Leaving the Harbor
In the gorgeous Mexican film Y Tu Mamá También (2001), a couple of teenagers try to entice an attractive older woman to accompany them on a beach trip. When she asks if the place they mean is Puerto Escondido, the boys disdainfully remark that Puerto is “full of backpackers, yuppies and wannabe surfers”, and obviously not their destination.
After spending a little bit over a month in Puerto Escondido, we can understand the boys’ dismissive assertion. There are a lot of backpackers around (we experienced it firsthand in the week we stayed at the Tower Bridge hostel), yuppies can be seen driving their convertibles in Zicatela and I was one of the wannabe surfers. Nonetheless, that’s not the whole story.
Complementing all that I’ve already written, what follows are a couple of essential glimpses into our slow discovery of Puerto Escondido:
Our time in Puerto Escondido is intimately linked to Casa Puente, where we stayed for exactly one month. There, in a spacious studio overlooking the Pacific, we found a comfortable base from which to explore our surroundings.
We not only had the use of a magnificent pool but also the privilege of being in the company of a welcoming family who made us feel at home, while being very respectful of our privacy. Adding to all this, the canine entourage, comprised of Bali and Jack, never failed to lighten our mood with their constant shenanigans.
Topping it off, we also witnessed glorious sunsets and a blue moon shimmering over the ocean.
Since Casa Puente is located on a peaceful hill outside of the town center, many of our mornings began with a ride on a “colectivo”, or shared taxi. Hopping on to either go to the market or explore the many beaches on offer, they provided a fresh glimpse into a local way of life, making us feel less like tourists and more like friendly visitors.
Seeing that our favorite beach turned out to be Carrizalillo, where I learned some surfing skills and the sea is more easygoing, we ambled back and forth on “colectivos” quite often. Whenever in the mood for a calmer atmosphere and wishing to stretch our legs, we headed out to La Punta, a 10 minute walk from home.
Following Carrizalillo, which we already mentioned plenty of times in previous posts, La Punta was our beach of preference.
Zicatela, the most famous, has very impressive waves and is beautiful to meander through, although being the most urbanized. It’s still a great place to spend a lazy day watching surfers fly through the foam, and it has fantastic bars like Casa Babylon to entice a visit, but we tended to distance ourselves from its more hectic energy.
La Punta, on the other hand, retains a bit of the old wildness of the Pacific coast. Development is continuously lurking, and constantly encroaching on the sea, but for now it’s just a small stretch of dirt road lined up with a couple of hostels, a few bars and scattered palapas.
At some point we realized we greatly enjoyed seeing surfers tackle the waves of La Punta, so we made regular pilgrimages to its shores, walking all the way to the lighthouse whenever in need of a change of scenery.
On our way back to Casa Puente, we quite often stopped at a fantastic bakery hidden in a corner close to the beach. There, a charming Swiss couple makes delicious bread and pastries to those fortunate to know about it, which meant we regularly went back uphill with a spring in our step and a grumble in our stomachs, anxious to unwrap whatever goodies we had bought.
Truth be told, we never went hungry in Puerto Escondido. Whenever not meandering through the Benito Juárez market, we paid visits to El Cafecito or Cinemar in Rinconada, treating ourselves to a few more bites of chocolate with everything.
Puerto Escondido eventually became a safe harbor for us. By the end of our stay, we recognized many familiar faces and places, and turned our wanderlust into a daily routine. Having the sea so close and the sun so bright soothed some of our restlessness, but we already had a date of departure set, which soon came to take us away from the lighthouse, and back on the open road.
Our idyll by the Pacific ocean is now part of a remembered past, shared with the lovely people we met along the way. To them, our gratitude and wishes of good fortune.