January 25, 2011 GMT
Mexico - Oaxaca

Farwell, a well travelled friend I met in Montana told me his favourite place in Mexico was Oaxaca and as I have made my way south most people who had been really liked the place. At this time of year (January) it has an almost perfect climate with Canadians travelling to it to escape the cold and Argentineans to escape the midsummer heat.

001 Oaxaca Main Square 1st Jan 2011.jpg
Another Day In Paradise - Oaxaca Main Plaza, The Zocalo

The large main plaza, Zocalo is a lively, colourful place with plenty of activity and entertainment from orchestras one night to Peruvian panpipe players another. Everyone gathers there in the evening, children play with giant cylindrical balloons outside the cathedral while various traditional musicians busk at the restaurants and living statues pose for photos and give you a fortune card in exchange for dropping a few coins into their collection boxes.

004 Oaxaca Main Square 1st Jan 2011.jpg
Long Cylindrical Balloons Outside The Cathedral

One perfect tropical evening in the Zocalo I was watching an excellent group of musicians playing traditional Peruvian music with panpipes, flutes and guitars thinking that life couldn’t get any better when a street trader came round selling cheesecake. CHEESECAKE without having to move, Viva Mexico!

007 Bike In Oaxaca Hostel 2nd Jan 2011.jpg
Bike Stored In The Hostel Courtyard (www.mezkalitohostel.com)

There was an outcry as fuel rose by 2 pesos with concern that it would push up the price of basic food, bus journeys and everything else. It now costs 9 peso per litre (48p per litre or $2.74 per US gallon if I got my sums right), still cheap by European standards.

An English language Mexican newspaper reported that Mexico now headed the list of obese nations. Maybe there is a downside to having street dealers pushing their cheesecakes onto a hedonistic populace innocently out for a good time and in moments of weakness succumbing to temptation. One of the pushers looked like he was a cheesecake addict himself, selling no doubt to feed his own habit.

050 Oaxaca Living Statues 16th Jan 2011.jpg
Living Statues

Monte Alban, on the outskirts of Oaxaca is a 2400(ish) year old Mesoamerican archaeological site that I visited on a tour rather than ride the bike through the city traffic and back. The tour included a guide who said the now bare walls were once covered in red stucco and showed us a small sheltered corner which still had traces of red paint. He explained that the colouring from red oxide was vastly superior to modern paints as this paint was applied 5000 years ago (twice as old as the wall!). All the time he was telling his tale he was tapping the wall with a stick and you could see flakes of paint coming away as he did so.

019 Monte Alban 12th Jan 2011.jpg
Monte Alban

The bike was due another service so I got the hostel manager to write out a note in Spanish that I could memorise to go round the covered carparks asking if I could do the work there. The first two refused, worried about any mess I might leave although I had plenty of cardboard and newspaper to catch any spillage. The third one said it would be ok so I popped back for the bike and did the job sheltered from the sun. I was charged 20 peso (just over a pound or $1.54), the normal cost of two hours parking although I gave the guy an additional 100 peso for letting me do the service there. I then rode round stopping at a number of waste bins to get rid of the paper and large sheet of cardboard. That makes 36,000 miles I have done on the trip so far.

013 Oaxaca Flag Ceremony 10th Jan 2011.jpg
The 6pm Flag Lowering Ceremony, Main Plaza, Oaxaca

The Zapotec town in Mitla, an hour or so ride from Oaxaca reached its peak from 750AD to 1521AD until the Spanish destroyed it and used some of the stones to build the nearby church. Mitla is unique among Mesoamerican sites for the elaborate and intricate mosaic fretwork and geometric designs that cover tombs, panels, friezes and even entire walls. These mosaics are made with small, finely cut and polished stone pieces which have been fitted together without the use of mortar.

035 Mitla Restored Wall Colouring 14th Jan 2011.jpg
Mitla Zapotec Ruins With Restored Red Stucco

037 Mitla Wall Pattern14th Jan 2011.jpg
The Unique To Mitla Site Wall Decoration

Santa Maria Del Tule has the worlds largest tree in the grounds of the church. I think this is the second ’largest tree in the world’ I have seen as different methods of measurement are used. The Tule tree, a Montezuma Cypress has the largest girth of trunk, 54 metres (164 feet) and dwarfs the nearby church. It is over 2000 years old so it was around when the Zapotec civilisation was flourishing in the region. The General Sherman is the largest tree by volume, a Giant Sequoia in California. The tallest tree, a Coast Redwood at 115.6 metres (379.3 feet) is also in California.

046 Tula Big Tree 14th Jan 2011.jpg
The Biggest Tree In The World, Tule

Posted by ianmoor@tiscali.co.uk at January 25, 2011 08:16 PM GMT

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!