Author Archives: Glen Williamson

Day 7 and 8, Last Day, Night, Day in Huatulco

Day 7 to 8 – Zipolite to Huatulco to Minneapolis – Amazing Place   

We really truly like Playa Zipolite, and also our room at Hotel Estrella de Mar.  It felt like home.  The owners Tino and his family, especially Daniel, made us feel very welcome.  The staff cleaned the room and changed the linen everyday .  It was like staying at a first class hotel, but on a budget.  Remember, we were paying about $37 USA per night, while having a room on the beach.  Where else could that happen?

At about 11:30, we said our goodbyes to Tino and Daniel, got in our car, headed out to Highway 175, and started east to Huatulco.  The drive was uneventful, however we noticed something.  When we got to Pochutla, we noticed a police officer, sitting in a car by the stop sign.  It wasn’t the first police officer we saw; we saw a few in Puerto Escondido the day before, but this was the first we saw, so close to Zipolite.

Now understand that Pochulta was a couple towns away from Zipolite and it was a larger town.  It actually had a stoplight (there were none in Zipo), and it was Friday.  Maybe that’s it.  It was Friday and things just became hectic.  A week earlier on Saturday, when we were driving from Huatulco to Zipo, we didn’t see any police officers.  

We continued to head east, stopping at a few places, arriving at our hotel, Quinta Bella around 1:50 pm.  As we drove up, we noticed that there was a gate.  We had to be let into the property by a security guard.  But before he let us in, he asked us did we have a reservation and what were our names.  We looked around and it was a gated resort with immaculate grounds.

We parked the car, went to the reception area and gave them our names.  She then said our room wasn’t ready, but it will be by 3 pm.  She said that we can use anything and go anywhere on the property.  So, guess what we did.  We went to the bar and Toni had Mojito, she didn’t like it, it was too sweet she said, so she went back to  tequila with fresca and I had a cerveza. We decided to split a hamburger basket while waiting for our room to be ready.  It was yummy (Toni’s words).

As many of you know Toni has a bad hip.  She walked downstairs to the bathroom and on her way back up, one of the workers noticed that she was holding on to the stairs.  He took her right arm, while she held onto the rail with her left arm, and slowly helped her back up the stairs.  That’s only the beginning of the courtesy of this hotel.

While going to check in, another employee saw us coming, ran to the door, and held it open for us.  I don’t know if they knew we were going to be there for only one night, but that was a wonderful start.

After we got checked in, another employee followed us to our car and took our luggage to our room.

Our room was poolside with a private wading pool in front.  It was beautifully decorated with 3-D art.

We quickly unpacked and went to one of the two pools in front of our room.  Look at the photos, they are an indescribably pretty, rich blue.  The pool closest to the beach/ocean was a modified infinity pool.  The water didn’t flow all the way over, but it had the illusion of doing so.

We stayed at the pool for about 90 minutes, went back to our room, and tried to decide where we wanted to go for dinner.  We selected Rocoto which was about one mile away.

We got dressed, took our time and walked the one mile to Rocoto, a highly rated seafood restaurant.  We got there a little after 8 pm, walked up to get a table and were asked “Do you have a reservation?”  We said “No” and they told us that they were booked up for the night.  As we turned away, wondering where to go, a gentleman that was in the restaurant, came up to us.  He introduced himself, and then called for his Canadian friend who lives across the street during the winter months.  The Canadian gentleman explained to us that Rocoto is a very small restaurant, highly rated, and is always in demand;  he went on to say, it’s best to always try to get a reservation, at least a couple days prior.  We explained that we were leaving in the morning and wanted to have a nice dinner on our last night.

He then asked us if we liked Japanese food.  We told him “Yes.”  He pointed across street, towards the building that he lives in and told us that there are two Japanese restaurants over there.  He told us not to go to the first one, but to the second one, the Konnichiwa Sushi Bar.  So with his recommendation, we walked across the street and went to Konnichiwa.

