Oasis in the Desert

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oaxaca - Our stay and Rental info

Toni Casa, I read your comment and will include the following information. I hope the info will assist you in finding a nice place to stay in Oaxaca.

We stayed in a very nice bungalow away from the noise and crowds. We walked one block to the bus stop (4.50 pesos) or took a taxi (30 pesos) to the zocalo and the plaza downtown. We left our car parked except when we made a Sam's Club run or toured outside the city.

Our contact at the Casa Pereyra was Patricia. She introduced us to the owners of the Bungalow (very nice people) and showed us the grounds. The monthly cost was about $450.00 per month (6000 pesos). I've attached the description on the website in the next paragraph. The website is http://www.mexonline.com/casapereyra.htm and the email address is casapereyra@yahoo.com.mx

The one bedroom, one bath, living/dining area and kitchen bungalow was small (625 sq ft living area), but was okay for two people. We also had secure parking within the compound. The landscape, common areas, and patio were emaculate. We were told that the other bungalows were larger. You will need to check it out and confirm if you want a larger space.


We rent per month two furnished nice apartments, in a very quiet part of town, with a beautiful view of the city. Only 15 minutes walking distance from the tourist main street of Oaxaca. Each one with 1 bedroom, living-dining room, kitchenette and 1 bathroom, all the services.
Monthly: $6000 pesos
*Our rates include the services of water, gas and electricity, wireless internet & Direct TV. Not included is cleaning service.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Arrival into Oaxaca

A cozy dining area for two.

The bungalow living area.

The entry into the bungalow

A view to the left from the patio

A view from the Patio of Oaxaca

The next morning we checked out of the hotel, left our car in the parking lot, and took a taxi to the address given for the rental. The sun was shining and our spirits were lifted. We were met by Patricia, our rental contact, and we were introduced to the owner of the rental casa. The rental proved to be a perfect choice. It was a one bedroom casa with a beautiful view and quiet surroundings. We looked no further.

Our first impressions proved to be inaccurate as we received warm and friendly greetings from the staff at the Las Olivias Hotel and Spa. The rain stopped and we settled in for the night in a comfortable room and enjoyed dinner in their vegetarian restaurant. A good night’s sleep after a delicious meal changed our whole attitude.

Buses were on either side of the car with no room for error.

Our first impressions of Oaxaca were not good. We arrived in a downpour and we were wedged between buses and taxis as we entered the downtown area. Earlier, we had contacted the owners of our potential rental, but we could not find their address in the rain. We broke free of the downtown traffic and settled in at the Las Olivias Hotel and Spa located about one mile from the plaza.

Paracho to Ajijic

Ajijic and the Lake Chapala area are also known as an expatriate community. Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and others from countries all over the world flock here and enjoy the moderate climate and an easy lifestyle. The state of Jalisco is said to have a population of over 50,000 expatriates. We spent a few days visiting with Charlotte, dropped off excess luggage, and spent time just relaxing in her casa. Lots more about Ajijic later – we plan to spend the winter there. For now, we are off to Oaxaca!

Fortunately, we left Paracho on paved roads and continued to have good roads all the way to Mex 15D (Mex 15D is the toll road between Mexico City and Guadalajara). This drive will to take us to Ajijic, Jalisco where Cindy’s sister, Charlotte, lives during the summer months. Ajijic is about 30 miles south of Guadalajara, nestled in the mountains at about 5,000 feet, and borders Lake Chapala (Mexico’s largest lake). It is known for its temperate climate. Year round temperatures range from the 60s to the 80s, very pleasant.

Lynne, you had asked about my camera and if I used a filter. We have a Canon PowerShot A570 IS camera. It came with an instruction book as thick as a Robert Ludlum novel. I read to about page four where it stated that if I move the dial to “auto”, I could point and shoot (I am going to wait for the video to come out before I learn about the rest of the manual). I also reduced the pixel count to a minimum for quick loading onto the web. The camera does it all, I just push the button.

Joining us as followers are Ryan and Nicole. They have a very interesting blog called “Rambling Down the Road” (http://thegypsystownsend.blogspot.com/) with lots of photos and good reading. Also, we will say “Hi” to Fete Vidal and Evelyn Nay -- thanks for the comments.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Paracho -- A few photos

Fresh Bread being delivered in the Plaza

Squash blossems make an excellent addition to any salad

Busy day on the Plaza

The tower overlooking the Plaza

My Paracho Guitar!

The selection was unbelievable

Now let's see which five do I want?

Lobby of the Hotel Melinda

The Hotel Melinda in Paracho

“More than half of the population of Paracho is involved in the producing guitars. Over the years they have used manual tools and techniques that produce a ‘quality’ instrument that famous musicians from all over the world seek”, says the author of an article on Paracho. You can read the whole article on the website http://www.hechoenparacho.com/paracho.html The author has also compiled a nice set of photos on the website.

Upon reaching Paracho, we found a quaint hotel with secure parking downtown called “The Hotel Melinda”. They gave us a room with double beds and bath on the third floor in the corner facing the main street. Nice view, but the traffic echoed throughout the room all night. Fortunately, only a few vehicles roared through town after midnight. Being seasoned travelers, we knew better and would have asked for a room on the back side. Our tired bodies must have shown the wear and tear because we didn’t care where the room was located as long as it had beds.

