Monday, January 26, 2009

Cuajimoloyas to Lachatao, Mexico

We need to take 3rd-world travel lessons from our kids! How we've been spoiled by the English-speaking taxi drivers and guides. With a only a little slip of directions from the booking office in Oaxaca we struggled to find the 2nd class bus terminal and after finally buying tickets and boarding our bus, we ignorantly sat in the wrong seats, wedged in between bags of garlic and crockery for 2 hours then got off at the wrong stop....ARG! Billy heroically flagged down a lorry loaded with chickens in crates and we clambered on top to ride the last few kilometres to Cuajimoloyas where our mountain guide was to meet us. As we were late, the tourist office for "Pueblos Mancomunados" set us off with a lovely young girl, Daniella (hugging a tree in the photo), to try to catch up with our official guide, Javier. So we raced along the trail at altitude of 3200 metres, far away from the noise and stress of the city.
It was fantastic!

We caught Javier and a French woman tourist, Sandra, at their lunch stop. Javier's enthusiasm was infectious as he described medicinal plants and history, but he spoke no English and our Spanish is very basic, so sometimes we just nodded agreement - without understanding what he had said. Sandra's was not much better but her English was much better than our French! The landscape was spectacular with huge agave plants between familiar pine trees, festooned with beautiful bromeliads.

The cabanas were almost-new dormitory-style cabins, with an ensuite toilet. The open fireplace was very welcome as the temperature drops below freezing at night, (yet raises to almost 90 degrees at midday!).
We met up with an English couple, Kate and Adam who had been mountain-biking, and watched the sunset before a simple but delicious dinner in a local woman's small comida (dining room off her kitchen). There seems to be a critical lack of change in the mountain villages, but incredible trust. The shopkeeper would not accept payment for beer but was willing to give it to us, along with lending us a bottle opener, with the understanding that we would bring the empty bottles back the next day when they would be able give us change for the 100 pesos. 7 beers, 2 bananas, a bottle of water and nuts cost less than 5 GBP! Billy and I decided to try a single bed for warmth, but regretted it by the middle of the night... but coffee and hot milk from a bowl as the sun rose was glorious.
The walk along the canyon between Latuvi and Lachatao was beautiful and eerie where the moss hanging from the pine trees swayed in the wind, the aptly-named ghost forest. We were glad that we carried 2 ltrs of water as the temperature rose along with the steepness of the trail.
Got to run now.. but want to tell anyone traveling to the Oaxaca area to book a trip with this eco-tourism project. It is a great chance to see the un-spoilt mountain villages and gives them a fighting chance for survival!


Stuart said...

Looks awesome, I haven't been to Mexico for a while thanks for the reminder of what a great place it is!

Petraruns said...

Tell us more about the project. Adam and I are keen to get back into our traveling ways and this sounds perfect. Enjoy!

CewTwo said...

Cool, Drusy, very cool. Thanks for sharing!