If Carlsberg did trees…

*For some reason this was by far my most read blog on my travelblog, with well over double the views of all the others! I have no idea why!*

¡Hola! I’m in Puerto Escondido down on the Pacific coast, but this evening heading back inland a long way all the way to San Cristobal de las Casas.

(Firstly a quick thank you for all the comments, and to all my subscribers. It’s nice to know I’m not just talking to myself, as I do enough of that out here anyway.)

The last few days in Oaxaca were really good. One I went with a tour group to visit a lot of the local sites, and saw Mitla, an old ruin that means the Temple of the Dead in Zapotec, one of the local dialects. To be honest, pretty boring, not really that much to see but were some nice buildings.

Then we went on to see el TuleEl Tule, which is apparently the biggest tree in the world, or at least the widest. And I must admit, I don’t believe I’ve seen a wider one. Fantastic girth.

Alas onwards, and we saw a nice Zapotec woman who told us how they make tapete (rugs), and went on a little circuit of their little house which doubled as a factory. We also went to a mezcal factory: mezcal is a drink similar to tequila that everyone drinks in Oaxaca state. I think it’s more of a home brew type tequila as they’re not allowed to call it tequila unless it comes from Tequila and is made in a certain way. We had some free samples, and it tastes like tequila, but a little more smokey. Very nice though.

And finalmente we went to a place called Hierve de Agua deep in the valleys, which apparently literally means Boiling Water. This place is so called because it has several natural springs, which bubble to give the effect of boiling water. Also there were mineral deposits that look like waterfalls where they’ve cascaded oveHierve del Aguar the side of the valley to great natural beauty.

The next day I saw Monte Alban, which is like a Mexican equivalent of the forum Romanum in Rome, and well worth a look. I think it was from the Mayans (though possibly the Zapotecs), and the ruins of the whole plaza still pretty much remain, including the temples and bits with lots of big steps on it. As the name suggests, it was on the top of a big hill and it was absolutely BOILING

On the bus back from Monte Alban, I was talking to two (moderately attractive) Israeli girls. I say talking to, I was distracted for the most part by the recurrence into my forethought of the only Hebrew word I know (and

that from the TV show Coupling), being shdaim (or however it’s spelt), which is Hebrew for ‘breasts’. Naturally, in my mind once they said they spoke Hebrew, was just shdaim, shdaim, shdaim, which coupled with trying not to look at their shdaim, made conversation at least a little difficult.

On that note, I left OaPuerto de Escondidoxaca on a 10 hour coach trip overnight down to Puerto Escondido and the SEA!

I have to admit, that looking at the available hostels on hostelbookers I thought it was gonna be a nightmare, so only booked to stay one night before heading off again somewhere else. I got a map of the town from the bus station and sought out to find the hostel I’d booked, and lo and behold it was at the end of a dirt track in the middle of nowhere. I had actually turned round, given up and thought I’d go and find another one somewhere else in town when some guy on a moped pulls over to talk to me. My first thoughts were “nutjob” – the bastard turned out to be the owner of the hostel I was avoiding, so I had no choice then but to turn round and go taste that bitter pill of self-loathe at not thinking quick enough to say I was going somewhere else.

I spent the morning down on the lovely tropical beaches (not wishing to rub it in!) and got burnt and bitten to pieces. Upon my return to the hostel, some people had actually got up, and I met my first English people on the trip! Them and some Aussies had been at the hostel for over a week or so, and seemed like genuinely good people so I was a bit annoyed at myself at having been so judgemental at booking only one night. That passed when I found they were all planning on leaving the next day as well anyway.

Me at Hierve del AguaThat evening, we went to one of the longest beaches I’ve ever seen, and released some newborn turtles into the wild! Inspiring stuff. They’d only hatched about half hour previous when the guys brought them to us in buckets to put them on the beach, have a little run towards the water and wait for the sea to sweep them away. There were some who really went for it and were about 10m away by the time the waves came, and there were some little runts who obviously didn’t care about survival and just sat there slapping the sand with one flipper. Apparently only 1 in 1000 will survive, which seemed a bit extreme, but hey thats life.

Had another morning on the beach today, and am now just sitting around waiting for my bus this evening. Have about 4 hours to kill, then a 13 hour journey. And I can tell it’s just gonna fly by.

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Heading South, from Mexico City to Oaxaca

Hola!

