Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Summer 2007 Car Trip - 5

The next leg of our journey was to take us to Oaxaca City. B and I were looking forward to this stop. We have long wanted a hand woven carpet from there. And just to see this city that we have heard so much about. Unfortunately for L, this was one of the cities that his tour groups stopped at so there was to be nothing new for him here.

Mexican stop sign!

To get to Oaxaca, we had to traverse the Sierra Luna mountain range. We found the road we needed, MX 175 and headed south. Although the road was in fairly decent repair, it was a grueling 225 kilometer (140 mile) drive that took us 6.5 hours. It seemed like we were climbing the entire way. This was to be my first experience with driving hairpin turns during this trip. Unfortunately, it was not to be my last.

Enjoying the mountain view, and probably a pee too!
The view we were looking at
By the time we got to Oaxaca, my wrists felt like they were broken. I don’t have power steering and the constant racking on the wheel took its’ toll. Not to mention the constant shifting from of the first three gears. I never got faster than third gear! (about 60 kph - 40 mph)

The drive was stupendous however. The scenery was gorgeous. The flat plains of the gulf and the river area around Tuxtepec gave way to the verdant hills of the Sierra Luna. Everywhere I looked it was lush hillside after lush hillside. Amidst the trees and bushes was the occasional banana tree. The entire countryside was alive with green.

Almost to Heaven, inside the clouds

As we climbed, we started to leave the junglely hills behind and the flora started to change to include pine trees. The smell of fresh pine coming into the car was delicious. To a point. After awhile it got to be a bit overpowering. Like when you clean your bathroom with one of those pine scented cleaners. Smells great to start but by the time you are finished, you just want to gag.
Eventually we reached what I thought was the top of the mountain because the road now started to descend. Not steeply but I seemed to be going down now more than up.

After three hours of driving, we came to this little cabiny like roadside restaurant. It was the first glimpse of civilization that we had had for hours. Naturally we decided to stop for breakfast.
I pulled into the deserted parking lot and the first order of business was to change our clothes. That high up in the mountains was chilly, to say the least. We changed from shorts to long pants and I even broke out my hoodie. It was a sight to see, adults sheepishly shedding their pants between two open car doors and quickly pulling on another pair before another car or truck came along. I don’t know why we were so embarrassed about it. Well, I don’t think it was as much embarrassment as we didn’t want to be perceived of as being disrespectful. Compared to some of the things we saw people doing along side the road, we were quite mannerly!

We entered into this quaint but very rustic restaurant of sorts. The front room had four tables in it. At the open back of the room was a step that went down into the kitchen. This consisted of a huge fire burning hearth where everything was cooked in huge skillets or iron pots.

We all ordered coffee which was ladled out into a bowl and brought to us to sip. Talk about strong, hot coffee! It was almost impossible to hold onto since there was no handle. But it sure warmed you up fast. After a quick meal of eggs and homemade bread, we were back on the road.


John W said...

OK Wayne, I'm sold. The wood-fired kitchen did it. That and the mountain jungles. And since I'm not curvy-road-challenged like natives of flat places :) I really enjoy hairpin curves. I just gotta get down to Oaxaca and Chiapas this month.

wayne said...

Ah, I see you have driven in the Yucatan then! I guess I am curvy road challenged! Thanks for the laugh!