caught the 5 a.m. bus from Marquelia to Puerto Escondido
paying 200 Pesos per person for the 5 hour trip. From
town we paid a taxi 20 Pesos to drop us off on Zicatela
beach where we had reservations for a week at Hotel Las
of the quaint town from a higher vantage point.
least we thought we had reservations!
though I spoke with Zazie, the owner, the day before by
phone, and she had confirmed our reservations both
verbally and by email, when we arrived at 10 a.m., none
of her staff knows anything about
our stay. The room we
wanted wouldn't be available until later on that week,
and on top of that, they wanted to charge us more than what was
quoted earlier via
was an unsettling start to what was supposed to be a
rejuvenating stay in a favored place.
blue skies, groomed beaches and sapphire seas make
Zicatela an attractive beach destination.
Eventually, after a bit of tug-and-pull with the
employees at the desk, the boss was called and voila! An empty
room for us appears.
Our hotel is clean, convenient and an obvious value at
the 300 Peso price for fan room, but the owners are
known for their prickly attitude and their lack of
communication skills with employees.
Mosaic tiled table and chairs beckon for customers to
come in to this little seaside bistro.
Development has been explosive since we were here a year
ago, and artistically expressive cafes, restaurants and
shops now line a newly finished main road which is done in
attractively designed pavers.
Serious surfers still flock here to Zicatela because the
waves are perfect for board riding. A year ago the road
ended right here at the attractive Hotel Arco Iris and
turned into sand. Now it follows through another half mile with more hotel
restaurants and shops lining both sides of the road.
And the building continues. Our guess is that this
persistent construction is going to attract a greater
number of visitors making this area more
a captivating, clean town but now it leans towards a
tourist beach-and-surf theme rather than reflecting the
local lifestyle of the Mexicans.
typical surf shop that rents boards and has all the
paraphernalia needed for the perfect ride.
Development and growth is always a double edged sword.
Tourists bring in cash flow that's good for business and
improves the lifestyle choices of local residents. On
the other hand, the authentic culture can be overwhelmed
by the monolithic influx of internationals.
Palapa bars and small restaurants dot the entire length
of Zicatela Beach. The main road is to the left in this
photo with the sea to the right.
my friends, is the local culture.
independent vendor pushes his cart through the streets
and sidewalks of town selling his roasted platanos.
You know he is coming because he blows his whistle which
sounds a bit like a train in the distance.
Employees working in the shops run out quickly to
purchase this tasty native treat.
plantain-style bananas are freshly roasted over the
coals in his moveable grill which he pushes from place
to place. So far, individual vendors are still allowed
to sell their offerings and have not yet been asked to
cease business by the larger restaurants and cafes.
Notice the pavers done in appealing designs in the road.
sufficient roasting, this special style of banana (a
heartier version than what we often purchase in the
States) is cut into pieces and drizzled with fresh
crema and sweetened condensed milk.
lady will now take her treat back to the workplace and share
with a friend. Yummy!
vast expanse of Zicatela with umbrellas lined up along
is the location where surfers enjoy substantially sized waves.
Swimmers are encouraged to swim elsewhere as there is a
very strong undertow here.
You have been warned!
witnessed a rescue at this beach,
straight out of the TV show Bay Watch, complete with lifeguards jumping
into their quad, blowing their whistles, swimming at an
angle so the undertow would take them directly to the
damsel in distress, through the pounding surf and
sometimes 10 foot waves, and of course, flotation
Afterwards, the grateful-yet-chastened woman was
instructed on where and why it's best to swim elsewhere.
witnessing all that beach drama it's time to enjoy a
private table view of the sunset at Tio's.
Puerto Escondido is in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and
one of the specialties of this area is Tinga, or stew. I
ordered the Tinga de Pollo which is a slightly
spicy, slightly sweet, smokey chicken stew served with rice and
black beans, and of course, fresh corn tortillas. Our
very large entrees were served with hot bread and an
appetizer for 45 Pesos per person, or just under $3.50 USD.
is Playa Principal which is a pleasant walk north from
Playa Zicatela, and through Playa Marinero which is
where we usually body surf. Playa Principal fills with
the local population on the weekends where families
enjoy the food, the sea and their own company.
vendor walks the beach offering fresh shrimp cocktails
with crackers and salsa for 25 Pesos each cup.
shrimp are in clam juice and fresh salsa made from
cilantro, onions, tomatoes and red sauce. With a squeeze
of lime and a touch of Valentino's... Marvelous! Do
try these treats otherwise you will never know what you
that tasty snack we head on to our destination for the
day, Playa Manzanillo.
can pick up this paved walking tour just past Playa
Principal and it's a pleasant walk, not strenuous at all.
a good way to see the cerulean waters, jagged coastline
and a bit of jungle.
areas of the walking tour are exciting with the crashing
surf splashing right over the paved areas.
couple are doing a bit of fishing here on the rocks.
Crabs run all along this area and are exposed when the
tide is down.
did they get out there? And how will they get back? You
can only reach this destination when the tide is down... The water pool
on the flat surface just to the right of the girl
shows that waves were crashing over this rock
the path looking back towards Playa Zicatela on the
can see that the constructed walkway is in good shape
and blends in well with the natural surroundings.
are plenty of places to rest, enjoy the view and
preserve the moment in a photo.
this be the title of our next book?
Taking our time it was just over an hour before we
arrived at the end of the trail. Continue past Un
Sueno Posible and take the first left into the beach
area where you will find palapas and restaurants on
gorgeous Playa Manzanillo.
Boats, beach towels, comfortable seats and white sand.
water here was FRESH feeling, clean,
clear, no trash at all and
the waves were gentle, lapping at our feet. The beach
drops off suddenly and the water is over your head
before you know it.
attention - the cabana boys might tell you the umbrellas
are free but you will be expected to purchase something
at their restaurant. Otherwise rent for the umbrella is 50
Pesos a person.
Here's a broader view of the same bay. These sea worn
rocks separate the bay into two distinct areas. Cars and
taxis can service this side.
Colorful umbrellas, boats, restaurants, even a 'banana'
ride. We walked through this beach, continued on the
path to Playa Angelito and
up a steep hill
where we ate
lunch at Mar y Sol. This small restaurant, built into
the cliff, had a spectacular view and good service.
full plate of whitefish with garlic butter, rice and
salad went for 40 Pesos per person.
lunch we hailed a taxi. Five minutes and 30 Pesos later
we were back in Zicatela.
once again, we discover more designer chairs under
the upper right hand corner of this photo, you see the
location of Un Sueno Posible and other hotels we passed
to get to Playa Manzanillo.
evening we were walking around the area and some
troubadours asked us where we were from, where we were
staying, and where we were going to eat dinner. Be
careful what you disclose about yourself! People may
appear friendly, but are actually sizing you up.
asked to hear a popular ballad, Besame Mucho, and
it was the best duet version we have ever heard of this
song, and heartbreakingly romantic. Later when we tipped
them for their work they became offensive and rude,
because they expected more.
unfortunate that one must be less-than-truthful about
yourself in these situations, but if you are not, you
can find that you have placed yourself in an unwanted
and possibly dicey position.
Lovely sea view table at Restaurant Elizabeth where we
ordered dinner on another evening.
Sailing, surfing, sun-worshipping, horseback riding,
hiking, swimming, and fine dining. What more could one
want from a beach location?