30 Oct San Cristobal to Oaxaca – Highs and lows. Days 5 and 6
San Cristobal to Tehuantepec 350 km
Tehuantepec to Salina Cruz to Tehuantepec to Oaxaca 511 km
We left San Cristobal behind on another early morning with the usual coffees in hand. The altitude was still giving me stomach ache and making sleep elusive, so I was looking forward to coming down and with any luck getting a good nights sleep and having a break from the toilet. The drive is instantly beautiful and the scenery is green for miles and miles of rolling hills. So different to the flatness we are used to in Playa del Carmen.
We rolled along for hours around bendy roads and sprouting hills until we popped out into an area called the Isthmus of Tehuantepec – the narrowest stretch of land in Mexico, which stretched as far as we could see. All of a sudden in the distance, monstrously tall windmills broke through the mist. At first it looked like there were dozens of them, then it looked like there were hundreds, and then all of a sudden we were surrounded by what seemed like thousands of giant windmills. The project is quite controversial as I later found out, and the Zapatista (those guys from the pesky road block) are apparently involved in getting more money for the land owners.
The wind picked up until I was clamping so hard to the steering wheel that my hands were getting tired. Trees were growing at an angle and everything was being blown around like crazy. The entire valley was a giant wind tunnel and someone was making the most of it. We drove through the valley for about an hour, passing windmill after windmill and a little town draped in fine dust. I couldn’t help but wonder how the animals and people alike had had to adapt to live in a place like this. It was quite beautiful in how strange it was.
Because the drive from San Cristobal to Oaxaca city is about 9 or 10 hours we decided to stop over at a more or less halfway point. We found 2 possibilities along the way but not finding much information about either decided to stop at both and check them out for accommodation. The first stop was a town called Tehuantepec, it was directly on our route and so the first we passed through. Despite the lack of information it was a quaint enough little Mexican town, completely lacking in tourists which although can be nice, also means it was almost completely lacking in that thing tourists love, tourist accommodation and eating places.
Deciding we liked the place and could return if our next destination wasn’t great we carried on driving down to the coastal town of Salina Cruz, it was about 30 minutes out of our way but is on the coast and a supposedly good surfing spot so we were expecting to find a nice littel surfer town or something along those lines with cheap accomodation. What happened was very different.
Now I am sure there is more to the place than we found, but what we found was a pretty ugly part of the city, with a pretty yuck bit of beach by the harbour, and to top off that ugly yuckness the bleah hotels were charging double everywhere else we had stayed. After jumping between a couple hotels we made our way back to Tehuantepec and searched out a place to stay.
Soon we were booked into the Emilia Hostel for the night with a room each as Pam has come down with a coldish flu thingy. The rooms were OK, no A/C which I have become very accustomed to in my privileged life in Playa del Carmen, Sarah and I had a shared bathroom and the town was a bit noisy, but at least we could relax. We went out to dinner and quickly found that the food situation was about the same as the hotel situation and that there was pretty much one restaurant in town, which just so happened to be attached to our hotel.
Fortunately the food was delicious and we wolfed down a delicious Pozole (it’s like a very dense chicken, pork and lentil soup stew thing) with flan for desert. The hotel owners and restaurant runners were lovely people and made what was an otherwise uneventful town quite pleasant.
Unfortunately none of us could sleep, and after spending most of the night staring at the ceiling we all decided to hit the road at about 4am. The sun was yet to come up and coffee was nowhere to be found, but there was nothing else to do, so Oaxaca it was. We jumped in the car and said goodbye to Tehuantepec. I couldn’t say I would recommend the town, but if you have to stop there, I can recommend the Emilia Hostel.
On the road in the dark I found myself winding around roads which I was sure were surrounded by spectacular scenery, and as the sun slowly broke on the horizon and our surroundings became more than just what was in the head beams, Oaxaca in all its splendor began to show herself.
If you missed them check out the others in this series
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