We left Oaxaca/San Felipe on Saturday. Coconut and J’s last day of school was on Thursday and they were recognized with an ovation by the student body during morning calisthenics. Neither one of them speaks Spanish well enough to tell me the words said by the teachers, so in the end, R and I may have just bought ourselves freedom for the month at the low cost of the prorated tuition. It was worth it. San Felipe gave us many happy days. The house we rented was great - it had decks with views, balconies with views, comfy beds with views, hot showers, a walk-in closet that was bigger than Wesley, and all kinds of things to explore in any direction you turned once you stepped out the door to the street. And across the way was an outdoor wedding facility, so each Saturday night we got our fill of Mexican pop music, live mariachi bands, and American faves like Guns n’ Roses and Journey cranked all the way up by the D.J. until two a.m.
Overall, including San Felipe, we’ve been in the Oaxaca area since October 11. Although I probably spent way more time than is healthy sitting alone in a chair watching the sun move across the mountains, even I can make friends in a month and a half, and the people you meet are part of what make a place memorable. So R and I were happy that we were able to make some friends who we hope to see again in other places, and meet a bunch of people who we would be happy to see again if we make it back to Oaxaca.
We had a couple of fun times with Octavio and Farina, our landlords by proxy while the owner of the house was in Mexico City, and they told us how to fend off wild dogs and about places to go and things to do as we head on down the highway. We also got a lot of good advice from the amazing and inspiring Andre and Susan, who drive here from Montreal every winter to camp at an agave farm, and we heard lots of entertaining stories about their own overlanding adventures – some of which we hope not to repeat (especially the one where Andre sunk his van in mud up to the floorboards while trying to cross the Atacame Desert in Bolivia by the road less traveled.) We even made friends with the mechanic who did some work on Wesley – and he told us about a carrera bocho (a race with souped up VW Bugs) held one Sunday afternoon, where dogs and people were just as likely to be on the dirt track as race cars.
Because our San Felipe rental house had five bathrooms, we felt comfortable inviting our Virginia friends Megan and Zoe to visit. Besides doing grown-up Oaxaca things like sampling mezcal until we were dizzy, we also took them to Cuajimoloyas, one of eight remote mountain villages, called the Pueblos Mancomunados, which have joined forces to offer wilderness and other ecotourism adventures. On the long and winding road into the mountains, Megan and Zoe were able to behold the power of Wesley – R only had to get out and push once – and we know Megan will never forget – though, she may want too - watching Calibre 50 music videos at dinner: coordinated cowboy outfits, accordions, and songs about extra-marital sex. Zoe might also remember her 900-meter zip line into the rain and fog on the coldest day in the history of Mexico.
Although Wesley was parked in the garage most of the time, s/he was not neglected. We had it tuned up, had the hand brake fixed, and finally changed the fuel lines that leaked every time we filled up with gas so there is no more fear we will be a great ball of fire rolling down the road – at least not from that issue. We also discovered it was not J’s socks, but a loose propane gas line coupling, that was the cause of a nasty smell inside the van and we got the driver’s side mirror replaced because it was spotted brown – who knew glass could rust? One of my favorite memories will be of the glass guy coming out to take what looked to us like very rough measurements, matter-of-factly saying “Si!” and then going back to his shop and cutting glass to fit. Presto - a new mirror. Cost - $2.
Even though we’ve left San Felipe, we didn’t leave it far behind. Our first stop on the way to Chiapas state was at Overlander’s Oasis, a small campground owned by a Canadian couple, Leanne and Calvin, which is less than a 30-minute drive from Oaxaca. This place is legendary in our eyes - before we left Alexandria we were reading blogs by other overlanding couples who stayed here and it looked like fun - so for us to actually have made it here makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something. This may also be why we are finding it hard to leave – we came in for two nights – Saturday and Sunday - but are still here on Tuesday afternoon.
We had plans to stay on Sunday night because we wanted to catch the Lucha Libra wrestling event like we saw in the Jack Black film "Nacho Libre." It was about what you would expect from a bunch of guys in tights and masks with names like Hurricane Ramirez and Mask of Gold – pretty hilarious. One wrestler actually came out dressed like a scarecrow and had a stuffed crow on his hand. Our favorite wrestler, though, was this little guy called Shockercito, which means little shocker, and we got a great video of him flipping around a much bigger guy like a tornado.
We stuck around on Monday because Coconut came down with an ear problem and we wanted to take her to the doctor so he could pull a big ball of wax out and give her some drops to help dissolve the rest. I stayed behind to watch Calvin replace Wesley’s propane tank regulator, but R described it as one of those kind of gross things that is fascinating. Coconut says she is fine now, so that’s good.
At some point on Monday night, while we were sitting around with some of the other folks staying at OO, listening to their stories, and drinking all the beer, wine, and mescal, in the place, R decided we were going to spend another night as well. So here we are on Tuesday, December 1, four months to the day that we left Alexandria, enjoying the sunshine and the other travelers at this great little oasis that Calvin and Leanne have built. Tomorrow, for sure, we go – partly because there are other travelers coming in with a reservation and there will be no room for us, but mostly because we are all getting a bit restless to be back on the road and find out what else Mexico has to offer.