Or, Why I’m changing my name to Goldilocks
If you’ve been following along the last few weeks, you know I started this Mexico jaunt in Colima, a small state on the Pacific Coast. After a decade living in Alaska, it was just too hot, which came as a surprise to nobody except, perhaps, yours truly.
So, after 10 sweltering days in Colima and neighboring Nayarit, I made the trek to a friend’s house in Mexico City, which, at over 7,000 ft elevation, was blissfully cool.
Again surprising nobody except myself, I decided after a week that a city of 20 million people was just too big. So, despite all its cultural and historical attractions, not to mention some great friends and a restaurant in a neighborhood market that I came to love, I put Mexico City in my rearview mirror.
Unintentionally showing off my inability to learn from recent history, I decided to head back to the beach.
Yes, despite nearly drowning in a puddle of my own sweat only a week prior, I couldn’t resist trying the coast one more time. I hopped a flight to Puerto Escondido, a surf town about 600 miles south of Colima. And guess what?
It was too hot!
It was also beautiful, of course.
Puerto Escondido was breezier and less humid, so actually more pleasant than Colima and Nayarit had been. But, it was still too hot. It was also overrun with surfers from all over the world. (Imagine that, surfers in an internationally famous surf town!)
I’ve nothing against surfing, mind you, but it’s not my thing. I’d like to learn how, one day.
I just want to surf somewhere magic where the air isn’t too hot, the water isn’t too cold, and I can ride to the beach on my pet unicorn, Cuddles.
But, since sitting around waiting for Cuddles to show up didn’t sound like a good plan, even to me, I got a little bit smart and bought a bus ticket to the city of Oaxaca.
Like Mexico City, Oaxaca is in the mountains—it sits in a valley at about 5,000 feet. The days are warm, and the nights are cool. Oaxaca’s population, though, is far less than Mexico City’s, and it is full of gorgeous colonial buildings and street art.
I visited Oaxaca 10 years ago and loved it. So much so that it was my original destination this time around, before the possibility of house-sitting in Colima instead of paying rent distracted me.
All of which means that in addition to hauling my luggage through Puerto Escondido, I was carrying some high hopes to the bus terminal. I’d chosen the night bus so I wouldn’t have to pay for a bed that night.
It was 8:45 PM and at least 90 degrees outside when I boarded the bus and was enveloped in the luxurious coolness of the air conditioning. I found my seat, got comfortable, and popped some antihistamines to knock me out for the 10-hour journey.
As I drifted off to sleep, some naysaying part of my brain offered up the aphorism, “You can never step in the same river twice.”
I told myself to shut up and closed my eyes.
* * *
I woke when the bus downshifted. I looked out the window and saw we had nearly arrived at the station.
The morning air was delightfully cool—neither too hot nor too cold—when I disembarked. Even through the fog of antihistamines and 10 hours of bus travel, everything looked perfect. And it just got better as my taxi moved away from the bus station and toward my hostel where breakfast awaited.
That was five days ago. Spending the intervening 120 hours in Oaxaca have me thinking about John Denver’s lyric in Rocky Mountain High–the one about being born in the summer of his 27th year and coming home to a place he’d never been before.
Of course, I’ve been to Oaxaca once before, I’m 45, and I can’t sing, but you get the picture. Oaxaca is better than just right. It is magical, and I love it.