We could only leave Oaxaca after taking a picture inside one of the churches, and here you can see all the saints looking down on you from the ceiling.
It is time for some ‘real Mexican’ picture with a cactus…
You can find one of the four natural monuments of Mexico in Yagul, just outside the city of Oaxaca. The ruins of Yagul are one of the most studied in the whole country and they are not touristy at all, so this is a plus if you want to have a look at them yourself at ease.
Yagul means ‘old tree’ in the Zapotec language and is locally also known as ‘Pueblo Viejo’ or ‘old village’. From the site you have a very nice view of the surroundings.
From up top on the mountain you have an overlook over the ruins with the ball court, the palace of the six patios and the tombs.
This was the view the people had when they took a bath as one of the ‘bathtubs’ is located in this rock formation.
After visiting Yagul we continued our way on the 190 from Oaxaca to Zanatepec and oh boy was this a nice road or what! We loved the road and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. The weather was nice, the road conditions were great and the bikes handled it like pros. Almost all the curves were long ones, so we could stay in fifth gear all the time and the tires would stick to the road as glue. At the end of the evening I think we lost a whole lot of tyre on the way but we loved every minute of it!
After spending the night in Zanatepec, we headed on towards San Cristobal de las casas and we found these weird things along the way. I have no idea what they are for, but I think they are probably used as storage for grain or something and at least they look cool.
After riding a while, we were almost in the city of Tuxtla Gutieres when we thought we were stuck in our first traffic jam since hitting Mexico. After a while however, we thought that it was maybe an accident, since the traffic was still moving slowly but we couldn’t really see what was wrong. Slowly but steadily we moved to the front of the line and Seb said that the whole road in front of the first cars was free and there was nothing to see. This made us think that there was something else going on so we tried to get to the front of the line and when we got there, we saw that a whole line of small taxi busses was blocking the road, they were on strike! The police was stuck in the traffic jam themselves and couldn’t get to the front of the line to make them stop their actions, but the bus drivers were nice enough to just let us through, so we had the whole road to ourselves and we had to take a picture of this bunch on strike. Kim was thinking: “oh god, I hope they don’t speed up now and we get stuck in there again.”
Just past the town, after getting stuck in a second strike, we reached the national park of the Cañon del Sumidero where we decided to have a boat tour on the river going through the canyon. We had to wait a while because we had to be with 15 people for the boat otherwise it was way too expensive, but after about a half hour, we were with enough people to get started. At one point the canyon wall rose above us for 1 kilometer and the river at that point was 500 meters deep, so you can imagine the grandness off the place and this bumped the Grand Canyon to the third place (Sharin Canyon in Kazakhstan is number one and this canyon became number two on our list of most beautifull canyons).
The captain of the boat stopped at all the right places and showed us the local wildlife, like this small crocodile having a rest on the rocks.
We also spotted some really cool bird species along the way.
This is the turning point of the boat tour and they call this the Christmas tree because of the shape of all the plants on the rock wall. During the summer they have a lot of small waterfalls here, but during the winter they dry up and create this spectacular view.
In total the tour took one hour and forty-five minutes and it was money well spent. Feeling very happy, we continued a bit further towards San Cristobal de las Casas where we found a hostel for the night. When we wanted to go out to grab a bite to eat, the owner of the hostel pointed at Seb’s bike and asked if the tyre was supposed to look like that…crap we had a flat! Before we left, the mechanics in Belgium said they hoped that we wouldn’t get a flat on the road because it could probably be a pain in the butt to get it fixed, but since we had lots of practice with this on our last trip to Mongolia through Russia, we so we set off with a sigh to get the tyre off the bike and patch it back up.
Taking the tyre off the bike was easy, but ‘braking’ the tyre took a bit of effort, even with the help of the side stand and the whole weight of the other bike. After a few minutes the tyre was ready to be taken off the rim and even this didn’t take too long, so everything was going way faster than we could have ever hoped for. When we took the inner tube out, Seb soon found the hole and patched it up, but before putting the tube back, he decided to check the inside of the tyre and soon found the bugger that caused this whole mess, a nail!
After removing the nail out of the tyre, we still had to re-inflate the tube and get it to pop back the tyre into place on the rim, but we soon found out that the small generator we had with us didn’t create enough energy to pop the tyre back into place on the rim so we asked if there was a gas station nearby to try it with a larger generator but they told us the closest one was on the other side of town. After a while they came up with the idea that we should go to the local bicycle shop because they also had a large generator and maybe they could help us, so off we went, Seb carrying the tyre on his shoulders to the bicycle shop. Luckily they could help and we got the tyre back where it should be and after another 15 minutes the tyre was back on the bike, simple as that and we were finally ready for dinner!
In the morning we decided to go for a stroll in the city and stay here for another day. We were just walking around when all of a sudden Kim saw two familiar faces and threw herself in their arms. We just bumped into Lori and Marek Ciszek from Lifes2short who we met for the first time on the Horizons meeting in the United States a few months ago. They are both riding on one bike and are also going on a world trip and they just happened to be in the same place at the same time. We decided to spend some time together and share travel stories about Mexico and we had a real great time and hope to maybe ‘bump’ into them on the road again somewhere!
The next and last update about Mexico will be a visual feast, since Seb took some time for some great shots, so stay tuned for this!