We looked at the menu. Not wanting sushi, we decided to order off the teppanyaki menu.  Toni had shrimp and I had fish.  It came with an array of veggies.  Toni ordered a side of rice also  The meal took about 30 minutes or so to totally prepare.  It also have us the chance to enjoy a carafe of sake. The young man preparing the meal was very charming, explaining to us that he moved from Mexico City about a year ago to work in the area. The meal was very delicious.  We also had a chance to see if we still had our chopstick talents.  Well Toni did, I used cheaters.  After a wonderful meal, a couple carafes of Saki we started our way back to our room.

We decided to stop at another beach bar called Tomas Beach Cantina and Bar, had a couple of drinks and headed back to our room.

We were excited to be back in our room.  For the first time in about a week, we had a television.  It was a Smart Samsung TV, so I streamed from my phone, WCCO TV news (Twin Cities station channel 4).  Ahh, the pleasure of watching news.

So to rap it up, for our last night in Mexico, we ate at a Japanese restaurant and watched a local news channel from Minneapolis/St. Paul.   It was a fun night.

We awoke to an email from Sun Country Airlines, letting us know that our flight was delayed for an hour. Instead of leaving at 12:45 pm, we would be departing at 1:50 pm.

With that notice, we went down to the beach.  As usual, I had to go swimming in the beach.  Toni stayed on shore and took a couple of pictures.

On the way out of Hotel Quinta Bella, one of the employees noticed me dragging and carrying the bags.  He said in broken English that he would carry them.  He took it to the reception area, waited for us to check out, and then took the luggage/bags to the car.  The service at Quinta Bella is one of the best that we have ever experienced.  The rate for the night was approximately $124 or about three times more per night what we paid at Hotel Estrella de Mar in Zipolite.  For each hotel, we got what we paid for.  Both hotels are good values and we would stay at them again, if we can.

We packed up, headed to the Huatulco airport, returned our car, checked in, had a meal, boarded the plane about 1:15 pm, and flew nonstop back to Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, Terminal 2.

I don’t remember what the temperature was when we got home to Sandstone, but it was cold.  So the next morning, I said to Toni “Where would you like to go for breakfast?”  She replied, “To the airport, and any place warm!”If it’s God’s will, we definitely will go back to Zipolite next year.  If you interested in joining us, drop us a note and zipolite@toniglen.com.

Last Day and Night – Zipolite to Huatulco, Mexico

 

 

Last Day – Quinta Bella to Huatulco Airport, Mexico – Back To Minneapolis

 

 

Zipolite to Puerto Escondido, Day 6

Day 6 – Thursday – It couldn’t get any better

Well, we had hoped to get up early and head out, however after having breakfast and coffee at Hotel Estrella de Mar, we did our usual morning routine.  We went  back to our terrace and people watched for a while.  However, today on the beach was a little different.  There weren’t as many people.  They were scattered few and far between.  It could have been that’s it’s Thursday and many of the tourists left on Wednesday and Thursday is sort of the lull before others start to arrive on the weekend.  

That’s possibly what happened.  Most charter airlines to Huatulco and Puerto Escondido come in on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  So it would be quite natural for this tourist area to be quiet on a Thursday.

Playa Zipolite, according to many meant the “beach of the dead.”  As we were told, Playa Zipolite is one of the deadliest beaches in the world.  It is said that in the past, they have had up to fifty drownings a year.  But as one, local person told me, that was the past.   When I pressed more as to why there was so many drownings, he told me it’s because they never used to have many lifeguards.  The waves can be rough, you are warned not to swim too close to the rocks as the surf can slam you into them and that would ruin your day, week or life.  The undertow is said to be brutal if you go out too far.  Add to that it was off the beaten path and of course we heard that many people may be on drugs.

I can say, I did see several lifeguards (some on ATVs), on patrol.  Most days the waves were rough, and there were more people lying on the beach, rather than swimming in the ocean.  There were fishermen braving the waves to climb on sharp rocks to throw nets yielding fresh seafood.  At night, many locals and some tourists would go catch a wave surfing on the west end of the beach.  Toni and I didn’t see any rescues, but we heard there were a couple over the last few days.

After chatting for a while, we decided to go for a drive.  After all, this was our last full day in Playa Zipolite.  The next day, we’ll be going to Huatulco for one day and night, before flying out on Saturday.  

