When I get back to Mexico City from the Netherlands, Tessa and Egbert have already been there for a day. They are joining me for some 2.5 weeks between Mexico City and Cancun. By the the time I was supposed to arrive it’s already too late to get to my van at the campsite so we stay at a hostel 5 minute walk from the airport.
The next morning after a nice breakfast we take an Uber to the campsite at Teotihuacan. My van is still there and starts! We drop our bags in the van and head for the main attraction in Teotihuacan: the pyramids. The ruined city has some insane facts:
- The pyramid of the Sun is 65m tall, making it the third highest in the world.
- At it’s maximum more than 150000 people lived in Teotihuacan, making it the 6th biggest city in the world at that time (~450AD).
- Very little is known about the people who actually build the city. When the Aztecs started using the city it had been abandoned for centuries, they were convinced it was build by the gods.
So what does this mean? Two very high pyramids to climb with a great view, mostly of city now, since the site has been surrounded by the suburbs of Mexico city. Even though just a fraction of it’s original size, the site is still huge. Plus because we were early there weren’t too many tourists yet. Drawback of that is that the souvenir vendor to visitor ratio is much much worse. We walked back to town and had lunch at the local market. We picked up the van and with over some nice rural roads we drove to Puebla. Just outside of Puebla we found a campsite which also had a huge empty dorm room for Tessa and Egbert to sleep in. That night we cooked the first three person meal with my limited cooking supplies.
Puebla! Puebla is a biggish city with loads of nice colonial architecture. When we get there there is loads of live music and dancing going on on the town square. Women in beautiful colorful dresses and men with cowboy hats and boots dancing on a stage. I already liked the town. We randomly walked around town stopping at some very rich and shiny decorated churches. We had extremely tasty lunch for basically no money at a local snack bar, sooo many beans. We saw some advertising for a rooftop bar on top of a museum overlooking the city. We quickly wanted to check if we could have a drink there but the museum turned out to be really interesting. The outside of the building was a great colonial thing, but the inside had been partially rebuild with modern architecture. The art was A combo of local modern and ancient art. We spend a decent amount of time in the museum and some more on the roof terrace enjoying the pretty view. It was too late to head to the next town so instead we went back to the same campsite.
The drive from Puebla to Oaxaca is only 350 km, but there are some evil mountains on the way. To make things worse the van decided to throw a fit and one of the radiator fans stopped working. Because of this the engine kept overheating and we had to keep stopping to let it cool down. To help with the cooling we kept the internal fans running with the heating on full. After quite a few short drives this meant that the already not too good primary battery was dead and the car refused to start. So now were were stuck on the side of a mountain with a van that didn’t start: Adventure! Luckily the solar panel did it’s job and charged the battery enough to get going again. From then on at all the stops we didn’t kill the engine. Obviously this does not make cooling faster. But after some time we made it to a little oasis just outside of Oaxaca with palm trees, a little house for rent for Tessa and Egbert and an owner who sold us some nice cold beer. Since we wanted to visit the city, the nearby ruins and I needed to fix the van and the owner was going to have a BBQ party the next evening we decided to stay for two days.
The ruins near Oaxaca are called Monte Alban. They are located on top of a hill overlooking the city and the rest of the valley. For me this meant an awesome opportunity to climb some more temples and look at old stones. We drove down to the city center to explore the famous markets and get some local food. The meal we had looked like some kind of pizza where the bottom was made from tortillas topped with chicken, avocado, some local cheese and mole. Mole is the local sauce which kind of looks like diarrhea from someone who ate too much dark chocolate but it was tasty as hell. Back on the campsite I installed a new car battery and worked a bit on the fan that wasn’t running. It was stuck so I gave it a good taste of some WD40 hoping that would loosen it up a bit. In the meantime Tessa and Egbert prepared our food input for the BBQ with the campsite owner and her friends. It was a fun evening with loads of Spanish music, conversations in shitty Spanish (from my side, Tessa and Egbert did much better at that). The chorizo sausages we planned on grilling had a small issue. The skin somehow evaporated the moment we wanted to take them off the grill (they were fine as long as you didn’t touch them). This turned our meat into a pile of dog food (but like with the mole, very tasty).
With the van in sub-optimal shape we double checked the maps and saw that the road we planned to take to the pacific coast to the hippie/surfer village of Puerto Escondito crossed some evil mountains. So new route through a valley to the coast which brought us to the little town of Mazunte. *Fun food intermezzo* for lunch we stopped at one of the roadside restaurants. They had two options: asado (grilled meat) or some soup. Egbert and I took the asado, Tessa the soup. Turned out the soup was pig intestine soup. A very well filled pig intestine soup. You could see all the little structures of the intestine wall. Plus it was extremely popular, everyone else in the restaurant was having the soup too. *End fun food intermezzo* In Mazunte we found a surf camp with loads of little huts but no surfers (season had ended). From there we walked to the pacific and went for a sunset swim with a view of jungle filled mountains and enormous sand dunes. This evening tought me an important lesson: never go anywhere without a camera. The light was sooo pretty, but no camera to take pictures. So instead we swam and got ourselves knocked over by the still relatively large waves.
Same program for the morning, this time with camera. Morning swims are awesome. Next we head towards the mountains. We get past the narrowest bit of Mexico which apparently also doesn’t have any mountains. Because of that the winds pull on the van like mad. Plus there are a lot of windmills. The road to Tuxtla is long but quiet flat so not too many issues for the van. Tuxtla is located in the state of Chiapas, one of the poorest states with a very large indigenous population. Tuxtla is the capital and a pretty ugly city with not too much of interest. We find a hotel that let’s me sleep in my van in the parking lot. They even have a separate toilet building for the “camping” guests. But the design is a bit weird. There are two normal toilet stalls at first (pretty normal) but after that the left side of the building has urinals (no walls or nothing), while directly next to it on the right are three shower, right in the big open room (no walls or curtains, just three showers coming from the ceiling). I guess this solves the problem of having to pee when you are showering. Egbert and I go explore the neighborhood looking for a place for dinner while Tessa takes a nap. Right behind the hotel is an enormous park filled with sports fields: football, baseball, tennis, basketball, gym equipment, running paths. All outside, without fences and in a pretty good shape. Back in the Netherlands this surely would have been destroyed within no time. We get to the baseball field and there is a game going on. The benches are filled with very active supporters in their team outfits and loads of guys are selling drinks and snacks. Loads of fun to watch. But it wasn’t really baseball: the ball was too big, the field too small and they were throwing weird underhand curve balls. Anyway, the game was very close and supporters from both teams very loud. In the end the away team won due to a dubious decision by the ref. The only restaurant that was open within crawling distance (we were tired) was an very American burger joint. The place had way too loud music and the walls were filled with flat-screens showing show wrestling matches. Let’s say it was an interesting change of scenery.
So this was week one with Tessa and Egbert. Even though we already had some issues with the car, starting the next day our problems only got bigger and so did our adventures. More coming soon…