I Moved To Oaxaca

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I did indeed go bike-riding Sunday, with a local outfit called Bicicletas Bravo, where it's about touring than touristing. The trip I went on was billed as a 45km mountain-bike ride from Oaxaca to Atzompa (green-glaze pottery) to Arrazola (figuras de madera) to Cuilapan (lovely old, unfinished church) and back to Oaxaca. I've been to all three villages via car, but thought it'd be fun to see them on bike. And it was -- we rode on everything from major highways (Hwy 175) to local blacktop to dirt road to single-track trails. And I must say, mountain-biking is fun, especially on these haphazard Mexican backroads! But we didn't actually see any of the sights, because Christian, our tour leader, only stopped long enough for the eight of us to regroup or get a drink of water. We rode around the backside of the ridge on which Monte Alban sits, very pretty to see the mounds atop the hills, and I finally pointed it out to the others in the group. (I also pointed out what to do with the dogs that would occasionally come racing out of some yard, barking and snapping at us: kick 'em!)

What there was to see was this: people walking to town or church; families with their truck shucking corn by the side of the road; fields of drying brown corn stalks and yellow flowers as high as my shoulder; cows and bulls and goats and chickens and turkeys grazing in fields and people's yards; kids playing in dusty yards; donkeys stacked with enormous piles of firewood or brush, walking down the road; farms and houses scattered across the low hills.

I don't know if the others were disappointed at the lack of snack and bathroom stops or traditional sight-seeing. But as it was, I was so thrilled to be out in the air and getting some exercise that I hardly minded not really being able to look around a lot because, just like driving in a car, the driver really needs to keep his or her eyes on the road constantly and on bike it's not much different. At one point, coming out of Arrazola and heading uphill, I finally broke ranks and stopped at a tin-shack miscellanea and bought a handful of horrible fake-chocolate-covered wafer bars to tide me over to Cuilapan, where I supposed we'd have lunch. We didn't, so I bought a soda at one of the tiendas in the parking lot. Christian actually got off his bike outside the church, but made no motion about going in. Someone asked him about a bathroom and he shrugged his shoulders. Having recently been here myself, I led a small expedition to the operational second-floor bathrooms. So mostly we sat around for half an hour and chatted while one or two people took quick looks inside the unfinished building. Everybody but me was visiting for a week or two or three, some enrolled in intensive Spanish programs, some just relaxing away from work, and everyone except the woman from Vermont wondering where to get a decent cup of coffee in the city before 9am.

I got home about 2pm, thoroughly tired out. Just what I wanted.


Post a Comment

<< Home