Playa Manzanillo Redux

The three girls headed back to Playa Manzanillo Monday on a very breezy, white-cappy day. The wind was brisk, whipping up small wavelets on the surface of the turquoise ocean – really beautiful. We settled ourselves at the Mexicana sun beds underneath the white-painted trees.

So windy was it that the restaurant’s umbrellas kept getting blown over; we didn’t mind because it moderated the heat of the day. Monday is a great day to go to the beach here, always less crowded than the weekend and, in particular, Sundays when the local families come out in force to spend the sunny day together.

The fishing boats were high and dry on the beach, waiting in vain for someone to captain them.

Pam and Marion lost no time in getting into the water, much warmer than our pool, and were rocked by the small cresting waves.

A tourist with a strange orange balloon attached to his swim trunks jumped into the water and swam out to sea with it bobbing along behind him. I wasn’t sure whether it was so that the boats could see him or so he could float in case he got tired.

Watching him from the sand were a couple of local people bemusedly.

Because few of the Mexicans seem to be able to swim, some of them wear life jackets when in the ocean. They float their children on cute, small inflatables, sometimes, like this one, with canopies overhead to shield them from the sun.

Just another grand day at the beach here in P.E.

El Pantheon and La Playa

I love pelicans and they are very plentiful here, especially down on Playa Marinero and Playa Zicatela, where they can get a sniff of the fish being caught around these parts. Apparently there are still plenty of fish in the sea here …

Along the main city beach here is also an inexpensive campground, right on the sand, which seems sort of unusual in a beach town. Between the campground and the ocean is a small “lagoon” of sorts, part of an estuary, I think, in which lots of birds enjoy spending the day, like this egret. We avoid walking through it; Pam thinks it must be boiling with mosquitoes.

On our way back from the Manialtepec Lagoon the other day I noticed that we had driven past a small cemetery and was interested in going back to take a look at it. I found a quiet shady route from the house to the pantheon “The Woods”, as it is called, through a hilly local neighbourhood. It is right near the beach and beside an elementary school.

Sometimes the graves in Mexico are very brightly painted; these, though, are mostly white, like the ones at the cemetery Ty and I visited in Progresso.

After a pleasant walk through the paths communing with the shades of the dead, I made my way back out to the street, past several houses for sale and rent (likely this is a nice place to live, given the silent neighbours), and down the stone steps to Playa Manzanillo, my favourite beach in P.E.

I had quite a long chat with the servers at the beach-side restaurant; it was a quiet day and they were likely bored with not very many customers to serve. I took the opportunity to practice my Spanish, which, if I do say so myself, is getting quite good.

Playa Manzanillo is on one half of a small curved bay, the other side of which is Playa Angelito. I’ve never set foot on Playa Angelito, simply because Manzanillo is so sweet that I just can’t seem to get over there. But this day I did at least walk over the small rocky point separating the two beaches to take a few pictures of it.

At the top of the steep steps that run down the beach is this shrine dedicated to Puerto Escondido’s black Madonna. It sits under a shady small palapa which also shelters the numerous taxi drivers who ply their trade here.

When I am out and about walking around the town, I like to take my own shade with me … in different styles.

Saturday is market day around here so Pam, Cec, and I hoofed it up the road with the clattering metal cart to purchase fruit and veggies for the coming week.

Some of the locals don’t even bother to look as we pass by …

Mexican markets have the best produce; huge beautiful veggies for about 1/10 Vancouver’s cost. I am fascinated with the enormous cauliflowers here.

Something we would never see a home is a doggie strolling through the meat section of the market, hoping to capture a little something something …

Saturday is also the day when fresh fish comes to the market; here Pam and Cec are discussing the possibilities presented by the sierra, a white fish available in P.E.

After agreeing that it looked good, the man expertly filleted it for us.

Just outside the market, I saw this car with a Madonna shrine on its front bumper.

and a San Francisco shrine on the wall “downtown”.

Almost every day Pam and Cec stride Playa Zicatela beach and stop either at Dan’s Cafe for breakfast or the Bar Fly for a lemonade with mineral water. Sometimes I join them on the march.

Some of the local hotels have the most beautiful bougainvillea flowers, enormous bunches of multi-coloured blossoms.

The other night we headed down to the Adoquin to Pascales, to enjoy a tasty grilled dinner and the music by a local duo with a pretty good virtual back-up band.

All in all,a pretty good place to spend some time.

 

Hola from Puerto Escondido

When the opportunity came up to visit Puerto Escodido, Oaxaca with friends P & C, I leapt at the chance, even though I am currently working on a contract for SFU. I figured that I can just as easily do my course development work here poolside, as in the rain in Vancouver.

Puerto Escondido is what Puerto Vallarta used to be many moons ago, a traditional Mexican fishing village, albeit at 70,000 population, no longer a tiny one.

