On the 25th of December we rode towards the city of Oaxaca via Tehuacan. It took two days to get there and on the way we passed a Belgian couple Carina and Marc who are traveling two up on a Honda Transalp. We stopped for a chat and some pictures, we’ll more than likely end up meeting again at some point as Central America narrows down into a bottle neck in Panama and everybody is heading for the same ferry to Columbia.
Benny put us in touch with Chris a friend of his in Oaxaca city. Eugenio had sent the fuel filter to Chris’s address so that when we arrived in Oaxaca it was there waiting for us. Chris welcomed us and introduced us to his family including his dog Argus who supervises what is going on in the garage area at all times. With some help from Chris I changed the fuel filter in around and hour put some fuel in, fired it up and it sounded great. However the next morning when I was clearing up the area I realised that I had forgotten to reinstall a small o-ring on the fuel pump assembly. So I had to take it all apart and do it again by myself. Only problem was that when I was pushing the fuel pump back into the fuel tank I broke the large o-ring on the fuel pump. Dismayed I went online to check how much a new one costs. KTM wanted 45 dollars for it as a kit with one other o-ring and not only was it expensive but it would take a minimum seven days to get. Needless to say I wasn’t very happy at that point. Later when Chris came home I showed him the broken o-ring and he said “oh don’t worry my Uncle has an o-ring and drive belt distribution company next door to the house here, we can go in tomorrow morning I’m sure they’ll have one”. What are the odds of that!! Next morning we went into the shop and found the right size. I bought 5 for 20 cent each and very carefully installed the fuel pump again.
Since arrival in Oaxaca Franziska had begun to feel ill and unfortunately had to spend the whole three days that we were there in bed. I on the other hand enjoyed several information filled days led around by Chris who is very knowledgeable and proud of Oaxaca. Amongst other things we visited the ruins of Mt Alban, saw the widest tree in the world which is beside a small chapel in Santa Maria del Tule, and had a city tour through all of the local areas and markets. Mt Alban was very interesting, the ruins are situated on an artificial plateau on top of a mountain. The top of the mountain was cut away to create the flat area for the structures and nobody knows who did it, how they did it or where the earth from the top of the mountain was moved to. By modern estimates the logistics and technology to achieve the movement of such a large amount of earth should not have been available to the builders of Mt Alban.
As the 31st of December was approaching we wanted to start making our way to the coast to ring in the New Year. Chris accompanied us on his Suzuki, actually he led the way as he knew the roads much better than we did. We took the 175 between Oaxaca and Zipolite but we left quite late in the day I think it was around 4pm and at 6pm the sun had set. The next four hours consisted of extremely windy high altitude mountain roads shared with kamikaze mini bus drivers in darkness. Plus every now and then we would turn a corner and the opposite lane of the road was just gone. A chunk had just disappeared into the valley below. Probably from erosion. These holes in the road weren’t marked either. The Mexican drivers just seemed to have a sixth sense for where they were.
We finally arrived in Zipolite where the climate had changed to tropical. It was like being in a botanical greenhouse, hot and very humid. The air felt thick to breathe. We searched for some accommodation but everywhere was full due to the time of year. Luckily Chris’s uncle Saul lives in Zipolite and he offered us a bed outdoors on a terrace with a mosquito net over it. This was perfect and we stayed around three nights there. Chris hung out for another day then went back to Oaxaca to plan a long multi country motorbike trip of his own. We stayed in Zipolite with Saul until Jan 2nd and during this time met up with Dave again who was camping at the other end of Zipolite beach with some other bikers John, Mirko, and Claudia. On the 31st we attended the traditional Zipolite beach celebration that the locals attend. Most people wear white and surround a large fire. Dancers performed around the fire to drum beats while wearing Aztec style head dresses and people wearing white joined in every now and then to throw things into the fire or just do a lap of it while flailing their arms around. At midnight there were fireworks and hundreds of lanterns were released into the sky.
When we left Zipolite we rode south with the other bikers Dave was camping with so we were in a group of five bikes which was a novelty. Even more so when we picked up two more riders in Salina Cruz the next day who are also heading to South America, Anders and Petra from Sweden. Unfortunately we didn’t get to ride the full day with the group because Franziska was feeling ill again and the weather was unbearable hot especially if you didn’t feel well. The air felt like the air that rushes out of the oven when you go to check the turkey. When riding through it you feel super-heated even when you stop and find shade you can’t escape the warm air. We figured later that it must have been worse for Franziska because I block a lot of the wind from her which was cooling to extent for me but she was in a mini oven behind me. Anyway we stopped and waited until just before sunset when it was cooler to continue and catch up with the others in Tuxtla. As fate would have it we did make it to Tuxtla but couldn’t find them so we stayed one night there and met again in San Cristobal two days later.
Both of us came down with pretty nasty colds in San Cristobal so we waited a few days there until we felt better, which we are now by the way. It also gave us time to contemplate what to do next, we had two choices either go east to the Yucatan and visit some Mayan ruins and Caribbean beaches or head for Guatemala. In the end the decision was easy because heavy rain forecast in the highlands around Palenque which is on the way to the Yucatan and thunderstorms forecast for the coastal region. We said at the end of the trip if we really feel we missed something in the Yucatan then we’ll fly back and visit it, But for now… Guatemala.