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April 3rd 2017
Published: April 4th 2017
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Thursday, 30 March

Retrieving our rental car was relatively painless as car hire goes, and after 30 minutes we were off in our VW Jetta. The road rules are pretty straight forward and nowhere near as crazy as driving in Turkey. The motorways were packed in CDMX but before long we were on the toll roads for 450km to Oaxaca. The 6hr drive was very cool, with the scenery changing from agriculture farming land with horse and plough, to cacti desert, to forest, to high plateaus and soil that seemed to change colour every 50km. The roads were excellent compared to what I had expected and the driving was easy.

Oaxaca is very cute and for the first time since we’ve arrived, it feels like we’ve finally arrived in Mexico. CDMX was very European but Oaxaca is authentically Mexican with music, dancing and no English. We finally had our anniversary dinner in the Zocalo (town square) and it was fantastic. They placed us upstairs on a balcony overlooking the square where a band was playing and singing, and the public were dancing. There are street vendors, hawkers and other musicians all vying for attention. We had to try the local delicacy of “Mole Negro” – black sauce over veggies or chicken – and whilst it wasn’t our cup of tea, it was good to try. It was like a chocolate curry. We also had mocktails, Oaxacan soup, chocolate pudding and hot chocolates. It was actually a pretty special night at Tr3s Bistro and for only $67 for Dwayne and I, it was a cheap splurge in undoubtedly the best table on the square. The service was amazing too.

Friday, 31 March

We started the morning by visiting the Templo de Santo Domingo but on the way Dad was hit with the nausea and diarrhea that Dwayne and Mum had, so he had to run home and spend the day at home not feeling very flash. I am the last man standing!

The church was not much to look at on the outside but on the inside, it was one of the most intricately decorated interiors of any church. Started in 1551, it wasn’t finished until 1666.

From there, we wandered the old stone streets towards the Zocalo, popping into to side shops and market stalls. Mum bought a present for Gran as well as a glasses case for herself. By 1pm we were hungry so we found a chocolate café and had the best drink since our arrival. We had iced chocolates of various flavours – cranberry, cranberry/pecan and Dwayne had ginger. They were amazing and only $3 for the trendy handled glass jugs you get in Australia. We met a British couple whilst there and they were very chatty. They are doing our itinerary in reverse so they were able to give us some great tips about places to stay, the things worth seeing and the ceynotes to visit. We must have spent 30 minutes with them looking at photos.

After lunch we wandered down to the local markets, where I bought a dress and hat and Mum bought a shirt. All handmade and embroidered. There’s no denying how hard these people work. They set up in the morning and go until late in the evening every day. Each person, including the petrol station attendant, have been honest with prices and giving change. I am of the opinion that the majority of Mexicans are friendly, hard-working and honest people who are proud of their country. We have had nothing but good experiences whilst here.

I’m loving this trip so far.

Sabbath, 1 April

It was our longest day of driving on the itinerary. 8 hours and 556km though 3 sets of mountain ranges, of which only 100km was on straight road. I drove the first half expecting Dwayne to drive the second half. We stopped for lunch under an overpass, which is our new custom due to the total lack of rest stops and shade, had lunch and then Dwayne got in to drive. Unfortunately after an hour of straight road driving, he came down with a headache and nausea, so I had to finish the rest of it. Convenient!!

The mountains themselves were spectacularly high, but they were not very pretty. Most of the countryside was brown with dead trees and cactus. From what we’ve seen in two days of driving, I wouldn’t class southern Mexico’s as pretty or scenic. However, I’m told that in September when the rains come, the whole country blossoms into spectacular greens so maybe the lush greenery of a different season would change my impressions.

The drivers are all very courteous, moving over for you to pass when they are going slow. Sometimes we can use the invisible 3rd lane up the middle. In fact, most of the road rules here are followed on as “as needed” basis. You can cross on broken and unbroken lines, as long as it’s safe to do so. You can jay walk in front of pedestrian police and they don’t say anything. The most dangerous part of driving are the speed humps in small towns. You can be hurtling along at 110kph and have to scream to a stop because of a “reductor”. Apart from that, the roads are excellent quality most of the time and I can’t understand why more tourists don’t drive. It’s a cake walk compared to Turkey!

The funniest thing on the whole trip was reaching the top of our last mountain range and as we drove through the little village of 8-10 houses, there stood a woman talking to another lady on the side of the road - dressed in a Pathfinder uniform! By the time we realized what her uniform was, we zoomed past and it was too late to turn around and chat. I guess if we’re going to see Pathfinder uniforms it’s going to be on Sabbath – but seeing it in the middle of nowhere?! Who would have thought!!


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