February 21, 2006 GMT
Oaxaca / Puebla

From the hot and sunny beaches of the Mexican pacific coast I rode into the green coastal moutains towards Oaxaca, the capital of the state of the same name. The road almost exclusively consisted of curves, so I had to alternate between enjoying the landscape and enjoying the road. The cool mountain climate was very pleasing after the oppressive heat on the coast.

Oaxaca is a beautiful colonial city with a strong atmosphere of culture and history. It has loads of curches, fine colonial buildings and loads of tourists and those who want their money. It also has a famous archeological site, the Monte Alban, from where you have a magnificent 360 degree round view of the city and the barren valley surrounding it. The other major tourist destination outside Oaxaca is the tree with the worlds biggest trunk in Tule.

Since the last three days in Huatulco had slightly overstrained my budget, I decided to stay the two nights in a (single room in a) hostel. That's the kind of hygenic aventure I can live without. Rather "rustic" if you know what I mean. Well, you get what you pay for.

My next destination was Puebla. I started in Oaxaca at 8 in the morning and did some 500 m when during an ascent suddenly the oil warning lamp started glowing. SHOCK!!! I switched off the engine immediately, standing in the middle of the busy road. When this light glows, the engine is very close to exitus - since it means that the oil level is far below minimum. So with the engine switched off, I could not go forth since it was a too steep hill, I couldn't go back, since it was a narrow one-way road. I asked a mexican passer-by to help me pushing the bike into the next side road - of course he helped without heasitating. Immediately when I had parked the bike, another young mexican passer-by, who was walking his dog, asked me if I had any problems. I explained it, he hurried home and one or two minutes later returned with his BMW F650GS and a virgin new 1-Liter bottle of engine oil, which he gave to me and of course did not want any money for it. Great people.

I still was wondering how this lack of oil had been possible. I had just checked it, hadn't I? Mmmh, when was that? Huatulco? - No. San Cristobal? Palenque? Merida? Ooops, I'm afraid I had last checked the oil just after arrival in Cancun - and never ever after. OK, after 3000 km in the Mexican heat, a loss of 3/4 liter lies within the allowed range. So it was just another stroke of genius by Winne the manic mechanic. ;-)

One of the things I like most about Mexico, is the VW Beetles (the original old ones), which you find everywhere. Actually every 2nd car in Mexico seems to be a Beetle or the old VW Bus. Every time I see one of them, I get excited. But also the huge ancient american Chevrolet and Cadillac coupés are lovely. Well, that's really a lot of excitement over here!!

Driving through central Mexico (around Mexico City) is no fun. This is the most densely populated part of the nation - and you spend 95% of your time behind some slow bus or truck. So the only means you have to more or less avoid this is to take a toll road (which also significantly enhances your life expectancy). But these are usually very expensive and (what really pisses me off) you do have to pay the same for a motorcycle as for a car or pickup truck. Grrrr. In South America you usually pay nothing at all. Only in Chile you have to pay but that's usually half of what a car driver pays. So my little protest is to be reeeaaallllyyy slow at the pay stations. Sorry for the guys behind me...

I took the toll road to Puebla. Contrary to what is indicated in the Mexican Guia Roji Map - and unlike European or most South American toll roads - it turned out to be a single carriageway. But it was good asphalt with some nice scenic views of the barren mountain landscape. I made a short stopover in Tehuacán, a smallish city with a pleasant Zócalo, where I had my 2nd breakfast. An hour later I arrived in Puebla and was surprised how beautiful it was. Actually one of the most beautiful hispanic city centers I have seen to date. I found a really nice hotel with bike parking , breakfast and use of washing machine included. When the concierge stated the price, I moaned that it exeeded my budget but I would accept it. Bad negociation tactics. However the girl immediately offered me a 17% discount. My charming charisma again.

In Puebla I spent a day with sigthseeing and eating, including a short visit to the famous Amparo indigenous arts museum - which once again showed me why I hate museums: I am so awfully uncultural, I was just bored stiff.

Posted by Winne Lichtblau at February 21, 2006 03:56 AM GMT

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