I believe I last left off as Bart, Zabrina, and I were headed to Oaxaca, Mexico.
Oaxaca was great! We found a place to camp run by a married couple – two ex-pats from the US and Canada. The site was a working mescal tequila plantation and overlooked the city of Oaxaca. Oaxaca had a vibrant and cultural city center (perhaps the most traditional and fun so far). Lots of fun to explore.
The next morning, we ventured (drove about two hours) in the morning up mountain and cliff sides to a hot springs overlooking a massive valley. The springs came out where we could bathe and relax and then cascaded over the cliff to the valley floor hundreds of meters below. After this we visited the Mayan ruins, Monte Alben, a world heritage site a few miles outside of Oaxaca. What an incredible civilization – and no one knows why the city was abandoned… Disease? Hipsters? Who knows.
Next we left the mountains and drove to Puerto Escondido, a ‘surfer-dude’ town on the south coast of Mexico. Our first trip to the coast greeted us with beautiful palm trees, cool blue waters, and white sands. I managed to get in an early morning run on the coast as the sun peaked over the mountains and Bart, Zabrina and I explored the town’s food and markets. Bart even contributed to the local economy by purchasing a hammock.
Next was the Mexico-Guatemala boarder crossing. This was a pain in the butt – with dozens of people wanting to ‘help’ you cross the boarder and a million logistical issues to deal with. Do we really have to do this a dozen more times?! We finally made it through though and high tailed it to the town of Santiago Atitlán, one of the towns on the shores of Largo de Atitlán (lake Atitlan) in Guaemala. We arrived in the dark but found a cheep hotel and enjoyed a beer on the balcony surrounded by the starlit shadows of the three volcanoes – Volcán San Pedro, Volcán Atitlán, and another who’s name escapes me. The next two days we camped on the shore in Panjachel, explored the other lake towns by boat, car, and foot, played soccer with and gave away our first indestructible soccer ball to a team of kids, and climbed Volcán San Pedro (3,020 meters) with our new friend Sandi from Sidney Australia!
After not nearly enough time around Largo de Atitlán, we needed to make progress toward Guatemala City for Zabrina’s impending flight back to DC. We stopped for a night in the historic town of Antigua where we checked into our first hostel (mediocre at best) and explored the town. On April 13th, we took off to Guatemala City and bid farewell to Zabrina. The rest of the trip won’t be the same and god only knows how we will survive without her… It’s Saints week in Guatemala, so hopefully they will lend Bart and I a hand.