Travel Blog 19: Finding Oaxaca
As I crossed over the state border of Oaxaca, everything changed!
The landscape I was driving through was more green. The road twisted and curved on clean pavement. People expressed a different aura around them, making me feel comfortable and welcome. I stopped to buy some fruit on the side of the road, gaining smiles and positive energy from all the locals congregating. On my first night in the new state, I was happy to put Veracruz behind me, but Oaxaca brought on a challenge of its own; all the free parking and camping places were closed due to covid.
Driving through the mountains, I was several hours away from the big city, also named Oaxaca. Darkness was approaching rapidly, the gas tank needle was dwindling, and I was in the middle of nowhere with no clear signs of what was ahead. I only had one option; keep riding that road.
Eventually I came across a decent sized town with a fuel station. Thankfully they accepted credit cards as well, which isn’t always a guarantee in the mountains. In hindsight, I really should have parked in whatever village that was, but instead my mind told me to keep going. The road became desolate, winding through lush, dense forest. High mountain moisture coated the road and surrounding landscape. My mind slipped into a slight panic when I realized no solid parking place lied ahead. My traveler app offered two places that were tiny turn-offs, giving no solid opportunity. One more chance was listed; “a restaurant parking lot at the top of the mountain with a view.” That became my goal, but 15 miles on these roads will take nearly an hour. I knew I’d be rolling in after darkness so I just kept taking my time. Out of nowhere, the unexpected entered my sights; a girl walking on the road put her thumb up.
There was nowhere to pull over, but I stopped Blaze on the 45 degree sloped road. She hammered Spanish into my ears. My front seat was crowded with a giant water jug and other miscellaneous stuff. Having no option, unwilling to leave someone on the side of the road, I told her to get in. Then I learned she had a travel partner as well walking up ahead. He ran back and climbed in the back too. Just like that, I had two soaking wet Mexican travelers in their twenties sitting in my Blaze-bed. No words were shared as I could only concentrate on driving the road. I put my Spanish reggae music on as a peace offering to the travelers. They asked me a question, but all I understand was “Oaxaca.” I responded, in spanish, that I’d be driving to the city of Oaxaca in the morning, but sleeping at the restaurant 10 miles up the road. Being hitchers, they had no cares. Whatever worked for me worked for them.
The restaurant had a large parking lot, but we could see nothing because of fog. Cars occasionally pulled in. I covered myself in blankets in the back of Blaze while they froze in their tent outside. The night was long with lonely dogs barking at nothing. An early rise led to the sun glowing over the mountains while the three of us stood shivering in our sweatshirts. I spoke the magic words, “Listo” (Ready?). We hit the road, driving another 80 miles through this wild mountainous beautiful terrain. I rearranged Blaze so my copilots could sit more comfortably in actual car seats. We managed basic Spanish, connecting through the tone of our voices and simple conversation. I learned that both of these individuals have children being watched by other family members while they go on a traveler-quest across Oaxaca. They loved knowing that the car they were riding in came all the way from Chicago.
After hours of morning curves and beautiful scenery, we reached the city of Oaxaca!