7. Puerto Escondido

Days: 25
Yoga classes: 4
Bathroom doors: 0

Another ‘character-building’ night bus down and we arrived at Vivo Escondido – a hostel recommended by several people in San Cristobal building high hopes. The first thing we noticed was the communal area complete with table tennis table, swimming pool and bar area with a help-yourself beer fridge; strong start. Walking through the large building garnished with vibrant murials we were lead to the back where our private room was outside, padlocked and amongst the staff washing area. The room was basic but clean and spacious, then we noticed it. IMAG1570The bathroom didn’t have a door. With both of us recovering from San Cristobal’s stomach curse, I threw my hands over my face and thought – this is going to be intimate! Although the room was dowdy the rest of the hostel and the friendly people certainly made up for it. We headed straight to Playa Carrizalillo and slumped our weary bodies on two sun loungers repositioning the parasol to shield us from the sun’s burning glare. Although not a huge beach, and not as well-known as Playa Zicatela ten minutes away, it had a wonderful fun atmosphere and was a fantastic people watching spot. After perspiring for a sufficient amount of time, we hop-scotched over the scorching sand and plunged into the surprisingly warm sea. Our guidebook had warned us about how strong the currents can be in the area and whilst it was safe to swim at Playa Carrizalillo we instantly noticed how fierce the pull was from the waves. Put it this way, my bikini bottoms were peeled off as I attempted to clamber out of the waist deep water much to Seb’s amusement.

As we steadily climbed the thousands of steps away from the beach we reached a strip of cafes and restaurants of varying cuisines, budgets and clientele leading us to our hostel to shower and revive. Earlier in the morning we had seen the hostel offered free Yoga classes on the rooftop and although tired I thought this would be a great opportunity to de-nightbus. IMAG1585Seb had never been to a Yoga class before and although my Mum runs her own Yoga business I have only managed a few of her classes without being sent out for giggling. She always emphasised the importance of the setting for Yoga; her small classes are held in a log cabin with large windows overlooking a garden full of trees offering tranquillity and personal attention. The setting became particularly important to me when I persisted through a Yoga class of 16 in a grey gym in Stratford, East London as a woman ordered Warrior poses like an Army Officer. I delve into to this to try and illustrate the setting we experienced in Puerto Escondido and the significance it provided. Four of us placed a brightly coloured mat facing Megan, our instructor from Jersey, and a view of the horizon from four stories high. Megan’s gentle tone and clear manner allowed us to indulge in finding calm and stretching our tired torsos in ways that felt like they may have never been stretched. As we arose to a standing position we saw the sun setting and the sky become stained with purples, pinks and oranges. After 50 minutes we obediently laid down and began relaxation, Megan then one by one firmly pulled back our shoulders and softly rubbed lavender and bergamot on our temples igniting such a sense of calm and contentment I haven’t discovered in years. I left in a pleasant daze and returned every evening of our stay.

On Monday morning Seb was keen to begin the set of 5 surf lessons which I had offered for his birthday, he joined our new friend Sam, from Aberdeen, and went to Oasis Surf School and booked in for the week. IMAG1573Their first lesson was at Playa Carrizalillo so I joined them on the beach and watched with anticipation from afar. They were joined by about 8 others with 1 instructor for 1-3 people so at points it was hard to tell who was who but every now and then I’d see a flash of familiar bright blue trunks and either cheer or commiserate depending on the outcome of his wave catching ability. For a first go, he did incredibly and although I didn’t watch the last few lessons, I heard he improved. On the third and fourth lessons they were taken to La Punta on the south side of Playa Zicatela. Known to have more of a hippy vibe, we checked it out in the day time and confirmed the waves were much bigger and much stronger. Playa Zicatela – in the middle of the La Punta and Playa Carrizalillo – is world renowned for the “biggest and scariest waves in the world” including the infamous pipelines especially in July and August. No one was swimming there and only a few seasoned surfers were seen.

Our hostel, as mentioned, was very sociable and hosted some wonderful people. One evening after returning from having a pizza we were soon roped into a drinking game providing nostalgia of University antics. It wasn’t long before I pulled an Ace from the pack of cards and the group chanted for me to jump in the pool as per the prestigious rules scrawled on the back of a receipt. Respectfully and after a significant amount of encouragement (and beer) I obliged! IMAG1592At 11pm the owners said we needed to move on in line with an agreement with their neighbours and there was only one place to go – Salsa Night. I dried off, threw on a dress and jumped into the first of three cabs taking us to the strip near Playa Zicatela. Observing the locals impressive Salsa moves I suggested a round of Mezcals along with the 2-4-1 mojitos to supply some Dutch courage. After 20 minutes Seb and I were attempting our strongest salsa moves which probably looked like two people walking in the opposite direction trying to get past the other but fun was had! The bar was set on three levels with a small incline offering enough difference for each platform to have its own purpose; a place to buy drinks, a place to dance and observe or a play to sit and chat. The decor was a mix of wood, browns and greens; half covered, the other exposed to the night sky. It was understated and of course so different to bars in London – the best part was people watching.

Sadly our hostel didn’t have room for us to extend our stay so we moved a bit further away from the beach to Puerto Dreams. Although there was no pool, it was newly renovated so had a wonderful clean interior, roof terrace, big rooms and…a bathroom door! I loved it. On the Friday night it was St Patrick’s Day so with a big grin Seb brought over my Corona which was Fairy Liquid green, “here you are” he delighted. We soon met the girls behind the playlist consisting of The Corrs, Bewitched, The Cranberries and of course Boyzone – all the Irish classics. IMAG1596When the Spice Girls came on, Seb was visibly tense and I checked in to see if he wanted to meet up with people from the other hostel, “no its fine, I’m totally fine,” I knew he was secretly loving the carefree pop blaring out and even caught him singing along with perfect lyrics. It was Ladies Night at the club in town and we knew our friends from the first hostel were heading down so we joined the five girls we just met and jumped into a taxi for a free drink at a beach bar / club.

Our last evening in Puerto Escondido consisted of mixed emotions, we had fallen in love with the town but needed to move on and keep travelling. We headed to another beach to release baby turtles into the sea in order to support reproduction. This happened everyday at 5pm and attracted several tourists and locals to help. I wasn’t entirely convinced of the ethical duty it sustained but having been I was reassured that the humans involved had a strong moral compass. The lurking birds however took their opportunity to swoop and snatch the vulnerable turtles after their dangerous journey from sand to shore. As the throws of sand from humans waned, the birds picked them out of the water. Most frustratingly we learnt the birds can’t even eat them so they die without purpose. Many survive and due to the frequency of their release, the turtle population is far better protected with this initiave. The next morning we headed for Manzunte, a small town nearby…