Day 184. Thursday 30th January. San Jose Del Chilar to Santa Maria Del Tule. Oaxaca. Mexico

Gee it was hot last night. 

This morning I had decided to forgo breakfast in an effort to starve the bug that as been troubling me. 

On the road by 9.30pm our destination is Oaxaca (Wahaka). 

It’s a most pleasant drive, soon climbing over a mountain range. The road is winding and in reasonable condition, with little traffic. After climbing for about 40min we came across a cyclist grinding his way up the mountain. Stopping to ensure he was stocked with water and OK, to learn that David is from Armagh Northern Ireland and has been riding for several months. We passed his heavily laden bike parked against a bridge railing, yesterday. He was probably bathing in the river.

It’s a very winding and at times, steep climb. We have gone from 900m to 2200m in a fairly short time but it’s an enjoyable drive. David thought he could see the accompanying power lines dip ahead, indicating that his struggle is nearly over.  However, as he would have found, the climb went on for a lot longer. 

What is amazing is the small villages that dot the mountain sides around the valley. It must be subsistence farming that keeps them going? 

The city of Oaxaca, the state is of the same name, has great historical significance. Originally settled by Zapotec and Mixtec tribes then in the 1400’s, Aztecs. Great change happened when the Spanish arrived in 1521. Cortez held a despotic reign, cleansing the area of indigenes and imposing crippling taxes.

In 2006 local opposition to Governor Ortiz’ plans to change the dynamics of the city to promote tourism, saw him executing 36 activists, including teachers, political activists and media, opposing his plans. Police trucks with paramilitary, patrolled the streets at night, operating as death squads.

What we saw as we drove through on the way to our camp site, was not a very attractive city. However, there are many magnificent churches listed and I’m sure it has an attractive centre. 

Our camp site, ‘Overlander Oasis’ is in the town of Santa Maria Del Tule, is owned and operated by a Canadian couple Leanne & Calvin, themselves a nomadic couple who have made Mexico their home. It’s a smallish compound but with shelter and working facilities. Calvin has got a reputation of fixing just about anything and a camper couple from Alaska are about to have repairs carried out to their Chevy van. Their home is interesting as they have built an iron roofed, walled enclosure over their 1957 ex Greyhound bus.

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