After visiting the city of Oaxaca, we set out to explore the state of Oaxaca: a refreshing mountain getaway and a visit to an archaeological site in scorching heat.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2023
Wow, it seems that when things don't go as planned, they really don't! To get to Hierve El Agua in the mountains, still with our friends, we took several wrong turns. We made mistakes, then encountered closures, then encountered fees. Finally, we opted for the dusty dirt road that winds up the mountain in switchbacks. We drove for an hour until we reached a small, remote village where Hierve El Agua is located. We paid slightly more for the entrance fee to be able to camp directly on site. The site is really nice. As usual since we've been traveling with Thibaud and Margot, we settled in between the vehicles for a French-style aperitif. It's so nice when it's sunny and warm all the time! After a peaceful night in the tent, we woke up early to enjoy the pools before the crowds arrived.
The place is beautiful. It consists of geological formations created by water rich in calcium carbonate and other minerals. The water in the pools is cool and flows to form petrified waterfalls. The most beautiful thing is the clear view of the mountains that we can see from the pools. We contented ourselves with dipping our feet, as the water is murky and not inviting for swimming.
We hit the road in the late morning to head back to Oaxaca. Along the way, we stop at El Tule, a small village where El Árbol del Tule is located, a tree that is said to be the largest in the world. It stands 41 meters high and has a circumference of 42 meters. It would take 30 people holding hands to encircle it. According to estimates, it's nearly 2,000 years old. It's beautifully showcased in a flower-filled city park, very well maintained and without any litter, a first in Mexico! Unfortunately, there's a fee to approach the tree, so we contented ourselves with admiring it through the fence...
We laboriously made our way through the immense city of Oaxaca, under scorching heat and in the midst of dense and chaotic traffic. We headed to the Monte Alban archaeological site, located on top of a hill whose summit has been flattened. It's a site that was supposedly founded by the Olmecs but reached its peak between 200 and 600 AD, during the Zapotec period.
After visiting the museum, we set out to explore the site. It was so hot that we brought an umbrella to shield ourselves from the sun! Monte Alban is known for its numerous tombs, which were directly installed inside houses and in which many objects have been found. We also visit the ball court and the vast main square, which was the center of the city. It was surrounded by the residences of the city's nobles, temples, and an observatory.
As the site closes, we return to the Jeep, feeling overwhelmed by the heat. Now we wish we could enjoy the pools of Hierve El Agua! 😛 We say goodbye to Thibaud and Margot, who need to go to the garage tomorrow, and hit the road. It's already late, so we don't go very far: we settle for the night at a gas station. It's not the best spot, but we feel safe and secure. The night is actually quite good.