Life back at the beach

Our trip north took us to the town of Cerro Hermosa. We arrived into this friendly place, just over an hour north of Puerto Escondido, and made a beeline for the jetty to watch the waves. We were disappointed to see a flat, calm sea. 

Before long, two guys arrived. They told us we could camp at their restaurants for free, if we ate there. This is quite common, the nearby seafront was lined with palapas, hammocks and chairs underneath and empty. They clearly needed the business and we needed the camping so we headed down to one of them. It wasn’t too bad a spot, and we went and had a beer on the beach while we contemplated the non-existent waves. The guy, who seems to be the son of the owner assured us that the swell would be here in a few days.  

The afternoon was fairly relaxed, unless you were Kikki, who wasn’t happy that one of the locals was trying to get into the camper while she napped. This escalated somewhat throught the evening as the quiet restaurant got fuller and the occupants drunker. We all retired to our campers early, not particularly enjoying the atmosphere. We were in the middle of watching something, when there was an almighty crash. One of the drunk guests had driven into the support for the palapa and the corner had come down, his car bumper was now unattached on the floor. There was a somewhat angry exchange for a while about this, I was just glad it had been the palapa not the camper. 

After an evening full of a cacophony of chickens, we awoke to the still drunk owner having a mezcal breakfast. Hanno and Kikki had enough and headed off down the road to find a more relaxing spot. We packed away a little slower, and were completely confused when one of the members of their family, or staff, came up to us. It wasn’t the conversation that was unusual, although it was apparent he had some kind of special needs, it was the fact that he was literally in ankle chains, like some kind of slave. Sufficiently disturbed, we followed Bruno. 

They hadn’t gone far, not even half a mile down the road. They were parked up at Hotel Caracol, where we could stay for 50 pesos a night. Although the camping was more cramped, the layout was nice. We parked next to a giant palapa that we pretty much had to ourselves along with the hammocks. As we took up all of the carpark, there was no one next to us. It seemed a lot more relaxed down here, and in a way it is sometimes nicer to pay as then there is more clarity. If you just say you can stay if you eat, the lack of a concrete price is sometimes awkward. Also, the toilets were much nicer and the family too seemed nice. We were happy enough and the night was quiet. I also found out to my delight that they had a parrot.

We stayed here several days, waiting for that swell that never transpired. We swam in the sea and enjoyed the near deserted beach. Most of the time, we only shared the giant palapa with a French couple who were about to build a house here. We enjoyed some lovely, and very affordable, fish meals cooked for us by the family.

Lee tried iguana, which he says he won’t do again.

Whilst the days rolled into one, and we enjoyed slowing down again after spending a busy time around Oaxaca, we had the odd stand out moment, including that time when an incredibly drunk man wandered into the camp with a two-foot-long machete. He wanted more beer, despite the fact he looked like he really didn’t need it, and only had 500 peso notes. The grandma came over to get some change off us, she assured us he was harmless, but subtly confiscated his machete when he wasn’t looking. On occasion we tried to surf, but it was too close to shore to really be any good. Although I was pretty happy with my new board despite the lack of good waves. 

Having some time and also the luxury of internet, we helped Jaro design himself an Instagram brand and sticker.

Lee also set up the projector to watch a live Frank Turner set, only to be left disappointed as he performed an acoustic set in his living room. We did put on Coco on the projector for the kids and Kikki made popcorn. We were joined by half the village for our movie night, a bit of a novelty for them, so at least somebody got some satisfaction from Lee’s efforts.

After a little while, we decided to try our luck with surf down the coast at Roca Blanca. Here is a similar layout, little restaurants line the beach on a pretty bay. Again, there was no surf here and after being charged nearly the same money for no facilities, we headed back up to the hotel. They laughed to see us return after only one night, but were happy to have us stay again. Aimee, was happy here too, having free roam.

Now some of our parcels had arrived, so we drove into town to collect them and do a grocery run. Lee made an appointment to have his tattoo finished on the weekend and we came back loaded with beer for the remaining time here. This meant that we only went back to the hotel for another couple of days, before leaving for good this time.

When we arrived back in Puerto Escondido we set up camp once again in the ant-filled, but free, car park. The next few days I had to myself, while Lee got endlessy tattooed. It was an unusual experience at first, I can’t remember the last time I was alone for that long! Lee had the entire top half of his sleeve completed in two straight sittings. A somewhat painful experience, as the first days work was still understandably raw.

On Sunday, Jaro arrived, followed later by Hanno and Kikki. Our group was also joined by another camper, Ian. In the morning, Bruno let for a monumental moment. The long awaited replacement tyres that had been ordered in November, had made it here and just in time as the current ones were rapidly deteriorating. At least while I spent a pointless day wandering around town, trying to find a vet for Aimee’s flea treatment and new battery for my watch, they had more success, and by the time I returned they were back with the new tyres fitted. Bruno was good to go.

We went to check out Espadin, a nice restaurant that overlooks Carrizalillo bay. It was largely filled with English people, which was a bit weird after months of never hearing English, and if you did hear it, it was definitely from an American. Still it had a nice view of the sunset, the perfect place to enjoy a final cocktail in the town.

