Oaxaca –Accommodations and Camping
We arrived in town just after sunset and embarked on a monumental wild goose chase for the Oaxaca Trailer park. I’d looked it up online, but the last known reference was from 2009, and the author seemed doubtful as to whether the place would exist as a camping spot much longer. We couldn’t find it, and after much teeth gnashing we headed downtown in search of a cheap hotel.
We ended up staying at El Atrio, an inexpensive “bed and breakfast” on Calle Abasco. We paid 230 pesos (18.85 USD) for a double room, and Gina paid 180 pesos (14.75 USD) for a single room with a double bed. (The hotel also offers a triple room for 450 pesos.) Not sure if these were weekend rates—it was Saturday. Our mattress was amazingly comfortable and the rooms were clean with homey touches—a tin-framed mirror and framed drawings of parrots. The shared bathroom featured an excellent hot shower with high water pressure. The only sign of the breakfast part of “bed and breakfast” was the proprietor’s family consuming their own meal of pan dulce and hot chocolate in the common room, but at the price we were paying I wasn’t too surprised. The location is good, and the place has wireless Internet. Recommended for low-key travelers who don’t intend to stay out late (the outer door shuts at 10 or 10:30—the proprietor claims he will open it for you, but it felt a little awkward to wake him up), and don’t mind passing through a middle class home in order to get to the rooms.
After discovering that the sub-urban San Felipe Campground is no longer open for short term visitors, we consulted Google satellite and once again set out on our search for the Oaxaca Trailer Park. As it turns out the place does exist at 900 Calle Violetas (about 6 k north of downtown)—we’d driven right by it the first night because the park is now truncated and the wall that once read “Oaxaca Trailer Park” in giant blue letters now only reads “ark”. The place is particularly difficult to spot if you are heading north because it’s on the other side of a tree-lined street divider. No signs, and part of the park is now taken up by a building and its parking area. There is still plenty of space however, including the pine-shaded spots I remember from childhood.
The place is virtually empty—a family from Mexico City is truck camping in one spot and a number of other spots seem to be rented as parking spaces for local residents, as well as long term storage for tour buses. We were able to get a space far away from these vehicles, so the parking lot aspect wasn’t disruptive. Tents are allowed at no extra cost. The bathrooms are clean and functional and each spot still has running water and electricity. The price (100 pesos for vehicle, 50 pesos per person) seems a bit steep considering that the place is rundown, but it was peaceful (or as peaceful as it gets while camping in a large city) and caretakers make regular patrols to make sure everything is seguro.
In a way it’s nice to have so much space to ourselves, but it feels a bit sad if you read it as the decline of mextripping culture. I remember this place back when it was full of vans, campers, and RVs. I played beneath a now dying bougainvillea bush as a kid and terrorized the air-conditioned game room. My parents always thought the park was a bit too fancy (read: pricey) and over the years we tried many alternative camp spots (a funky enclosure on the outskirts of town, the parking lot of Hotel Loma Bonita), but we always returned to the Oaxaca Trailer Park. And here I am again.
For our last two nights in town or friend Laci treated us to a room at Hotel Antonio’s, a nice Colonial hotel located on Independencia, right near the Zocalo. Antonio’s has extremely clean rooms, wifi, pretty furnishings, comfortable pillows, and a helpful staff. At 200 pesos a person, it’s a good value. (The hotel also has an attached hostel which charges 150 pesos per person, or 200 for a couple. I didn’t check it out, but it looked nice and seemed empty.) The hotel has parking, but getting Miss Lousiane through the Colonial façade was a little hairy.
Note: We also discovered that you can camp at the Hierve de Agua, a fantastic mineral springs located high in the mountains about an hour out of the city (past Mitla). Camping is 30 pesos per person, and there are no real facilities other than bathrooms, but the overall setting is gorgeous. More on that later.
Note: To get to the Oaxaca Trailer Park, take 190 through town. Ignore signs for Centro. Make a left onto Manuel Ruiz, just before a McDonald’s. Manuel Ruiz runs into Violetas. Trailer Park is 900 Violetas, but it’s hard to see because it’s on the other side of a divided road. Best landmark is modern office building across the street with electric blue lights.