The final episode of Mexico -
Puerto Escondido, Barra De La Cruz and Oaxaca City.
We spent the weekend in Puerto Escondido partying. Since we had been here we had had one loose night which ultimately was the night of the storm. The other nights were casual drinks beachside. We headed out with a bottle of spiced gold rum in our systems and headed for cocktails at grekos to see our mate who works there. The night ended pretty early and we spent the next day at Playa Carrizalillo surfing. The sun was boiling and we surfed for four hours, I was on a 6,3 fish tail and loved it!
The sunset was luminous, beaming crimson across the ocean landscape. Truly beautiful.
We celebrated the day by going out to where a girl we had met in the surf said was good. It wasn’t, it was like a commercial Palmerston North club, pumping out mainstream music I had forgotten about.
We ventured to find a band and came across a Mexican band playing Salsa music. Locals were getting sensual in their moves, as salsa took over their bodies. A local guy asked Kahn if I could dance with him and he taught me how to salsa. It was so much fun, the band were awesome. Kahn joined in and we danced around like locals consuming beers and free mezcal shots out of a wooden drum.
The next day we saw our salsa teacher and he had dinner with us on the beach, off to Barra De La Cruz.
Barra De La Cruz is a small village in a valley of lush turquoise hills, a never ending scene of splendour. The natural body of the land has not been destroyed by hungry commercial humans who see this place as an ATM. The 2006 Ripcurl Search was held here at the main point break called La Jolla (pronounced hollah). Surprisingly this has not affected the community by making it into an overridden tourist area. People do travel far and wide to surf this world class break though they must rough it in simple wooden cabanas and have no luxuries such as hot water, advanced technology and certain foods. It is a place to adapt to and if you let yourself you could easily digest yourself into this lifestyle.
We arrived after three hours on a bus with an Australian couple we had met in Puerto Escondido. We found Pepe’s Cabanas and ventured straight down to the beach. It is a 20 minute walk from the village to the beach and you must pay 20 pesos to enter the beach... about $2. The walk is along a dirt road walking with local dogs (one who always has an erection) iguanas, lizards, squirrels, tarantulas and large insects. The environment is rich in wildlife. Half way through the walk there is an amazing view of the mountains which are like protectors from any evil entity awaiting to fully expose this place.
The only human construction on the beach is one restaurant which isn’t a threat to the land as it closes by 6pm every night making no room for drunken hungry messes on the sand.
The beach is possibly the most beautiful I have ever been fortunate enough to step foot on. It is long and curved with ocean, bush and sand fading into the distance.
We randomly saw fiona and Jeremy laxing on the beach, an Australian couple who we had met in Chacahau. They bought a car in America and are driving down the coast of Central America finishing in Panama.
Everyday has been pretty similar. We have woken up, surfed, eaten, explored, surfed again and gone out for dinner. On the third day we went for a surf at midday as it’s usually uncrowded around this time as everyone complains the wind gets up. Psssssssssshh it gets up a tiny bit, if Oakura had these kind of waves everyone would be still throffing not complaining. It was only Pete an Australian guy who has been here every year for the past four years, Ben another Australian, Jeremy, Kahn and I out. The waves were fun and I had started to get the hang of going right… well kind of, stupid back hand.
To celebrate a mean surf and no crowds, Pete, Ben, Jeremy, Fiona, Kahn and I went out for dinner at the famous pizzeria. Everyone we had talked to in Puerto said this place had the best pizza in the world… and amazing cocktails. We filled the night with deliciously toxic pina coladas, mojitos and mouth watering pizza. It really is the best pizza in the world.
Woke up pretty hungover today and the words “no surf” echoed through Pepe’s cabanas. We were in no hurry to get out of bed. Surfacing around lunchtime we spent the day hiding from the blazing scorching sun playing cards and finally venturing down the beach at 3. The waves had picked up and no one was on them, it was just our crew out again. We were in the water until six, pretty exhausted and hungover still.
The iguanas here crack me up, the other day we were lying in the hammocks chilling out when suddenly a dog and a large iguana scrambled out from behind our cabana and they started going at each other. The iguana had a deathly wip of a tail which the dog was both curious and scared of.
