Blockade Busting, Pacific Power, Dolphins & Drugs
Trip Start Jan 23, 2011
195Trip End Feb 14, 2012
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We stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, just a pit-stop we thought. Then we turned around(!) and drove for a while before pulling in to a rest area with an ablution block. Another pit-stop? No, the engine and lights were turned off and not a word said by the driver or any passengers. Not sure what to think now and, as our Spinglish does not stretch to this level of conversation, we just followed the lead of our fellow passengers and went to sleep :-)
As the dawn broke and people started moving about it seemed that everyone was starting to get agitated
Some people decided to leave the bus and take their chances on a “caminetto”, an open-back van which as many people as possible stand for their ride, the equivalent of the “collectivos” we have been in, just a lot less comfortable or fun. Annie went to talk to a few other travellers who all thought we should try our luck too. I vetoed the idea as, if we got through, and it really was a big “IF”, we would still have to find another bus to go on to Puerto Escondido, a long way off from where we were. I figured that the bus company would sort something out for us one way or another.
A Brilliant, Brave, Blockade Busting Bus Bloke came to our rescue... his bus was parked next to ours overnight so we all moved our luggage and ourselves across to his bus and off we set, in convoy with two “caminetto’s” to guide us.
It took a few u-turns and side roads, some weaving through some parked trucks, some ignoring or angry glares, a lot of bumpy dirt roads through farmlands, a bridge that we all had to walk across as we would have been too heavy for the bus and us to cross, and were hurried back onto the bus as they were worried about us being seen by the demonstrators, and FINALLY, getting back to a proper, paved road
Still uncertain exactly what was happening, we all sat very quietly on the bus, almost holding our collective breathes in hope and anticipation, until we reversed out and roared off….on our way to Puerto Escondido – HOORAY!!!
The rest of the ride really was quite beautiful and with much tropical jungle vegetation to admire along the way. I have great respect for our brilliant driver, after the stress of the blockade, negotiating the roads really was quite a feat and he did it with ease and speed.
We had a rare daytime arrival and there we were – at the beach again, how very exciting :-)
We found our way to the Mayflower Hostel that Annie had read about and, after one night in the only available room, moved to a front room with a balcony, private bathroom, fancy TV and heaps of space - LUXURY!!! :-) The hostel was near a bar that had VERY LOUD late night live music, the same repertoire almost every night with much Bob Marley music
Another “feature” that came with this hostel was the church next door. As it was leading up towards the festive season there were daily choir practices and services. Some of the singing was just so beautiful you could not but help to stop and listen. Then came the 6:30 AM, repeated at 8 AM, procession with singing through megaphones that sounded like "La la la la la la la Ave Maria", I know it was really singing and most sincere but, at this time of the morning all I could think was "Oy Vey Maria!" :-)
Puerto Escondido, like San Cristobal, had the most magnificent, giant, bright blue skies. The difference was, being down at sea level, it was hot, hot, HOT
We quickly settled into a very comfortable daily routine;
- waking up neither too early nor too late and enjoying our breakfast of cereal, tropical fruits, excellent yoghurt and local coffee brewed just right, an excellent way to start the day;
- a bit of hammock time for reading, blogging, chatting, sleeping, listening to music or just plain “slothing”. It was far too hot to even think about being on the beach in the midday sun, even for “mad dogs and Englishmen” as the saying goes :-)
- as the afternoon cooled a bit we went off to the beach via, where else, the ice-cream parlour. These were fruit lolly’s and, OMG, they were yummy-scrummy-super-delicious! As though fresh fruit had been juiced and, with a few small pieces of the fruit, frozen to perfection as these mouth-watering daily delights of guava, mango, watermelon, and so on. Hmmm, I could do with one of those right now, I wonder if we could make them at home? :-)
- our beach was on a calm bay but a short walk along the beach was the perfect beach for us – an endless stretch of white sand with giant, roaring and crashing waves showing off the incredible power of the Pacific Ocean, brilliant
- later came the daily “Super Che” visit, dinner preparation and a delicious meal in a social hostel, just wonderful. Like I said, how lucky are we?!
Actually, the things that either or both of us say at least every day are, “Can you believe where we are??!!” and “we are just so lucky!!”, and we really do feel that lucky :-)
While we were sitting on the beach each day we had the procession of vendors but there were not that many and were all more friendly than annoying and persistent as some can be
One such man arrived while I was swimming so sat and chatted with Annie for a while. He told her how terrible the tourist economy has become; in past seasons he would be certain of a good, steady tourist trade and a healthy income. Now he has to watch every Peso he spends as each day is quieter and slower than the previous. We had chatted about it ourselves; hardly any of the loungers along the beach were occupied and, when we went to sit in them, we were greeted by people happy to have any business at all. As I’ve said before, it is tragic what the drugs and danger have done to decimate the tourist industry and how people are avoiding the entire country rather than the specific regions. As a result they all lose out – tourists on an amazing place to be and local people on an income, how sad.
We, and our fellow travellers, however, had a magical time in a magnificent place!
At Ten to Two on the 7th of December 2011 my watch stopped :-) Now I am wearing my brilliant yellow watch that Annie gave me for my birthday while we were in Ecuador. It’s not as easy to tell the time on it but the brightest yellow and the flashing lights at the push of a button are brilliant! :-)
After about a week it was once again “time”. We packed our bags, said farewell to “Super Che” and the ocean and set off for the culinary and chocolate capital of Mexico, I am salivating at the thought of and in anticipation of the food fest ahead :-)