San José del Pacifico + San Mateo Río Hondo

March 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

And, finally- after a month of lounging around Oaxaca City, life moves on!  And it feels so good, to be moving in a linear direction again, instead of walking around in circles (though I am already missing the dance classes and art libraries of Oaxaca).

The direction was south, to the mountains, before hitting the coast.

SanJoseMountains

We took a colectivo van to San José del Pacifico, hopping out on the side of the mountain (ie: the one road that makes up the town) three hours later.

SanJoseCoffeeShop

San Jose is more than 2000 meters above sea level, and I cannot even begin to describe how good it felt to be out of the city, in the open, with the sun shining, but it not being depressingly hot and dry.  And every evening, an hour or so before sunset, you could see the clouds rolling in below you, like a blanket of seafoam suspended a couple of thousand feet above the ocean.

SanJoseSunsetClouds

Mainly, we went on a couple of meandering hikes, up to hilltops and inbetween a lot of pine trees.

SanJoseLandscape

And stumbled upon several interesting flowers.

SanJoseFlower

And admired the freshness of the land.

SanJoseMountains2

The main attraction- other than the isolation, I suppose- of the town though, is its magic.  Really.  Its sense of mysticism.  I’m not sure how it all originated, but there is a very strong culture of spiritualism and herbal healing.  The main souvenir of this town is the local mushroom- which attracts a steady stream of travelers hungry for more than just tortillas and tortas.

SanJoseSunset

We skipped out on the shrooms, but did go to a temazcal in lieu of breakfast one day.  It was an interesting experience- to be stuffed inside an adobe igloo, to sprinkle herbal water on a bed of coals that would turn the structure into a scented sauna after an hour, to cover ourselves with honey, to have a mud bath, and finally be rinsed with freezing water.  As a reward for surviving: hammocks to lounge in without a time limit.

SanJoseTemezcal

After a couple of days in San Jose, we put on our packs and hiked over the mountain to San Mateo, a slightly bigger (perhaps 1.5 roads) town deeper in the mountain range.

SanMatteoTown

It was a recommendation from a friend to come stay there, in a place called La casa de la Abuela.  And what a good recommendation it was!

SanMatteoFarm

We stayed there for a couple of nights, not doing much other than eating the most delicious organic food, lounging in abuela’s kitchen, listening to people play guitar and sing in front of fire places, and almost freezing to death in our own, fireplace-less cabin.  When we wanted something new, we strolled into town and checked out the local library and looked at travel magazines of Mexico and watched everyone prepare for the town’s annual fiesta that upcoming weekend: fresh coats of paint on almost every surface, dance rehearsals, and lots of decorations.

SanMatteoChurch

One day, we did hike out to look for waterfalls rumoured to be in the area… but, no such luck.  Great views and a refreshingly cold river to hop into, but no waterfalls.

SanMatteoTrail

It was surprisingly difficult to motivate ourselves to get out of the little mountain town, even with the call of the coast roaring so close by.  But, after one last large brunch in abuela’s kitchen, we did. We put on our backpacks, hiked ten kilometers out of the valley, and then stood on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that would take us back down to sea level.  Good hitchhiking travels to come; stay tuned for more tropical tales!

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