This past week has been an experience... to say the least. From what we knew of the trip there were two towns we were staying in before going to the beach for a luxurious vacation before returning to Oaxaca to get back to work on research projects and what not. However, there are just some things that one cannot prepare for. When we arrived in Jalapa de Marquez we were all a little worn from the four hour ride through the mountains. I cannot speak for half of the group, but my digs were less than luxurious. Not that I was expecting a 5-star hotel, but I was expecting a real bed, not the defatable air mattress that was my sleeping arrangement for two nights. I would also like to say that I fully expecting a bathroom with a light and a toilet seat. I don't usually expect toilet seats in public places but in a home I do. The Jalapa accomodations had neither. And the "number 2" bathroom was outside. I should add that it was raining most of the time we were in Jalapa. This bathroom was concealed by a curtain and an umbrella was used as a roof against the rain. I cannot explain how excited I was to find a real hotel awaiting us in Ixtepec/Juchitan (they are mixed in my mind now).
Now aside from the accomodations and their inability to reach my expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by our activities. In Jalapa we visited the old location of the city that is now underwater due to the dam that was built about 50 years ago. It was bizarre standing on top of a submerged church. Some were even brave enough to swim through it. Unfortunately, services are no longer offered there. We also took the boat over to the actual dam which was large and beautifully made. After this journey there was quality time spent in hammocks. We also got to chat with a lady who ran a local radio station and she even had some to say on the Zapatista movement. We also got to learn about the local culture as we stood atop the municipal building. I find is so interesting how in Mexico all parts of the building are functional places to meet.
During the Ixtepec/Juchitan days we learned about the Muxhes, who are men dressed as women. We also visited the migrant house, which was slightly unreal since the train came as we were there and half the group jumped on board. We even visited the local swimming locale. Ojo de Agua was a natural pool of water that was absolutely clear and quite warm. It was a lovely time swimming around since it had gotten so hot outside.
At last we made our way toward the Oaxacan coast. The vacation time had finally arrived and them plop... we were there, dropped off, and left behind. We trekked down a road until we found some hotels next to each other and made best of the situation. It only had to be for one night, right? The beach was beautiful but the waves were a little strong. It was the nighttime, however, that ruined that location for most. There were crabs in rooms and wild dogs patrolling the streets. So the next morning we bolted to Puerto Angel, where we found luxurious rooms with A/C and single beds and warm water. The Playa de Panteon had nice calm waves and lounge chairs with umbrellas. We all had a blast on that beach. Unfortunately for me, that night was the beginning to my nightmare. That's right... Montezuma struck again. I spent the entire next day wallowing in self pity with intestines that continually voiced their opinions on my life choices. After a full day of recovery my team and I were prepared for the overnight bus back to Oaxaca. The only problem was that there weren't any seats left for us. In comes panic mode. We considered a second class bus, but it was raining. So once again we shacked up in a shady hotel and took the bus home first thing in the morning. Now in order to have a bus with A/C and a toilet one must take the long bus, which lasted 11 hours, instead of the 7 hour direct drive. At 7pm today I finally arrived at my Oaxaca home. After such trials and tribulations, I actually considered kissing the ground. It's good to be home!