Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mountains. Jungle. Sea: Mexico City to the Oaxacan Coast (12th - 25th Jan '11)

We left Mexico City with less friends...Jessie was off the bike on new adventures and we lost Pedro who was still wondering the city's sights. Back to just the four of us, Team Lusty and Jules and I, as we spent a day cycling to Puebla and a day checking out the town. Poor old Russ got sick in Puebla and so it was back to just the two of us as Jules and I headed off by ourselves... arranging to meet up with Russ and Lorely four days later in Oaxaca.
I was a bit nervous about riding as just the two of us because only a few days before Jules had caused my first crash of my trip. I had been riding happily along, minding my own business, when she suddenly swerved into me, knocking me off my bike and sending me sprawling into the road. I am not sure whether it was an actual accident, as she professed, or a protest against being dragged to too many museums in Mexico City. Either way it made me a little nervous riding alongside her, and I now try and leave a good deal of personal space.... in case of sudden moves.
However, the four day ride from Puebla to Oaxaca was actually very pleasant, filled with great little Mexican towns, pretty countryside and without any major bodily harm inflicted upon anyone.
It was great to meet up with our Team Lusty again and enjoy the delights of Oaxaca, a very pretty city, with a nice big square and lots of cute cafes.. to service all the tourists! We hadn't been around this many tourists for ages. But we enjoyed the luxuries of the big town as we drank frappe upon frappe with the rest of the gringos.
After a day's rest we headed for the coast. We had high hopes for our ride from Oaxaca towards the coast, as we knew we had to lose about 2000m in height. Unfortunately we also had to go up and down a bunch of mountains in the meantime! We had one not too bad day with some smallish hills and then we hit the big mountains. Steep, steep climbs but also some good downhills too. Unfortunately the road wasn't in great condition so as we went zooming down the hills we shuddered over the rough road. We also went through a bunch of small towns which added to the thrill of going downhill at great speed, trying to avoid children, dogs and chickens, as well as potholes.
However, it was a fantastic days ride, leaving the arid inland plains, going up through the dry mountains, into the conifers and then coming out the other side into a cloud and a rainforest! The change was extreme. I was in seventh heaven cycling along checking out all the new plants: the big leaved forest species, the vines hanging down across the roads, the bright flowers, lush greens and all the jungle birds! We were less impressed with the sudden appearance of the heat and humidity, and our gasps of wonder at the new environment were ruined by sweat dripping into our open mouths.
We camped at the base of the mountain, still in the jungley area, and woke up to the sounds of the jungle birds. That morning was spent striking for the coast where we left the lush jungle but found the sparkling blue waters, cabana bars and chilled atmosphere of Puerto Angel, a small fishing village. This was the perfect opportunity to take a few days to swim, relax and eat yum fruit salads. I insisted on buying snorkel and goggles for Jules and myself (yes, i know, not the most practical purchase on a long distance cycling trip...) and we splashed around checking out the corals and tropical fish. Followed by beers on the beach. Sweet.
We now leave our beach sojourn to head into the winds of the interiors and the mountains, our new snorkel and goggles unhelpfully strapped on the back of our bikes.

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