Now the search for the perfect guitar began. We walk through about four stores featuring the local guitars. Found one we liked and started bargaining. They must have had two hundred guitars on display. One Chico started tuning the guitars I had picked off of the shelves and two salespersons helped me look for more. One salesperson claimed that her father had built the guitar that I had an interest. Inside each guitar was a label verifying authenticity and the name of the person who made the guitar.

The Chico played for us with a number of guitars so that we may gauge the quality of the sound. We had it down to two guitars—both sounded great! One was less expensive than the other, so being a cheapskate, I chose the least expensive. They sounded the same to me. At least an hour past before we decided upon the guitar of choice and a mandolin for Cindy. Yeah! I have my Paracho guitar!

Paracho -- The guitar factory

Small pastures and farm lands covered the moutainside
The dirt road was not very well maintained

"Share the Road" -- One of many reasons not to drive at night in Mexico

Lake Cuitzio sighted along Hwy 15D

Lake Cuitzio had an errie look about it

We launched our HHR and traveled south along Hwy Mex 120. We soon were flying along on the toll road Mex 15D. We drove along south of Lake Cuitzio in the state of Michoacán. It was hard to keep your eyes on the road and miss the sights along the lake. We thought we had taken the correct turnoff from Mex 15D to Mex 135 (at least our GPS spokesman “Richard” said it was the correct road). The roads kept getting more and more primitive and bumpy as we drove though the Michoacán mountains. All of a sudden we ran out of paved roads and our GPS went blank. We continued until we reached a small pueblo. There we asked directions to the pueblo of Paracho – “that way!”, they said (“Por aca!”, the favorite direction of all Mexicans accompanied by the waving of the hands in all directions).

The dirt road was not very well maintained, but the countryside was beautiful. The small plats of pasture and farm land reminded us of the countryside in Ireland. The GPS failed us, but we received a bonus of an unplanned tour of a remote area in the mountains of Michoacán. Several hours later, we found pavement and the road led us to Paracho, a small remote village off the beaten path whose fame has reached around the world as a maker of some of the finest guitars.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back to Tequisquiapan

Indigenous Indians spending a day in the plaza selling crafts

One of the oil portraits in the casita that Alicia Valle painted

Herb working on his blog in the casita

The Valle family, owners of our casita

Morning coffee with Pete, Papa Gene and what's his name

We returned to Tequisquiapan and spent a few days resting from our trip. Homer and Nancy left us and headed for the good ole USA. They must have set a new record on their return trip. They made it back in a day (about 800 miles). We enjoyed their company.

Our last Saturday night in Tequis, we enjoyed a night at the plaza restaurant. That evening Maria’s entire family (about eight of them) joined in song and entertained us with a variety of musical instruments and their harmonic voices. A great evening!

Sadly, we left Teqis August 31 and continued our journey into Mexico. Next stop is Paracho, home of the world famous guitar factory in Mexico. Thanks to Pete, Jemina and Papa Gene, we had a very pleasant stay.

Xilitla - The Enchanted Gardens (cont.)

An unfinished casa
Homer going nowhere on the stairs to nowhere

Concrete Bamboo cage for monkeys

This basin is filled with water during the rainy season

Waterfalls in the Garden

Xilitla - The Enchanted Gardens

One of the structures blended into the jungle

Replica of the hands of Edward's favorite mason

Four tourists taking the guided tour

The stairs to nowhere

After a brief stay in Jalpan, we journeyed on to Xilitla, our final destination, to view the “Enchanted Gardens” built by Edward James at an expense of $5,000,000 USD. Edward James was an eccentric billionaire from Sussex, England. He built the gardens as a hobby. As soon as it was built, he grew tired of it and moved on. We had read that it was really an unusual garden, no one structure was ever finished and it was a natural blend of manmade structures and nature. One standout was the stairs to nowhere. I have attached a few of the 45 photos that I took, but none capture the true beauty of this place.

It was really a sight to behold. Homer commented that probably only a handful of people would ever view these gardens because of the remoteness of the area. I agree, and it is sad that more could not enjoy this place.

We booked two nights in Downtown Xilitla at the Hotel Guzman in their upstairs suites. The suites featured a sitting room, bedroom with a frig, and a bath with a Jacuzzi tub. Our room A/C was not working and it was like a sauna. Both Cindy and I sweat all through the night. Homer and Nancy’s A/C worked fine and they reported they had a good night’s sleep. We were soooo glad for them. The next day Cindy and I moved to another room, one with a working A/C.

Jalpan - A visit to the oldest mission in the area

The Mision Jalpan

The guitar man played and sang as we enjoyed our lunch. He had a pleasant voice.

A view of Jalpan as we drove down from the mountains

The five missions: We read that a 60 year old priest blessed these five missions. He walked from California to this mountainous area for the blessing. A journey of over two thousand miles. Then, he walked back.

Okay, I dropped out for a couple of weeks. We have covered so many miles and visited so many places, it was hard to set up shop. Enough excuses. We survived the mountain drive to Jalpan.

Homer, Nancy, Cindy and I decided the first stop in Jalpan was a nice restaurant. We found one in the square overlooking the mission. As we enjoyed a traditional Mexican meal, an older gentleman was playing a guitar and singing classic Mexican songs. Very Nice!