Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Our Journey to Ixtlan

Somehow we've been living in Oaxaca for nearly two years and managed to miss going to the mountains. Sure, there was the time we coaxed our reluctant vocho up the first peak, to get a blast of cool, fresh air, before careening back down to Oaxaca proper.

We decided that, with the swine flu epidemic supposedly raging somewhere just out of reach (maybe in Texas?), we might as well go camping. Now, I'm not a camper. I was a Girl Scout for a couple years, but I was in it for the HoeDowns (and Thin Mints). I don't like sleeping in tents and waking up in cold dirt and a semi-warm shower located across a public campground. And I really have to ignore that "we're getting everything dirty" obsessive streak of panic that runs through me.

Camping near Ixtlan de Juarez, the mountains to the north of Oaxaca City is altogether different. You go to the town center and stroll around until you find a sign about ecotours. You call the numbers on the sign and no one answers. You check your guidebook and call those numbers and get someone. Just not someone who knows what you're talking about when you ask about "hay una cabana disponible para esta noche?"

As you wander aimlessly around the zocalo, chasing after your three-your-old, you see the only open door in the center. It's the office to the ecotour company, randomly open on a Sunday afternoon during a holiday weekend with a flu scare on. You go in and they shrug. "Sure, there's cabins. Just head on over there."

Sure enough, a simple 4.3 kilometers away, after several prominent signs, we found the ecotour campgrounds. We drove down a gravel road, parked, and found ourselves in the midst of a pine forest, not a sight to which I'm accustomed in Oaxaca. It was so...California, down to the overly dry conditions.

It was my kind of camping. Cabins with beds and furniture. There are fireplaces and logs. There are porches for lounging around. Private hot showers (well, hot for two minutes).

We took the kids down a trail that led across a rope bridge to a cave, where we could hear bats squeaking. Then, it was to the ropes course. Max and I rented mountain bikes and careened down to a river where we threw our shoes off and chased tadpoles. We watched trout swimming in the pond before trudging and semi-riding our bikes back up the mountain. We ate fresh Oaxacan cuisine at the lodge and collected pine cones. The next day, Geni and Max tried horseback riding. Geni threw a tantrum when we pulled her off the horse, crying "burro burro burro!"

And all of it about a 40-mile trip from our house. How about that? And I would have thought this an impossible thing for me to say just a week ago, but I look forward to camping again soon. But next time we bring Carolos Quinto chocolate bars, Maria cookies and bon bones for the Mexican version of s'mores. Can't believe I forgot that stuff.

1 comment:

mighty jo said...

wow..what fun!