In the past two weeks we have hit the road twice to Puerto Escondido. An hour and half away, we might go up twice a year, and but definitely not twice in two weeks. I don’t know why. Actually I do. Larry does the driving, and it ain’t an easy drive. It will be soon though, because hot damn, progress and a four-lane highway are coming to Huatulco (any year now). But Highway 200 has already been widened in parts and so now we know it’s really coming.
We were up there last week in one of the communidades, Cozoatepec, with Piña Palmera participating in one of their outreach days. This is a lovely community, nestled into the foothills of coastal Oaxaca, maybe a half hour from Puerto Escondido. The outreach program brings about 25 adults and children with disabilities, together with family members and community members to work on social and life skills in general, as a group. About three hours are devoted to team-building activities. One thing I did notice, in the group sing-off throw down, the Mexican peoples know way more songs by heart than I bet anyone else in the world. It was great! I hadn’t laughed and had this good a time with kids, since the retirement. I’d be talking away in my very poor Spanish to someone, they would nod, laugh (a lot), and look me dead on, until Pilar (a treasure of a born to be teacher) whispered in my ear they don’t speak Spanish. Oh! Zapotecan. At the end of the activities, there was a celebration for Day of the Children (gotta love Mexico). All the families brought something to share for like 50 people. We had etole (a drink made of corn - served hot) made with peanuts, tamales of various kinds, lots of vitamin drinks (as there are failure to thrive babies, who are only nursing - at the steps of malnutrition, hard to believe....)
This is how cool this community is: Larry left his (very expensive) camera there. A community member picked it up, passed it back to Piña, and we picked it up Thursday, when once again we headed up to Puerto Escondido. I’m writing a road trip piece on that drive. There is a serious reason though to now embrace that drive, a chocolate dude has moved to Puerto, a Belgium who makes chocolate in the European style, and has brought a bit of heaven to our already near paradisiacal life. Plus we found a beach community, La Escobilla, an eco-tourist cooperative of environmentally minded people, who are working to ensure all those baby turtles that make a run for it in June, July, August (full moon best time they say) when thousands hit the beach for the run to the ocean. If this were California they would have closed this stretch of the beach off for life, with posted guards (if there was any money left in that state’s budget).
The La Escobilla community rents cabanas on the beach for about $20 a night, and you too can participate in the turtle run. The turtles lay their eggs from December to February, and thousands come ashore at that time to lay the eggs. The babies start their journey back in summer. We are checking moons as I am typing this now. So what with the chocolate guy, and the turtle beach, and some semi-decent food on the beach there, the trip up is not so bad.
We did check out a development that I had seen on House Hunters International (addicted). Just to see. Puerto Escondido is a rapidly growing city, and I am sure it will hugely benefit from the new highway down from Oaxaca city that will cut a 6-8 hour drive (depending) into 3-1/2 hours. We in Huatulco know it will bring huge changes, but hope not. Puerto Escondido may have less constrictions in building and is undoubtedly going to get bigger - I fear shades of Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Escondido used to a hardcore surfer town, with serious surfers from all other the world, finding their way there. In the last few years it has been gentrifying up, and attracting Canadians and Americans who want to live on the beach, in a nice house. It still has a hippy, surfer, ganja vibe to it, and is far more “European” in their community, with people from all over the world opening up coffee shops, vegetarian-natural food restaurants, and hanging on the beach, retired hippy surfers (with hair long enough to tell a story), and the usual cast of characters who only come to Mexico for the “season”. It attracts a different crowd from Huatulco (which is yet to come up with an “identity” like say San Miguel de Allende)....but it is different from here. For one, when Fonatur (government tourist agency) is involved in a developed area, they tend to keep the place to a certain level of pristineness, that is actually enhanced and maintained. Plus Huatulco has most of it’s land set aside as national park, so it’s development was unique to other Fornatur projects....anyway.
Puerto Escondido has way more “hip” places for sure. Not just the chocolate shop, but there is a solar energy store up there, selling solar and self sustaining type stuff, a great beach and harbor, and some good food. It also has started to install solar street lights, now that’s hip. It’s got character.
The trip back goes quickly, we pass beaches we say we will visit next time. We see little restaurants that beckon us on for just a taste, and the coco frios at every curve are offered to refresh us until the next curve, but there will be four lanes between here and there soon enough, and I'd hate to see too many changes on this road.