Oaxaca Day 1
The taxis to take us to the bus station were coming early so I got up even earlier and wandered down to the Zocolo. It was quite cold in the mornings and evenings but hot and sunny during the day. The journey to Oaxaca took about 4 1/2 hours through fantastic mountain scenery. We got to the hotel in the early afternoon and after checking in all met up at 2pm so we could wander down to the Zocolo and pick up a map. Again the hotel wasn't far which was great. I hadn't expected the hotels on this trip to be anywhere near as good as they were. We had some food and a beer and some people went to book some Spanish lessons at a language school whilst we just wandered around the beautiful city. There were a lot more tourists than we had experienced so far which I didn't like and also lots of traffic. However it really is a great little town.
I have also been speaking loads of Spanish which would have made Carmen (my Spanish teacher) proud. Very few Mexicans including those in the hotels and restaurants spoke English so it has been great to be able to get by. We visited a pharmacy to get Simone cream for her bites which was another challenge for my limited Spanish and we haggled a bit in the markets. We've noticed that Mexicans really aren't keen on haggling and don't like to budge on price!
That evening the Simones and I had a civilised meal of pizza and wine in a proper restaurant! It was buy one get one free so we got 4 for the 3 of us and had to take 2 home because we were stuffed.
Oaxaca Day 2
Day 2 in Oaxaca meant an early start as several of us were headed to Monte Alban, a zapotec ruin in the mountains around Oaxaca. We jumped on a local bus - not the one we had been told to get - so this only dropped us half way up the mountain and it was a 30 min walk to the top. The ruins were better than I had thought they would be and Tres (an American lad) and I wandered aroung the site together. I spent most of the time using the zoom lens to take pictures of the others unawares - there is only so long I can look around ruins!
We met back up again at 11 and walked back down the mountain to where we could get the local bus. I stopped to buy a water in a little tin hut on the side of the mountain (all the houses were little tin huts precariously hanging on the side of the hills). There were a few men drinking mezcal and one of them offered me some. It is similar to tequila but made from a different cactus and is particularly popular in this region. It was surprisingly nice but I think had been diluted (only slightly) with lime. The bus to town took an age because traffic was awful and we didn't get back to the hotel until about 12:45. We were meeting up at 1pm to go to a mezcal factory. Simone had been to the markets with some others so after a lunch of cold leftover pizza several of us joined Trevor as one again we embarked on a local bus to seemingly miles out of town. It was great seeing the non-touristy areas on the outskirts of the city. The mezcal place was on the main road and after a tour we had fun sampling the merchandise before buying a couple of bottles. We had a couple of beers to top it off before catching a bus back to town.
On the night we went for some tacos as a fairly big group. Some were going out afterwards but we wandered the Zocolo before heading in for the night. It was still teeming with Mexican families with kids playing with balloons. It might be because semana santa is a couple of days away but it is just nice to see the parks busy with the locals.
Oaxaca Day 3
There are a good mix of people on the trip. Most fit into either the early 20s or early 30s bracket with the exception of one old lady from America known as either Doris, Mavis, Betty, Hilda or whatever old persons name springs to mind that day (after all she couldn't get anyone elses name right!). She is a pain in the arse. For a start she thinks the English and aussie acent sound the same and she asks question after question probably due to the fact her job is to spend 10 days at a time on her own in the forests of Oregon watching for fires. Beautiful scenery I'm sure but a job that is perhaps the equivalent of watching the paint dry on the Sistine Chapel! It is enough to drive you to arson just to see something happen! The others are perhaps slightly more normal and cliques seemed to have formed in the group. We for example are much closer to Aussie Simone, Tres, Owen and Aysha. However everyone does get on well and there is a good group dynamic.
The last day in Oaxaca got off to a bad start with both of us suffering from diarrhea. Not good seeing we had an 11 hour bus journey to look forward to that night. We had to be out of our room by midday so all bags were dumped in Trevor's room. We went to the big local market on the edge of town and wandered around the city a bit more. Some people went to Spanish lessons. Simone was feeling increasingly worse so we chilled out in the room with all the bags. However Simone was getting no better and a few others had suffered similar problems so we took Bea's prescription and bought some tablets to stop the stomach cramps.
We left the hotel around 7:30 that night in taxis to the bus station and on arrival Jonas had to head straight back as he had left his valuables in a security box at the hotel. The bus was at 9pm and as we were queuing Simone got a case of the Bruce Grobelaar's with her legs going like jelly and she was on the verge of passing out - very worrying! Once on the bus she was able to rest and get some sleep although from time to time we were thrown about on hair pin bends as we traversed the mountains on the way to San Cristobal de Las Casas.