Last night we spent the night in San Cristobal de las Casas. Duke found the place we stayed on Air B&B. Their primary advantage is that they will lock our car up for 9 days while we are in Guatemala. The accommodations were quite rustic and damp and we had to lug our bags up a gigantic hill but they worked and we had no problem being up and waiting for our van at 7:15 am this morning.
The van had a broken window and no air conditioning. After picking us up it picked up about 10 other people. The last lady was from Ireland and they had her sitting in the middle in front on a kind of jump seat with no seat belt. It didn’t look at all safe to me and I was glad when before we were out of town she said I paid for a safe trip to Guatemala and I won’t sit in this seat. There was an argument between the driver and the Chilean woman sitting next to her who spoke for the irish young woman and finally the driver put some luggage on top of the van and the irish lady had a seat in back with a seat belt.
It took us about three hours to get to the Guatemala / Mexico border. The formalities were pretty simple although they made us pay an exit tax, something Duke has never had to do leaving Mexico before.
The Mexican driver waited with us until the Guatemalan driver and van showed up. It was much nicer, good windows, comfortable seats, and air conditioning!
We drove for about two more hours.
Tonight we are in Huehuetenando. We got to listen to a wonderful marimba band in the square as we walked to dinner and then had a great dinner overlooking the square and people watching.
After breakfast at El Secreto (see the picture below) we left Oaxaca. The first 120 miles were from the mountains down to the coast. The road was good but extremely windy. It hugged the edge of the mountains with not a straight spot to be found. Luckily we were in the outside lane and there wasn’t much traffic because in a lot of places the rain last night had caused multiple rocks to come down on to the inside lane in a lot of places effectively making it a one lane road. I’m glad it wasn’t raining while we were driving! The 120 miles took us 4 hours!!
Tonight we are San Cristobal de las Casas. You can see us in the picture eating cheese and crackers overlooking the town.
We are leaving our car here for 9 days. Tomorrow morning at 7:30 we get picked up by a van for the all day drive to our first stop on Guatemala!
Tonight is our last night in Oaxaca. Before I start sharing our adventures today I want you to see two picture of the roof top terrace at La Secreta where we are staying. If you look at this post from our trip to Oaxaca three years ago you can see the roof before it was decorated. Below I have included a picture of the roof now. We have enjoyed going up there after dinner every night that we have been here.
This morning after breakfast we took the car out of the parking lot and headed out of town to the valley east of Oaxaca. Teotitlán is a village that is known for its weavers and woven rugs and fabric. We wandered around the town admiring rugs and settled on one we liked. We needed cash to pay for it which meant that we had to go to a town further east that has an ATM. We had been told about a formation even further east that is called Hierve el Agua which means the water boils. It is a cold spring that has left deposits formng a dry waterfall.
We decided to go find it. Even though we had been told it was a long windy road that was dirt for the last part we really had no idea how long and bad the road was. The countryside and villages were fascinating and beautiful but the formation itself was a bit of a disappointment.
We too k a few pictures and then drove back to Teotitlán to buy the rug we had been discussing and pondering whether to get. I am really glad we bought it. I think we will hang it over the bed in our bedroom..
Tomorrow we head to San Cristobol de las Casaas
Duke and I are on day 10 of our Spring 2014 road trip. Today was the first day of no driving. We had a wonderful breakfast at our B&B in Oaxaca. The other people staying here are a young couple from Houston who flew down for five days in Oaxaca. They were going horse back riding today.
We headed to Monte Albán. Monte Albán is the Zapotec capital on a flattened mountain top near Oaxaca. It was first settled in about 500 BC. The flattened mountain top has a 360 degree view and the enormous grand plaza has a large collection of ancient buildings. We hiked around the site and then looked through the museum. It was interesting to learn that the first writing in the Americas was probably here.
We took a local bus up and back. The bus picked us up and dropped us off near several chocolate stores and markets. The smell of chocolate in the air was enticing so we stopped for a hot chocolate with bread and a tamal.
Then we walked through the indoor market. First there were lots of lunch counters then stalls for vegetables, spices, poultry, fish and finally we walked through a smokey area where the meat was laid out on display and if you picked some they would cook it over the charcoal fire right next to the display. There were probably 15 displays and fires.
Tonight it was raining again when we headed out for dinner. We ate near our B&B and then wenet backup to the roof top area to enjoy watching the rain and the fire and drink some Mazcal. It was a great day!
We really didn't do Puebla justice. We did no exploring except to find our way to and from the hotel. We'll have to come back again.
Today was our 9th day of traveling and I'm looking forward to spending 3 nights here in Oaxaca. We are staying at the same place we stayed last time we were in Oaxaca. El Secreto is a wonderful B&B. We have a kitchen and a roof top deck where we relaxed tonight and shared a drink while watching the rain.
