Oaxaca to Tehuantepec: Headwinds and Misery

It is morning in the town of Tehuantepec. I am sitting on the balcony of Hostel Amelia feeling a cool breeze on my skin. Across the way is an old colonial building. Curved terracotta tiles shingle the roof surrounding an open courtyard where a lemon tree peaks above the roof. Dogs bark and people talk, but the primary sound in this town comes from tiny engines propelling three-wheeled covered taxis. They look like they were built in my highschool’s shop class.

I did not mean to stay in this town and had I known, I would have pedaled on. Headwinds and hills all the way from Oaxaca – a very challenging three-day ride – threatened to destroy my moral. Coupled with a deep depression from leaving another place feeling like home, I was not in a good place mentally. Buses passed fueling my desire to quit. I am lonely and dare I say homesick. And I am SOO tired of saying goodbye.

Anyway, thoughts of home reminded me of something my Aunt said a long time ago when I was freezing cold in the north of Mexico, “Ryan, spend the winter relaxing on a warm sandy beach.” Days of accumulated sweat from grinding up mountains with strong winds in my face meant I was in dire need of a shower. Or, a dip in the ocean. I dreamt of watching my bike topple as I ran into the warm waters of the Pacific. These thoughts saved me from drowning in misery and spurred me on.

I arrived in Tehuantepec and kept pedaling south for Salina Cruz. For the Pacific Ocean. Instinct told me to investigate before riding twenty kilometers out of my way. Weariness and laziness countered instinct. I pressed on.

Salina Cruz was not what I had imagined. I left without even seeing the ocean. For days I dreamt of finding a hostel and holing up on the beach. One day of relaxation before tackling the mountains of Chiapas and Guatemala. A hotel allowed me to use their wifi while I rested debating my next course of action. I realized what I really want: a shower and to keep moving. I’ve wasted a lot of time in the last few months; although, I am much stronger for it.

Twenty kilometers into the wind and I was back in Tehuantepec. I lugged my bike up the stairs of the hotel, with the misleading name of hostel, and set to work on chores. I showered and washed my clothes. I went grocery shopping and cooked dinner. I called my dad and I slipped into a sound sleep.

And now I sit writing as the day drags on and the winds increase. I don’t really care anymore. Hills and headwinds be damned even if the really are strong enough to blow cars off the road. I am nearly out of Mexico and my goal is within reach. 2,500 kilometers. That is only 1,500 miles and less than a month of riding. I am so very, very close. A blink of an eye really. In four days time I’ll arrive in San Cristobal de las Casas where I will rest for a day or two before tackling the mountains of Guatemala. Then, I’ll cross a border nearly once every week. Ah!!!!


Too many goodbyes…


I met Jess in Mexico City. He is on a bike tour to Panama as well having begun in San Fransisco. He arrived in Oaxaca on the day I was due to leave. One more day I said. One day turned into a week. We share a common goal: becoming “superhuman” a term he coined. Nearly every day we ran to the top of a mountain where we stretched and worked out. Together we foiled “The Bungler,” who stole Jess’s bag.

Oaxaca is home to a teacher’s strike that has lasted decades. Here they block a busy road and my route out of the city.





Epic riding and stunning vistas through the mountains. If only the wind wasn’t so bad…


Yep. Very windy riding and all in my face. Strong enough to blow my rather large flag taught.


More military checkpoints.




Getting closer!



Steep rock walls threaten to drop boulders.


Mezcal is a major product here. Everywhere, agave is grown and little shacks line the road. The shacks contain a wheel pulled by a donkey that crushes the plant to produce mezcal. Seeing the bottle they use is a little frightening. Who knows where they come from. Some are plastic jugs. Others look like large jelly containers.


Sunsets in the mountains…


Cactus camp on a hill full of cows.


Hello cow!



My tent has golf ball sized holes from ants that chewed through it months ago when I was in Copper Canyon. The holes remained until two days ago when I saw this guy. That night while dinner cooked I began sewing the largest of the holes. Turns out sewing is a wonderful skill to the traveler.



The graffiti in this part of the world… think Mexico is religious?


A mezcal shop, one of many lining the road in the state of Oaxaca. This one seems fairly legit… Most are mere shacks.


Mountains behind me. Nearly through!


A dead snake on the road. A python or Boa constrictor I believe.


The view behind me. I’m out of the mountains! Yay!


Tired but happy. Beach, here I come! Or so I think.


I’ll be riding this road again in an hour or so backtracking into the wind.


6 thoughts on “Oaxaca to Tehuantepec: Headwinds and Misery

  1. Here I sit in frigid New York City visiting grandchildren and enjoying every word and photo in your blog. Your blog is a good book in the making. I see that you wear your side mirror, a good safety device! Is there anyway I can get some pesos to you to help raise your comfort level and give saddle sores some time to heal. When we get together, I look forward to sharing my experiences in el cobre del barranco and the wonderful Tamaharas with you. Thank you for sharing the blog; it lets us know you are well. Take care, Uncle Bill

    • Thanks Uncle Bill! The side mirror is extremely important to my safety and changes the way I ride. It allows me to control traffic and gage drivers reactions to my presence (or if they are even aware of me). I find it so crucial I carry a spare and have sold other cyclists on them as well. Thanks for the recommendation. Can’t wait to hear of your experiences in Copper Canyon! As for sending pesos I’m afraid I must decline. Quetzales would be great though! In a few days, I cross the border into Guatemala.

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