I don’t think we realised Mexico was so big! We needed a long haul drive to get down to Oaxaca fretting all the way as to what we were missing in between. Like Mexico City… not that easy to miss with it’s 21 million inhabitants but we managed it!
We did, however, stop in Cholula to see the world’s largest pyramid. Yes, you read right – Cheops may be the tallest, but the Mexica have it by almost double the volume. Unfortunately, it’s not visible in all it’s glory as, having been deserted for no apparent reason in around 800AD, (this is becoming a theme with Mexican ruins) it sat there gathering dirt until it just looked like a large hill. When the Spanish turned up a thousand years or so later they thought it was a suitably imposing spot to build a cathedral, not realising there was a stonking great temple underneath!
As you can see, the church is still there, albeit suffering from recent earthquake damage so not accessible but they have excavated some of the underlying temple and you even can walk through some of the internal passageways.
Oaxaca is a great city; famous for its food, its indigenous culture and, we discovered on arrival, its political opinion – this time being voiced through a series of road blocks on the main road in, and the majority of teachers camping in the city centre in protest about pay. We stayed in a great overlanders place set up by a Canadian couple who hit the road in a converted school bus many years ago and pretty much never went home. A font of information for the vehicle and our kindles! Monte Alban was a beautiful set of ruins, set high up on a hill top with spectacular views all around. We visited a few of the surrounding villages, saw the world’s biggest tree (again, by volume. .. volume is important in Mexico! ) and risked our necks in the local collectivos… both of us in the front seat next to the driver. .. no problem, doing 80kph…no problem, 50p for a 20 min drive… definitely no problem!
San Christobel and we are now very much more on the tourist trail. As with many towns, camping is harder so we sometimes book an airbnb. Having learnt the hard way we always double check that ‘parking’ means secure and that it will fit our car inside. Bless this place in SC for actually going to measure their entrance, but we didn’t realise the car would actually be in the entrance hall. Still, it gave everyone else there something to talk about! The locals in San Christobel are the Zapotecs, and they are holding very proudly onto their heritage, in the villages nearby their version of Catholicism is very evident and people are ostracized if they no longer follow the religion and customs. Sadly this is leading to ever growing slum areas around San Christobel itself.
The Chiapas is a highly politicised state, and there are numerous warnings on ioverlander of road blocks and fines between SC and Palenque, they forgot to mention the +/- 500 topes we had to bump across! We managed to escape relatively unscathed, paying 50pesos to go through a village with its own fund raising road block. A night by some rather touristy waterfalls and a very soggy but beautiful time in Palenque and it was time to hit the beach!