< Cuernavaca | Chiapas >



I have arrived in the land of chocolate, mole and mezcal and it is glorious.

I had to ride in heat for the first time since climbing up to Guadalajara, and I’d forgotten the age old strategy of taking a siesta in the noon-time heat. So I rode like a mad dog or an Englishman in the full sun up and down the endless hills and then mountains of southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca. And I camped in places that I would never have chosen if the heat hadn’t robbed me of my senses.

The first night out of Cuernavaca, in a riverbed ten yards from the highway and 130km from my start of the day, I slept fitfully as wild dogs and other nighttime monsters probed my camp. The second night the dogs were exchanged for goats in the hill country north of Huajuapan, and I marveled as the shirt which I’d worn the past two days had become so encrusted with dried sweat and salt as to become stiff.

And on the third day I stopped for lunch in a small town just north of the Valles Centrales of Oaxaca and had my first significant human interaction since Cuernavaca. As we talked about life in general and life in the hills specifically, I learned that their fathers or grandfathers all spoke Mixteca, but they themselves never learned. I mentioned I had been bitten by a spider a night or two previously, and showing a concern greater than I felt the situation merited, they found a pregnant woman to rub her saliva on my bites. Until this point, I’d had no significant interaction with the knowledge and lore that preceded Colombus. And as dubious as I was about the saliva cure, I figured I’d give it a fair chance.

And I’m not sure whether it worked or not, since my bites were already healing before the application, but the next day my skin was only rough and not inflammed.

And so at the end of that day, after being chased by turkies for the first time in my life, I finally descended into the Valles Centrales, and set up base camp in Nochixtlan. While wandering the streets of that town I came across a Mezcal shop, and figured it was time to see about some traditional inebriation. For the bargain-basement price of 15 pesos, I manged to walk away with a jug of rested mezcal of delicious quality. It would be my kissing buddy that night and the several that followed.

Finally the next morning I set my wheels towards the city of Oaxaca and spun out 70km. I had finally arrived! Ever since falling in love with the Oaxacan restaurant near my apartment in Los Angeles, I had dreamed of this moment and it was finally here. In short order I ate mole negro (¡fantastico!), got some chocolate with cinnamon (¡muy rico!) and summited Monte Alban and explored the ruins there (¡qué impresionante!).

I’m now busy stuffing my stomach full of as much food as I can before the two week push through the jungle and into the land of the Maya and San Cristobal de las Casas.

< Cuernavaca | Chiapas >