Travel Blog 21: The Mountain Town
All throughout Oaxaca City, I kept hearing about this one particular town that isn’t even found on the map. Travelers only know through word of mouth. For the sake of keeping it pure, I choose to keep it nameless. I went in for one night, but stayed five, which provided quite the travel education.
Towns this small have only a few options to eat, which are typically very tasty. I found a cafe with wonderful coffee and unique food items I’d never heard of. I tried something new each day. The waitress/owner would describe the food to me before bringing something totally different than I imagined. I loved the mystery of it!
One morning, I asked the woman about a trail to walk in the mountain, but she didn’t understand. An Irish guy turned around to say, “I cracked my head open by a rock yesterday on that mountain.” He certainly caught my attention. We had a coffee together as he told me about slipping in the drizzling rain the night before. It seemed like he needed a redemption walk so we went together. The trail was aggressively steep terrain with an opportunity to slip on every step. My comfort level was down, but we reached a forest road about thirty minutes up the mountain. We had an option to go left or right. Heading right, we walked higher up the mountain figuring it would loop back to town eventually. It didn’t. It just kept going. There weren’t even any views provided. It was nice to walk in the quiet woods, but we didn’t know where it was taking us. We followed it up and then it dropped dramatically in elevation. Thankfully it led to a road, but then we had a two mile walk back to town. At least we didn’t get stuck in the woods in the dark, which was becoming a concern; one my Irish friend knew all too well.
Back at the hostel for sunset, we cheers a beer and sit in hammocks while travelers from all around the world congregate to watch the sun glow up the sky as it dips over the mountain. This was where I met the standup comedian, whose last name happens to be Heckles. We got on quick! He’s partly responsible for why I stayed in town as long as I did. One day, we walked to find a river, but wound up buying a gas can of mezcal instead. Mezcal is something to sip and enjoy with conversation. Heckles and I laughed, sharing stories about traveling around this crazy world. It all culminated when we went for a beer in a tiny restaurant. Heckles wanted to see how the food looked so he walked right up to a table, which in turn led to them sending their leftovers to our table. Before we knew it, we had a platter of vegetables, chicken, and steak with our beer. Both our eyes popped at the amazing gesture. Although we spoke different languages, they could see the happy smiles on our faces.
The night before leaving town, I battled a very unfortunate situation that I never dreamed would become reality. I locked the keys inside Blaze right as I was crawling in for bed. When sleeping in wheels, I consider it ‘the unthinkable.’ I’ve never even joked about it. I had my hands full of belongings as I opened the door and put things on the bed. I went to grab my water bottle off the ground when the wind blew the door to click shut. Somehow the lock was on too. With nothing but my water bottle, I was locked out of my home on wheels right as I was excited for sleep. In this quiet and chilly mountain town, my nerves picked up. Most people just drive past the “town run by the people,” meaning No Police. I walked down the steep hilly road in hopes to find some support, but nobody would help. I told a tuk-tuk taxi driver what had happened in my best spanish. He understood enough to drive me up and help me jam metal rods into Blaze’s windows trying to unclick the lock. For over an hour, this kind man helped me. I kept telling him, “Es mi problema. Tu necesitas trabajar.” (It’s my problem. You need to go work). The kind man, Felipe, was relentless. It became a battle. He refused to let the vehicle win!
Just as we prepared our minds to give up, the door clicked open. Felipe couldn’t believe it, throwing his arms up in the air as if he just scored a goal! We, two men that didn’t understand each other’s words, looked at each other with shocked excited faces. I couldn’t believe it. I was holding the keys again. I gave Felipe 200 pesos, which is far more than he would have made in his work shift so he was able to just go home after. We both felt so proud of the victory. Except, I still had two more battles to face.
In the process of unlocking the car, we flipped on the child lock. When I went to get out of bed the next day, the door wouldn’t open from the inside. I went from being trapped outside Blaze to being trapped inside Blaze, having to crawl to the front seats to free myself. Then the bigger problem occurred when the battery had died in the process. Now Blaze wasn’t going anywhere. I literally sat in the middle of the road with my jumper cables in hand hoping somebody would help. Luckily and thankfully they did.
It was time to go. I left for the Oaxaca coast!