Friday, 14 August 2009

On the way to Chiapas

We have 15 minutes to decide whether we want to catch this bus, buy the tickets, get to the terminal, find the bus and grab something to eat and drink on the way. Bjarni optimistically says it will be no problem; I am already picturing us sweaty, dolefully waving good-bye to a vehicle that is driving away. The vision disperses after about 13 minutes, when we by some miracle manage to take seats on our bus - we are sweaty but at least not doleful anymore. We are leaving Mexico City, our home for the last month. Our goal is Oaxaca. All we know about it is that it is 520 kilometres away from the capital (which means six hours by first-class bus) and it is on the way to Chiapas.

We reach the city in the evening, we find a hotel near the bus stop and we set out sightseeing the neighborhood. Oaxaca differs significantly from Mexico City. All of a sudden we are seeing tourists of all ages and there are more children and elderly walking between tables in restaurants selling things. We decide to stay here for another night, to see Monte Albán, the ancient cultural center of the Zapotecs, on top of one of the mountains surrounding the city. We admire the view on display from 2000 metres above sea-level and return to Oaxaca, where a kind shopkeeper recommends Puerto Escondido to us as the best beach in the region. Equipped with that knowledge, we decide to be there the very next day.

There is no problem buying the tickets, the price is good, the direct route from Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido looks on our map like about 2 to 3 hours of driving. So although it is not on our way to Chiapas, early in the morning we leave with our bags to find the beach. About half an hour later there is a horrible rumour circulating on the bus: the journey time is 12 hours, we are taking the 'scenic route'. Bjarni's GPS agrees. We change plans and after about seven hours we disembark in Salina Cruz, hoping we will be able to find a beach there as well. In contrast to Oaxaca, it is very hot in Salina Cruz and there are no tourists. On-line searching for information about beaches increases our frustration: there are beaches but we can't figure out how to get to any of them and don't know whether there are places to stay for the night. A local recommends a beach for tourists: La Ventosa. A taxi driver takes us there, points at two roadside hotels and then drives off into the distance. We can choose between a room with air-con, where the toilet is still stuffed with feces ("If you want to take it, we will clean it") and a room in the second hotel that Bjarni considers even worse. We accept the first option and burn in the sun while waiting for the room to be cleaned. The laundry drying on the ropes disappears, the toilet gets flushed and we are greeted by a strong smell of some kind of disinfectant when we enter 15 minutes later. Activating the air-con disturbs the lizard that apparently lives in it, and killing a little spider on the floor turns out to be an invitation to even smaller insects to come play with its dead body. We decide to leave the room and swim in the ocean. It soon becomes apparent that we are the only tourists in the area and among only a handful of people on the beach. We briefly enter the not very transparent water and drink a beer in the company of a rat. In an empty restaurant near our hotel we eat the best shrimp of my life and are happy.

The morning welcomes us with the sun burning through dirty windows. Resolving to say goodbye to the ocean, we reach the beach again, where we watch an incredible spectacle: local fishermen are heading out to sea. Little motorboats are being pushed into the water, observed by women and children. The men wave goodbye to us and sail towards the horizon. Except for the sound of waves crashing on the beach, it is silent. After some time we notice birds: a big group of them seem to hang in the air, far in the distance. Moments later we see the first motorboat, coming back to shore. The birds are circling over the heads of the fishermen, closer and closer. When the boat reaches land, the women and children rush to see today's catch. The birds sit on the surface of the water, never taking their eyes off the boat. A fisherman decides to play with them and throws a fish high in the sky. He doesn't throw it far enough for the birds though, they are not brave enough to come get it. More brave is a dog who runs to smell this new discovery. A woman passing by shows today's treasure: little sharks.

This image still in our minds, we catch our first colectivo: a taxi that one shares with others (a fixed fare and fixed route, like a bus). We don't have any other choice: we are about 15 kilometers away from the town and the last real taxi we saw was the one that brought us here. Bjarni takes a seat next to the driver while I sit in the back, next to the girl who is already there. Ten minutes later I can't stop smiling - an older woman stops our colectivo and takes a seat next to Bjarni, in the front passenger seat. Bjarni spends the rest of the ride trying not to get in way of the driver changing gears.

We get to the bus terminal and an hour later we are on our way to Chiapas. We cannot wait to see the place everyone here compliments so much.


  1. CLAIM

    This is what I want to say: YOU ARE BORING!!!!!
    First of all, you made us excited about ur trip, promising sending some news, uploading photos, calling from time to time...and then - silence!!!!
    I want to have at least twice a week some news from you! And as I am a big photo-maniac, please, make me happy and post some new photos!!!!!!! And they have to be on the website as soon as you come back from your fascinating trips. It will mean for all of us, beeing really up-dated!

    That is all..

    And now-go and do sth with it! YOU ARE NOT ON HOLIDAY! :)

  2. Hey, Anony-mouse!

    Who are you? And we are too on holidays!

    But aside from that, I agree. We don't post as much as we'd like... it's just hard, as we've decided to post everything in both Polish and English, so there is a certain amount of translation work required, not to mention the fact that we have to be not out sightseeing and not too tired and willing to take turns with the laptop instead of me hogging it to write code and be nerdy.

    We've got some things in the works though. :-)

  3. Oh, also... if we got more comments and had more of a feeling that people were actually reading this stuff and cared, that might motivate us to post more often.

    Hint, hint, hint! ;-)


The past!