Many of the tourists we met, told us that we’ve gotta go to Puerto Escondido, just about 90 minutes west of Zipolite.  Many tourists flew into Puerto Escondido Airport and drove or took a taxi to “Zipo”.They said it was a pretty drive, but they told us to be sure to get back by dark.

So off we went, taking a beautiful, scenic, windy route, up and down, through a lush tropical shoreline.  Officially it’s Highway 175 out of Zipo (that’s what the local people call Zipolite – it’s the “cool” name and we were feeling cool) to Highway 200, west to Puerto Escondido.  Once we got to Highway 200, the road wasn’t windy or narrow.  It’s actually a modern type freeway, with certain areas, you can drive up to 110 kilometers per hour (about 70 miles per hour).

Toni wanted to buy a hat, and we went back to Puerto Ventanilla, because there was a vendor selling straw hats for 50 pesos (about $2.60 USA).  Sure ‘nuff, the vendor (a lady) was still there and Toni bought her hat, and then we headed back on to Highway 175 to Highway 200, turned left, and started our drive to Puerto Escondido.

We had to take a couple of bathroom breaks, and each time, we had to pay five pesos (about 25 cents) to use the bathroom at a local gas station. Once you paid the peso’s, you were handed a handful of toilet paper.  It may seem weird, but when you have to go a quarter is no issue.  The bathrooms were clean and Toni of course had to note they were much cleaner than her “initial experience”. Most of them had the name Pemex.

The drive was beautiful.  You realized that you’re not in the grand ‘ole USA when you see a pickup truck, filled with people standing up in back, going about 100 kilometers per hour.  That would be totally illegal and probably get you arrested in Minnesota.  What a difference a border makes.

As we got closer to Puerto Escondido, we noticed school children, probably as young as three on up, wearing uniforms.  That’s right, just like many private schools in the USA, the public schools have different color uniforms for girls and boys, to distinguish which school they attended.

We went all the way to Puerto Escondido airport and decided to turn back.  If you’ve traveled with Toni and I, you would know that we don’t usually set a specific agenda as to what we are going to do.  We just “wing it.”  So on the way back, I said to Toni, “Let’s turn down here to the beach and see what’s there.”  She agreed, and so I turned right to Playa Angelito.

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so we stopped at a local strip mall that had a restaurant called El Sultan.  It’s a Mediterranean restaurant that served Greek food.  We stayed, Toni had falafel and I had shawarma. We shared our meals and it was divine.  Toni loves Mediterranean food so it was delicious for us both.  Toni even talked me into purchasing a “man bag” from a vendor, passing through the restaurant.

I digress a little:  The local vendors and store owners have some sort of symbiotic relationship all over the area.  Many times when we are at the restaurant, the vendors would just walk in and start to sell their wares to the customers.  Unlike some other countries we have traveled to there is no high pressure.  Toni found it to be very beautiful when they crossed themselves, giving thanks for the sale.

Also, many of the musicians at the restaurants are not hired by the owners.  I noticed they would come up to the manager/owner at the restaurant and ask permission to play.  They would then play whatever music/instrument and then they would ask for donations from the patrons and move on.  Once we were in a restaurant in downtown Zipo, and a third musician came in to ask permission to play.  The manager simply told him that there were “two others were there in the last hour and it wouldn’t be nice for his customers.”  He turned him away, simply because while we were there, he gave permission to two musicals troupes to play, and both then asked for and received donations.  He didn’t think it was right for a third to do that.  That was very thoughtful.  

Back on track:  So we ate at El Sultan and continued our drive towards Playa Angelito.  What a surprise.  The place was hustling and bustling with people.  We decided to stop, window shop and have a couple of libations.  Toni would have tequila with fresca and I would have any type of cerveza.

So we stopped into Mar Y Sol (Sea and Sun) restaurant.  We struck up a conversation with a few people and were told that most of the tourists there were not “gringos” but Mexicans, most from Mexico City area.  In fact, a married couple by the name of Omar and Sandra who are from Mexico City, quizzed us as to where we are from, how we like the area, etc.  In talking to them, we found out they actually met in college in Connecticut (yup, USA), fell in love and got married.  She was originally from Brazil and he was from the Mexico City area.  We chatted for a while, exchanged emails, took photos and said our goodbyes.  It was about 5:15 pm, it will be getting dark shortly and we have a 90 minute drive back.  We were told not to drive at night, it’s too risky with all the unmarked curves.

