Posted by: lianadevine | 26 February 2009

Such is Serendipity

Those who know me know I’d have a route and a schedule to follow as we left Oaxaca and headed into Mexico’s interior.  When my planned Sunday departure was literally thrown to the wind – we flew a new kite with Andrea and her kids Tilman and Merle Saturday after work

Spike reluctantly says "adios" to Auntie Theresa

Spike reluctantly says "adios" to Auntie Theresa

– it only followed that the route would also evolve.  So Monday morning, February 2 (Día de Candelaria),  we bid a hearty goodbye to Eucario at the Oaxaca Trailer Park, and following my usual walk to work, we struck out on the toll road toward Mexico City, intending to make Cuernavaca by nightfall.

The first leg of the toll road, though expensive (196 pesos for 42 km) was our proving ground, assuring Calvin that the bus was running smoothly after more than 10 months at rest.  Turbo boost good, jake brakes fine, breezing along in very light holiday traffic.  We returned to the free road at Nochixtlán and continued winding and climbing through the Oaxacan mountains toward Huajuapan.  But between the climbs in altitude and temperature during the day, our engine began to run increasingly warm.  Calvin compensated by diverting heat into the bus, but we eventually had to make a few roadside stops to allow the motor to cool down.  Always something.

We considered stopping for the night at Izucar de Matamoros, well short of our goal, but the bustling little pueblo did nothing for Calvin, who opted to press on.  Cuautla was only 60 km beyond, with a Sam’s Club and WalMart where we hoped to stop, shop and stay.

But I guess nobody told the Mexicans that WalMart is a favourite RV campground: after we had been in and spent more than we would have at an RV park, security asked us to leave.  They suggested we try the bus depot in nearby Oaxtepec.  I grumbled about missing out on the free parking, but at least the bus depot was easy to find, considering it was now after dark.  Of course, the bus depot was too busy to allow squatters, but the friendly security gal kindly showed us to a large lot next door where we could enquire about parking from the security there.

In truth, this was the IMSS facility I had noted in our Mexican campground guide, and had considered directing us to when it became apparent we would not be going all the way in to Cuernavaca before dark.  Yes, they would allow us to park there, for a fee…Again, I grumbled about missing out on free parking and 140 pesos to sit for 12 hours in a parking lot seemed a bit steep. But we settled in and I heated up our Día de Candelaria supper: Doña Lupita’s tamales de frijol and  salsa verde.  We were just starting to eat, taking photos

Happy Tamale Day!

Happy Tamale Day!

to share with Kyle and Pilar, when the security guard showed up to take me to the office to pay our rent.

As we drove beyond the lit parking lot where the bus sat quite near the arched entranceway, I started to wonder what kind of place we were actually in.  We drove for several minutes through grassed parkway lined with buildings, and I noted a mini-super and a couple of pizza restaurants before we parked in a wooded area.  The man in the office was friendly and very thorough, explaining with a map what areas we were now entitled to visit as he wrapped a bracelet around my wrist.  I paid more attention on the return trip, so Calvin and I could come back and explore in the morning before hitting the road again.

The park was so large that we took the Thing, driving the route I’d gone the previous night then beyond, up the hill where the map said the Stadium was.  Stadium??  Yes.  This was the site of the 1968 Olympics, featuring more than 20 swimming pools, where the aquatic events were held.  The Mexican Government, specifically the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS, who also provides the medical coverage that Calvin and I are enrolled in) took it over and has turned it into a vacation destination of sorts.

Oaxtepec Cabana

Oaxtepec Cabana

We saw many cabañas, that I could only imagine had been the “athletes’ village”, each with a little pool on its patio.  These are now rented out, as are rooms in several hotels on site.  The huge tent camping area I’d been to the night before – with a capacity for 4000 – rounded out the guest housing.  Several onsite restaurants, bars and of course the swiming pools, hot tubs, video arcades, football fields, Olympic sized track, and a new waterpark kept visitors active and entertained.  The full convention facilities now available attracted a different clientele, providing both hightech amenities and highclass accommodations in a prestigious and exotic site.  From the  Torre Parlementaria that crowned the hilltop, offering a commanding view to conventioners, a cable car would deliver you back to the geodesic-domed natural sulfur pool near the entrance.

We were impressed at every turn with the immaculate grounds and the number of employees busily sweeping, clipping and mowing.  The diversity of facilities for every taste, interest and price range was amazing.  Who would not enjoy a sojourn here, whether a family day at the waterpark, a boy scout campout with activities galore or a retreat that provided for both business and pleasure?  It turned out 140 pesos was not so bad to make this fortuitous discovery afterall.



  1. Leanne and Cal,
    Having spent two weeks in PV, I was inspired to check you Blog. I was pleased to find the entries correlate with the movement of the bus and you are on the road again. As usual, your writings are informative and easy to read. Winter has lingered in Canada so the weather contrast between PV and Kamloops is huge. The consistent shorts and t-shirt temperatures of PV are opposite to the constant change of apparel in the 10 – 50 F. temperatures here. The bob-cat is removing snow from our complex as I write. While I enjoy the unpredictable world of winter skiing, I can read about the virtues of mexican life. keep up the blog

  2. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

  3. Hi, Leanne and Calvin and Spike.

    For some reason I thought I’d check to see if you were blogging again, and I’m glad I did! You’ve had a number of new adventures since the last time I checked!

    I continue to admire the two of you for deciding to head south, and I also continue to enjoy reading the latest in the ever-evolving story of your great trek!

    All the best—


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