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Friday, 21 February 2014

MEXICO - JOURNEY TO OAXACA

Keywords: travel, tourism, monuments, mountains, history, backpacking, lakes, landscape

02/10/2008: The morning after a breakfast of fresh fruit and fruit juice an rajas, we roamed the city centre and visited its markets, there are flea markets where you will find nothing but junk, and others selling handicrafts, antic furniture, silver jewellery. Markets are full of people and has a vibrant atmosphere. I was hoping that somewhere we will hear Mariachi bands playing, but were disappointed. Then we came to the Plaza Garibaldi, the Square which was renamed in tribute to Madero, the Mexican revolutionary and liberator who fought against President Porfirio Diaz in the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1912.

This square was a section of the old Market, dedicated to pre-Hispanic pottery. Throughout the vice-royalty, it was known as Plaza del Jardin ( Garden), until some of the old marketeers settled there. The Old Market was installed in the Plaza Mayor (Zócalo) since the sixteenth century. And part of it became the flea market, where the goods brought in by the ships and  damaged in transit across the Atlantic, were sold or auctioned off as second-hand items and other articles which the  neighbours sold or exchanged there. Later the market was moved to another site and found its permanent place at the present site.Much of the Plaza has been restored from time to time,The Museum of Tequila and Mezcal, and the  school of mariachis has been established in the square.
















The bus for Oaxaca left at 13hrs, we took a taxi to the Estación Tapo, which was nearer from the hotel, than the Estación del Norte. The traffic was heavy and it took us 35 minutes to reach us, the fare was 45 pesos.Like the Station of the North, this also is a new and modern with all the facilities available for the traveller.
The journey took six hours and we reached our destination at 18hrs. After the long journey, non-stop loud music and cold air-conditioned bus, it was a hammer blow to step down from the bus in the hot temperature on the ground. We made enquiries at the Tourist Information about a suitable hostel accomodation and were told about a new hostel Nizadu (Tlf. 044-951-204-6112) which had opened that very day and had en-suite bathrooms and free pickup from the bus station. The rate for a double bedroom was US$14.50 including breakfast.  We however, chose Hostal Pochon, mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide. Some time I feel that one should follow his instinct in choosing places of lodgings and restaurants, and not be guided or misguided by guides or guide books.

Hostel Pochon was run by a young American woman, when we arrived there, we met another young woman doing the books and a Mexican man, who tried to impress us that he was running the place. All very friendly. The double bedroom with a small bathroom cost 340 pesos, the room was unmade and we took the bedsheets & covers and changed them from the soiled ones lying on the beds. The room was sparse, instead of curtains, there were bamboo blind shutters. A tiny wash basin and a trickle of water. The inevitable sign on the wall, warning us to be careful with the use of water. We had hoped that the night will be quiet but somewhere nearby, a generator was going full blast, stopping, pausing, starting again every half an hour or so and by four 0'clock in the early morning the traffic started. 

Later we went down to have breakfast. As I passed the men's toilet to go down the stairs, a very heavy stench of urine hit my nostrils, I dare say that it has not been cleaned in a very long time. There were large garbage bins lying outside the kitchen and another, standing without a lid inside the kitchen staring at us. It took away our appetite for breakfast, which consisted of three small pieces of fruit, two thin slices of bread, one egg omelet(it was omelet day we were told), cold frijoles and tea or coffee. Coffee was percolating in a pot and one had to ladle out the liquid in a cup. Imagine lading out coffee! The utensils were all of plastic, greasy (ugh)  which we washed before use  and which we had to clean again after use. The common area outside ( a patio) was untidy, uncleaned tables. And the stench from the garbage bins had already invaded the whole area. We decided to move to another hostel.

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