I'm aware that it has been a little while since I last wrote. Since my last detailed post, Greg and I have parted ways (sad face) and I have been living in and exploring San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. It's been a rather crazy week and a bit and there's still a bit left to tell from Oaxaca, so there's going to be a fair amount of writing coming your way in the next few days.
After a few days in Oaxaca, it became clear to Greg and I that due to Greg's flight in Cancún, it wouldn't be possible for us to stick to our original plan, so as I posted at the time, we decided to stay an extra few days in Oaxaca before parting ways. We decided, therefore, to visit some of the touristy sights ourselves without taking a tour (as we originally intended), simply because we share the opinion that you get a much better experience that way, plus you can take as long as you want and it generally ends up costing less.
After Monte Albán we decided to visit a big tree in a place called Tule that we'd heard a lot of people talking about. Now I'm aware that doesn't sound terribly exciting and in all honesty, it wasn't, but considering it cost us very little for transport and entry (entrance was 50p, so really we couldn't complain) and it could potentially be the oldest known tree in the world, I didn't feel too disappointed. I mean, although it was just a tree, it was a really flipping impressive tree. We also had fun reading the translations of ' Está prohibido cortar las ramas del árbol' (it's forbidden to cut the branches of the tree) written around the tree in French 'Il est interdit de couper les', English 'Forbidden, branches of thee tree', and what we could only guess was meant to be Japanese.
Árbol del Tule
Our next trip was supposed to be to 'Hierve el Agua' which literally means, 'the water boils', ironic considering their also known as 'the frozen waterfalls'. However, the night before Greg and a friend Dave who we met in our hostel dorm, decided to try and determine who was the most hardened drinker over a few games of cards, and Greg ended up consuming so much tequila that the sheer idea of movement made him want to be sick, so he gave me his blessing to head off with Dave, whilst he stayed in bed. We had quite the adventure to get there, as we had to take a shared taxi for the first half of the journey, which involved me sitting on Dave's knee in the front seat of a taxi without a back or passenger seat window, and then changing in the the town Mitlan (about an hour later) to the back of the pick up truck for the next hour or so. All of which are completely legal in Mexico?!
All the safety...
It turns out that the falls are actually formed by natural gisers of water flowing over the mountain sides for centuries, which have hardened into some kind of rock formation (I'm not much of a geography student!) and due to all the different shades and colours of the mierals, it looks like frozen waterfalls. On the top of the waterfalls, the gisers have formed natural infinity pools, which are pretty darn cold, but provide an amazing view of the surrounding mountain ranges and greenery. In short, it's an absolutely stunning place.
In this picture, I'm swimming in the infinity pool on top of the 'waterfall' in the next picture.
View from the facing waterfall.
The whole area is situated in a huge mountain range. You could literally see for miles and it was a bloody long way down.
When we eventually managed to tear ourselves away, we discovered that we had to head back via a different route. Basically, the two villages next to Hierve el Agua have had some kind of fall out, which meant that the residents from each can't pass through the other one, even when driving tourists through. So instead of taking a much more direct route back, we had to take a windy road over a huge mountain, still in the back of a pick up truck. Scenic, yes, but potentially life threatening as well.
Quite possibly the most Mexican picture I've ever taken. All that's missing is their owner in a sombero, who I just missed out of the shot. Hanging on for dear life and photography are two difficult skills to combine.
We intended to spend our last day simply chilling out, watching some football and eating lots of Mole, however as things tend to go with me, we weren't quite able to stick to the plan. It turns out that when we crossed the border at Tijuana, we were supposed to receive tourist papers, that in order to legally be in the country, we were supposed to carry with us at all times, which we weren't given. Not only that, but the woman didn't even check our passports, so we had no stamps, thus no evidence to prove when exactly we had entered the country. Greg had been briefly checking out some stuff for his flight when all this information came to light, and we figured that we better take a trip to the immagration office, because we were basically illegal immigrants. Seriously, how does one accidentally enter into a country illegally, that is free to enter and not realise for nearly a month?
Anyway it turned out we didn't really have much to worry about, because Mexicans being Mexicans, although a little confused at how we'd managed to get ourselves into such a ridiculous situation, were really chill about the whole thing and gave us information on what to do. And although I am yet to cross the border at Guatemala and return to Mexico to get some proper documentation, Greg has already made it home fine and dandy, so thank goodness for that! I'll hopefully be getting around to sorting out my stuff at some point this week, I'll just have to try my best not to get arrested between now and then, because deportation a month before I begin my studies would be rather inconvenient.