13th to 16th June

Friday 13 June

We arrive at Oaxaca at 6h30. After mounting the bikes, we go for a breakfast. And a second breakfast, why not. We arrive at Alex’s house around 8h30. We contacted him through warmshowers, and he will host us tonight. He is American, and lives here with his girlfriend Julia. After some rest, we go to the centre. We try the local drink, tejate, made of maize and cacao, and eat some barbecue, really good, with on the TV the first match of Mexico in the world cup.

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When we were walking in the street, many people stood in the middle of the sidewalks, looking at the screens in the shops. We hear an echo for every dangerous action of the Mexican team. Finally, Mexico won, by 1-0, despite the lack of confidence of the people here in their selection.

Local specialities include chapulines (fried grasshopers), that we had tried already in Cholula, and of course chocolate!!

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In the afternoon, we go to visit the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban. It is on a hill, in the outskirts of Oaxaca. This city was he first plannified city of the whole American continent, and is very useful for the scholars to show how a mere city evolved to became an organised complex society (with a sacerdotal pre-eminence). It was built in 500BC, and was abandoned in 850AD, for an unknown reason. The Zapotecs, and later the Mixtecs still venerated this place for many years afterwards. The site is pretty big, and contrary to Teotihuacan, nearly empty of tourists. It is very reposing.

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In Oaxaca, the ball game court was particularly important, they found five courts in the ruins of the city! This ball game was a duel between two opponents, and in Oaxaca it was used to solve all kind of disputes. Contrary to the other parts of Mesoamerica, no human sacrifice has been related to this game here (in other places, the wnner had the supreme honour to offer his life for the Sun to come back the following day…). The ball a huge rubber ball, called Hule, that the players could touch only with the elbows, hips and knees. The competition represented symbolically the motion of the celestial bodies such as the Sun, the Moon and Venus. You can see on the pictures under the rests of the ball court game, and its representation:

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Back in Oaxaca, we visit the zocalo, the cathedral, and the wonderful church of Santo Domingo.

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This last church is breath-taking. It has hundreds of sculptures, reliefs, paintings. Of the old testament, new testament, the apostle, Mary, Jesus, some cardinals, some kings, important Dominican priests, John Paul II, ! It is of barocco style, ,very richly decorated, with gold shining everywhere.

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We meet Alex and Julia at the house, and we go out, cycling at night, to reach a local restaurant serving tlayudas. This is a giant tortilla, in which they put meat, cheese, and that you can complete with the vegetables and dressings you want. Delicious, but huge! Come with a cyclist hunger at least!

Saturday 14 June

We leave Alex’s house early in the morning. We take breakfast in the city, some good chocolate churros (but oily), and sandwiches. We head South, towards the sea. The weather is very good, with a great blue sky, a few white clouds far away, and no wind. The temperatures are already hot, even at 9h. The road we cycle is straight, flat (or slightly going down), so we go quite fast. The landscape around us is totally green. A lot of trees, some sparse houses, some fields. And little traffic today. It’s just perfect condition to enjoy the ride.

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As the day goes on, the temperatures get hotter, and we start the climbing and the curves. We’ll have two big climbs to arrive to the coast. The landscape keeps amazing us, with this green omnipresent. The climbing is really hard under the heat, and we decide that we’ll go slowly today, and reach Puerto Escondido in three days, not two, as we were hoping. We’ll leave the big climbs for the next two days.

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We reach Sola de la Vega in the beginning of the afternoon. We’ll sleep here tonight. If I recall well, it is the first time we arrive that early by bike at the place we’ll sleep. Today, we covered 95km, that’s not ridiculous! The village is quite small, but fortunately there are a few hotels and restaurants. In the afternoon, we eat, rest, eat again! well, just get better for tomorrow.

Sunday 15 June

Today, we have a short stage. So we enjoy to rest at the hotel. We take breakfast in the village, at the same nice restaurant we went last night. And we leave, a little before 11h. The weather is still very nice, and the temperatures are quite hot. We start the climbing, under a strong Sun. Behind us, the village is getting smaller and smaller, as we go deeper in the mountains forest. All around us, we have trees, mostly pine trees. The traffic is not dense at all. On the left side, we follow a steep slope leading to a river, a little like a canyon. It’s really totally green, hilly! one would not expect this from Mexico.

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At 14h, we reach the pass, at 2100m high, and we have lunch there, with some eggs, beans and tortillas. The descent is absolutely wonderful. The road is not very steep, but sufficiently to keep you from pedalling. There are many curves, little traffic, you can just play to find the perfect trajectory without any risk. And the landscape is beautiful, with this ocean of green around us, full of hills, canyons, mountains, !

As we reach the valley, we cross a village, San Pedro Juchatengo, even smaller than yesterday. We’ll rest here for the night, in the only hotel of the village.

Monday 16 June

We leave the town around 8h, after breakfast. We start directly with a climb. The road is not steep at all, but it is complicated from the temperatures already hot so early. Around us, it is mainly a landscape of trees, earth, washed away by the rain and forged by the vegetation. We reach the pass after a long morning of efforts. There is a small shed proposing drinks and snacks. The owners are indigenous, still talking the Chatino language between them (it has only 40 000 speakers nowadays).

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From the top, we are disappointed, we cannot see the sea. Again, the pedalling down is marvellous, with a not to steep road (but enough to enjoy), many curves, and an exotic landscape. Tonight, we’ll sleep in Puerto Escondido, on the coast. As we are some 15 km away from our destination, it starts to rain. We find shelter in a petrol station, but as it does not stop, and time flies, we have to go. So we dress up with the waterproof clothes (but not respirant! in this heat, I don’t know if it’d not be better to be in swimming suit under this rain).

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So we spend the last half an hour cycling under a small rain, and sweating. We arrive at Jim’s house, in Puerto Escondido. Jim will host us tonight, we met him through warmshowers. He’s from USA, works for a company of Chicago thanks to internet, and has been in Mexico for several years now! In the evening, we are gratified a strong thunderstorm. It’s good to have a roof. The bolts provoke twice an electric shutdown in the city.

And here comes the video:

Oooops, there may have been an error in the translation. Here is the correct version: