It’s the 23rd of February when I arrived first in Puerto Escondido and now, more than three weeks later I’m still here.
The next day after my arrival in Puerto Escondido is my 38th birthday. It’s the first time I can remember, that I’m celebrating my birthday away from home away from family and friends. Fortunately Wiebke – a good childhood friend decided to fly over for my birthday and spend two weeks of her vacation with me in Mexico. It will be two weeks off the bike for me, so it’s also a kind of vacation from my daily routine of cycling and after the past tough days in the mountains in Oaxaca I’m actually looking forward to this longer break and spending some time with a known face and good friend of course.
Wiebke and I meet in Oaxaca, which is roughly 250km north of Puerto Escondido. I drive there with a rental car and the road is very curvy and sometimes also very bumpy. Not to forget all the topes (speed bumps) which are easily to be overseen and lift your car into the air if you don’t pass them with walking speed. All this adds up to a six hours long drive and it’s already after sunset when I finally arrive at our hostel in Oaxaca. Since my only birthday guest is arriving only by 11pm I luckily have time enough to eat some tacos bevor I drive to the airport to pick her up. We fade out the day with a beer on the balcony and Wiebke hands over two personal letters from my parents and package of Dutch sweets. It’s a very different and special birthday for me.
The next two days we explore the city of Oaxaca with its nice little cafés, boutiques and artisan markets. This town has a very relaxed atmosphere and even though there are obviously many tourists it feels still very authentic. On Monday we visit Lena who is working at the Café Rodriguez. Lena is from Augsburg (Germany) and I met her and her boyfriend when I stayed in Durango. Now she is working in this café to learn all about making coffee. From growing the beans over roasting to finally brewing and serving it. Since it’s very hot that day we both order a Frappuccino and I cannot remember to have ever tasted a better one.
For the afternoon we have planned to visit the historic sites of Monte Alban. After the ruins I’ve already seen close to Zacatecas and Puebla this is definitely way more impressive. Apparently most tourists visit this site earlier in the day. We are almost alone there and can shoot our pictures without unknown people walking into the scene.
After three nights in Oaxaca we decided to move on. We drive to the giant tree in El Tule and visit the historic site of Mitla. After we had been to Monte Alban just the day before we are both a little disappointed of this place. It’s still interesting and worth visiting, but maybe we should have done it in the opposite order. In Mitla we also run into Angelo whom I first met in Puebla. He tells us about a famous restaurant in Teotitlán del Valle and since it’s on our route we decided to accompany him and offer him a ride in our car. The food in this restaurant is an absolute highlight. It’s cooked by four old ladies who wear their traditional dresses and from what we can understand also speak in their indigenous language. Since Angelo wants to become a chef himself he asks for a photo with the four ladies and ultimately I also have to jump into it. Wiebke voluntarily took the photo. After we’re done with eating we have to hurry to reach our next destination. We are heading down to the Pacific Coast, but we want to stop for one night in the mountains at San José del Pacifico.
Unfortunately it’s already dark when we reach the little village high up in the mountains. This place is well known by backpackers mainly because of the possibility to get delicious mushrooms with magical effects. But that’s not what we are here for. We are staying in a nice little cabana which offers a nice view over the mountains which must have been amazing at sunset. It’s considerably colder here than in Oaxaca. Luckily there are multiple blankets ready on our bed and there’s also a fireplace and wood available.
The next day we finish the drive through the mountains and shortly after noon we reach our hotel in Mazunte. It’s only a five minutes’ walk away from the beach. We are staying here for the next three nights. We spend the time chilling at the beach, watching sunsets and checking out the restaurants in this little hippy town. While it’s a very bad idea to walk around with beer on the streets anywhere else in Mexico it doesn’t seem to bother anyone here. It’s an outlaw place – but a nice and very relaxed one. On our second day we drive to the lagoon at Ventanilla to observe birds and crocodiles. We’re lucky that no one else shows up and so we get a private boat tour through the lagoon.
Next stop on our trip brings me back to Puerto Escondido. We are staying at a surf school for the next week. After a week of little physical activity I’m actually looking forward to it. With a little anxiety of course. But before we jump onto the boards I finally managed to get a new haircut. Our first lesson is early next morning. Luckily we practice in a little bay with gentle beginner waves. After a brief theoretical introduction we jump into the water and get pushed into the waves by the instructors. I fall off the board pretty early pretty often but after a few days I can feel some progress. On day three we go surfing in La Punta were the waves are way bigger and faster. That day the instructors decided to put me on a slimmer board which is faster and nimble to ride but also very difficult to balance out. I only manage to ride one wave properly and fall of the board very often again. But that also saves me from paddling back through the crushing waves for too long. The next days we mainly surf in the little bay and I’m getting a better feeling for the waves.
On Saturday it’s time to say goodbye to Wiebke. She’s flying back to Germany and initially I had planned as well to move on with my journey. But unfortunately I’m still waiting for a package to arrive from Mexico City which is already overdue for more than one week and also I try to get my vaccination for Hepatitis A+B. Apparently it’s very difficult to get the necessary vaccine in Mexico. The doctor in Puerto Escondido even provides me his mobile phone contacts and so we chat via What’sApp the next days and he finally explains me, that it might take up to two months for the vaccine to be available in Mexico. Even though I absolutely like it here in Puerte Escondido I also start getting nervous and want to move on. On facebook and What’sApp I read the reports of my fellow riders who are already crossing boarders to Guatemala or El Salvador even. As Guatemala is my next destination I contact the consul there and ask for help. He provides me with a list of recommended doctors to contact and also invites me to meet him in Guatemala City which I gratefully accept.
Now that an action plan is in place for this problem and the expected package also starts to ship according to the Fedex Tracking site I can enjoy surfing for a few more days. Unfortunately this only goes on for one more day. As we are surfing the bigger waves in La Punta again I crash into the waves on my final ride of the day (“letzte Welle”). Regina – another German surfer I met here – is taking pictures of me that day and captures this painful moment. The instructors actually laugh when they see the pictures as it pretty much looks like a Superman meme. But laughing for me is actually very painful as I seem to have sprained my rips and in addition also overstretched my right shoulder with my nosedive. I hope it all heals well until my package arrives.
Finally the package arrived yesterday after it traveled from CDMX to Oaxaca, back to CDMX before it was finally shipped to Puerto Escondido. Now I’m trying to setup everything for proper usage before I can finally continue my ride. My rips and shoulder are still hurting a little bit but I want to give it a try tomorrow.