The Zocalo (main square) in Mexico City

Sadly I didn’t make it to the pyramids on Sunday as I was apparently the only one from the hostel who wanted to go (they had done another trip on Saturday morning (which is how I found out about it), but by the time I got in on Friday night I was exhausted and beyond caring to ask which trips they had to offer), so I went to the zoo instead. Not too bothered, as there’s lots of other ruins on the way, though at this place there was the 3rd biggest pyramid in the world.

The zoo was right in the middle of I suppose the Hyde Park equivalent, called (let me get the guide book out) Bosque de Chapultepec. I took the Metro out there (so cheap!! I think about 18p for a single ticket), and had a lovely walk through the park, where seemingly the whole city goes on a Sunday as it was buzzing! Loads of people with stalls selling everything imaginable, and families going for a walk, kids having a kickabout. I’ve noticed I’ve been getting a lot of funny looks, but that’s probably cos I’m about a foot taller than most of the locals and probably the whitest person they’ve ever seen.

Mexico City on the whole was a great place, very loud and colourful. Walking down the streets, the music coming from shops was immense, and there’s people playing instruments on the pavements (looked like Sally Army equivalents). There’s police everywhere which makes you feel kind of safe (apart from when you’re doing a runner from a shoe shiner), and the female officers love to dole themselves up while on the job.

The Zocalo in Oaxaca

Yesterday I had a nice six hour coach trip to Oaxaca (pron: wa-HACka) which is an absolultely lovely place. Seem to have lucked in with my hostel as its plush. Very nice, a lot nicer than Hostel Amigo where it got a bit too noisy with people coming and going all the time. Oaxaca´s a gorgeous little town with lots of squares and fountains and generally very nice. I was trying to upload some photos here but their computers are quite old and I’m not allowed to install the software needed to do so (so will have to wait once more I’m afraid!).

Dinner yesterday, you’ve got to laugh. Mum look away now. The one thing this hostel doesnt offer is an evening meal, so for the first time me and el Phrasebooko went out for something to eat. I found a nice little cafe, and was about to order a nice Oaxaqueños dish (oo ark at him) when I realised that they only did that in the mornings. Rushing a bit as the waitress was coming over, I ordered the next thing I saw on the page, and was so proud that I remembered to order a Coke sin huelo (without ice) that I forgot the other rule of food that I was told to abide by: don´t order anything that could be prepared with water and not cooked.

A cactus tree

Cue an 80% lettuce dish coming out, and a stifled laugh-grimace. Still, want not waste not. Out then came some little bowls of things to go with the salad. The first one I could distinguish as onions so I left them well alone. The next one I didn’t have a clue what it was, it looked a bit olive-y, so thought ‘when in Rome’ and piled it on. Yep, chillies. So fear not mum could barely eat the salad anyway! (Jokes: of course I could, I’m eating fine, and not going hungry or anything like that, FEAR NOT.)

And then came the piece de resistance. Once I’d finished, I pulled from nowhere ‘Desculpe, ¿puedo tener la cuenta? por favor’, a full 7-worder, wam bam THANK YOU MA’AM. If words had been letters and I was on Countdown, Susie Dent would have been proud.

Arriving in Mexico City

I have arrived safely!

I had a lovely 24 hour day of travelling yesterday with I think in total about 13 hours flights and 7 hours sitting around various airports. I spectacularly managed to lose my passport wallet in the check in queue at Heathrow and with it my yellow fever certificate, which means getting into Panama later could be a problem (but hopefully not). The one thing that kept coming into my head on the flight was Airplane quotes (so I was chuckling along to myself about drinking problems and not calling people Shirley) and COR how the Americans love feeding you. Having never been Trans-atlantic before I don’t know if its the norm or not, but I had two meals out to JFK, one more down to Mexico City and to top it off a MaccyDs in the JFK terminal.

I arrived at 11pm Mexican time, which is 5am British time, and had a lovely taxi ride to my hostel where I crashed out til morning. I took a little walk around the city this morning, and took some pictures of a big flag in the city centre, before stumbling upon and having a look round a museum on instruments of torture, which made me feel a little queasy. I also bumped into some Jehovahs who wanted to show me a magazine in French, and ran away from someone halfway through giving me a shoe-shine.

I’ll hopefully be going to see some pyramids tomorrow and will try to put some pics up later in the week. My current plan is to head down to the city of Oaxaca on Monday.