For dinner tonight we ate at a great restaurant overlooking the Zocalo. It is fun to people watch while eating dinner.
Before we headed for Oaxaca this morning we used a brochure from the hotel to find our way to a a small town that sells onyx and marble. They had some absolutely beautiful pieces. We checked out several stores and final bought an onyx and marble sink that Duke will use when he remodels our guest bathroom. It is beautiufl and the price was very reasonable.
Not much new today. After a great breakfast in our B&B in Guanajuato we drove a fairly long drive from Guanajuato to Puebla. We did about 310 miles and it only took about 5 hours. So far all the roads on this trip have been quite good. Mostly divided highway toll roads (Cuota). The tolls for the use of those good roads today were $45.
When we got to our hotel we just vegged out and watched bull fighting. It was fascinating but gory.
We have had nothing but excellent food on this trip. My meal tonight included onion soup, a stuffed chicken breast with a mole sauce and a corn flan for desert. It was so delicious. I don’t have a picture of tonight dinner but last nights was equally delicious so I will include a picture of it.
Today was a relatively short drive to the town of Guanajuato. it has a population of 72,000. Guanajuato was founded in 1559 and was a very rich gold and silver mining town. Because of its origins it is built on the side of the hills. It has narrow streets and colorful buildings.
Our bed and breakfast, Casa Zuniga. is set into the side of the mountain overlooking the town. Right now at 9:30 pm it is raining out. We have our balcony door open and can hear the rain and a band playing below us. We can see the lights of the houses on the hills below and across from us and occasionally the lightening illuminates the hills. It is lovely. Earlier we sat out in the sun on the balcony and enjoyed the view of the multicolor houses, the churches and the hills.
Finding Casa Zuniga was a bit of a challenge. I use Google maps and the Lonely Planet maps but I ended up directing Duke up a very strep very narrow road before we asked directions and had to turn around. Finally we saw a little sign and all was well. Casa Zuniga is right next to the funicular that takes us right down into the heart of town.
We went to the museum at Diego Rivera’s birth place and just wandered around. Several tunnels for cars run under the town. They were built in the old river bed.
I am including a few picture in this post. If you would like me to share my iCloud photo stream with you or the link to my Flickr photos please let me know.
To say it was a run in with the policia is a bit of an exaggeration but as we were driving into San Luis Potosí today after a drive of about 250 miles we made a left turn into traffic. The next thing we knew a motorcycle policia had pulled up next to us and was motioning for us to pull over. He asked Duke for his license and then said we would have to go to the station and wait 3 hours to get the license back. Then somehow he was telling us we could avoid the hassle by paying 1,500 pesos (about $120). Duke said no and pretty soon it was 1000 pesos, then 700, 500 and 200. Duke offered him 100 and he just gave Duke his license and motioned us to leave.
During all this hassling there was a man about our age watching intently and taking pictures with his cell phone. We are pretty sure that this concerned citizen is why we ended up paying nothing. As we drove away the policia and the concerned citizen were having a heated argument.
We were close to our hotel so we parked and went out exploring. After dinner we walked around some more. There are several pretty squares and they were full of people. There were dancers and venders and we had fun wandering around.
This morning first thing we crossed the border from Laredo Texas into Mexico. Laredo and the area south of the border was very flat and all desert. We drove around Monterey which has lots of industry including steel mills Apparently it has been called the Pittsburg of Mexico.
We drove into the mountains and tonight we are in Saltillo. It is a town of 710,000 people at just over 5,000 ft elevation which is the same altitude as Reno.
After we got here it started to rain. Duke took a siesta and I read. Later we walked around the center which has some pretty parks and a beautiful Cathedral.
We just finished dinner at a very upscale Restaurant called Montero. I have to include pictures of the food. It was. wonderful!
I’m still posting from my phone so the pictures will probably all be at the end of the post
This an attempt at posting from my phone. Today we spent a bit of time exploring Big Bend National Park. We drove over a dirt road down to Santa Elena Canyon .
At the end if the road and after a bit of a hike we were at the Rio Grande as it goes into Santa Elena Canyon. I always assumed that the Rio Grande, our national border, was a good size river. It is not as big as the Truckee in Reno!!
The canyon walls on the Mexico size were gigantic! For scale look for the canoes in the picture.
Another exciting event today was that Duke is now 62 so he was able to get his Lifetime National Parks Pass for just $10!
Tonight we are in Laredo, Texas ready to cross the border first thing tomorrow. There was an interesting article in the New York Times a week or so ago about Laredo. You can read it here.
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