Friday, April 9, 2010

Segment 14: Maruata, Michoacán to Zipolite, Oaxaca (March 10-April 6)

Leaving Maruata, we set off on a 1,000 km ride along the coast...

This is a shot looking down on part of the Michoacán coast, just after Maruata. Spectacular.

Near Playa Linda, close to Ixtapa, this crocodile was seen from about 20 ft away. It probably measured 10-12 feet in length.

Other amazing wildlife spotted on this section included a blue whale mother and calf, at Playa Blanca near Zihuatenejo. Also, huge iguanas, both green and black varieties, were seen along the coast on several occasions. The locals say they taste like pork, and the meat is used in stews and iguana tamales (no photos available).

Here are sopes, delicious corn fritters topped with black beans and salsa fresca. Also, a plate of pescadillas (little fish tacos) completes the meal.  We first ate these at an enramada in La Barrita, Guerrero, where we camped for free:


Also in La Barrita, a local fisherman caught this ray with a speargun, and then proceeded to filet it in front of us. The meat is used in pescadillas, among other things.

A cornucopia of delicious semi-tropical fruits could be found along the road in Guerrero...

... as could this curious and macabre Death Shrine:

The death shrine (respecting el dios de la muerte) is one of several manifestations of the Mexican view of death... much more fatalistic, and less taboo, than that of typical western culture.

this is a good example of tropical agroforestry: a coconut plantation intercropped with beans.

We were treated to this awesome sunset, maybe the best of our trip so far, at El Carrizal, a beautiful deserted beach on the Guerrero coast.

Below is a shot of a tiny baby croc, sitting on a log in a lagoon adjacent to El Carrizal beach:

Cashew apples, a juicy and tasty treat on a very hot day. Note the cashews, they grow on the fruit as opposed to inside.

We love coconuts. So much so that we bought a cheap machete to harvest our own along the roadsides.  Here is Jason, first standing on his bike seat, then gonzo style in a higher tree.  On this occasion, we drank 14 cocos in one sitting, on a hot exposed day in which we cycled 115 km.

Street food scene in Pie de la Cuesta, just before Acapulco. Mmmm...sopes.

This sick pelican let Jeff get close enough to snap this shot....

While this nearby dead pelican had no choice in the matter.

Monster waves and a dangerous shorebreak at Pie de la Cuesta.

Our best bargain meal yet, 35 pesos for filete empanizado (breaded fried filet of fish), black beans, salad, rice, and all the tortillas we could eat (hand made and fresh).  Pie de La Cuesta, Guerrero.

Acapulco. This tourist haven is not really our style, so we cycled right on through, only stopping long enough for this photo of the main beach.

this is a list of (very cheap) services offered at a local bike shop... for example, to fix and change a flat (porchada y puesta de camaras) costs 25 pesos total, or about $2.

Sunset at Playa La Ventura, Guerrero

This morning papaya break kept us going for the next hour or so (cost: 4 pesos each, or about 30 cents)...

These pet baby parrots were seen in Cuajiniculapa, Guerrero, after they had been abducted from their nest somewhere in the forest, and purchased from a bird trafficker.

Also in Cuaji, Jason's rack had to be welded after a few small but serious cracks were discovered. The welder, seemingly half blind, did an alright job for the measly sum of 50 pesos, or about $4. Note the lack of any type of protection at all, for either my bicycle or for the welder and his wonder he's half blind.

He started by using an arcwelder even though Jeff told him not to, put more holes in the frame than he was trying to repair, and ended by using an acetylene torch to complete the welds.  The most dangerous man with a blow torch imaginable, he burnt small holes in Jason's framebag, his mudguard, and his seatpost cover, while both Jeff and Jason frantically ran around his cluttered shop looking for protective shields of any kind.  The finished product:

This military cutout, curiously feminine in shape, is announcing a nearby military checkpoint in Oaxaca near Pinotepa...

