Today's drive brought us into the first real mountains we have encountered on this trip. Oaxaca is a mile high city, but we went well beyond that getting here. It was a typical mountain road with lots of switchbacks, but was fairly smooth and had shoulders at times. However, there were few places to pull off and large trucks and buses went like gangbusters on the downhill. We helped one another pass on the climbing stretches, because the road was clogged with numerous double trailers hauling boulders. We talk to one another on our CB radios to say if the coast is clear. I'm sure the local drivers wonder why the gringos take such risky chances to pass on blind curves. It is rather disconcerting, even if someone is telling you the coast is clear.
Today's drive took a real toll on vehicles. Our wagon master got a flat tire and we still have not seen him. We heard he is driving around town looking for a replacement tire and he and his wife may be spending the night on the mountain pass where their flat occurred. One of the trailers broke two leaf springs. We knew he had only one replacement spring along, and were delighted to see him limp into camp just before dark. He looked so aggravated I will wait til tomorrow to ask how he got his rig repaired. Our tail gunner blew out a radiator hose which he managed to repair himself and he also pulled in just before dark. We passed some members of the other caravan we shared the camgpround with last night and one of them had an undriveable rig as well.
As the altitude changed the vegetation changed as well. This area produces much of the tequila and mescal that Mexicans love to drink. It is made from agave and plots of land devoted to it ranged from the shoulders of the road to high up in the hills. We saw kapok trees which folks used to use to stuff mattresses and life preservers. Numerous cactus species also became prevalent.
Because the campground in downtown Oaxaca is being turned into a new building, we are camped on the outskirts of town in a lot whose owner is working hard to make it a campground. However, it smells a lot more like the last tenants that slept here - eau de manure. The sewer lines are in, but we have no electricity and to get water we have to ask a boy to run a large hose from the tank to our rig. That will work just fine for our time here. They have taken some of our dirty laundry away and will hopefully bring it back clean before it's time to leave. Most of all we are grateful for the cooler temperatures at this high elevation. No questions about being able to sleep tonight.
Tule, the town where we are camped, is more touristic than the typical little burg, because it sports a cypress tree that is over 2,000 years old in its church yard and is a tourist destination in its own right. The tree is 45 feet in diameter 180 in circumference and as imposing as a giant sequoia, although it has a squat shape. The churchyard and central square of Tule are neat and well maintained and numerous little shops and restuarants that cater to the tree traffic are within walking distance of our rigs. Might be a quieter spot to spend the night than downtown Oaxaca.