Our place is just above the coastal highway and the Playa Marinero, the beach where fshermen sell their catch right off the sand, and about four blocks from the Super Che, the gigantic, air-conditioned local equivalent to a Super Store grocery store, although it sells much more than just groceries, including appliances. The casa has a nice peekaboo view of the huge Zicatela Beach, the two mile long surfing playa that attracts boarders from around the world.

Along with the four of us and a small black female cat, two large green parrots are ensconced poolside in a large white metal cage. While they don’t really talk, they are certainly very vocal and make some very funny noises.

Along with the parrots, roosters, and barking dogs, the pelicans make this part of the world their home; they are funny, large beasts with very sentient eyes.

Most mornings see 3 or 4 of us hoofing it down the long stretch of Playa Zicatela, often in search of breakfast at Dan’s Cafe, a local crowd-pleaser, whose hotcakes I can enthusiastically recommend.

Walking back along the road, we sometimes check out the shops selling mostly beach wear, surf boards, and jewelry.

A local guy who works for a finca (coffee plantation) invited us in to look at the coffee beans he was drying and explained to us how the unpredictable climate was causing havoc with coffee production: “It rains when it shouldn’t, and when it should rain, it doesn’t”.

Since I’m not inclined to sunbathe, I sometimes lie poolside a white ghost, wrapped up in my scarf like a mummy.

The other morning as we walked along we heard the sounds of a brass band pumping out latin music, only to find that it was the accompaniment to a funeral procession leaving from the church.

The church is situated in a beautiful small plaza at the top of a stone staircase; inside it, a black Madonna presides.

We’ve also walked along the seaside andador, a stone walkway that travels the base of the rocky cliffs here from the Bahia Principal to Playa Manzanillo.

Slightly disconcerting was the sight of a young, seemingly disconsolate man sharpening a knife in the shade of a big rock.

This route has lots of colourful graffiti on the stones.

After clambering up the staircase at the end of the walk, we chatted a bit to a woman with a very elaborate set of biblical decorations from small plastic toys, including a Nativity scene, in her front yard.

Once ensconced at the beach, we sampled some very tasty shrimp dishes and enjoyed watching the local families frolic in the very warm  water. Since most of the local people can’t swim, they cluster just at the ocean’s edge enjoying the relatively gentle waves in this bay.

Puerto Escondido is very local and I like that about it. See some pics of our earlier visit here in 2012 here.

Puerto Walkin’: Camino al Mirador and Playa Manzanillo

I had a vision of colourful flowers in the small pool here at the Swiss Oasis so, a couple of nights ago, when all the other guests were out, Ty and I set up the camera and I had some fun playing Ophelia floating amongst the flowers.

See more pics of this project here.

Puerto is still very much a fishing town, and lately the fishing seems pretty good, at least judging from the catch brought up on the Playa Principal, the main beach.

You just never know when you’ll run into a juggling clown …

or a piggie at the market.

On the weekend the beaches here at Puerto Escondido are packed out with local families, all laughing, having fun, and playing in the surf.

The kids here get introduced to the water very young; many of the families with tiny babies were in the waves with these little cuties, enjoying jumping in the big surf.

One couple had their very small child quite far out in the water on a tiny inflatable device.

At Playa Manzanillo the waves have been high for the last few days – olas altas took a number of people off guard, including one granny sitting on a walk who was completely engulfed, and the oyster lady, who suffered a gigantic wave up her shorts and jumped up laughing.

The Babylon Cafe near us has a fabulous collection of painted wooden masks – I am coveting all of them … (click on the link below to see more of them).

And we discovered a sushi restaurant on the beach … not as good as the one we go to in Vancouver, but not bad (don’t order a tequila drink, though – just juice, no juice).

Just a couple of days ago we discovered the Camino al Mirador, a walkway along the sea travelling from the Playa Principal to near the Playa Manzanillo.

It reminds me quite a bit of the Lovers Walk section of Italy’s Cinque Terre hike, with the same concrete and stone walkways along a steep rocky shore.The cacti here are absolutely enormous – like trees, and some have very soft brown fluffy attachments, flowers, I suppose.

In spots, this walkway has broken down and bits of it can be seen in the ocean; in other areas, the concrete is starting to crack and deteriorate – Ty figures that it will only last another few years before it drops into the ocean.

Along its length anonymous artists have tagged the shoreline and street philosophers have inscribed their thoughts into and onto the rock.

On today’s walk I floated some flowers on a small seaside pond,

while the female dog who joined us sat panting in the shade,

and installed 20 strands of coloured ribbon on a promontory viewpoint to watch them dance in the stiff breeze. These we left behind for passersby to enjoy.

Just another hard day at the office … Puerto Escondido is great – highly recommended!

See more pics here.