The water in Barra de la Cruz in the last couple of weeks was actually quite chilly. Even local Barra boys were shivering then.
Whereas, the water in Puerto Escondido was warm and crystal-clear with lots of fish, especially small rays, swimming around. It was such a nice feeling to go into the water with only my board-shorts on.
I actually fell over last night on my way back from Super Che (Dodgy me!) and the gash was quite bloody, I decided to go surfing this morning regardless of the injury.

The photos below were taken today with my Pentax WG-1 as well as my GoPro camera.






Waves at Zicatela Beach were no huge this morning, about 3ft and no winds. Good enough for me.
I had a few barreling waves, but I could never come out of them. I just got sucked straight into Zicatela's notorious washing machine.





As the swell-forecast over the next few days are looking very small for all the southern Pacific coast of Mexico, I'm gonna rush through Puerto Escondido this time.

A treat to finalize my time in Puerto Escondido tonight was a bunch of tacos.
I found this taco-stand (5 tacos for MXN25.00) just outside the mini-supermarket. Cheap, good and clean.


I was just wandering around the main street of Puerto Escondido after having about 10 tacos and trying to digest what just went into my stomach when I noticed a nice-looking jewelry-shop as pictured below.
I walked into it just to have a look. And there Vandielli (the Brazilian guy who gave me a lift to and from the beach of Barra de la Cruz about three weeks ago) sitting at the counter. Surprise. Surprise.

I was only browsing a few necklaces and bracelets as I was chatting with Vandielli, and then one shining turquoise caught my eyes.
I gazed at it and asked him;

"How much is this turquoise, Vandielli?"

He then replied to me with a little grin on his face;

"Oh, this one?! I'll give it to you as a gift for your safe journey."

"Whaaat?! No No No! I'll buy it from you." I insisted.


But Vandielli refused my offer. He then quickly made a necklace with the stone and just handed it to me.

I didn't know what to say, but I was rather overwhelmed by his generosity.

Vandielli, you are my true legend!
I cannot thank you enough.



After my quick visit in Puerto Escondido, my next destination was Oaxaca City (with no surf).
I've already been there before, but I was only there for one day during my last visit. So I'm gonna spend at least a few days in Oaxaca City to indulge myself with Mexican chocolate. Hehehe
In fact, if Barra de la Cruz wasn't that much firing, I would have been in Oaxaca City in time for "the day of the dead". But too late now....







Around Oaxaca City there are a few major archaeological sites that I've wanted to check out.
The below are two of the ruins that I went to;

1. Mitla

It's said to have been a very important Zapotec city.
It took me and Jake (the Australian surfer who I met at Barra de la Cruz) two hours to get there from Oaxaca City, but there was nothing impressive or photogenic here.

Both Jake and I, while we were strolling around the site, were asking each other; "Is this it? Did you find anything interesting??"



2. Monte Alban

It's registered as a UNESCO world heritage site and a little more impressive than Mitla because of its scale, although I found some Mayan architecture more intriguing and more photogenic than Monte Alban.

I went to Monte Alban by myself, catching a direct shuttle from Oaxaca City (I forgot the fare).
Honestly speaking, there wasn't much that appealed to me here. However, I somehow spent all afternoon trying to discover something interesting to me.
As a result, the last shuttle back to Oaxaca City had already left when I exited the site.
I had to catch a taxi instead. Bugger me....




I really like the varieties of food that Oaxaca region has.
Tacos are everywhere in Mexico and I've already had them a number of times. So I was keen on trying something new other than ordinary tacos this time.

The photos below are some of the Mexican / Oaxacan dishes that I had while in Oaxaca City.

1. Quesadilla

The photo below shows a cheese and bean quesadilla. I had it on my way to Mitla.
A Mexican lady warmed a big tortilla on a stove and wrapped cheese and mashed beans inside.
It's kinda Mexican fast-food like tacos. Very cheap and good.


2. Enchilada

The photo below shows an Enchilada that I tried in the food-court one afternoon.
It was chicken with tortilla and cheese. Very tasty, but it was a little too greasy for me.


3. Tlayuda

I found this dish quite peculiar to Oaxaca - a big fried tortilla on which cheese, veggies and pieces of beef are put. I didn't know this at all until I saw a Mexican woman who sat next to me at a restaurant eating it.
I would call this dish a Mexican pizza (?). It was very very good. I highly recommend it for everyone.


