Pie de la Cuesta to Oaxaca
Today was basically a hammock and cerveza day. I had taken 2 other days off the bike, but had kept myself pretty busy on those, so this was the first time I really relaxed and did nothing. I did poke around town a little and had a couple beers at Steve's Hideout, which was mentioned in Lonely Planet. Steve was laying in a hammock watching a Mexican soap opera, and acted like it was an awful lot of effort to get up and get me a beer. He spoke decent english, but with an accent I couldn't place. I asked him where he was from, and he said Acapulco, but I don't believe it. After talking with him for awhile he said he had owned the place for 42 years and wanted to sell it and retire, since it is such a high stress operation. the place is run down, but has potential, and as they say, location, location, location. He wants 3 million pesos, or about $275,000. You heard it here first.
I have had zero trouble with my stomach this trip. In the past, I have done pretty well, as long as I stay away from seafood. The restaurant next door had a special on a sea bass dinner, so I decided to try it because, apparently, I am an idiot. See tomorrows entry.
8-4-06 start end 31,009
I wanted to get to Puerto Escondido today, which was a little over 400k from Pie de la Cuesta. After arguing about my bill a little bit, I had negotiated a small discount on my room and we had to find Roxana, the owner to straighten it out, I ate a normal breakfast and got on my way. It became evident real fast that I was in trouble with my innards. Without going into graphic detail, let's just say it was a good thing I was packing a roll of TP. See previous entry on PEMEX bathrooms. I had got on the road about 8:30, and it took me until 5:00 to get to PE, which seems like a long time, but 250 miles is pretty much an all day thing when you have to go through all the little towns and it's a windy, low speed road anyway. Not to mention the topes, although they can be a blessing, because if you've been having trouble finding a place to pass a truck, you can usualy get him at a tope. A high percentage of topes have a restaurant or abbarote
(convenience store, or convenience shack really) next to them. It always makes me wonder which came first, did they build a store because thats where traffic has to slow anyway, or did they put up their own tope just to slow traffic at their store? Hard braking made my stomach slosh forward, and really got to hurting after a while, so i was cussing all those topes.
So I got to PE and started looking for a place to stay. I saw a sign pointing down a alittle road and at the end was a little place run by a guy who must have been Ozzie or Kiwi, by his accent. He was full, but got me set up with another place down the road. I was just happy to be able to lie down, as I was really dragging by this time. This was one of theose places with a thatched roof and there was about four inches of open space between the roof and the top of the walls. At one point I watched two rats run in there and along the poles supporting the roof. Naturally that didn't help me rest any easier. I had originally thought I would go check out the beach bar scene that night, but no way was I up to it. If I had realized how miserable I was going to be, I would have stayed at the hotel Roxana another day, and laid on the beach.
8-6-06 start 31,009 end 31,212
It was only about 200 miles to Oaxaca from Puerto Escondido, so I got on the road by 8, a got to Oaxaca by 2 or so. This road could be one of the great motorcycle roads of all time, if it got a little maintenance. For 150 miles, I doubt there is more than a 50 yard straight stretch of road. You climb from sea level to whatever the elevation at Oaxaca is, maybe 6,000 feet. There had been some rain lately, and more than once there was equipment clearing mud and rockslides off the road. The pavement is rough for about half the way, and it was covered with sand and gravel, but what a ride. I'm back in the area of Mexico where the banks and gas stations have armed guards again. I went through 3 military checkpoints today, but got waved through all of them.
Food didn't appeal to me at all, but I was craving salt, so I ate some doritos, as that seemed like a low risk way to get some calories in me. Coke seemed to help settle my stomach too. Some PEMEX stations have all female pump attendants, most in their 20's and very pretty, but they wear those olive drab PEMEX coveralls. You take a state like Oregon, in the US, where full service gasoline is the law, and you could have scantily clad women pumping the gas there. Think Hooter's, with gas pumps. You could get an extra 20 cents a gallon, I bet. Or how about Hugh Hefner doing a feature in Playboy, The Girls of PEMEX. I think I'm hallucinating on lack of nutrition.
The fan on the motorcycle quit working on the way up here. It didn't affect me much today, since I am in the cool weather again, but I will need to fix it before I leave Oaxaca. It's weird the kind of mood shifts you get on a trip like this. As I was pulling into town, I had the usual scene, where I don't know where I'm going, Mexican traffic takes all your concentration and doesn't leave you with much time to look around for signs, which may not exist anyway. In addition, I had to keep an eye on the temp gauge when I got stuck in slow going. I just wanted to blow off Oaxaca entirely and just ride somewhere less hectic where I could look at the bike, not that I knew where that would be. But, I soldiered on, and now I'm glad I'm here.
There is a teachers strike of some kind going on, and they have chosen to blockade part of the downtown to show their displeasure. Tomorrow I'll have to try and figure out what is going on. There are a lot of signs and graffiti saying "down with Ulises" and the like. I don't know who or what Ulises is but I'll try to find out. Other signs say, roughly, "don't privatize education". I rode through one of their roadblocks, but hey, I just spent all day riding around rockslides, so it just looked like more debris to me. Nobody seemed to care, but if you hear someone hollering "send lawyers, guns, and money, the shit has hit the fan" and it isn't Warren Zevon, it's probably me. You have to know the song. Seriously though, I don't think it's a big deal. Road blockades are a traditional way for different political groups to get their point across in Latin America.
Posted by Andy Tiegs at August 06, 2006 11:50 PM GMT