Thursday, March 24, 2011

A winter break in Puerto Escondido

Gertrud and I are in Puerto Escondido, Mexico visiting our son, Chris and family who have lived here for several years.  Although we have been here many times before, we have a special purpose this time, which is to get to know little Zoe, our new granddaughter, who just turned 7 weeks old. What a pleasure it is to spend time with her and the family in their beachfront paradise.  

Chris and Zoe

Chris and Family at home in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido (simply Puerto to the locals) is a fishing village in the State of Oaxaca on Mexico's Pacific Coast. It has a pretty harbor filled with colorful boats and with seafood restaurants and food stands along the water front. In the afternoons it is very enjoyable to sit at the harbor and watch the catch come in and the nets being unloaded with the fish being sold to waiting customers.  

But what has really put Puerto on the map is Playa Zicatela, Puerto's surfing mecca, famous worldwide for gigantic waves called the Mexican Pipeline.  This and the town's low cost of living draw young surfers from all over the world as well as a few old snowbirds who ogle the young firm bodies and talk about the good old days.  Ten years ago, Zicatela was very rustic and fronted by a dirt road and a few small hotels and shops.  Today the road is nicely paved and all of the buildings along it have undergone major face lifts.  There are also many new restaurants directly on the beach.  The city has worked hard to retain some of the rustic charm and to keep it from becoming another Cancun. It has not allowed any major hotels to be built along the water front, although there are a few large hotels outside of town on cliffs overlooking the ocean. 

Take a look at the following video of Chris and friends catching a few of Puerto gigantic waves.

And here is a picture of Chris waiting for just the right wave:

Chris surfing at Zicatela

Nature in the area surrounding Puerto Escondido is extremely interesting.  There are several coastal lagoons in both directions that contain brackish water due to flooding by high tides.  These lagoons are surrounded by mangroves and are home to a wide variety of exotic birds and plants.  Sea tortoises hatch eggs on the beach at a lagoon near our son's home and there are always a few carcasses and shells of old turtles that come onto the beach to die and are being devoured by vultures.  In December and January we have often seen large flocks of pelicans flying south along the coast.  They typically fly in tight formations skimming the surf for a lift to help them on their way. They are often humorously called the Mexican Air Force.  

One of the most fascinating experiences we have had in the area was during a guided tour of a lagoon about half an hour to the North of Puerto.  We came upon a small community of Africans living on a sandbar. They are descendants of slaves that were being transported to South America when their ship ran ashore.  The have a couple of open air cafes for tourists and served us cold drinks while we were on their sandbar.  Here is a link about one such group.

Check out these links if you would like to know more about the area:

Information on Puerto Escondido:

Click here for a selection of pictures of Puerto Escondido from Google:
Information on the Mexican Pipeline

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