Descending into the Furnace of Hell…Or is that Paradise

As we sit here on the stunning beach of Zipolite with the temperature hovering around 35C (for you North American folk that’s 95F) we wonder if it’s paradise or hell. Certainly all the naked over bronzed bodies walking past think it’s paradise. It turns out that the only place on the map that showed camping is also the only legal nudist beach in Mexico. But it was a nice place so we stayed and enjoyed the chilled atmosphere, naked hippies aside. And before you ask, we didn’t feel the urge to ditch our kit and join the frisbee fun on the beach.

Playa Zipolite. Nudists and hippies galore. But a very relaxing place for a day off.

So it turns out that riding on the blacktop in 35deg and high humidity over rolling hills just isn’t much fun. By 11am our water resembles warm tea, our sweat is pooling on the ground at every stop. By 3pm we’ve well and truely had enough but it’s another hour or two before we will likely find a campsite so onward we go. And then to make matters worse a beer on arrival just isn’t satisfying as the body just wants cold water. Then you try and sleep but because it’s so bloody hot the dogs have been sleeping all day so stay up all night barking….grrrh.

Are there any advantages to riding in these conditions? Surprisingly there are. The cold showers are actually running about the right temperature. The rivers and ocean is sitting at about 28deg so that’s pretty easy to get into. If we’re lucky enough to find a pool that’s also just the right temperature to frolic in for more than five minutes.

But it’s all come to an end. We don’t have the willpower to carry on so we’re now sitting in a bus station waiting on a bus back into the mountains. This is our first public land based transport of the trip. It feels slightly like we’ve been defeated, but another two days of these temperatures and the hot head wind to get across the flatlands before we start climbing into the mountains, which aren’t actually that high, just doesn’t seem worth the effort. We did try though, riding from Salina Cruz this morning, but stopped at Juchitan de Zaragoza after overheating once again.

But I get ahead of myself. This week started with a few days off in Oaxaca. Apparently this city was a must visit but aside from the stunning cathedral and some nice plaza’s it didn’t seam to have to much to offer. It was a good recovery from the never ending climbing to get here. Plus we got to meet up with Sophie and Chris again. They are another couple of cyclists we first met in St George, Utah. Funny how you keep bumping into the same people.

Oaxaca Cathedral. The most ornate one we’ve seen so far.

Actually I’m probably being a bit unfair. There were the nightly concerts in the plaza and the odd street parade to keep things interesting.

Outside the city was a different story. The surrounding villages are famous for their crafts and culture. Plus there’s a stunning area of silica terraces and petrified waterfalls which we just had to go and see. Camping there was definitely a highlight, especially when you have the place to yourself as the sun rises.

Silica terraces, pools and waterfalls of Hierve el Agua.

The bikes are getting tired though and on the way to these pools my hydraulic brake hose fails. 38000km of rubbing and it finally rubbed a hole through it so we returned to Oaxaca the following day to get this sorted. But that’s not all bad because it meant we could go to the coast and enjoy some beach time. Little did we know it was going to be so bloody hot.

Sugar cane crops outside Oaxaca.

Mechanical’s sorted and we head for the coast. Along the way we discovered a major road being build through the mountains. It looked like the job had been abandoned and left to crumble and be reclaimed by nature. But strangely their was still work being done on some of the planned bridges.

The post apocalyptic highway

Two days of hills with a final 1800mt decent sees us camping next to the biggest river we’ve seen in months. It was just bliss washing off a couple of days worth of grime in its tepid waters.

Rio Colotepec. So welcome after a hot day in the hills.

Colotepec village. This old mission building is definitely being held up by the trees.

The next day we were intending on camping on the beach and watching the turtles nesting the following day. But we didn’t quite get our timing right and the turtles had done their thing and left already. Hence we got to enjoy Zipolite instead.

The only turtle we saw. Some just don’t make it.

This coast has some amazing surf beaches which seem to attract their fair share of backpackers. There’s a feel that if you arrive and surfings your thing your going to find it hard to leave. We saw this when we stopped at Barra de la Cruz. This little village just off the highway has a great point break and has embraced the backpacker market with cabins and camping areas popping up in people’s banana plantations. The camp we stayed in had a few young backpackers who arrived, decided to hired surfboards and learn to surf and a month later they are still there. What a great lifestyle. Kind of similar to ours really.

There’s probably a bit of negativity in this update but it’s a bit hard to be to positive and happy after seeing the news from back home. It feels like New Zealand has been betrayed and has lost its innocence. So we’re both feeling a bit down today after trying to process these events. It certainly makes you reflect on what’s going on in the world and how some people’s minds are just so unhinged. Kia Kaha NZ.

Where we’ve been this week.

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Two solemates sharing bikepacking adventures that are off the beaten track.

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