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.