The Journal  

7 December 2005


Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


Tehuantepec , Oaxaca , Mexico

November 26-27

We decided to break the trip from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas into two days and our finger found the small town of Tehuantepec at nearly mid way along the highway on our map. The road winds its way through the Oaxacan mountains and valleys, before beginning a 50 mile descent into a coastal jungle.

From Oaxaca to Tehuantepec is nearly 150 miles. Along this section of road there are no gas stations. When the Guzzi's fuel light came on I stopped to ask how far to the next Pemex station. I was told it was 80 kilometers away. Was there any other place to get fuel I asked? The person I was questioning recommended I check at Felipe Arroyo's “casa particulare” in the next town.

Felipe Arroyo's store sold a little bit of everything, including gasoline. It was Felipe himself who dispensed the fuel, in five liter increments from a green Quaker State oil jug. Three jugs later we were back on our way to Tehuantepec.

Tehuantepec is a hot, tropical town where the ceiling fans' only speed is slow and everyone always appears to be sweating. We were the only Caucasians as we walked through the city's Saturday market, many stalls filled with fresh catches from the nearby ocean. The residents of the town were some of the friendliest that we had encountered, seeming to lack the jaded-towards-tourists attitude of many of the other areas we had been.

  Tehuantepec is a short distance from the Pacific Ocean so our surroundings had changed to include palm trees and humid air by the time we arrived.

  Plant leaves contrast with the brightly painted patio wall at the hotel.

  A woman walks around the town market as a team of oxen drift down the cobblestone street heading back home after Saturday's sale.

  Old railroad tracks cut through the town. Market vendors sell fresh fish and shrimp along with fruits such as papaya and bananas.

  Used bottles of refresco, or soda, are stacked outside a restaurant to be recycled. Every town we have visited to this point has served soda in glass bottles with a straw.

  We stayed in the Hotel Donaji that was a few blocks from the town's zocalo. Freshly washed sheets were hung with colored clothes pins from the third floor patio of the hotel.

  With Christmas being only a month away, decorations have already been put up in a lot of the towns. Our hotel had a display with flashing lights and Christmas candies were placed on our pillows in the room.

On the streets we tried to avoid the “motocarros,” three-wheeled taxis, built with the remains of ancient Yamaha two-stroke motorcycles. In the morning before we left, the streets were filled with the motocarros, hauling Tehuantepecans to Mass in their Sunday best.

  A motocarro carrying two women buzzes past us down the street.

  Yes, it's real. We pulled off on the side of the road after leaving Tehuantepec so I could put my ear plugs in when a movement caught my eye in the grass next to the pavement. This tarantula was the first we had seen in the wild.

All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus