When we found out that we would be spending a year in Mexico, Puerto Escondido was the first place I added to our "must visit" list. I think I found this spot the Ian Armstrong way, a random google image search of "best spots in Mexico." Here's what I knew before we booked our trip:
1. Escondido = secret
2. The town isn't accessible by a major highway or cuota (yet - that will change in a year or so once the highway from Oaxaca is finished)
3. It looked empty and beautiful
Instead of driving, or taking the 9 hour bus ride, we booked a flight on Toucan Air for a four day vacation in P.E. Toucan Air consists of one 10-passenger plane and one pilot (no co-pilot, so hopefully he starts the day with lots of caffeine) that travels for just 25 minutes over the giant mountains to the beach. Spencer really wanted to sit by the window and take pictures, but that wasn't possible - I need the window on small (really most) flights. Otherwise, who is going to constantly look out and scope the place a pilot can make an emergency landing, or that we might be able to survive by jumping out if the plane catches on fire, while listening to Taylor Swift and hoping there are no bumps. That's my job.
We survived! And then this was waiting for us. Escondido, indeed-o. Ha! The end of May is not a popular time to visit, it's already starting to get super hot and we were on the verge of rainy season. But oh my, does visiting places in the off season have it's benefits. What we'd heard could be obscenely crowded beaches in the winter, were absolutely empty. Large tracks of land on the beach and the roads above the coast were completely undeveloped. I imagine this will not be the case for much longer, especially once the super-highway is finished. Knowing this makes the time spent on the Oaxacan coast even more special, it's tough to know that in 10 years, this area will most likely look very different. So go now!
I'm saving details on most of our activities for the Puerto Escondido Guide, but must mention the coolest experience I've had this year. Sea turtles are endangered on the coast of Oaxaca, for various reasons (human and environmental). At the Campamento Tortuguero Palmarito, Alfonso has been riding his ATV up and down the beach to collect eggs and allow them to hatch in safety. Once the baby sea turtles are 45 days old, they are set free into the ocean for the first time. We put 100 turtles in a basket, brought them out to the beach, and placed each one in the sand. There was no confusion, each little animal turned immediately towards the waves and scuttled quickly away. To the sea, and the big waves, and whatever else was out there waiting. Dangerous or not, they ran off to figure it out for themselves.
We've traveled to many different places in Mexico over the last ten months, but none has felt more like home than Oaxaca. It's a true soulmate - when you know, you know. But...I'm not quite sure why. Part of the allure of this city is people we've met, that goes without saying. The expat culture here is not just a vibrant and friendly community, but the friends we've made all came here for different reasons, and all have stayed for a version of the same one - it's just...what is it? Hard to describe.
This week our friend Carl came to visit on his way to Guatemala. We had a great time exploring town with a newbie, and checked off a few items on our ever-expanding "to do" list. The Ethnobotanical Gardens was at the top of the list, and so well worth the two hour tour. I typically don't enjoy tours that last more than 30 minutes, and prefer to just learn a bit and then explore on my own. But at the Garden all visitors are required to join with a guide, which is how we met Diego, the best dressed guia wearing the most neon in all of Oaxaca. And he knew his shit about plants and the history of the city.
The Museo de las culturas de Oaxaca is a huge museum next to the Santo Domingo church. It's worth checking out for the photo exhibit of nuns doing everyday activities (like riding the subway, or ironing clothes) in their nun-gear (amongst so many other things).
We have less than six weeks left in this city, and I know that time is going to pass quickly. In the interim, I plan to document street art, eat veggie tortas/tlayudas, and hang out at the pool with friends as much as possible.
We've had the best time in San Cristobal with David and Laura (who we met in Oaxaca). They decided to book an extended stay in the apartment above ours, and it has been so fun to have good friends nearby! A few weeks ago we all drove down to Lagos de Montebello, a set of lakes in Chiapas on the border of Guatemala. We did the thing you do when you visit a body of water in Mexico - jump in with your clothes on to go swimming, then hire a local guy to take you out to the secret island on his boat.
After swimming around all day, we made a quick detour to see some Mayan ruins on the way home. "Let's check out these ruins" is just a standard phrase in our vocabulary these days, like checking out the new Trader Joe's down the block. Just like that.