TRAVEL | May 3


Oaxaca, Mexico Trip Report Part 7: San Jose del Pacifico

Kaye Rottingham

A short ride through twisting mountain roads can end up seeming way longer than it actually is when you are on the morning after a mezcal tour and are prone to motion sickness to begin with. Oh yeah, not to mention the altitude, that's a thing too, and one that also messes with me, apparently. Our final destination for the day was at a height of about 2500 meters, not exactly something to sneeze at, or perhaps I would, because I am starting to feel a bit funny from all this adventure.

We jumped out of the vehicle with great excitement to be done with moving for the day. The place was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. We got settled in with our bags in the cabin, used the washroom, got drinking water to hydrate and generally took good care of ourselves, etc, etc. After our short break to catch up on all that stuff, we then headed straight for the waterfall hike down the mountain. We were in a bit of a rush since we needed to give ourselves enough time to get there and back before the sun went down.

The hike was smooth sailing on the way there, other than a few slippery, steep spots that I slid down from totally not wearing the right shoes for the trek. However, Jessica assured me that I looked good in my blue suede shoes, as I dangerously hiked through the mountainous Mexican terrain. Surprisingly, I managed not to fall on my butt or hurt myself on this trip.

When we made it to the waterfall, we were a bit disappointed because it was pretty much dried up by this time of year. We were hoping to get to jump in, but instead we just caught our breath and enjoyed the scenery. Despite the waterfall lacking in water falling, the views along the pathway of the mountains were massive. The hike down more than made up for the lack of prize at the finish line.

Heading back up the hill was a bit more grueling. Like I mentioned earlier, I think this altitude stuff was getting to me. I swear, I'm not getting too old for this, but at the same time... nah, definitely the altitude making me huff and puff so easily...

We got back and it was almost time to eat. All the food is all either grown on site or as local as possible.

By the time dinner was served, the sun had already long been down. We ate our food by candle light as the surrounding scenery had made its transformation into opaque darkness. Although a surreal experience to be there in person, any images or videos to show you at this point in the night would just be of black rectangles and probably not at all very interesting.

After eating, we were asked if we would like to try the steam bath. We grabbed our flashlights and made our way down the hill to where the small wooden hut was setup. We spent a while stewing in a small dwelling that was dug out of the side of the mountain and lit by a fire and candles. Fresh herbs, hot stones and steaming water in a pot over the fire provided a familiar and comforting scent. Likely, some of the same herbs I am used to using for cooking with back home. My guess was thyme or lavender with other local plants from the garden.

After making ourselves tender and tasty for any local mountain trolls that may be wandering by that night, we returned to our cabin and settled in for the night with a fire and some cozy blankets.

At around 4:00am I woke up feeling a bit weak with the chills. It was for sure some sort of sickness I had been feeling all day. I really needed the rest. I wanted to just curl in deeper to the wool blankets and go back to sleep, but as I was checking the clock, I caught a glimpse of light outside the window. I oozed out of bed, hobbled over to my hoodie, unlocked the door and went outside...

With no light pollution in sight, I did not want to miss out on seeing the night sky from the top of a mountain. Earlier in the evening, although black with darkness, there were clouds in the sky preventing me from getting to see any stars. As I was standing outside in the chilly night air in awe, I realized I had never seen anything like this before. If I had been shown a photo, I would not have believed it was real or an untouched image.

Standing in the crisp mountain air, staring at the infinite layers of stars dancing with glowing celestial gas clouds that were expanding across the galaxies, suddenly, a shooting star flew across the sky to complete the perfect storm of night watching conditions. Feeling satisfied and grinning like an idiot at what I was witnessing, I headed back inside to finish getting my needed rest for the night.

In the morning, I watched the sun rise and listened to the birds from the bench outside our cabin. The only thing that would have made it more perfect would have been a cup of Mexican coffee, preferably in my hand and moving towards my mouth. However, breakfast would not be served for another couple hours. Instead, we woke ourselves up and refreshed our minds by doing yoga in a studio overlooking the mountains of San Jose del Pacifico.

We only spent an evening at this spot, but it was packed full of things to do. A bit contradictory for such a relaxing place perhaps, but we didn't want to miss out on any of the experiences during our short stay there. Despite all that, we were still left with that feeling of wanting more (even if that feeling was of wanting to do less). I know we will be back one day to do a whole lot of nothing in the mountains of Mexico.

Time to jump back in the car and head to Pluma Hidalgo for some coffee...

(P.S. For those wondering, this is where we stayed: Refugio Terraza de la Tierra)