Saturday, December 27, 2008

Adv #7 Cont: Oaxaca to Zipolite and the Guatemala Border

Leaving Oaxaca and our new friends in Juan’s circle was bittersweet: Sad to leave them, but excited about moving onto a new chapter in our adventure.

On December 21st, our bikes were pointed due south with the small beach town of Puerto Angel in our sites. Our camping directory suggested there were some good camping options there, and the Playa de Zipolite (Zipolite Beach) was very highly regarded by folks in Oaxaca.
The drive to Puerto Angel, was unbelievable! Okay, I’ve written plenty about winding, twisting roads that are physically exhausting. But this was the first time that the twists and turns were so severe and so frequent that it made both Peter and I motion sick. It was a six-hour ride that felt like about 12, and we actually had to stop a few times to take a break and overcome the feelings of nausea. We weren’t even riding that hard or fast, but so many hairpin turns and ups and downs just sucked the life out of us.

Arriving in Port Angel, the first campground we checked really didn’t motivate us to set up our tents, and it wasn’t even on the beach. Good thing we didn’t set up there, because 10 minutes later a local resident pointed us in the direction of a perfect little paradise, right on Zipolite Beach. (For only $4 per night, keep in mind.)

The pictures might help show what I mean. This little family owned camping & cabana spot was right in the middle of Zipolite (which is only about 1 kilometer long, bordered by cliffs on both ends) and you can see what the view was like when I woke up in the morning in my tent 25 yards from the crashing waves. Along the beach, there were just a handful of restaurants and bars, and none of them with anything that would remind you of a major holiday resort. Zipolite feels like a well-guarded secret at this southern point of Mexico that bulges out into the Pacific Ocean.

In the morning, locals walk through the area selling fresh fish, pastries, and of course arts and crafts. We had just met Elke and Louis from Quebec, and decided we’d enjoy a fish dinner that evening together in their little kitchen on the beach. As we got to know more about them, it turns out Louis has owned a fairly famous restaurant called Café Acadien along the Gaspee Coast in Quebec for 25 years. This restaurant is only open for 2 months every year, but those popular 2 months have allowed Louis to travel the remainder of the year to places like Zipolite and Germany to visit Elke’s family. (They met 12 years ago there on Zipolite and have been married ever since.) What an incredible meal Elke prepared for us that night, showing her talents from working 12 years in the kitchen of Café Acadien. Having eaten nothing but Mexican food for 3 weeks, a French-Canadian fish dinner served on the beach with an ocean breeze was a meal I’ll never forget. And for entertainment, Louis pulled out his harmonica while their typically quiet black lab, “Luna” sat beside him and sang along into the night to some old western songs. Peter and I laughed so hard we were crying, and when the performance was over, Luna walked around to each of us in the audience with a wagging tail as if to ask “did you like it?”

The balance of our two days there were spent throwing the Frisbee, meeting some other travelers like Cory and Megan also from Canada, and doing a little body surfing in some pretty big waves. It would have been really easy to just stay there for another week or two, but it’s going to start getting pretty cold in southern Argentina pretty soon, so we have to keep pressing toward South America and we left after two great days on Zipolite.

Off to Salina Cruz on December 21st, Posada de Jardin had inside parking for our bikes, but nothing much else to keep us there. The biggest story of the day was our first flat tire of the trip. It was easy to see what a lousy job the dealer in Tucson did mounting my new tubes and tires, the way the tube was all crinkled in there. When they do it that way, it’s just a matter of time before the split we could see develops. It’s nice to have an audience along the side of the road, but next time there’s a flat, I hope it’s not in the midday heat of the Mexican sun.

Stayed one night in Cintalapa de Figueroa, which was actually a very nice little city with a great rooftop restaurant and fireworks for the upcoming holiday, but again, it was really just a stopping point. Along the way that day we found Canon de Sumidero definitely worth the stop.
We decided we’d take a day off again for Christmas Eve, and arrived in San Cristobal on the 23rd. From what I saw, this was the nicest, cleanest, most “touristy” city thus far. It was full of activity, fireworks for Christmas, good food, and some pretty upscale shopping everywhere. Would have liked to have seen more of this town, but both of us had our first real bout with some kind of a virus, and most of our two and a half days there were spent in the hotel room. I was really, really sick. No pictures… onto the almost-border town of Comitan de Dominguez where we spent one night before crossing the Guatemala border on Saturday the 27th.

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