived at 1am.

 

Margarita, frozen (Cocktail)

 

23rd July 2018

I missed a call of Jesús, the guy from couchsurfing, who messaged me he will bring me into the stadium for the Guelaguetza in the city of Oaxaca. He had told me, that it is necessary to be at the stadium before 5 o´clock and that his mother had insisted to go to the stadium at 3am. Unfortunately I had not read the “am” behind the number and I did not have any idea about, that it would be so early in the morning, because he had written me, that there is a show at 5 and at 10. I apologized.

I awoke 7:30am this day and had breakfast at 8:15am, which I started with a cup of coffee only. When I take cereals and/or sandwiches and the coffee I often eat before I drink the coffee, which does not help me, when I feel a little tired or dizzy. After the coffee I thought, I took thin pancakes and Mable syrup, because the light in the kitchen is very bad. In real it was rolled ham slices and a salsa. Fortunately the salsa was not hot spicy. Furthermore I had fruits, especially papaya. It was even for me an unusual breakfast because I had not taken cereals or bread, but I do not like to throw away food, though I eat it and I was full afterwards.

I asked the Danish girls and the woman from the USA if we could make company to the Guelaguetza in San Antonino, a village in Oaxaca – not so very far away from town. I had read in the program, that there and in another village, the Guelaguetza also will be held. It will start at 5pm. The woman from the USA thought, it will be more genuine in a village and both the Danish girls were also interested in it. We agreed to leave the town by bus at 3pm after I had asked at the reception, how we could go there.

I made my files and updated my blog until 14th July before it was time to go. Unfortunately one of the Danish girls had got problems with her stomach, but told the other one to follow me anyway. We were a little earlier, but hoped, the woman from the USA will come with us anyway, but she insisted to go at 3am. We thought, she will do it, but were leaving. We found the bus quiet easily after had asked a bus driver once – on the area for the actual bus station. There were a bus ready to go and we attended. Against my fears, the bus was not full, when it left the station, but maybe the following bus will be. On the way to the village our bus became really full anyway, but we took this bus, because we were afraid, the buses will all be full already at the station. Anyway, we did not know, when the next bus will go and we did not know, how long the bus will take to the village.

When we arrived at the place for the Guelaguetza (from the bus stop in the village to this place we had taken a Tuc Tuc – moto taxi, and were happy about that for the choice, because it was quiet far away. The moto taxi was for 7.50 MXN for each of us.) it was only 10 minutes left to the official starting time – and they were not late to start. We made our way in by paying 10 MXN, which is a symbolic amount. Soon I found Jesús and his friends. They were both couch surfers. One of them was from Germany and the other one from Puerto Rico, USA. They had taken good places – high up over the crowd, where they are using umbrellas against the sun and make it unable for visitors behind them to see the show. We could see the whole show very well from the place we had. I had bought a bottle of water on the way in for 8 MXN and bought a little bag of chips for 15 MXN, because I did not have had lunch before we left the hostel.

 

People with Umbrellas in front of the Scene

 

The show was for three or four hours and all the groups got a lot of time for their performances. They came from this village and the surrounding villages in Oaxaca – the Guelaguetza is a regional celebration, only held in the state of Oaxaca. The groups also performed more than once this evening. The dances were different and the clothes as well. At the end people with stilts – in different highs, were performing dances. The whole show was amazing, but it was no opportunity for the visitors to dance or attend anything else, than the show be watching it from the benches. I took some videos, which you can see by following the link for San Antonino Castillo Velasco.

 


Dance Group with the most Spectacular Costumes

 

It was dark, when we left before the shows final, because we tried not to come into the crowd. There were some more visitors leaving already and we were happy, we came quickly to the car of Jesús. He has had some bottle of beers, but he told us, he is still capable to drive the car and also, that the Mexican law allows it. He left us at the hostel. The Danish girls (the other one felt better now) were going out again and as I heard the upcoming day, they made company with Jesús and the guy from Puerto Rico during the night. The German guy had a job interview by Internet the following morning, though he did prepare for that. I was soon to bed. By the way the woman from the USA never showed up at the Guelaguetza and she told me, when I asked her then, that she did not feel for going out, because she is not so healthy.

 

24th July 2018

This morning I was early up again and was ready to go at 8am, but had my breakfast before checking out. I left the key, which I never needed, and got my deposit back and was walking to the ADO station. Here it was a long queue, but there were three assistants working. When I had bought my ticket, the queue was much longer. I had not thought, that so many people from Puebla (my next destination) would attend the Guelaguetza and now on their way home, otherwise I would have bought my ticket some days earlier. The bus I would like to take was at 11am, but it was already full, though were the two following buses. Fortunately there was a bus around every hour. My bus left 3:30pm. The ride from Oaxaca city to Puebla city was for 481 MXN. It was a second class bus and direct bus. Anyway I did not arrive in Puebla city before dark.

While waiting I was to a restaurant nearby for a brunch and also, because I needed a bathroom. Unfortunately their bathroom was closed, though after I had ordered an egg dish (huevos rancheros = a fried egg between tortillas with bean-sauce and salad) and a glass of papaya juice, I was going to the nearby ADO terminal for the bathroom. I left my backpacks at the restaurant and asked them to look for them. It worked well. They were also very kind to help me in and out with my big backpack, because I had to force stairs. The brunch was a new experience. It was not spicy and eatable, but I think I will not order it a second time. The meal was for 75 MXN and they only got 5 MXN as a tip, because I had to pay at the ADO terminal for the bathroom.

I had messaged Jesús before, that my bus is not leaving Oaxaca before 3:30pm, because he would like me to know his mother. He told me before, that his mother only is traveling together with him and would like her to start travelling solo. Therefore he tried us to come together. Jesús already planned something else, even he was still tired after the late night out with the Danish girls and never showed up even he first told me, he will come and pick me up. I have got the impression, that he always will do the thing, he likes best – even he will tell you something else. Therefore I did not write a reference for him.

After brunch I was back to the ADO terminal. There is free Wi-fi available and I did use it to update my blog with help of my notebook, though I actually get some days done. The trip was directly to the city of Puebla and I was happy, that there were a bathroom on board. Luckily, before leaving the terminal, they let “flying sellers” on board, though I had a snack and a bottle of water, which I had during the ride.

To follow me to the state of Puebla and my time there, you can follow the link.