Tonight will be our fifth night in Puerto Escondido, having originally booked only two, and there’s a very good reason for that – it’s absolutely amazing. We’ve completely fallen in love with our hostel, the beaches, the food, the atmosphere and not to mention two baby sea turtles named Jeremy and Jack – but we’ll get to that.
After getting to our hostel and dumping our stuff, we walked down to a nearby strip of restaurants for a bite to eat, but didn’t really manage to get our bearings as it was dark. I did manage to tick another dish off my list of Mexican cuisine – enchiladas – but to be honest they weren’t much better than any I’ve had in the UK. A quick beer at the hostel bar was followed by promptly collapsing in bunk beds. You wouldn’t think that sitting in a bus for most of the day would be tiring, but when it’s screaming down mountain roads and throwing you around then it can be.
The next day was all about getting on the beach and getting in the sea. We loaded up with snacks and beer and headed down to the local Playa Coral, which was suitably stunning and we were only sharing with about four other people. A large amount of rocks made swimming hazardous, so eventually we set off for another beach in the distance that looked like it would offer something different. This ended up being a great decision.
Playa Bacocho, the beach we ended up on after skirting round some rocks at the end of Playa Coral, was absolutely jaw-dropping. A completely untouched, arrow-straight stretch of sand that extended so far into the distance you could hardly see the end. Warm Pacific water with a strong but safe surf, free shaded areas*, lifeguards and police so you don’t have to fret about your valuables being left unattended. Then there’s also the turtle conservation tent that releases baby turtles every day at 5pm, and – as we’re facing west – a ridiculous sunset. Ben officially designated it the best beach he’d ever been to in his life**, and we endeavoured to come back the next day and remember to bring cash for the turtles.
The next day we took a taxi down to find a restaurant that had come highly recommended from some Canadians on our transfer from Oaxaca because of it’s tacos carmen and tacos pescado. Shrimp and fish tacos to you and me, and two dishes that represent a massive part of my excitement to get to coastal Mexico. The recommendation was a good one. Such a good one. By far the best meal I’ve had on the trip so far, with an incredible view and still hilariously cheap.***
We headed back to Baconcho for our date with the liberacion de tortugas (freeing of the turtles). Because of some local cultures that poach the eggs for food, sea turtle nests are collected and protected, until the eggs are ready to hatch, when they’re brought down to the beach so that the turtles can be released into the sea. For a nominal amount of money you are given a teeny-weeny baby turtle and instructed to release it a suitable distance from the sea and watch it make its way to a new home. Apparently the journey down the sand is an important and formative one for the youngsters, meaning that you can’t just place them gently in the surf, however much you want to because of the circling birds. A few unfortunate turtles were indeed eaten**** but mine and Ben’s – Jeremy Turtleworth and Captain Jack Sparrow respectively – made it to their new salty home. We rejoiced, threw some final swear words at the sky rats and went back to our beers.
The rest of our time here has been spent sitting in the hostel or venturing out into the heat for more time on the beach or things to eat. It’s been pretty fantastic, and will be hard to leave, but we need to start making some progress towards Cancun. This should start tomorrow when we either head to Mazunte or San Cristobal de las Casas.
*The sun here is fairly oppressive but the coastal breeze keeps it bearable. I’ve managed to avoid any serious burns yet, but being the pasty Brit I am, I’m treating it as an inevitability.
**He’s now worried about going to other beaches over the next five months, because they probably won’t be as good.
***A large portion of shrimp tacos, a large portion of fish tacos, two beers, a large mineral water and a basket of tortilla chips: £8
****Somewhere in the back of my mind the Circle of Life played its catchy tune