We wake up in Oaxaca hoping to add some points to our tally. Our drive into the night last night has provided us a window to get some things done before having to hit the road again. We get chased out of the campground early, but cant go far until Team Astrid tries to fix the flat that happened overnight. They pull out the jack and the highlift but the suspension makes it all but impossible to get the tire off the ground. Luckily, in all parts of mexico you are never further than a few blocks away from a tire repair shop. They inflate the slow leaking tire and head two blocks away to get the fix in less time than it took to get the highlift off the back.
We follow each other around town looking to check things off the list for points. Its hot, traffic is brutal and much debate occurs from both teams about whether to stay or blow out of town. We aren’t really cut out for hot stop and go traffic and the bus clearly needs some adjustments after yesterday’s mountainous drive. The carbs sound like they are making popcorn and we are easily among the loudest vehicles on the street. We quickly secure points for visiting a mezcal factory and eating chapulines (fried grasshoppers), but after that options wear thin and a few people start getting hangry. I had secured a contact within the Lucha Libre group in town and finally got information back about where we could see a match today. That info (and the big points associated with it) got the guys to stay after little more than a quick chat. This is clearly why Jen and I aren’t exactly cracked up for competitive venues… if we like you we have a hard time not being open, honest and giving. In this case, what could have been over 100point swing (and possibly had us competitively in the rally) just became an event shared between friends. Good enough for us.
We show up at the destination i was told and see a Luchadore truck…a good sign. The guys are just arriving, so to make sure we can get the needed photos i offer to help out. Anthony, Bryon and I spend the next 3 hours doing hard manual labor. Apparently wrestling rings aren’t light, and aren’t an easy assembly…but im sure it looks great on a resume. Once we’ve completed the ring a small crowd starts to gather. This wasn’t a largely publicized event and is being put on as a free gift to this small community…we’ll chalk our labor up as continued volunteer work.
This was the first luchadore event for any of us and we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces the remainder of the evening. Simply watch the faces of the children playing in the ring before the match or chanting the name of their favorite team during, and you see why this is such a large part of mexican culture. Masks of past lucha heroes hang on the wall like shrines and the crowd carries handbags made of masks/wears mask tshirts and knows the names of each wrestler. The matches themselves are great entertainment. Equal parts theatre and comedy show. Generally a theme of good vs bad throughout (with a ref that always seem to lean towards or fully assist the bad). The match consists of three rounds with the winners rejoicing and the losers limping back to the dressing room with the help of their teammates. Even the most weary and wounded Lucha is happy to stop and pose for photos or sign an autogroph with the young fans. We had a fantastic night!Match complete, we say our thank yous to the Lucha who selflessly allowed us to carry the tons of equipment earlier and return to our vehicles. Team astrid punches the address of a campground into their GPS and leads us on another goosechase that begin by turning us the wrong way down a 3 lane one way street before they quickly escape the situation by leaping over the median and leaving us to battle the oncoming traffic. What a nice thanks for the gift of points we sent their way this evening!
We pull into camp late, chat with the couple running the place (who still lives out of the greyhound bus they drove around the americas) and sleep through the night. The boys are off with first light, hoping to drive today where it will clearly take us two days of driving. We grab coffee and Calvin agrees to do a bit of tweaking to the carbs (apparently one of his specialties). Twenty minutes later we are on the road and the bus sounds better than it has since we left sea level. Good thing since most of our drive today is through steep mountains and ravines. Oaxaca is truly an amazing and beautiful state. I’m not sure what we expected but the winding road through the mountains of southern Oaxaca didn’t disappoint and was as scenic as any drive we’ve done.We dont quite make it to our next destination and pull over in an unknown town before dark. Cant find the normal town square and simply pull off across the street from a gas station. We setup camp and walk for food. Sadly, its possibly the most disappointing meal of our trip as it’s a bland soup broth with soggy chicken. We eat a bit, take the rest with us knowing we can make a better soup later with a few simple additions. We then find some tasty tacos from a stand not far away. Later in the night i regret our dinner choice even more as the chicken apparently wasnt cooked far enough for avoid a bit of food poisoning. At 2am i roll out of the bus half naked onto the grungy mexican sidewalk and start heaving into the street. We are now trying to decide whether to continue on early or get a bit more rest in before another push.
That’s what we get for going into a restaurant with actual walls… the leftover soup is now in the basura.