Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Settling into Puerto Escondido

Treno, the hotel dog is checking out our view
Our new room is gorgeous, still no AC but gorgeous. It’s on the third floor with a view of the ocean in the distance. It has windows on three sides, so it gets a nice breeze. The swimming pool helps. After we hop in the pool, and then stand under the fan or out on the porch, usually we cool off. It also has a private kitchenette. The owners of the school live below us and he said Joe could use his work-out equipment in the garage, so that’s a bonus.

We went back to the Stair-Master beach yesterday. I’m happy to say that it wasn’t as difficult as the first day! A cute little waitress convinced us to try her favorite dish; deep-fried shrimp tacos. Let’s see, I ate banana bread for breakfast, fried tacos for lunch and then for dinner we had pizza again. Thank goodness for the stairs.

After the beach we thought, Hey, let’s try to find the grocery store. It took us awhile, but we found it and we found air-conditioning… Eureka! It’s the first time Joe was willing to wander aimlessly around a grocery store without complaint J We have a small grocery store near our place, but it’s actually more of a bar. On the sidewalk outside they have big screen TVs and chairs full of people watching sports. It helps that you can buy beer in the store and drink outside. Really, it’s brilliant. That store is always packed.

Today was more of the same; frappaccino, Spanish language school, I bought a whole loaf of banana bread, down to the beach to buy beach-towels from a sweet lady selling clothes and beach toys in a lean-to shack, and crossing over to a different beach to lay like beached whales for 3 hours while eating shrimp tacos. The people watching was exceptional today. All of the tiny beach restaurants are crammed together like sardines. Entire families are together at their restaurant, from infants to grandparents. The teens are the servers, the parents are the cooks, the grandparents are bossing everyone around, and the children are playing hide-and-seek. It’s nothing to see an 18 year-old waitress take someone’s order with a baby on her hip. 

Today the waitress had an ingenious way of getting her little girl to stay out of the way; she put her in a big hammock with a bag of chips, tied off the opening, and walked away to take food orders. It was like a playpen for the beach. The toddler crawled around inside of it and entertained herself without getting covered in sand and dirt.

We went over to check out our next hotel and loved it… it has an AC! Yahoo! I’m very excited, but by then I’ll probably have acclimated.

Our favorite beach waitress
We had a fantastic dinner at El Nene. One of the guys behind the bar is Italian and he recommended the barracuda with white wine, garlic and capers. Wow was that good. Joe had a skirt steak with a side of thinly sliced chili poblanos with a cream sauce. The wine selection down here is quite good. I had a glass of Carmenere from Chile. In general the food is good here. I’m trying to let go of the fish tacos mentality. I assumed that would be the specialty here, as it was in Playa del Carmen. Fish here seems to be served cooked whole or in filets But for tacos, shrimp is the popular item here, and octopus or even iguana. The maid was telling us that they make really good iguana here, but she doesn’t like the bugs and worms… okay now that’s just gross, sorry. We have come to accept that the shrimp tacos are deep fried, regardless of what they may say.

We met a couple from London. They are on a one-year trip of Latin America. They started in Cuba and then came to Mexico. They’ll stop a couple of more times and then head into Guatemala. I think that’s amazing for someone in their thirties. How in the world do they get that much time off of work? And to be able to afford it? Another couple, who’re very young, just arrived and they don’t know how long they’ll stay… maybe until Christmas! 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Arrival at Puerto Escondido

Just kidding, this wasn't our plane!
I try to write an honest blog. Sometimes that means I’m writing about my emotional response to our adventures. For example, my first impression of Puerto Escondido was excellent. As we came down the stairs of the plane we were greeted by several very good-looking Latinos. For Joe who had to carry our heavy carry-on bags down the steps… maybe he had a different picture :) The airport here consists of one small open-air room and luggage conveyor belt. Everyone said "Bienvenido" and acted as though they really meant it. That’s something that has stayed consistent here, the sincerity of a greeting. We stepped out of the airport to see a guy holding a sign with “Joseph” written on it. So far, so good.

My second impression was, wow it’s hot and humid here! We were dropped off at the school (Oasis Surf and Spanish Lessons). The owner gave us a ride to our temporary lodging for two nights. Then we will move to the room Joe wanted, but wasn’t available yet. It’s hard to describe this little complex. It’s mainly a grouping of family dwellings connected by a center courtyard of cement and mango trees. Our little room is in the upper corner… on the sunny side of the complex… heat rises. Upon entering the room, which was quite warm, she informed us that it didn’t have air-conditioning. Heidi wasn’t happy :) I commented that at least we’d have an AC in the next more permanent room they were providing. She looked confused, like maybe it was an inside joke. The poor thing didn’t understand that I’d had a grand total of one hour of sleep on one of the three planes we’d been on since the night before. I wasn’t tired, I was exhausted. Thankfully our room has an enormous fan.

We changed to swimsuits and went to town for a plate of chicken tacos. “Town” consists of one street about the length of a half a mile lined with shops and restaurants on the shady side. Puerto Escondido is somewhat broken into three parts; the lower beach level surfer zone with lots of pubs and shops, the central part with the grocery store and hospital, and our part which is on the bluffs. This is the quiet part of town and October is the slowest time of the year.

We had a teenage boy named Wilber point us in the right direction for Playa Carrizalillo. As the crow flies we are close to the beach, however I’m not a crow. 175 very steep steps awaited us (It reminded me of Patrick’s point north of Eureka, or Chichen Itza). Remember I’ve only slept an hour at this point. Once we got to the beach, we found Wilber and ordered a beer. I was blazing hot and had the beginnings of a heat-stroke headache, so I jumped in the ocean. After a couple of hours of trying to not sleep in the beach-bar, we returned to our sauna to sleep. I woke up miserable and wondering if I was going to survive.

With quivering legs we got ready to go out to dinner. Pizza at an open-air Italian restaurant restored us a little, but it still wasn’t pretty. We slept like the dead under our monster fan that night. I woke up refreshed and ready to face our first day of school. Our teacher is an adorable petite Chilean lady named Javi. She is perfect for us. After three hours of class and a frappaccino, we scampered off to Playa Manzanillo with a slower decent through shady trees. This is even more of a family beach than the other one, and we went to the marina side. I loved how the women would walk out into the water holding onto each other, that way if one falls they all fall. They get in to about knee-deep and sit down. 

After an hour of getting doused by the waves they crawl out like they’re going to be sucked out to sea. Mind you the waves on this beach are tiny. Children are walking in and out around them. It’s really comical to watch and very consistent amongst the ladies over thirty. By the way, the majority of the Mexicans go in the ocean with their clothes on, especially the women… we’re talking shorts, shirt, even jeans!

We returned to our sauna-room for a siesta and then decided to try to find the lower section of town… in the dark. We failed. We finally gave up and climbed back to our bluffs amidst a lightening show. The humidity had become oppressive and we were beginning to dread another hot night, but I am here to tell you that our area of Puerto Escondido is much cooler than the lower part and has a nice breeze.
We had dinner at a little Spanish restaurant with a terrace to view the lightening and listen to the thunder. So far (11:00 at night) it still hasn’t rained. The owner of the Spanish restaurant told us this is much cooler than September was and nothing compared to May. Note to my readers; if you don’t like the heat, don’t come here between May and September.

Well I close for now. I’m sitting outside in the co-op kitchen listening to Joe snore in the hammock next to me. Time to wake him up and try to get some sleep in our horrid little room for the last time.