Though the best animal experience we have had here is this morning when Kahn and I went down the beach at 7:30am and went for a surf. It was just us out and a local when suddenly we saw a fin. Freaking out I went to paddle away when we noticed it was curved, then two more glided past and we realised it was dolphins. I was in confusion, one part of my brain was shaking with fear in the fact we just saw a fin, the other part was ecstatic to be metres away from the beautiful mammals I have always found irresistible to be near.
We met some more Australians, Phil, Laura and Lauchie and naturally we all started drinking and playing card games with Ben, Fiona and Jeremy. The night took us to the Pizzeria to have our last best pizza in the world. Prawns and cheese on a wood fire pizza… genius. Pina coladas and beers took us further into the darkness as we searched for ‘the pot’ amongst the stars… a conquest I have been on since we left New Zealand.
Barra De La Cruz has the most amazing view of the sky, which sounds stupid but I have never seen a vast black cloak like Barras. A spontaneous compilation of stars burn brightly amid the mysterious possibility of exploding, I feel as if I am inside a cave of darkness with thousands of glow worms guiding me through an unknown odyssey.
Barra De La Cruz is somewhere I am definitely going to venture back to in this lifetime. You are literally in the middle of nowhere, with dusty dirt roads, beaten down shops with paint peeling off the concrete walls, mosquitoes always trying to feast on every inch of your body even through your clothes and inbreed locals (seriously the owner of our cabanas had kids with his cousin.) But all this seems to add to the charm of the village, and the best part about it is it is right down the road from an amazing isolated beach with an ocean fill of epic waves and anonymous animals…it has rejuvenating powers.
We woke at 6am this morning to catch the local collectivo to Bahia De Huatuclo where the bus leaves from. As the sun was finally making its way to our side of the earth, a whole 17 hours behind home, I found ‘the pot.’ The stars were starting to fade into the mixture of black and blue as the sky had a spasm into daylight and there it was in all its glory, THE POT.
I have been listening to Incubus so much lately and one song really describes everything here.
“ I dig my toes into the sand,
the ocean looks like a thousand diamonds spread across a blue blanket,
I lean against the wind and pretend I am weightless
and in this moment I am happy.
I wish you were here.”
We are on yet another bus, what a surprise. Though the one thing buses have that airplanes don’t, is the experience of driving across a vast land. Mexico’s landscape is diverse in every sense of the word. We have driven through rustic towns with dust floating in the air like brown thin fog sheltering the ground from the heat.
We have driven over mountainous terrain with bush clad hills and rocky cliff faces heating up in the day, iguanas sunbathing on their natural stove tops.
We have driven through desert that strangely has bush growing amongst it, patches of creamy sand poke through gaps between cactus and stony fast flowing rivers inside deep cliffs.
We have passed little towns which have no more than 50 houses, medieval with their concrete buildings, dirt roads, cactus overgrown in sandy pits and a mexician flag flapping in the wind. Every village always has one main building which is has been done up, usually a red castle type of construction which I’m guessing is a church or a meeting house for the locals.
Our first night in Oaxaca city we ventured to the Zocalo, which is the main centre of town. It is a courtyard with markets, local food, restaurants and bands. We watched a trio of Mexican musicians who were playing guitar, bamboo flutes and bongos. There were clowns, candy floss, taffy apples on sticks, lollies and people selling cartoon balloons, in a big bunch like they were mary poppins about to fly into the sky.
Oaxaca city is a lot colder than the coast, it is in a valley of hills so the climate changes a bit.
We went to the Monte Alban ruins today after talking to a waiter whilst having breakfast. He said only 10% of the city has been found, Kahn then asked… “how did they lose it?”
Monte Alban is the capital site of the Zapotec society from 500 BC to AD 700. It was abandoned for reasons unknown to historians today. It sits on top of a steep hill in the valley of Oaxaca.
We ventured up in a taxi and strolled around for two hours. It is stunning, like nothing I have seen before. The ruins are beige broken down buildings that are beautiful in a way that can only be seen close up, its not a usual site of beauty it is just one appreciated when you are there, amongst authentic history.
The scene is one of a sepia photo, a picturesque monument. It was hard to believe that the zapotecs resided here, on the top of the scorching hot valley looking over what would have been a long landscape of lush green bush. It’s now dominated by a city, squealing with alarms and chaotic humans.
