Bacalar to Oaxaca is a rather long trip overland, so we stopped overnight en route in Villahermosa which, although too functional a city to live up to its name fully, does have its hidden gems, including an historic centre with some enjoyable walks.
That evening we left on an overnight bus to Oaxaca, arriving early in the morning and instantly feeling an attachment to its colourful streets full of art, its food and its people. The longer we stayed, the more we discovered about the depth of the city’s history and architecture; arts and music scene; underground movements as well as its wide variety of food and drink (the best place yet for craft beer – Roger). We ended up agreeing that in our eyes it is definitely Mexico’s answer to Antigua.
Although brimming with international cuisine, it is very much worth noting the typical staples of garnaches, sweet fried plantain and mezcal – examples of the traditional food and booze in this part of the country.
Oaxaca is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, so of course the odd day of mountain biking was inevitable. The day in question was rather hazy, but this at least kept some of the intense Sun (Oaxaca sits at an altitude of over 1,500 metres) at bay.
After a week of soaking up the culture in the city, it was time to check out one of the other highlights that Oaxaca the state has to offer – its pacific coastline. Specifically the renowned hippy hangout of Mazunte.
We took the hike to Punta Cometa, the southernmost point of the state. Our slightly extended route encompassed views of Playa Mermejita – the next beach to the west of Mazunte – and a walk across the tucked-away Playa Cometa as well.
For general beach activities and pretty landscapes, though, we found the best beaches to be Mazunte itself (also known as Playa Rinconcito) and next along to the east, San Augustinillo.
Like many Pacific locations, the area has its share of exciting wildlife. We took a 2½ hour boat tour on which we saw (and in some cases snorkeled with) rays, turtles and dolphins.
While we were out we had the chance to get a different, ocean-based, perspective of Punta Cometa as well.
All in all, it was a lot to take in – some people clearly needing a little reflection time!
From the quiet of the coast we move on next to the the biggest of big smokes – Mexico City – the country’s sprawling capital with an urban population of over 20m!