We rode south from Tecamachalco, halfway down Puebla, saying goodbye to my friends from that town.
The terrain was flat and the roads wide, until Tehuacan. Afterwards, the high plains ended, and the narrow canyons began as I entered Oaxaca.
The north part of Oaxaca to me would be defined by those narrow canyons and arid mountains. Not great for horses, but the people were nice. Dangerous on the main road, beautiful on the old rail trail.
One day, a car behind me in a switchback decided to go around me in the corner. Two trucks then came from the other direction. The first rapidly braked, the second not so fast. The second one almost went over a cliff…
The second part of Oaxaca was the high valley around the capital, Oaxaca. This area was nice. There was farmland here.
I enjoyed the area, but I got sick from food in the Capital. Then I got ripped off the day I left after being sick.
Matatlan, the world capital of Mescal, was on the edge of the valley. It was beautiful there.
The third area was the dangerous mountainous descent to the coastal plains. It was hot and generally horse unfriendly here.
Dozens of times, as I was listening to the traffic from above and below me, I made the split second decision to move into ditches to avoid getting nailed by a car.
I can only imagine what would have happened if I had 2 or 3 horses.
The last part of Oaxaca I rode was the Isthmus, an infernally hot and buggy place that is neither friendly for horses nor humans.
The wind in some areas would have blown me off the road. Thanks to my hosts, I realized there was a back way thru the harsh winds along a canal road. I lost my hat there, but not my life…
I found the people along the coast to be a mixed lot. Some were great, some were quite unfriendly, and some were downright scary.
However, you can see from the pictures that the people I stayed with were great hosts!
However, the goal was to get out of Oaxaca as fast a possible. Why? This is why:
TOO MUCH DANGER:
Narrow roads, no shoulders, no alternate roads. Hard on hoof boots, and Roxys feet.
No side trails
Hot, dry and lots of bugs.
And as I found out along the way:
Expensive lodging and food
Not enough horse people. Which basically causes the two conditions above, as well as some other indirect effects.
When on a long ride, staying with horse people is really where you want to be. With horse people, there is instant comraderie and bonding. The stays are cheaper… When staying with non horse people, sometimes it really feels like you truly are an oddball.
I’m not sure Veracruz would have been any more horse friendly. I know it would have been less hilly. But the hills of Oaxaca themselves weren’t actually the problem- Roxy hammers the hills. It’s what comes with the hills – no pasture, bought in feed, dangerous drivers, etc.
In my mind, there was no sense staying any longer than I had to when the feed and food was expensive, and the weather and roads were very hard on both me and Roxy. The goal was to get to higher ground in Chiapas and rest up there at proper horse ranches…
Even though I got sick twice from food in Oaxaca (lettuce I think) we managed to travel 420 miles in 30 days. We rode 21 miles average on 20 riding days.
That’s huge mileage for such a hard travelling territory. To make it thru that fast I really put the hammer down. I dug deep and then Roxy showed what she is made out of. Thank you Roxy.
I will say that after getting sick twice, getting 2 different rashes, getting ripped off a couple of times, being overcharged, coming back from a group horse ride after being invited to stay an extra day to attend the group horse ride, only to find out there is no food for my horse or ANY of the horses, having my horse stolen by the POLICE while I was eating lunch!, (yes, more on THAT in the book…) and seeing my horse and I suffer from the heat, I was generally in a pissed off mood, projecting my happiness into the future.
When I saw the sign that said you are now leaving Oaxaca, this was the best thing I had seen in a while…
That sign meant I was soon to climb back into the cool mountains….
We are now resting up in Chiapas before making the push to the Guatemalan border, and then onwards to Maya Pedal.