A long stretch of creamy sand protects the fishing and market village from the deadly monstrous waves that power deep from the ocean. Locals roam the smooth paved streets delivering a friendly ‘Hola’, and small hut like restaurants amongst palm trees edge onto the polished Playa Zicatela, this is Puerto Escondido, this is Mexican Pipeline.
Arriving in Puerto Escondido after an overnight 17 hour bus ride it is fair to say we were pretty f***ed, though the fresh ocean air woke our senses immediately. Seeing the ocean with large crashing waves and turquoise blue water after 2 months being inland was a rejuvenating feeling.
We found a guesthouse overlooking the beach with our own balcony, bliss. We are high on terracotta terraces and amazingly large iguanas roam the premises, they sunbathe on the rooftops and in gardens looking like they want to eat the world.
The next morning we awoke and ventured to Playa Carrizalillo a beach about three kms away. Puerto Escondido is made up of seven beaches stretching over kilometres of coastline. Playa carrizalillo is the furthest north.
It is a cove, a beach hamlet filled with waves, clear water, palm trees and honey coloured cliff faces. 170 steps take you down to the beach which really kill ya in the heat of the day. We paddled out to the left hander and had a play around, NEEDED. It felt so amazing to be amongst it again.
We spent the rest of the day sizzling in the sun, the waves and the Mexican food. I think I have found heaven.
“What ya going to do when the hounds are calling? You run with the wolves, shout it out loud.”- My favourite Prodigy song came on whilst I was sitting by the shoreline filming Kahn surf. The sun blazed against my back like a heater warming up my flannelette pyjamas when you sit to close. The aroma of the hot sand had risen into my nose and the ocean spray had splashed sprinkles of salt water against my face, I was transported to ecstasy.
I am in a cycle… a swirling cycle that I am happy staying in. I wasn’t happy at first, when we arrived in Puerto Escondido I saw an exotic beach with massive swell and a beautiful strip of sand, something you only ever see pictures of and wonder if it’s been photo shopped. The truth is in a place like this, there isn’t that much to do, which I guess is the reason why people venture here. After our jam packed Asia adventure this just seemed so laid back.. relaxed.. something I wasn’t used too.. something I left behind in Indonesia.
In Asia we were always onto a next place, always on another bus to an unexplored land, always drinking, hungover, doing something that involved an Asian experience.
Coming to Mexico I thought it would be the same and I guess it can be depending on the place you go, but we have dedicated this part of the trip to the ocean, and I forgot how soothing and how mellow beach life was.
So the cycle we have going here is, wake up when the light streams into our eyes, walk the quiet sand side pavement to wherever our noses and taste buds agree with, work out which of the five beaches to play at, sunbathe, surf, swim, experience… fill our bellies, have a siesta/take a walk/read a book/write… then dinner time, happy hour and beers. Now I know that doesn’t sound like torture but at first I was expecting to be on the go… seeing and doing something different everyday… being one with the Mexican culture.
Now that we have been here nearly a week I have assimilated into my surroundings, which I always promised myself I would do. I need to stop expecting and just keep breathing… just go with what is thrown at me, even if it is nothing.
Now that I look back at our week here I have surfed two beaches, Playa Carrizallio and La Punta, surfed with a gigantic turtle and a playful swordfish, seen Policeman roam the beach with machine guns, watched huge GRANDE iguanas wander around our bungalow, expanded my Spanish vocabulary by an inch, swam with mantarays, sizzled myself in an exotically striking sun, eaten finger licking good food and made friends with a dog who follows us around.
La bueno vida… the good life
Calamity hits. South Mexico and Guatemala are devastated by Tropical Storm Matthew. We get the edge of the storm whilst completely off our faces.
Saturday night, we had had many coronas, vodkas and bottles of wine in the hammocks outside our room playing drinking games and waiting for ten oclock to strike when the night life starts here.
Just before dark the rain started to pelt down, thick droplets of water bashing onto the concrete around us. We moved into our kitchen and continued the drunken chaos.
Suddenly it’s dark, we have run out of alcohol and the rain has started its own version of drum and bass… heavy thick noises.
We sprinted through the storm to the local dairy and purchased more wine and beers waiting under shelters of shops and making a break for it every so often. We were completely soaked.
Back in our room we kept playing cards and listened to the chaos happening outside. Every minute it sounded like a building was crashing to the ground as thunder dominated the town. It went on for hours.
In a drunken daze we headed outside to find a party. We frolicked naively amongst thunder, rain and lightening.
