Where I Rode:
Day 1: Oaxaca —> Miahuatlan
Day 2: Miahuatlan —> Santa Lucia —> El Aguacate
Day 3: El Aguacate —> San Agustin Loxicha —> San Bartolome —> Colotepec —> Mazunte
The next week was spent around the area of Mazunte, Zipolite, and Huatulco via the Mex 200 and coastal dirt roads
Last morning in Oaxaca. So hard to leave this place. Adam, Meg and Graciela have filled my heart with love and family. Luckily Adam got a bee in his bonnet to ride with me down to the coast. “It’s gonna be pretty rough and hilly,” I told him. He happily rolled the dice with me. I’ve not had the pleasure of sharing the road for a a few days in a row in quite a while, so I jumped at the chance.
Adam, always making an overt effort to say hello to everyone he sees. A lovely practice, especially since so many locals seem to look at us bike tourists like aliens in the smaller towns. But Mexican culture is so fundamentally respectful, it’s rare that people don’t at least quietly respond when you offer a warm, “Buenos dias!”
Our first day was primarily on pavement, lots of rolling hills getting to the edge of the central valley of Oaxaca. Day 2 started with a lovely 2000’ climb up over a saddle to the sweet little town of Santa Maria Miahuatlan. All the towns around here are named after some saint, followed by the name of the general area or district. Really helpful in navigating and understanding the maps, for those interested… We dropped into town after a little snack to make some lunch. In the town square we found a tiny store with enough supplies to put together a fresh pasta with sauce. We acquired quite a crowd with the loaded bikes and the little camping stove. Lots of questions from the locals.
Fantastic vertical mile of descending from Santa Lucia down to a river valley. Winding dirt road starts top left and goes bottom right in the photo… Unfortunately Adam’s touring bike had some pretty thin tires on it, so the loose rocky dirt road seemed a bit of a challenge at times. Never did he complain though, at least, not to me! In fact I did all the complaining that afternoon for sure…
Still a big old smile on this man’s face. A pleasure to see!
Riding on the faded 2 track along the river valley, we had some fun crossings. One involved a narrow tree trunk bridge… Nice balance, Mr. Wiskind!
Adam said this was a Ficus tree. I remember seeing these trees all over the place in Cuba many years back… I looked up the name on google a while later to see he was right on. Just hard to believe this enormous tree with it’s weird root system is the same thing as the common houseplant!
LOTS of butterflies around here. Following one of the river crossings, I splashed back onto the river bank to scare off a multicolored cloud at one point!
What goes down must come up. After the last river crossing began the death climb: about 4500’ straight up a rutted out old road. Far too steep of a grade to ride on from the river bank, I hoped the gradient would ease a little further up the road. It didn’t. We ended up having to walk about 90% of the climb. Then came the rain. A lot of it. And then, the complaining. All from me. You see, I’d shipped that stupid packraft I was so excited about from Durango to Oaxaca a couple months back, and this was the first time doing any real challenging off-road riding with the extra weight. It was… significant… I’ll just leave it at that.
Just before sunset, we made it to the top of the muddy, rutted, rocky road, never so happy to see a stretch of pavement. We camped right there in the patio of the local police station, hoping our stuff might dry out a bit in the cool evening air. It didn’t.
The following morning we awoke and wandered across the main road to a little comedor (eatery). The owner was an incredibly sweet woman who kindly fed us heaping amounts of eggs with bacon and fresh coffee. By fresh I mean she had coffee plants behind her house, roasted her own beans, and brewed them into our coffee. Now that’s what I call shopping locally.
From the high point of San Agustin Loxicha, we spent the first part of the day descending… and descending… and descending. Of course there were plenty of little climbs in there to keep us busy. The views: spectacular.
I love changing elevation enough in a single day to see all the local vegetation change. As we got closer to sea level I saw these enormous vines jumping out of the mountainside brush and reaching down the hillside. This strand was a good 30 feet long.
A few more little river crossings. I guess if the truck can do it, so can we!
Mid afternoon, our tires finally rolled onto the deep sandy beaches of Mazunte. Directly behind us, super cheap camping with cheap beer to boot. We lasted a few hours before fatigue got the best of us and we crashed out under the palm roof. There was no breeze. It was BOILING hot. We sweated ourselves to sleep, swatting mosquitos left and right.
Adam caught a collectivo bus back up to Oaxaca the next day, leaving me alone again for the first time in a while. I wandered around the sweet little beach town of Mazunte, assuming I’d maybe spend one more night there before pushing on. But the place drew me in…
I quickly came across a beach-side hostel, set a bit back from the busier shores. The vibe of the place was so warm and welcoming, I moved my tent over and decided to stay for a bit.
A good sign: my favorite poem of Rumi, The Guest House, was creatively displayed at the hostel. Worth a read if you’re not familiar.
The area around Mazunte is full of beautiful beaches separated by rocky bluffs. Various hiking trails connect all the beaches. Sunsets were fantastic.
A steep scramble trail led down one of the cliff sides to what the locals call the yakusi. A semi protected inlet that just lets some of the powerful ocean waves through a small opening to a perfect swimming pool. But don’t get too close to the outlet. You’ll be dragged out to see before you know it!
A couple of beaches over from Mazunte was a natural fresh-water lagoon near La Ventana. I paid the small fee for a non-motorized boat tour of the narrow winding waters. Rumor had it the lagoon was home to some interesting fauna.
… Like 15’ crocodiles, for example.
Evidently crocodiles don’t have to open their mouths to regulate their temperature. This big galoot was frozen in this position the whole time I saw him.
And yes, the crocs were all around us in the water. Turns out crocs are similar to bears up in Alaska, in that they’re mostly avoidant of humans unless provoked. At least that’s what I heard. I decided not to go for a swim to test that statement.
Beautiful birds nests lined the shores.
Other creatures also called these mangroves home as well…
I was lucky enough to spend time with some fantastic travelers during my time in Mazunte. I kept trying to leave, day after day, and would continue to meet interesting and fun-loving folks who’d convince me to stay. My intended day on the beach turned into a week before I knew it. But again, the call of the road returned, and I hit the road.
Down the coast, I found the Huatulco National Park and the 7 famous bays of Huatulco. A lonely dirt road twisted through the park’s coastal jungle to reveal a beautiful pristine beach!
A friend of a friend put me in touch with Pancho (left), the owner of Huatulco Expediciones. Pancho and his 7 brothers have lived on their land outside Huatulco all their lives, and a few of them opened up individual tourist businesses. One brother leads ATV tours, another does more canyoneering. Pancho does a bit of everything but specializes in river tours via raft and kayak. He kindly let me tag along on a rafting trip with my packraft and paddle sum fun rapids on the Copalita river. I spent a couple of nights with him and his welcoming crew of skilled guides. If it weren’t for the brutal heat, I could definitely have stayed a while longer! I may never get out of Mexico! With so many cool people and wonderfully beautiful places, it’s hard to keep pushing on! Somehow I did though. On to Chiapas!