Now we were just waiting for Jaro’s post. In the meantime, yet another travelling couple joined us and we spent a couple of evenings with Karyssa and Nick. The next day, Hanno and Kikki decided to go north to find some surf while we hung around for a bit with Jaro. Still trying to find a new watch battery and get Lee’s shoes repaired. By Thursday, everything had fallen into place and we were happy to leave the ant filled car park behind us. We headed south for Mazunte, the Guatemalan border once more in our sights. Ian had decided he would join us a bit later and maybe head into Guatemala too.

We stopped in Mazunte, a nice little town that gave off a distinctly hippie vibe. Finding a free car park we spent the rest of our afternoon on the beach, and happily there were some people surfing. We decided we would give it a go in the morning.

The night was full of dogs that weren’t necessarily cat friendly, but at least we didn’t get any hassle from people, there had been rumours of some of these more southern towns doing their own Covid lockdowns. The next day we drove around and parked in the restaurant we had spent the afternoon in the day before. After a coffee, we headed out with our boards to the beach. The waves which looked tiny and tame from the shore, broke steeply and were quite large. I didn’t have much luck with them, but it was still nice to give it a go. There are worse things to do that spend a few hours in the sea with the days being this hot. 

Not fancying another night in the dog car park, we headed a little further south to Zipolite. Here we could camp directly at the beach, which also turned out to be Mexico’s first and only legal nudist one. It is also apparently Mexico’s most dangerous beach for its rip tides, although there were plenty of people surfing and swimming here. A beach with this many accolades deserved a night or two.

So far, we had no problems with camping, which was reassuring. The police patrolled the beach on their quad-bikes, but didn’t come over and say anything to us. The main drama of the night was when we heard the noise of a catfight around the camper. I leapt out to save Aimee, but instead fell out of the camper and removed a large portion of my skin. Aimee jumped back in unharmed. Clearly I need to leave saving her up to Lee in the future. 

We spent Saturday at the beach, while I hobbled around with a very painful foot. Surfing was not on the cards, not that it was the best surf for beginners anyway. People stood outside the camp all day taking photos, and I wished we had maybe bothered to wash her or park here so you got her ‘good side’. A grumpy local came and told us to leave or they would call the police, but this turned out to be an empty threat and we stayed another night with no problems. When Sunday morning came, so did the crowds so we decided to move on. Ian had decided to join us and we headed out to catch up with Jaro that afternoon. The next spot was to be Playa Boquilla. 

This was a perfect spot and a good reward for the steep and lumpy dirt road that makes up the last section. I wondered to myself, how easily we would get out of there when we wanted to leave. When we arrived, it was pretty busy, but this is to be expect for a Sunday. Not long after dark, the car park cleared. All the locals here were incredibly friendly and warmly welcomed us to Mexico. Before stopping for a chat and to have a nosy at our campers. After they left, we had the place to ourselves for a very quiet night. 

The next day, we discovered that a five-minute walk down the beach would bring you to the hotel which served reasonably priced drinks and had some rather fast Wi-Fi in this dead spot. This was definitely a bonus. As lovely as it was, we wanted to keep moving and so after spending two nights there it was time for the next place. 

Lee decided to fly Steve out over the bay before we left, but this all started to go wrong when a strong gusts of wind came with other ideas. Instead of sailing out into the bay for a serene shot of the beautiful beach, as promised in this photo.

Steve flew straight into the sea as seen here.

Miraculously he emerged again, and flew back to us. Arriving dripping wet. I promptly removed the battery and shook a lot of seawater out of him, we hoped the fact that he was still working after his swim was a good sign and left him to dry out. 

Now ready to leave, Ian and Jaro left first in their campers. By the time we had reversed out of our space they were out of sight up the hill. This was something I was a little apprehensive about, the first kilometre of the road in is steep and lumpy, two things that can be an issue. Our engine was not running quite right at the moment, a little down on power and I was worried if we would be able to leave. It was hard to get the speed with the road so lumpy. Still, we had to give it a go so Lee stuck it in first and went for it. A few hundred yards later we slowly came to a halt, not even halfway up, we were stuck. The engine lacking the required power to drag Ruby up.

We inched our way slowly backwards down the hill, until another car came up behind us. He reversed to let us past and ran his car off the side of the road, the girl got out and asked us to hurry up as they were going to miss their flight, while the guy proceeded to reverse very badly backwards. When we had enough space to pass, he drove past in a cloud of angry dust, staring straight ahead. We re-parked in the car park. I saw that again one of the HT leads had come loose, we really needed to buy some new one of these. Jamming it back on I reckoned we should try again. We also turned off the battery charger as this pulls a lot of power at low speed. Lee wanted to wait to see if the others would come back, giving us the option for a tow, but after a while they didn’t appear and we decided to try again. Happily, this time we made it, and as we neared the top of the hill we met the others about to come and rescue us, luckily we hadn’t needed them and we drove on. Another hot day was on the cards.

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