It started to ease and I remember asking myself.. why is half the beach on the road?
Nothing was open, rocks and debris were scattered everywhere and the neighbourhood seemed deserted…. it was an unsuccessful party mission, but holy s*** it was funny.
Guatemala got the worst of the storm, with deadly floods and heavy rain, losing four lives to the rushing water. South of Puerto Escondido people are now homeless. How do the locals confront this every hurricane season?
Where the fiddle sticks are we going?
Seriously.. we stumbled across the name of Chacahua.. googled it.. didn’t really understand it… booked a trip. All of last night I was thinking.. so where are we going?
We had heard it was an island off Chacahua, we had heard you surf on the island and stay on the mainland.. we had heard it was a lagoon.. we heard you sleep on the island but eat on the mainland… seriously.. where were we going?
I’m here and I still don’t know. We arrived in Zapotalito at 9am this morning, 1/5 hours North from Puerto Escondido. We waited for a collectivo (local group) boat at the dock with a racoon and some cheeky afro Caribbean Mexican men. After some confusing exchange of broken Spanish we jumped in a boat and headed across the lagoon. At first the lagoon seems large and round.. like a lake. Then you drive into skinny lanes of water, amongst dense bush, local fisherman and white thin birds. The drive is about 40minutes… literally into the unknown.. we had no idea where we were off too and I was secretly hoping it was to an awaiting wakeboarding boat as the water was incredibly glassy.
We arrived at a local lagoon side village and I had to ask the question.. Donde la playa? Where is the beach?
We strolled through bush and dusty paths until it opened up to a long curved coastline. Surf rolls in and hits the point which makes for a long arse right hander and a strong current. Supplies are low because of the storm and limited access across the lake but all you need is here.
We are in a cabana with an outside toilet and thatched roof. On one side of our room you can see the sand and ocean, the extensive beach… on the other side of our room we are on the lagoon side with local huts parked on the waters edge.
There is literally nothing here. There are the huts and the ocean, I feel like the only foreigner here. The restaurants are family owned huts with seafood only on offer, crabs scatter all over the beach making holes to live in, pelicans fly inches from the ocean surface searching for prey and fisherman fish from the rocky point throwing nets into the water hoping to catch something decent.
Its like life is pretty simple here.
I went for two surfs today, quite unsuccessful. The current is so unbelievably strong that by the time you have caught one wave you have to come in, walk back to the point and paddle back out. I was exhausted.
The waves weren’t that good today so we went for a short surf then walked into the village to check out the township… well a very small range of huts. We found Juan a local guy who had a boat. He offered to take us to see crocodiles in the lagoon and have a look around the vegetation and bird life. We thought why not?
We jumped in his blue fibreglass dingy and he took us to a village.. quite confused we walked the dirt paths through locals homes made out of flax and trees. Little African Caribbean kids strolled around with curious big brown eyes. The African gene pool dominates here as this is where many of the descendents of African slaves escaped to when the Spanish left Mexico.
We were taken to a crocodile breeding and protection centre which we did not expect. IT was pretty sad as baby crocodiles were cramped in small concrete cages with a tiny dirty bath to swim in. The big daddy ones looked depressed and snapped at the workers in despair. There are no crocodiles left in the lagoon now, which doesn’t seem right as hundreds lay in the hot sun caged right next to a massive lake.
The ride around the lagoon was actually quite boring but I have never met a man as passionate about his homeland as Juan. He loved to say “its all right” which is about as far as his English vocabulary went, we communicated through small amounts of Spanish and hand gestures and without knowing it seems we have been learning more an more Spanish everyday as we had a conversation for over an hour on the beach at sunset with coronas. It amazes me how two people can communicate so well and not be fluent in each others linguistic history.
The day we left Chacahau the swell had picked up and Kahns face lit up when he had an amazing right handed surf. The beach was alive with hot streaming sunshine highlighting its natural beauty, the ocean was a soft blue like that of a babies blue eyes, new and curious, elastic and plush … that is until you are out there on a sucky perfect right hander.
We decided to do as the locals do and head back to Puerto Escondido on collectivo services. We piled in the back of a truck with fisherman and their catch and drove an hour through dusty roads where local children ran behind the truck smiling and donkeys roaming about.
We then jumped on a boat to head to the main dock, jumped on another truck with the fisherman now smelling a lot like fish and passed the military check points out of town to Rio Grande where we headed in a local minivan to Puerto Escondido. It ended up being a third of the price of tourist transport and a lot more fun, I felt like a was exploring again.