Heading out of Oaxaca at 10.30am in a shuttle we were off and away through some crazy, beautiful and rugged mountains on our way to Puerto Escondido on the Oaxacan coast. The trip was about six hours of roads winding their way up hills and down valleys in a bumpy van which my motion sickness just barely managed to tolerate. The trip seemed quite long but we eventually arrived to the hot and sticky temperatures of the coast. We were finally at the beach again. Finding a camioneta (more or less just a ute with bench seats in the tray and a tarp for a roof) we headed 20 minutes out of Puerto Escondido downtown to an area called Brisas de Zicatela where we would be staying for eight nights.
Our temporary home was a cabaña on the second floor of a ‘casa’ looking out over the trees. We could open up a majority of the walls so it had a lovely (and very welcome) breeze to escape the heat. Settling in we tried not to melt. We definitely weren’t used to this climate.
With the sun almost set we headed down to the small dusty street by the beach where most of the hostels and restaurants were located to look for dinner. This ended up being hamburgers and a baked potato to share. I had decided to branch out and try a fish burger expecting a nice piece of flaky white fish and Tom got one with beef, caramelised onions and blue cheese. Our burgers arrived and mine was a fish called vela, a fish similar to tuna and cooked rare, basically the opposite of what I wanted. Luckily we had decided to share the burgers anyway so I had half the beef one and a taste of the fish one while Tom polished of the remainder.
That evening it became increasingly obvious that we were in mosquito country, luckily we had a net over the bed. Over the next three weeks it would become a nightly ritual to ensure the nets were tucked in sufficiently and no nasty little shits had managed to get in. Inevitably I still got more and more itchy bites by the day. Obviously I’m prime, A-grade mosquito food.
One thing we noticed at night was just how loud nature can be. Without the sound of traffic or that city hum that never seems to go away you can hear so much. So our nights were spent with a backing soundtrack of dogs, insects, roosters, geckos (Yes these make noise. It sounds like a chirping laugh, usually at your expense), the ocean and one obnoxiously loud frog.
We spent a pretty lazy time here in Puerto Escondido overall. Visits to the mercado and beaches were our only activities away from the casa and cooking, drinking rum and playing 500 occupied us at the casa. We cooked each day in the little outdoor kitchen trying to avoid the ants. I’m still trying to decide which I dislike more; ants or mosquitoes? Mosquitoes bite me but ants get into our food so it’s tough to answer.
This part of the world is frequented by a lot of surfers, particularly the part of the beach we were staying near. We had been told that the beach wasn’t great for swimming but being used to some rough coast in New Zealand and Western Australia we decided to check it out anyway. The waves were medium sized and there were other people splashing about in them so we headed towards them. The water was beautifully refreshing but definitely not cold, totally different to the frigid waters on our side of the Pacific. Deciding the beach was safe we spent a few hours getting churned around in the waves. With our togs (bathers, swimwear) full of sand we headed back to the casa for a cold shower. Cold or sun heated water was the only option in this accommodation as well as our next two but trust me when I say it’s all you need in those temperatures.
And so our days went by in a very cruisy fashion. Our only divergence from this was to head to another beach in the area called Playa Carrizlillo. To access this beach we had to walk down a flight of stairs to a tiny bay with next to no sand before the start of the water. With our bag on the sand because we never pay to use the restaurant seating (I can think of better uses for 100 peso) we heading in to the water to enjoy bobbing around in the big swells. The only waves were right on the shore and it was quite entertaining to watch people being wiped out by the small but powerful baby breakers. This also made it a fun challenge to get back to the shore as the under tow at about knee depth was strong as well, but not dangerous.
One of the things I never packed, because I don’t own one, was a sarong and I previously had never seen the usefulness of them. Here I began to see how handy one could be when walking between beach and accommodation as shorts are pretty tricky to put on wet skin, especially denim ones. Also they can double as a towel to lie on as the sand is scorchingly hot. Instead of buying a sarong, which tend to be awful tie-dyed creations in fluro colours, (although I have seen some people with beautiful scarf style ones, but they could just be large scarves) I visited a fabric shop and brought a length of cotton jersey. This stretchy fabric did the trick and I’ve discovered a few different ways to wear it so it looks like a dress. So handy, who would have thought I’d be doing some basic DIY on my travels.
Our eight days flew by in a very lazy manner and we were soon looking into our next destinations. The problem was that after a few days the internet decided it wouldn’t work very well/at all. We later discovered that a lot of places on the coast use satellite internet which becomes unreliable with cloud cover and non-existent with worse weather. Along this part of the coast are many little towns with lovely beaches perfect for a relaxing beach escape and not much else. We decided our next stop would be Mazunte which is about an hour from Puerto Escondido and after waving down a local bus on the main road it was a very easy trip.