El Gran Payaso
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Antonio
The Game Plan
There have been seen some interesting proposed itineraries for Mexico trips over in Trip Planning this year. With wide eyes and perhaps an empty stomach, riders are throwing out their plans and asking for feedback, on some fairly if not definitely aggressive plans. "30 stops in 30 days", is a theme I saw once. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. I can understand the enthusiasm. Who wouldn't want to knock out the colonial cities, see both the Pacific, the Gulf, the Yucatan, take a ride on the Baja ferry, and all points in between. Sometimes a limited vacation schedule or time away from the family means there is about 10 days to do it all, so its full speed ahead. I've even done it. It's kind of like slamming beers, you get your Mexico buzz and there is a lot of content, but not a lot of flavor to savor, that whole fragrance of the roses thing. Short of renting a place for a month in a place like, say, Guanajuato, or becoming an expat in Ajijic (I'm ready), I've always wanted to pick a place and give it and what it had to offer a slower look. Park the bike even and not touch it. And the place to do that, for me, was going to be Oaxaca. Been thinking about it for a long, long time. Run in from San Antonio, absorb Oaxaca like a sponge, and then run north, preferably by a different route. And that's what I did.
When I caught wind that two local San Antonio based groups were going to make the run to the Mexico BMW rally in San Cristóbal de Las Casas and the rally side trip to Palanque, I listened closely. One of the groups was going to the rally and then skirt into Guatemala. The other, to the rally and back home, but interestingly, via Oaxaca going and Oaxaca coming back. I leaned further forward. A recent trip I made having included both the rally cities, I had no major motivation to attend the rally and go back to ground freshly covered. But coming and going through Oaxaca, now that was interesting. On the one hand, run down and back with good buds, share laughs, see things from a different point of view, but also say ta ta when they left Oaxaca for the rally, spend my own time in Oaxaca doing what I wanted to do, on my own, in a place I've always wanted to experience. I had read so much about Oaxaca, poured through a stack of books almost knee high, and watched Rick Bayless on PBS's "Mexico, One Plate at a Time" fawn over it. I also waded through one website after another dedicated to places in and around Oaxaca, with more recommendations on where to stay, what to eat, what not to miss. I've scratched just the surface of many places in Mexico, this time I wanted to make at least a deeper groove. And that's what I did.
The other guys in the posse made a pact with their wives/girfriends to fly into Oaxaca and meet them after our run down the eastern slope via the Gulf. The girls rented a car, and the guys would ride in close proximity from Oaxaca to San Cristóbal, enjoy the rally, then reverse the process back to Oaxaca. The girls would board their plane for the trip home, and the posse would ride north. Skipping the rally, I avoided two long days in the saddle and the days of the rally, and devoted all that to Oaxaca and her valleys. But Mexico being Mexico, there's hardly a place not worth stopping or a place that deserves less than a casual look, so running in and running out leaves lots of choices and the corresponding elimination of opportunites and a path one might rather have taken. No matter how we routed down or back, I knew I had a great opportunity to fully extinguish my Mexico low-level light so I wouldn't feel the need to return right away, and see absolutely everything there is to see of one of her most exotic, historic, and beautiful locales. I failed miserably at that.
EXECUTION: THE ROUTING TO OAXACA
McAllen/Reynosa to Ciudad Victoria
Ciudad Victoria to Tuxpam
Tuxpam to Veracruz
Veracruz to Oaxaca
Three central valley routes of exploration