Randy's Trip to the Coast

Olmec head at Xalapa
Well, Nancy had the audacity to leave me for a week last week and fly to Las Vegas for a reunion with her dad, brother, and her son Kamm. She had a blast. (She didn't do a lot of bicycling in Las Vegas... But she did purchase some things we were hoping to get.)

So I had to ride for the week on my own. Since our plan was to miss the Veracruz coast, I decided to make a trip to Xalapa, Veracruz, and Tlacotalpan, all on the Gulf Coast, all beautiful places.

Las Limas Olmec Jade carving in Xalapa Anthropology museum
Las Limas Olmec jade carving
On the first night out I camped and had a pretty miserable rainstorm to wait out, but after that everything went fine. It was about 3 days to Xalapa (pronounced "ha-LA-pa", where the Jalapeño pepper originally came from. There I got to see the phenomenal Anthropological Museum that contains the largest collection of Olmec Heads in the world. The Olmecs were a great civilization on the coast more than 2000 years ago, long before the Maya, Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Aztec peoples. The gigantic heads and other incredible work presented far more as works of art than as pieces of archaeology. The artistry is astonishing. (There are several more pictures on our flickr page..)

Next I went to Veracruz, Mexico's most famous port city (and now an amazing tourist city too). It was just full of tourists, but it was really pleasant, nicely set up, beautiful weather. A bit hot, but plenty tolerable.

Church and plaza in Tlacotalpan
Church and plaza in Tlacotalpan
Finally I rode to the colonial city of Tlacotalpan (no, I can't pronounce it either), which has UNESCO World Heritage Site status because it's just such a nice place, and because they've preserved the colonial heritage so nicely. It's a small town, maybe 10,000 inhabitants, and terribly quiet and nice. I spent a very pleasant rest day there before returning to Puebla/Cholula by bus to meet Nancy, who arrived back without incident.

We're now riding through the rugged mountains of Oaxaca state. Lots of climbing. More on that later.