As part of our On the Road series, photographer Pia Riverola and partner John Reagan take us on a seven-hour road trip from Oaxaca city to Oaxaca beach. Pia was born and raised in Barcelona and currently splits her time between Mexico City and LA. Here’s some of what caught their eye along this recent journey. Photos by Pia Riverola
The trip begins by shopping the local markets of Oaxaca, a city of 4 million. Kids hurry past adults who stack fruit basket on top of fruit basket, unloading from the trucks just in from the farms. A woman shaves the spines off of cacti with a machete, while nearby, a honey salesman covered in bees. I want to try everything.
Up and down hills and cobblestone streets, past juice stores and coffee shops, we return to
the kitchen with blue tile. Bochitos, or old Volkswagen bugs that used to be taxis, are everywhere
in bright colors, complementing the buildings they’re parked alongside. The dust comes up from
the street and the smoke from all of the grills, and it rains for a few minutes every day around
the same time. That’s how we know it’s time to get back home and make dinner.
The winding road travels south over the mountain and toward the ocean. We head to the
Pacific side for the sparkling beaches and powerful waves. The turns take their toll. A stop
in San Jose del Pacifico for a meal and place to rest sounds like a good idea.
We stop along the way in different places—to get food, do laundry. San Jose del Pacifico
(a town right in the middle of Oaxaca beach and Oaxaca city) looks like it could be in rural China, with misty mountain forests, a few little bed-and-breakfast hotels, and a restaurant or two. It’s a town above the clouds, with a bus stop famous for the local mushrooms and magical atmosphere.
The clouds part and we set sail catching dusk at the vortex as dolphins dance alongside our
little craft. Watching the coast, we can see where we are staying and have the beach to ourselves. Shoes off now, and definitely no shirts. The locals are kind and generous. The micheladas
are divine, and we settle for a while in the palapa, taking in all Oaxaca has to share.