4. Mole (Negro)

Apparently, Mole varies from one region to another and it's not only Mole Negro (the black sauce). There are green Mole and yellow Mole based on the spices used for them.


Like the one that I had in Barra de la Cruz a couple of weeks ago, me being a serious chocoholic, I chose the black one which was made from chocolate and spices.


Mind you. This dish is no sweet, the sauce is thick and rich. It actually tastes quite similar to one of the Japanese dishes called Hayashi Rice.
Mole Negro is my all-time favourite Mexican dish for sure.


5. Tequila and Mezcal

Tequila, made from a specific type of cactus, is a well-known Mexican liquor, but I never tried it while in Mexico. It was simply because I didn't wanna get too drunk when the surf was supposed to be good the next day.

Mezcal is another strong liquor from Mexico and said to be similar to Tequila. I was tempted to try this one, but I didn't in the end because I saw quite a few Mexican guys getting super intoxicated with this "could-be-toxic" alcohol. Some guys even become heavily addicted to Mezcal and lose their mind....

I feel very healthy by refraining myself from these notorious Mexican alcohols : )


Okay. Now my stomach is absolutely delighted with all great Mexican food and it's time for me to move on.

My next destination is Cancun by a long long distance bus.
I'm not looking forward to Cancun at all, but I have a flight to Havana from Cancun and I'm super excited about going to Cuba for the first time in my life. Fidel Castro is awaiting my visit there!


Oh, one more thing to be mentioned.
A treat to finalize my time in Oaxaca City was Coconut-milk ice cream as pictured above.
Jake first discovered this ice cream and he suggested that I should also try it.
It turned out to be divine.

Gochisou-sama, Oaxaca City!

It took me over 24 hours by an ADO bus from Oaxaca City to Cancun yesterday. Huhh....
However, no time for me to relax in Cancun. I walked and walked all around the central part of Cancun and walked into seven different travel-agents today just to check the best flight deal to Cuba. The cheapest I could find was USD285.00 for a return ticket by Cubana Airlines - the only national carrier of Cuba (As of November 2011, AeroMexico also flies to Havana, but more expensive than Cubana.) This ticket for Cubana was selling at a travel agent near Cancun's main bus terminal, but the price didn't include a tourist card (about additional USD20.00) or tax to be paid at the airport (about another USD20.00).


In the end, Divermex, an official travel agent for Cubana Airlines (?) located in Plaza America on Coba Ave. was where I bought my flight ticket to Cuba for MXN4,600.00 (about USD333.00) including a tourist card as well as tax. Not cheap. Should I have bought my ticket on the Internet much earlier, the ticket price would have been a lot lower. Hindsight is 20/20. Yet I'm super excited about going to Cuba tomorrow.

Next Destination >>>

A direct bus by ADO to Cancun airport was only MXP45.00 (about USD3.25).

While my flight to Havana by Cubana Airlines was being delayed for an hour, I met a Japanese backpacker in a queue to the check-in counter at the airport. His name was Aki from Hokkaido and a few years younger than me, but was already an experienced traveller: he had already travelled to many countries including some in Africa.
Aki was also flying to Havana on the same flight operated by Cubana today.


It was sunny and warm in Cancun and our plane was finally ready to fly one and a half hours later than originally scheduled.
I couldn't figure out if our fleet was going to be Airbus or Tupolev and I was strongly hoping for an Airbus, but it turned out to be a Tupolev as the seat arrangement was looking odd.
The photo below shows a very spacious leg room in front of my seat. How lucky was I to have this much leg room in the economy class?!



Despite some bad reputations as well as bad safety records held by Cubana, very fortunately, it was clear blue sky and my flight was smooth without any dramas or problems. Additionally, the in-flight snack (nuts and crackers) was surprisingly good, although a flight attendant was looking exhausted for some reason.



As soon as the plane landed in Havana, Aki and I picked up our luggage and walked straight to the money changer inside Havana airport. We needed to change our money to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) and Cuban Pesos (CUP).


It's a little complicated to explain the difference in these two currencies: in short, CUCs are for tourists and CUPs are for Cuban people. We as tourists still need some CUPs if wanting to buy stuff at local shops and to eat at local restaurants.


Cuba was initially included in my itinerary for my previous RTW trip. However, I spent a lot more time than expected in both Central and South America. As a result, my trip to Cuba had to be postponed then.
Now I finally set foot in this last true communism nation in the world. Exciting!