Collectivo Transportation on Mexico Coast
ZIPOLITE, Mexico- I love traveling in coastal regions, if for no other reason than the fact that it is simple: there is often only one road and two choices, you either go this way along the coast or that way — go any other way and you are inland, not on the coast any more. In this way, devising a good route travel along a coastline is a newbie’s game: you descend to the coast and choose a direction to go — this way or that way — and you just travel from town to town, village to village, beach to beach until . . .
Honestly, you could probably just pick few good coastal roads and follow them around the periphery of all the inhabited continents on earth — essentially making cookie cutters out of the terrestrial regions of the globe. Perhaps I will try it. Coastlines are often good paths of travel, and there are usually highways or roads that flank their edges, making for very easy travel.
You are either going this way or that way.
Like most coastal regions, the shores of Oaxaca are easy to travel, and there are collective transportation options that make doing so even easier. Called collectivos in Spanish, there are shared taxis that ply the coastal roads, connecting the towns together for passenger travel. There are two options of collective transport here in Oaxaca: taxis and pickup trucks (camionetas) designed to haul passengers. The shared taxis are slightly more expensive but are more frequent, the pickup trucks are as cheap as transportation can get almost anywhere in the world.
Shared taxi transport along the Oaxaca coast
The collective taxis are essentially normal taxis that will call themselves collectivos only when they have enough willing passengers. There are set prices that the drivers want to get on each run between towns, and this amount can either be made up from one or two people paying the full price or having the amount divided up amongst a car full of people — either way the driver takes the same amount of money. Like so, these taxis can be hired privately or collectively.
If you are the first passenger the taxi attempts to pick up, you need to explicitly tell the driver that you want a collectivo, not a private car, as the default position is towards the private option. Often, an empty taxi will not agree to doing a run as a collectivo and will drive away without you. This is alright, let him go — there are plenty of other taxis driving up and down this coastal road. Or, if an empty taxi does pick you up and turns collectivo, do not expect a speedy exit from town, as the car needs to fill up before the driver will depart.
Often, if you want a collectivo, it is best to try to try to flag down a taxi that already has people in it. To flag them down, just stand on the side of the road that corresponds with your intended direction of travel and hold up your hand signifying the number of people in your party with your fingers as these taxis pass. If they have space, they will stop and pick you up.
Generally, the price of a shared taxi along the coast of Oaxaca is around ten pesos per passenger. The prices seem to be standard for everyone, but differ depending on the towns you are traveling between.
Pickup truck, camioneta, collective transportation
Hitching a ride on a pickup truck collectivo is simple and cheap. All you have to do is stand on the side of the road, flag one down, and jump into the back of it. These trucks are easy to identify — they have a roof constructed over their beds high enough for a man to stand up in, and generally have the places they service written on the windshield. On the Oaxaca coast of Mexico, these pickup truck collectivos are cheap — often only five pesos (40 cents) a ride. If you don’t know how much to pay, just ask a fellow passenger — the cost is the same for everyone.
The only catch is that these camionentas do not service every town, so you need to inquire with a local as whether you should sit around on the side of the road waiting for one or just flag down a shared taxi.
Coastal travel in Mexico conclusion
If you browse through a world atlas of road maps you will find that there are these beautiful lines that mirror the shape just about every coastline on the planet, making perfect circuits for travel. With these collective transportation options in Oaxaca, Mexico, coastal travel is easy, efficient, and well priced.