We spent the rest of the day and night in the Zocalo, watching all the locals drenched in colour trying to sell food, crafts, balloons and clothes. We had some interesting street food which was corn on the cob with butter, chilli, salt, lime juice and cheese. We also got a bag of cucumber slices with roasted nuts, chilli, lime juice and salt. It seems they just like to take a vegetable and add Mexican flavours to make it local… it was deeeeee-licious.
Mexico was nothing what I expected, the heat was crazy intense… more intense than Indonesia and Asia, it was a direct heat… like a massive magnifying glass was held over the country, with a focused spot burning straight onto the land.
The crime was minimal, the only time I felt unsafe was when we first arrived in Mexico City, and other than that it is all hype. It seems the media puts more negativity on the place than is needed; the people are friendly, social and what we experienced trustworthy.
Tequila is made from the blue agave plant in the state of Jalisco. It is made to be enjoyed, sipped away at instead of shot followed by a scrunched up face and shiver down the spine. It has a smooth warm taste and is consumed amongst Mexicans in every occasion, celebration, sadness even just a lunch out with the girls… it is the “Mexician Champagne”
In Jalisco it is protected by DO (Designation of Origin) making sure that all the tequila in the world is made in this state.
Mezcal is made from any agave plant, technically meaning that Tequlia is a form of Mezcal but not vice versa. Mezcal is the one where you find the worm combered out at the bottom of the bottle. It is the larvae of the moth that lives on the agave plant. It is not known why the worm is in the bottle or why we eat it, but all I know is it kicks you in the arse.
Mexican food is very different to what we class as Mexican at home. What we are used to is the delicious Tex-Mex cuisines as Texas used to be part of Mexico. This includes the delicious salsa, guacamole filled tacos, chicken enchiladas, nachos and burritos.
What we have experienced is sadly not as good as the Tex-Mex foods. The local food here is quesadillas, tortas, corn tortilla meals e.g. fajitas, and soft tacos.
All of which have a very questionable cheese, it looks like strips of white chicken. Corn tortillas are a lot different tasting to flour tortillas which is what we have in Nz. Tortas are pretty much sandwiches which I really like and the soft tacos are little palm sized tortillas with meat and salad.
I’m not saying it’s bad, we have come across some delicious versions and some very interesting tasting ones.
Each region in Mexico has it’s own specialties and cuisines.
Being in the state of Oaxaca (Mezcal capital of the world), the specialty here is sweet breads, chocolate (coco fields are plentiful here), fried chilli grasshoppers (chapulines) and corn. The grasshoppers are interesting, we tried them in Barra De La Cruz as Lauchie had them handy for whoever lost the card games/drinking games. The chilli gave them a little kick, as if someone on your tongue is catapulting a small fire ball to the back of your throat. The crunchy effect of chewing an insect is a taste in itself, half disturbing, half intriguing.
Meals with meat or eggs are changed slightlty to be Mexican. Pollo a la mexicana, is just grilled chicken with tomatoes, onions, rice and refried beans. EVERYTHING comes with refried beans and rice!
Hello – Hola
Good Morning- Buenos Dias
Que Tal- Hows things
Beach- La Playa
Currency – Mexican peso
Beautiful – Bontio
Mumasita – Sexy Muma
From the Spanish I learnt at Massey, there are quite a few differences as we learnt Spaniard Spanish. The Mexican Spanish has a kind of ‘siiii senorrrr” accent and there are a lot of variations of words.
Military stops and routine police checks are everywhere here, they have road stops when entering and leaving certain towns or on main highways. They check for explosives, fire arms and drugs.
Mexicians are extremely friendly and very intrigued by foreigners. They love asking questions which is good as it helps with learning Spanish. In Asia we were mistaken for Australians, in Mexico we are mistaken for Canadians or Italians.
Each episode of a programme on Tv, every movie and documentaries all have a reference to Mexico or Spanish. It could be CSI is based in Mexico with crazy drug dealers or a latin actor is in the programme or someone saying something as simple as Adios Amigo in a movie. Everything we watched we would look for the small reference.
There was an election going on while we were in Mexico. To get everyones attention in Puerto Escondido, people involved in the campaign would drive down the road doing laps with a large stereo system booming music just to get our attention. The car would be covered in posters or stickers of the candidate running.