5 Day On a Bike – Puebla – Oaxaca – Part 2

Like I have announced when posting my previous post, there is going to be Part 2!

Day 4 – 64 km
Before 6h I’m woken up by the sound of sweeping. Eager guardian of cleanliness in this town is sweeping the square with a huge palm leaf. I prepare my breakfast – oat meal with bananas and coffee. At 8h I’m back on the road and would like to reach the first larger town to call my grandma. It’s her birthday and it’s only appropriate that a long lost grandchild gives her a call from the backwaters of Mexico.
First I pass a small village where a man by the side of the road informs me that I have another hour, hour and a half of cycling until the next (and for a while the only) larger town. Good enough reason for me to pull over at the next roadside restaurant for a “café de olla” (weak coffee with cinnamon and sugar). Continuation of the journey shows me that locals are not always to be trusted. This time the man made an error to my advantage since I reach the large town sooner than in a hour including the coffee break.
After wishing Happy birthday to my grandma the road is calling me again. With inevitable certainty I’m approaching the “most interesting” part, climbing from around 800 meters above sea level to almost 2.400 meters. This is going to be fun 😦 (as you might have guessed I’m not one of those masochistic climb lovers).
The problem of tackling these kind of climbs is that once you start tackling the uphill normally there is a sharp decline of camping options since normally there is a wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other. In any case the terrain becomes too steep to pitch your tent. That is why I normally tackle big climbs early in the morning increasing my possibilities to find some nice flat area or a village to pitch my tent. But since 1.600 meters of altitude difference is still too much to tackle in a day and since I do have more than 3 hours of daylight left I push on. I should reach the first village before darkness.
Bravely I tackle the hill and to my big surprise I actually enjoy the climb. It’s not too steep nor is it too hot and it’s not taking too much energy from me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that before the climb I munched some sweet biscuits, peanut butter sandwiches, fruits and flushed it all down with a coke. Little sugar before the challenge never hurts.
Nevertheless it almost dark when I reach the first flat surface that comes in a shape of a roadside restaurant. Give the lightness of traffic on the road, the restaurant is not too busy. I enter the room with two tables, counter and access to an outdoor fireplace where the owner, Cres is. I ask for permission to camp behind the house and after a short conversation she has with her husband, Memo they offer me to sleep in a field bed inside the restaurant. Shortly after I have stopped, the sugar rush seemed to pass and I gladly accept the offer to sleep without having to pitch my tent. The fact that I was also treated to a tasty, hot dinner accompanied by the sound of generator since there is no electricity here and that I was able to take a warm shower by the help of a ladle only shows you another example of the Mexican generosity I’m receiving along the way.

Day 5 – 50 km
Awaken by the sound of humping outside. Supply delivery. Memo goes out to receive the goods, I follow shortly. Another cloudy day and the sight of the road climbing higher and higher in the distance catches my eye. That is what awaits me today. As opposed to yesterday, there is no excitement about moving on. I linger around for a late breakfast before gathering the courage to move on. It’s not the only, but moving on and tackling the climb is surely the most obvious way to make it to Oaxaca and the well-deserved rest, so here I go. The hours seem to drag and behind every curve that I conquer, there is another one and this one also demands a climb.
Somewhere among these endless climbs I stop at a closed roadside restaurant. While treating myself to a short brake and a cigarette I notice there is someone in the restaurant. Through a grid that doubles as a wall I strike up a conversation with Fernando, a 20 something guy that occasionally lives here with his grandma. He offers me coffee and I happily accept the offer. Over a short chat and a coffee next to it I manage to somewhat lift my spirit before I continue.
I keep on climbing almost until 15h when, initially a bit shy, the descend begins and the sun comes out. It’s warmer on this side of the mountains.
Shortly before 17h I reach the town of San Francisco Telixtlahuaca where I stop at eh first store that I notice. I do have to buy some provisions for dinner and ask where I can find water. An elderly man, Elmer stops me at the doorstep and soon we come to a conclusion that I can sleep in a currently closed restaurant next to the store. Since the restaurant is of somewhat open type (palm leaf covered roof and walls made of bamboo) I still pitch my tent. I cook some pasta on the stove, drink a coffee and fall asleep.

Day 6 – 49 km
Yes, contrary to my expectations that I will manage to cover the distance to Oaxaca in 5 days, day 6 also finds me waking up in a tent. Today I have another good 40 km in front of me so I take it easy. I wait for Elmer to come to open the store so that I can properly say goodbye and then hit the road.
The more I come close to Oaxaca, the more the traffic becomes heavier and the surroundings more built up. Before noon I stop in a cyber café and using Warmshowers I manage to find a host in Oaxaca. Jason and Dina generously accept my request.
Cycling through the city calls for some acrobatics when avoiding traffic and especially buses which stop where they feel like it paying no attention at all to the fact that they might be cutting you off. But I’m getting used to this thou still I do not like it (let alone enjoy it).
Little more cycling uphill and wandering through a maze of streets without name and here I am at my Oaxacan hosts. I make myself coffee and treat myself to a nice, hot shower.
Life is Good!

Break
Having a Break

Looking_Out
Outside the Window

Cafe_de_Olla_Y_Pan_Dulce
Cafe de olla y pan dulce 🙂

Gasolinera
Gas station

Hills_Of_Oaxaca
Hills of Oaxaca

Making_Tortillas
Making Tortillas

Beans_Cooking_Outside
Beans Cooking Outside

Small_Thin_Line_Leading_Uphill
Small Thin Line Leading Uphill

On_The_Other_Side
Finally On the Other Side

In_A_Restaurante
Camping in a Restaurant

With a Smile on my face, until next time!
Simon

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