They were right, when we got to about Highway 175 and 200, it started to get dark.  And guess what, that’s about where the road gets windy, and you can’t see too far.  It wasn’t that bad of a drive, until be passed Puerto Ventanilla.  Even that wasn’t so bad, relatively speaking, until the last five or six kilometers.  The road was dark and windy.  You couldn’t see the curves in the road because there were not many reflective markings.  I had to drive slowly, allowing the locals to pass me.  I was so relieved when I saw the sign “Visite – Playa Zipolite.”  If felt like home.  Moral of this paragraph – don’t drive at night!!!

So, we got back and decided to go to dinner at El Mare in downtown Zipolite.  The ambiance was nice, kind of beach type palapa, cozy and nice.  But that’s where it ended for us.  Toni had the vegetarian ravioli and I had the Filete de Pascado (Fish) a la Plancha. Both came back very salty. The waitress Fatima seemed very stressed and it seemed like we were bothering her when we were using the Google Translator to talk to her. In our opinion, she was very unfriendly. Of all the places we ate, we found her to be unfriendliest.  I told her the food was salty and she just shrugged it off. At one point, we thought would never go there again.  But then after talking with each other we thought, maybe she was having a rough day, we have all had one.  So we will give the restaurant and her the benefit of the doubt.  As the saying goes, “never say never.”

Well, this was our last night in Zipo.  Tomorrow/Friday, we will drive about 80 minutes to Huatulco, another beachside community, about 15 minutes east of the airport.  We wanted to be there, so we’ll be close to the airport when we leave on Saturday.  So, we did what we like to do best.  We came home, got our cerveza and tequila and sat on our terrace, people watching for a while.  Overall, it couldn’t have gotten better.  We had a wonderful last day/night on Playa Zipolite.

We slept in later than usual Friday morning and about 11:30 am, said our goodbyes to the folks at Hotel Estrella de Mar and headed to Huatulco.  We will be back to this lovely place.

Day 7 will be posted tomorrow – Huatulco, we stayed at the best hotel so far.

 

 

 

 

Day 5, Wednesday, Huatulco to Zipolite

Day 5 – Wednesday – What a beautiful day

We slept well last night.  No bugs, no issues, just the sounds of the ocean, about 100 feet away, going in and out.

As usual, we got up, got coffee and had breakfast at the hotel.  They serve traditional Mexican and American breakfast.  We enjoyed our first meal of the day and talked to a few people in the restaurant.  We went back to our room and sat on our beautiful terrace and watched the beach goers.  It was settling in, we are about 2800 miles away in a tropical paradise, on the Pacific side of Mexico.

It’s what we’ve wanted, just to “veg” and do almost nothing.  Playa Zipolite didn’t let us down.  People watching is just awesome.  Seeing families with children run towards and then away from the surf is a small bit of youth serum. The demographics of the people were from one scale to another.  There isn’t a typical vacationer in this little piece of paradise.  They run the gamut; we met doctors, lawyers, authors, nomads, retirees, and everything in between.  People from all over the world, from Sweden, Canada, Finland, good ‘ole USA, and Mexico, just to name a few. We saw every kind of group of people walking together enjoying the day, female/male, female/female, male/male, triads, quads, and whatever you can imagine.  It seems that what they all have in common is tolerance and respect.  It’s day five and we haven’t seen a fight, quarrel, or any loud words.  In fact, as of today, we still have seen any police/Federales.  That’s how peaceful Zipolite is.

Later that evening, we went to an early dinner at Los Almandros in downtown, Zipolite they have fantastic food and we enjoyed the atmosphere.  The street vendors were also setting up so we looked around a bit.  We then we went back to Hotel Estrella de Mar.  They do not have a bar on the property so we went down the beach and  enjoyed a cocktails.  We returned, laid on the beach before turning in.

A truly lazy and beautiful day!

Day 6 will be totally different.