México: Tierra del Sol to Tehuantepec – first sea in six months

The day before we left Tierra del Sol we met some other bicycle tourers, who’d come this way via warmshowers.org. This may not seem a particularly unusual statement, except that they were the first we’d met since southern USA. Charlotte and Ned have peddled the roads from Vancouver, starting a couple of weeks after we left Banff. Fallon, who had met up with them in Oaxaca, had come from San Diego. We’re not quite sure they understood how excited we were, but they were wonderfully polite about it. Part of the attraction was to hear non-american accents, as both Charlotte and Ned are English. They were planning a tarmac’d route south to the coast, and given their road-oriented bikes, wisely declined to come along our planned dirt road route. So we left with a slightly nebulous plan to ride the coastal roads together.

The night before we left, we were given some directions for a short-cut through the mountains directly to Ocotlán de Moreles (rather than going the long way via Oaxaca city). These consisted of a turn off from the main road, a village name to aim for and the general idea that the singletrack foot-path sort-of followed a stream/river/thing…. We considered this enough to give it a go, albeit with a fair degree of optimism! The next night found us back in Oaxaca, feeling that we’d given it a pretty good go, having spent a day and 60km getting the 20km back to Oaxaca. We were foiled by thick mesquite bushes across a path in a valley that might, or might not have lead to the right pass.

During our extra night in Oaxaca we came across these figures in a churchyard - the 'Exodus'
We got off the pavement in Ocotlán, and soon were happily tracking along a web of dirt roads towards the Sierra Sur

We had lots of fun getting to the coast, but we were very glad we hadn’t enticed some road-bikers with narrow tyres along. We had a nice, fast day through the Vallé Centrales before the Sierra Sur that forms the major barrier to the sea slowed us right down. A couple of days of slow grind, coupled with a significant trailer breakage (mended in the next village – Sarah’s luck at work again), saw us finally hit the coast just east of Puerto Escondido in a land full of coconut palms and road-side fruit stalls.

I tune Sarah's gears in readiness for the mountains to come, and pondering the amazing lightness of its being...
The road I chose out of San Vincente Coatlán turned out to be just a tad vertical. As usual we duly provided a story or two for the locals who turned out to watch our sweating antics.
There's a lot of near vertical farming, mostly with less denudation thankfully
We go up, and up, and up - actually this was an easy bit, almost like levitation - see earlier pictures for something a bit more meaty...
then down and down - and up some more with smatterings of down before we could be convinced that the road really meant it.
This shot doesn't really show it all that well, but if you want a water supply up here, you lay several hundred metres of 1 inch diameter black plastic pipe slung through the trees by the road up the hill to the nearest stream, and hope no-one upstream is putting anything nasty into it. You then have to fix leak periodically, after working out which piece of tubing is yours....

After a short day along hot, humid and mind-numbingly flat roads we got to San Agustinillo to find that Fallon, Ned and Charlotte had left that morning. A strong need for a swim (or several) kept us there for a night before beginning the long road-haul to San Cristobal de las Cases.

A gratuitous sunset shot over pounding surf - our first since leaving Fremantle over 7 months ago. Sarah feels that there's something deeply correct about sunset over the sea, and is inexplainably disturbed by sunrise backlighting peeling surf. That's growing up in Western Australia for you...
Me demonstrating that my bald pate is bigger than the coconut. Road-side fruit and fresh juice stalls were plentiful on our first day in the sultry coastal weather, but sadly lacking after Puerto Angel.
Beachside accommodation at San Agustinillo, complete with breeze and nice stirdy roof beams for slinging bicycles up to fix them. The view and restful sound of crashing surf had nothing to do with our enjoyment of this place - at all - whatsoever...
Golden dawn light just after we had the beach to ourselves for an early morning swim - the reason we came to the coast :-)

We’d been expecting flat riding with views of the sea at every turn; but the Oaxacan foothills conspired to keep the view going in a mountainous theme until Salina Cruz, when the Mexican Isthmus flatness finally began. The other thing we knew would be different at the coast was the heat. Knowing it would happen didn’t help much though. Our water intake has tripled, somewhat unfortunately at the same time that the availability of road-side fruit stalls totally disappeared! We also naively blundered into the manicured, verdant golf-course land of the Bahias de Huatulco in search of a swim and an ice-cream. We eventually found the former, but not the latter. Actually we even managed to camp on a deserted beach and have the place to ourself for a dawn swim.

Now we continue our road-based progress to San Cristobal and the promise of our beloved terracerias.


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