Journals from Spring Semester 08: Oaxaca, Mexico
2008-03-31 Puerto Angel
I just wanted to give you an update on how my spring break went. I'll give you a heads-up right now that it's going to be a long one. :)
Last Thursday night we took a bus from Oaxaca to Puerto Angel. We left at 9:30pm and we arrived in Puerto Angel around 7am. It was literally like magic because my 2 friends and I took a Dramamine right before we left, passed out, and when we woke up 9 hours later we were at the beach! The bus ticket cost us about 230 pesos which equals to 22 dollars...pretty good deal, huh? Once we got to Puerto Angel everything was still closed since it was so early in the morning. We were kind of nervous, not really knowing what we were going to do for a couple of hours, but luckily our hotel room was open and we were able to put our stuff there. There was a crpe place right across the street from our hotel that opened at 7:30am, so we decided to eat there for breakfast. I had never eaten crpes before, and of course I totally fell in love with them! The restaurant also had fresh squeezed juice, so I was in heaven. We chatted with the owner Shely for awhile and she gave us the name of her cousin that could take us on a snorkeling adventure and a tour of the beaches in the area.
So that afternoon we went snorkeling for about 4 hours and we had so much fun! We went to these tiny little beaches that had the most perfect coves for snorkeling. We saw sea turtles, swordfish, and manta rays. The manta rays were my favorite because they swam in packs and they would jump out of the water, flap their little wings 2-3 times and then do a back flip into the water. Our guide's name was Antonio and he took us to a rock called Las Minas that was probably 15 feet above the water. We swam from the boat over to the rocks, climbed all the way up to the rock and jumped in!!! Now, for those of you who know me, you should realize how big of a deal this is because I usually don't like taking risks....but it was way fun.
Later that night we went out on the boat with Antonio and some of his friends to watch how they cast out the fishing nets. We left around 6pm and threw out the nets, and then they collect the fish at 6am the next morning. We had just finished throwing the nets out when we saw a whale!! We followed it out (kind of far) in the ocean and I got a great picture of it jumping out of the ocean. It was a really cool and random experience.
That night we ate tlalludas for dinner. They are basically a huge tortilla filled with beans, lettuce, cheese, onions, peppers, and meat. They're very typical of Oaxaca and we found a place that had them for 20 pesos! I think it's so incredible that I could buy a very large and delicious dinner for about $2.
The next day we ate crpes again and then Shely's brother offered to take us on a tour of the nearby beaches. He drove us to Zipolite (the only nude beach in Mexico ha ha), San Augustinillo, Mazunte (where they have a sea turtle museum), and Ventanilla. He told us to look at all of the beaches and then pick one that we wanted to stay at for the day, and then he would come back and pick us up later. We decided to stay at Mazunte for awhile, and then we walked about 15 minutes to San Augustinillo for the rest of it. San Augustinillo was a cute little beach that had huge rocks with tide pools in them. We had a great time, and it was so great that German was willing to come pick us back up. Once he came to get us we went back to Ventanilla because there is a turtle conservation center there and they were having a baby turtle liberation! We were each given a baby turtle to hold, and then when they counted us off we let them go in the sand and watched them make their way to the water. They reminded me of the baby sea turtles from Finding Nemo and I really think it's the coolest thing I've ever done.
Sunday we took a bus to Puerto Escondido, which is a bigger beach town where the rest of the girls in our group were staying. It was fun to see them and hang out, but the beaches were super crowded and it was hard to find a place to sit, let alone swim. Meghan, Martha, and I decided that we were definitely glad we chose Puerto Angel because it's much smaller and a lot more tranquil.
Monday and Tuesday we walked from Puerto Angel to Zipolite (about a 30 minute walk) and spent the days there....but fully clothed--don't worry! We liked that beach a lot because it was more conducive to swimming and had a better selection of restaurants then Puerto Angel. On Tuesday morning when we were eating crpes went met Shely's daughter Bony, who speaks English perfectly, since she grew up in California while her mom was working at a French restaurant. Of course she's also fluent in Spanish, so I was completely jealous. She's 20 and was super nice, so she invited us to go with her and her friends to Zipolite to go dancing. We found a salsa club that was right on the beach and danced the whole night. It was great!! Shely and Bony ended up being so great to us, and they even gave us their e-mail addresses and phone numbers so we could stay at their house the next time we made it to Puerto Angel. So now we girls are determined to make it back down there for a long weekend before we leave.
Wednesday we spent in Puerto Angel, because we had to leave around 6pm to make the buses back to Oaxaca. We took a taxi to Pochutla (a city about 20 minutes away), because that's where all of the buses leave from. Meghan decided to go to Puerto Escondido until Sunday because one of her Oaxacan friends invited her to go, so she caught a bus from Pochutla to P. Escondido around 7pm and Martha and I made our way to the bus station to find tickets. We went to the first-class bus station and figured that at 10:30 on a Wednesday there were bound to be seats, but no, we were wrong. So next we tried the Suburbans, which are essentially 15 passenger vans, but the last one had already left for the day! So at this point I was starting to get a little nervous, because I thought that we were going to have to stay the night in Pochutla. Luckily we found a 2nd class bus that was leaving at 10:30pm and bought tickets. We got dinner in a little restaurant since we had about 2.5 hours to kill before our bus, and when we showed up at the sketchy bus station we also realized that this was where the entire homeless population of Pochutla slept at night. Now in addition to having ripped seats and broken windows, the 2nd class buses do not have bathrooms....they also take the 2nd class highway which is very windy and curvy and goes through the mountains. Martha and I were freezing the entire time, because in the mountains it's freezing at night. We huddled together for warmth and somehow made it through. We showed up in Oaxaca around 4:30am and took a taxi back to our houses.
When Martha told her host mom that we took the 2nd class bus, she said (in Spanish of course) "What were you thinking?? Don't you know that those buses are completely square and just fall over and kill people on the curves??? I'm so glad that you made it alive and that you traveled at night so that way you couldn't see how dangerous it was!". She was over-reacting a little bit, but we knew it was because she was just glad that we made it back safely. It's interesting, though, because in comparison to the bus that we took on the way to the beach, this one took 3.5 hours less and only cost 70 pesos, or about $6.50. So we decided that for 3 hours less and 1/3 the cost, it was actually not a bad way to travel.
So all in all it was the most incredible spring break and I really want to make it back there for a weekend if I can! We made some good friends there and I think that was my favorite part about the trip.