Trouble In Paradise
Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
31Trip End Mar 27, 2007
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I spent a day and a bit wandering around the Acapulco, the largest city on Mexico's Pacific Coast. I walked a few blocks back from the port and to be greeted by crumbing sidewalks, ramshackle buildings, litter and graffitti, open sewers and blaring horns. In stifling mid-afternoon heat it was not a pleasant place to be. I checked the bus times and headed back to the zócalo (main square).
In the evening I climbed the hill to the clifftop suburb of La Quebrada, which could have been in a different world
Nearby another group had assembled for a performance by the world-famous clavadistas, or cliff-divers of Acapulaco. By torchlight half a dozen young men in bathing trunks led by a borad swarthy man sporting trunks in the Mexican national colours - green, white and red -marched down the hillside and lept into a narrow channel at the base of a crag. Like spiders they scaled the rock-face opposite the specators gallery on which I was standing. Their perch was twenty metres or above the churning groove below and was topped by a small illuminated shrine of the Virgin.
First one diver arched out over the void, his arms outstreched for what seemed liked like a long time, before disappearing into the foam to large applause. The second diver appeared to be suffering from nerves but after a couple of minutes of vacillating he took the plunge, to be followed shortly thereafter by three others who dove simultaneously, initiating a long burst of camera flashes. Finally the guy in the tricolour bathing trunks who had climbed to a ledge a couple of metres higher than that from where the others had dived
Next day I took a bus to Pinotepa a few couple of hundred kilometres south-east of Acapulco in the neighbouring state of Oaxaca (Acapulco is in Guerrero). It was late when I got in and I spent the night in Pinotepa before setting out by bicycle the next morning. The route was an undulating one across hot brush-covered hills and down into dry ravines. After thirty kilometres or so I descended back to the coastal plain, covered in coconut plantations, exotic birds and grazing cattle. I exchanged 'holas' which machete-wielding men who walked by the roadside.
OK, I'm starting to waffle here (again!). The scenery was really nice - lush and tropical. A wide river - the Rio Verde - emerged from the hills, flanked by marshes rich with bird-life. I turned off highway 200 and followed sandy track for 29 kilometres through the palm trees. It was rough going and I walked the last ten after a puncture which I was simply couldn't be bothered to fix. I was dark when I arrived in the tiny village of Chacahua which is situated by the mouth of a lagoon. I had a few beers and rented a cabin from the local grocer and his family. Dogs barked and cocks crowed until God knows what hour.
I was awoken the next morning by another of Mexico's aural hazards, the loudspeaker, which periodically blared out incomprehensible announcements
On the far side of the sand bar which guarded the entrance to the lagoon was one of those curving white strands that daydreams are made of - turquoise blue waters, white powdery sand, fringed by palm trees and backed, at a distance, by rugged green mountains. At the end of the beach were a few palapas - pergola type structures with rooves thatched from palm fronds. Here I found some members of the surfing fraternity lounging in hammocks and hoping that the surf would rise. I spent the day alternating between floating around in the waves and drinking cold cerveza. As you might imagine it was hard work!
In the evening I joined a couple of the surfers on a launch heading across the lagoon. We buzzed between green islands covered in mangroves and all manner of wading birds before disembarking at the small village of Zapolotlito on the far shore. I hung around awhile to watch another magnificent sunset before pedalling off, half-cut, towards the town of Rio Grande, fourteen kilometres distant. Fourtunately the unusually large contingent of the military who were checking traffic on the road into town were not interested in cyclists
The following day, after another late night dog bark swiftly followed by an early morning bout of mobile loud-speaker advertising, I set out late and, appropriately grumpyily, towards the south-east. The route was undulating and took me through palm country and past a large lagoon, beside which I paused for a brief refreshment. Having covered fifty or so kiometres I headed through the up and coming resort town of Puerto Escondido, caught a brief glimpse of its world-renowned surf beach, and headed straight out the other side, back into a landscape of pine trees - the hazy hills of the Sierra Madre to the left and the sparkling blue ocean visible across the tree-tops to the right. I stopped off along at roadside cafes for pineapple juice and got chased by some bored dogs. Otherwise the sixty kilometres ot the turn-off for the coast were hard graft. By the time I rolled down the hill and into the village of Mazunte my arse was numb and my legs felt like lead weights. I dumped the bike on the sand and jumped into the cooling waters of the ocean.
Just lost my passport. Curses!!!