Traveling to Puerto Escondido
This morning we packed quickly. We generally have the suitcases pretty well organized so that packing and unpacking is a fairly simple task. Ben and Sebastian’s clothing and personal items are packed into one suitcase, using packing cubes to keep each person’s items separate from the other. Genevieve’s clothing and personal items get packed into my suitcase. We roll the clothing as small as possible, and it is amazing how everything fits. We are still working on fine-tuning what we can leave behind "next time"; and we seem to pack less and less with each journey.
While Ben finished packing, Genevieve and I walked to Café Huatulco to get morning lattes for Ben and I. The trees in the plaza were decked out in their best brown "vinery".
The plaza was pretty quiet, although another cruise ship had arrived during the night:
We knew there would soon be a steady stream of passengers descending to explore the town.
Driving away from Huatulco, we passed quite a few burros:
Here is a house that we passed, with laundry already drying and a woman working inside:
I love looking at the different types of houses in the many places we travel. Some of the homes are very basic, yes, and some are very grand. It is the humble homes that are often more impressive. The resourcefulness of those who live in less-than-ideal conditions never ceases to amaze me. And many of the more rustic homes remind me of those that I often saw as a child when visiting my relatives in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky where I was born.
We stopped for lunch at the beachside town of Puerto Angel. We parked along the main street . . .
. . . where we could see the beach beckoning.
We planned to find a restaurant along the beach, a seemingly easy task given our experience over the last few days. But first, Genevieve and I spotted a hand-written sign on cardboard that had an arrow and the word "Baño" (bathroom) taped to a wall.
We walked down the narrow concrete path between two buildings and reached the patio in this photo below (we were up next to the grey garbage can—this photo was taken after our experience).
The area looked like part of someone’s housing space, with a washer and other domestic items. I didn’t see an obvious bathroom, so I asked the woman (in the background of this photo) if there was a baño; she pointed to a doorway and said that the bathroom was in the back of the room (all in Spanish, of course). I peeked into the room, and it was the woman’s home—with a table and chairs in the middle of the room and a small bed in the corner; in the back of the room was a toilet and sink behind a curtain. It was quite rustic but clean, and there was toilet paper. When we came back outside, I gave the woman 10 pesos (about 85 cents)—she never stated a price, but we had found bathroom fees to be pretty common in Mexico, and the going rate (no pun intended) had usually been 2-3 pesos per person. I thought that the sign was a very practical and convenient way for the woman to make money off of her private bathroom. (To Genevieve, the concept of paying to go to the bathroom had seemed pretty bizarre during our first few days in Mexico, so we had discussed how the fees cover the cost of keeping the bathroom clean, paying for water and toilet paper, and providing the caretaker with some income.)
The Puerto Angel beach was very charming, with many fishing boats and several restaurants set right on the beach.
We chose a restaurant owned by a nice couple with two children—the son was about 10 years old, and he took our orders and served us our food. The daughter was about 2, and she sat near us the whole time we were there, playing with a shell that she eventually used to scoop sand up into her shirt—she then would pat the rolled-up tube of sand, and rock it like it was a baby (which reminded me of the book "Elizabeti’s Doll", by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, which was one of Genevieve’s favorites as a small child; the book was about an African girl who used a rock as a babydoll).
After lunch, we continued driving to Mazunte. Every year thousands of sea turtles make their way to the beaches around here to lay eggs. The coastal community of Mazunte used to have a large turtle processing facility, which has now been turned into a Conservation Center to protect the turtles.
Here is some varying architecture that we saw along the way:
We soon arrived in Mazunte.
The conservation center was divided into distinct small areas, with different types of turtles in each part. First, we saw some rescued land turtles:
Genevieve volunteered to read the brochure text related to each area.
(Sebastian was feeling hot and tired today—needing to rejuvenate his energy from all the swimming during the past two days. I think that riding piggy-back on me is his favorite mode of transportation, next to his own two legs.)
We headed over to the large tank in which a number of sea turtles were swimming.
The turtles were beautiful, and we stood in awe for a long time. Here is one that had light coloring:
In another area, there were many of these turtles (I think they are pond sliders):
There was an area with many baby sea turtles, and of course we "oooooh-ed" and "aaahhhh-ed" our way through.
Inside a large building was an aquarium that allowed us to see the majestic animals under water—they were fascinating to watch.
There were a few vendors with small carts right at the conservation center exit. The day was very hot. The carts were stocked full of freshly made ice cream--the perfect treat to cool us off. After tasting samples, Ben, Genevieve and I chose to have scoops of coconut ice cream. I am generally not a big coconut fan, but this ice cream was absolutely scrumptious.
Sebastian was not in the mood for ice cream, saying that he wanted some nuts. Across the street from the ice cream vendors was a row of outdoor souvenir shops, so I took him on a treasure hunt for nuts. We went from shop to shop; I didn’t see any nuts but asked each shopkeeper if they knew where to find any—everyone shook their head. Seeing a couple of confused looks, I finally dug my pocket-sized Spanish dictionary out of the backpack and discovered (ooops!) the word for "nut" is "nuez" and not "nez". I went back to the nearest shop and asked again, using the correct word this time; the shopkeeper understood (whew!) and immediately directed me down the street, past the souvenir shops; there Sebastian and I found a man who had large containers full of about 15 different kinds of nuts. We purchased a small baggie of pistachios, which Sebastian happily munched in the car as we headed down the road.
As we got closer to Puerto Escondido, we passed miles and miles of road construction. There will soon be a new toll road from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido, which purportedly will cut the driving time in half; as an extension of the new road system, there will be a new four-lane coastal highway from Puerto Escondido to Huatulco.
Puerto Escondido was much larger than Huatulco. Over the last 25 years, the town has grown from a small fishing village of 3,000 people to a bustling town of over 50,000. Puerto Escondido is also famous for its huge waves that draw hoards of surfing fanatics. We had reservations at the Santa Fe Hotel, which was the most expensive place that we stayed during our entire journey. The rooms had very high ceilings, with tile floors, large windows overlooking the beach, and lots and lots of funky "character" (which we really like and appreciate). We had reserved a suite, with a sofa that converted to a bed for the children in the living area. This picture shows about three-quarters of the children’s "bedroom"—there was almost too much space (not that I am one to complain):
The view from our room:
Shortly after arriving, the kids wanted to go swimming. The beach across from the hotel has powerful waves and is not recommended for swimming. But the hotel has two lovely pools that the children enjoyed:
This sculpture of large hands, with one unfolding, was directly across from our hotel. We learned that it was a memorial placed by the loved ones of Juan Carlos Rojas Centeno, who died in the waves here in 2004 at the age of 21.
We had read rave reviews about the Santa Fe Hotel restaurant, so we decided to eat here this evening. The food was superb, and the service was excellent. Both Sebastian and Genevieve were thrilled with their shellfish stew:
Walking to and from our hotel room, the kids couldn’t resist sitting in this sculptural chair:
The chair was visually intriguing, with a long stretch of vertebrae up the back, above a large "tushy", and a tiny under-sized lumpy head at the top:
(This last photo above was taken the next morning.)