Arriving in Oaxaca – a 14 hour drive from Puebla – stunned my senses. Like any road travel in Mexico, looking out of the window is not for the faint-hearted, but after about nine hours of restless dozing and admiring the inside of the minibus, curiosity got the better of me. I’m familiar with a variety of beautiful European landscapes, but I’d never been anywhere truly tropical before, so weaving our windy way through the mountains was definitely an eye-opener – and a real treat. Everything was just so huge, and our mini bus so tiny in comparison, that it really gave a sense of nature at its wildest and most impressive. The vertical drop just inches from the edge of the road was hundreds of metres of sheer terror, and every spot covered in thick, lush, greenery. There were mango trees everywhere, and piles of coconuts heaped along the roadside. On stepping out of the minibus the first thing I noticed wasn’t the heat but the sound of nature’s noisy hubbub. We had arrived in paradise.
Our first stop was Reserva Ecológica de Chacahua. We travelled for forty minutes by boat through a vast network of swampy rivers, the likes of which I’d only seen on documentaries about the Amazon. We were dropped off at a little riverside village and walked through to the idyllic beach complete with flawless sand stretching as far as the eye could see, and an abundance of palm trees and hammocks.
When we’d had our fill of sunshine and cerveza we headed off on the final leg of our journey to Puerto Escondido, where we were to station ourselves for the next few days. Expecting some kind of grotty hostel, we were extremely happy to find that our hotel was not only stationed right on the beachfront, but also had its own perfect little pool. VERY happy campers!
After a long hard night of precopeo and partying, the following day was spent at the beautiful Carrizalillo beach.
Next up was a trip to hippy hot-spot Mazunte. The beach was another stunner, and we indulged in some delicious Mexican-style seaside grub. In the evening we took the twenty minute walk up to Punta Cometa to watch the sunset from the cliff top. With the waves crashing and splashing beneath us we watched in awe as the sky glowed a hundred spectacular shades of red before darkening into nightfall.
The next day Juli and I were celebrating having been in Mexico for three months, and we did so by taking a horse ride along Puerto Escondido beach at sunset. My horse was called Calcetín, which means Sock. He was a real cutie!
Our next stop was Huatulco. Being the Easter holidays here, it was as busy as it could possibly have been, with all of the beach swallowed by crowded restaurants and cafés right up to about a metre from the water line. We ate classic Mexican nieve, which translates as snow and is like a creamy sorbet. The speciality flavour of Oaxaca is with grated carrot and coconut, and epitomises the taste of the tropics!
We went to the centre of Huatulco and planted ourselves on a café terrace overlooking the traditional dancers in the Zócalo and drank traditional Oaxacan hot chocolate, which I just couldn’t get enough of throughout the trip. It’s served in a bowl like soup and is made with either milk or water (milk is always my preference). It’s thick and creamy, and sweetly spiced with vanilla, cinnamon and almond. It’s not completely smooth because of the minimal processing and traditional stone-grounding method of breaking down the cocoa beans, but the texture just adds to its delicious rustic flavour.
As midnight approached we bade a fond farewell to Oaxaca and embarked on an overnight bus ride to Chiapas…