The Journal  

4 December 2005


Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


Oaxaca , Oaxaca , Mexico

November 24 (Thanksgiving Day) – 26

  On the road to Oaxaca a section of the land was covered with cactus like a pin cushion.

As we entered the town of Oaxaca , we stopped along the main street to consult the map in our guide book. While we sat there, a red BMW F650GS rode down the sidewalk and parked beside us. Its owner, who introduced himself as Jairo, was curious about us and our motorcycle. Still looking for a spare tube, I asked Jairo if there was a motorcycle shop nearby. He said there was and offered to take us. The shop had the tube we needed. Jairo invited us out for beers but we insisted that we needed to get to our hotel and unload the bike. He offered to lead us there and we sped off.

  We tried to keep up with Jairo (left) but the BMW that he was riding fit through traffic easier than our loaded down Guzzi.

Jairo's favorite word was “¡Vamos!,” and he shouted it to us after each time that he stopped and asked for directions. It seems Oaxaca has two streets named “Aldama” and he wasn't sure which one our hotel was located on. Jairo's narrow BMW single slipped easily through the Oaxacan traffic and he sometimes forgot he was being followed by a motorcycle with saddlebags. After an hour, we stopped in front of our hotel. Seeming impatient as we unloaded our motorcycle, Jairo said goodbye and his BMW flew away into the night.

In Oaxaca , for the first time we were not in a minority at the hotel we stayed at. The guests at the Hotel Casa Arnel included two brothers from New Orleans , a group of German birdwatchers and a Norwegian philosophy professor, who was on his way by bus to Brazil .

  We finally broke down and had to wash clothes by hand and had the time to let them dry since we were staying in Oaxaca two nights. The family-run hotel we stayed at had a little washing sink in its courtyard.

  The Hotel Casa Arnel served breakfast to its guests wishing to dine at La Cocina or "the kitchen."

  Flowers, plants and parrots were all around the courtyard and open patio at the hotel.

  After seeing them in several other towns and tired of eating pre-packaged snacks we tried our first elote on the street. Elotes are an ear of corn covered with mayonnaise and cheese and red pepper.


Candles are burning next to a statue of a saint at the Oaxacan cathedral.

The next day we took the Guzzi to visit the ruins of Monte Alban , a ten mile ride out of town. The capital of the Zapotec nation, Monte Alban sits on a hill that strategically sits where the three Oaxacan valleys converge, controlling agriculture and commerce in the surrounding land. About 1,000 years ago, its inhabitants abandoned it.

  The ruins at Monte Alban sit atop a hill that gives a great view of the Oaxacan valley.

  The land surrounding the ruins was dusty and dry.

  All the ruins are lined with peddlers trying to sell small replicas of the temples, native handcrafts or stone carvings. They wander up to visitors, like those at right, offering a "good price."

  Deciding that we were around enough tourists to not stand out too much, we shed our motorcycle riding pants to beat the heat with shorts. Many women in Mexico do not wear shorts. I had packed three pairs that until this point had remained packed away.

  Flowers sprouting from the ruins add a bit of color to the old gray stones.

  A man was dressed in some sort of native garb at the ruins.

Jeremiah is hidden among the grasses at Monte Alban .

All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus