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Riding High

Lisa Loverro, Centro Y Sur’s intrepid travel guru, takes a ride on the wild side.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

When traveling, I’ve always been a big believer in going with the flow. I never plan beyond my hotel room stays and try to seek adventures off the beaten path. So, when I became stranded in Oaxaca, Mexico, last winter due to a barrage of snowstorms in the Northeast United States, I seized the moment and wandered the cobblestone streets in search of a good meal and stimulating conversation. What I got instead was a ride on the wild side, literally.

As I stumbled upon Los Pacos, a family owned mole restaurant in the heart of Oaxaca city, a very macho-looking Mexican man pulled up on his very macho-looking motorcycle. The driver was the proprietor of Los Pacos whose name was, what else, Paco. I introduced myself in my very broken Spanish and struck up a conversation the best I could.

Before long, Paco began telling me about his restaurant, his family and all things Oaxacan. “Have you gone to the ruins of Monte Albán?” he asked in his very broken English. I politely stated I hadn’t found the time to explore the ruins outside the city, high in the Monte Albán Mountains. “You’re coming with me,” he demanded and pointed to his motorcycle. “I take you there,” he declared. My response was simply, “If you’ve got a helmet, you’ve got a deal.”

One helmet and two tacos later, I jumped on the back of Paco’s bike and off we went up into the mountains. Higher and higher we climbed as my arms wrapped tighter and tighter around his waist, all the while feeling strangely safe and comfortable. When we finally arrived at Monte Albán, I was in awe of the ruins and amazed by the lack of tourists. We had the place almost to ourselves. As Paco and I toured through each structure, he reminisced about his childhood years playing hide and seek in these ruins, and I could feel his sense of pride and excitement for his Mexican heritage.

My excitement, on the other hand, came knowing I would soon be jumping back on that motorcycle for the exhilarating ride back to town. Carpe diem!