We have arrived at the outskirts of Puerto Escondido; this place is called Playa El Carrizalillo:

Here Jeff is carrying some cases of beer down the steep steps to help the local beer porters.

The man seated in front of Jeff is a local skindiver at El Carrizalillo, who daily descends to depths of up to 15 meters (50 feet) in search of shellfish... he uses a long heavy rebar pole to pry them off the rocks, and later sells them on the beach, living entirely off this income...
He gave us a free sample, eaten basically alive, of what he called Cayos de Margarita... with the obligatory Mexican garnish of salt, lime, and hot chili powder...delicious.

they have exquisitely beautiful shells:

sunset at El Carrizalillo

Jason's bike loaded up with parcels that we have just reclaimed, generously held for us by Manfred at Villa Mozart y Macondo in Puerto Escondido.
Is that Magnum, P.I.? 
Street vending in Mexico is an exhausting routine
Jeff at the peluquería, 30 pesos for the haircut, or about 2.5 dollars
We  took our machete, pocketknife, and scissors to be sharpened at the Puerto Escondido market... and had to wait for the sharpener to return from lunch.  This is his setup: an old bike sawed in half and outfitted with a rickety grinding wheel, which he pedals backwards to spin the grinder.

curious sawed-up vehicle in P. Escondido. Jason thinks cars are better when the roofs have been chopped off...

above, Xabi serves out lunch...
...a real treat: Spanish paella.  Prepared by two Basque friends of ours while staying at La Buena Onda, a fantastic beach hostel at La Punta de Zicatela, 3 km from Puerto Escondido.
a party crew out in Puerto: American, Basque, Colombian and Swiss
we went to Barfly in Zicatela, and this band was performing... kind of a gay, Mexican, 80's pop, Cure/ Echo and the Bunnymen type sound, but original music... the frontman, was, umm... animated:

the party moved to a beach bar shortly thereafter, where Jason indulged in some cheap cane liquor (partly to save money on expensive beer):
While the others were long asleep, Jason tried to fly this kite long after sunrise with these Mexico City semana santa vacationers.
La Buena Onda turned into a tent city while we were there, turning from a quiet, beachside international traveler-and-surfer scene into a raucous young Mexico City party scene...

This is Yolanda, the second solo female Australian cyclist we have met on this trip!  She said that before her trip she had read and been inspired by a magazine article in Australia about Anna, the other solo female Australian cyclist.  We coincided for a day in Mazunte, and shared plenty of stories from the road.

this billboard is saying "My man doesn't need turtle eggs."  Turtle eggs have been traditionally seen as a natural Viagra, but overharvesting over the years (they are also eaten as a delicacy and by local villagers) has led to a severe decrease in sea turtle populations.

construction scene in Zipolite

 Zipolite is a legendary old hippie and international traveler spot on the southern coast of Oaxaca.  We timed our visit here for semana santa, and the usually quiet beach, normally famed for being the only nude beach (partial) in Mexico, became quite lively for several days:

here there is a drum ensemble playing in the street in the evening, along with fire dancers:

the full 1.5 km or longer stretch of Zipolite beach, as seen from Shambala, a spiritual retreat on the hill abutting Zipolite.

Jeff and Jason, no longer with farmer tans, and very well adapted to beach life at this point.

Zipolite at sunset

at a free reggae concert on the beach, hanging out with Mexico City tourists

To see the video of a great drum jam we woke up to the following morning at La Posada de Kiko, where we were staying, go to this link:

Puerto Angel, a fishing village a few km down the road from Zipolite

a naked party held on the Saturday night of semana santa...

old woman selling pescadillas in the numerous palapas of Zipolite

here a surfer is catching this monster wave, which are quite rough at Zipolite...

... and this guy is on a boogie board, also riding a sizable wave.

After 5 days in Zipolite, and 5 consecutive weeks on the coast, we parked our bikes at La Posada de Kiko, and headed out on a several week trip by bus to Oaxaca city, Mexico City, and to climb the high peaks of Mexico...