To San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Pros: hit a reasonably good wind gap through the Isthmus, buffeted only a little by sidewinds that died down in the afternoon. Lucky. And that same day was flagged down on the road by a WarmShowers host (warmshowers.org, CouchSurfing for touring cyclists), then welcomed into a home for the night. Anyone passing through Zanatepec should look up Rodrigo’s and Lupita’s house, just follow the signs literally painted onto the highway or ask anyone in town.

Cons: struck by first bout of sickness just before crossing the isthmus, but luckily only spent one day emptying my guts everywhere. After witnessing one such episode, a kind woman, Margarita, at a comedor taught me the local word for soup (caldo) and let me crash there for the afternoon and night. Thankful.

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The Oaxaca to San Cristobal route is bounded on both sides by mountains. First, descend from Oaxaca City down to the coast, exiting the Sierra Madre Sur mountain range. Cue heat and hammock country.

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Standing water- long time no see.

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Mountainous treetops to dry lowlands, where shade has even higher value. Note background windmills- a cautionary sign for cyclists, and even drivers here. Winds sometimes blow strongly enough to toss over tractor-trailers.

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Though the grazing cattle seem to pay the wind no mind.

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And once the stomach had recovered…

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Scenery changes.

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Entering Chiapas sees an immediate shift in road graffiti, nearly all taking on a religious message. San Cristobal de las Casas sits up at 7200′, so getting there involves a roughly 7000′ climb from the lowlands to the surrounding mountains. There are two routes to choose from, the new toll road that does the climb in ~40km, or the old highway that winds through small indigenous villages for a slightly longer 65km. I took the old highway, and even starting early in the morning, didn’t get to San Cristobal until late afternoon. A good climb, great for the appetite!

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From one set of mountains to the next: welcome the Sierra Madre de Chiapas!

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Update from Oaxaca, Mexico.

After a roundabout detour from Mexico City northwest to Queretaro and then San Miguel De Allende, now headed south again. After a good rest in Oaxaca, time to be back on the road soon. Some pics of the last stretch of the ride.

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The old highway from Queretaro to San Miguel de Allende. Google lists this route only under hiking directions, which were fairly accurate, until I either missed a turn or the road just disappeared and I ended up in the middle of a farmer’s cornfield. He was a little surprised to see me there, but gave me directions down a network of driveways back to the actual road.

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Cobblestone practice. Fatbike time?

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San Miguel de Allende. Hometown of Ignacio Allende, one of the important leaders of Mexico’s independence from Spain. Another beautiful colonial center, one of many such towns in this part of central Mexico.

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Also in San Miguel: lots of murals.

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Cyclist fuel: carnitas, salsas, Coca-Cola. Mexico’s pretty alright.

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Onto some smaller roads through the mountains from San Miguel, crossing from the state of Guanajuato through Morelia to Queretaro back to the State of Mexico. The State of Mexico is more or less a high plain, surrounded all around by mountains.

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An abundance of camping spots.

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Entering into Toluca, capitol of the State of Mexico.

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Some company for a few kilometers, Pino, Rafael, and David, all out for a ride.

Right off the free highway to Oaxaca City. Smaller than the toll highway, and longer, but beautiful winding up along the pines and oaks before descending into the city. More mountains, more camping spots, just watch out for the cacti. Note: cyclists in Mexico are allowed on the toll highways for free, just ride around the toll booths and ignore the “no bicycles” signs. This is the Mexican way.

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So much goodness to eat in Oaxaca. Pastries abound in the bakeries, if it has a fruit filling it’s generally a pineapple jam, delicious. Try too the tejate, a corn and cocoa drink, cold and filling. Walk around in all the markets, some open everyday, others, such as the big one in nearby Tlacolula, only held on Sundays, though even on off days there will be some vendors in a few of the stalls.

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Or maybe just buy a slab of raw meat and sweet onions, which will then be immediately grilled in front of you. Good to go with friends.

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Aussie Cam takes over grilling duties.

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Oaxaca is also known for its traditional crafts. Teotitlan is a nearby center of Zapotec weaving, local sheep’s wool is made into thread and dyed with the area plants, to be woven into beautiful rugs or clothing, of every color, shape, and design.

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Will from Oakland on rug hunt.

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Oaxaca City center by night. Great place to grab a bite to eat, people watch. Great city to relax in, but hard to leave. Hostel Azul Cielo just a few blocks from the center a great base. Next up, just gotta get across the dreaded Isthmus, where Mexico is squeezed between the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. Winds are rumored to be quite strong at times…