Boating around Laguna Manialtepec today to see so many exotic tropical birds has been wonderful, and informative. Learning about how the lagoon functions, and how its wildlife survives and evolves, has all been great. All the details are on Day 9 of our Mexico blog – from the home page, select “The Americas”, then Mexico 2018. We caught this magnificent fellow on camera…
Puerto Escondido is without doubt the easiest place on Earth to get a taxi. Taxis seem to number about a third of all cars here, there’s nearly as many taxis as there are people. Anywhere in or around town, and even on remote roads out of the centre, all you have to do is stand at the side of the road and look at the passing cars. The driver will notice you and pull over. Any destination within the confines of the town is 40 pesos per journey, and there’s about 25 pesos to the English pound. It’s easier and more stress free than taxis anywhere else on a Earth. This is just as well, because….
Sometimes taxis feel a bit of a cop out, you should be walking the streets to discover the city’s hidden gems, but, in Puerto Escondido, there are pitfalls to navigation by walking, thus:-
– Most town maps are stylised and only give a rough, and often inaccurate, detail of where to find something. These maps have somehow found their way on to “official” publications, and even on to the internet, and things like hotels, the church, restaurants, and even our apartment, are shown in a completely wrong location.
– Streets change name along their route.
– Although the town is largely built in square blocks, sometimes the name of a street will follow, say, a left turn, and the road ahead will bear a different name.
– Streets cross the main highway and retain their name, but the crossing is not always in a straight line, so the road straight ahead is the wrong one, the one bearing right is the same street.
– The locals have their own name for certain streets, and don’t call the street by its official name. For example, the central street, the adoquin, isn’t really called the adoquin, it’s the Avenida Perez Ganga, but if you ask for directions to Perez Ganga, you’ll be sent to the other half of that road, which is the “wrong” side of the highway, and potentially a hefty walk from the adoquin.
– It’s hot and it’s hilly!
So all in all, the taxis win hands down. Where else can you stand on a dark road and just wait, knowing that, probably, the next set of headlights will be a taxi, and the driver will be looking for you. And then charge you less than two quid. It’s so much easier.
Both the city and state of Oaxaca are considered culinary destinations even within Mexico, having a reputation for its own twist on Mexican cuisine. Oaxaca food is a series of specialities in its own right, but two of its biggest sources of pride are mezcal and moles – that’s mole pronounced not as in the small mammal, but as the “mole” in “guacamole”.
Mezcal is a strong shot drink, in the same ballpark as tequila but with a distinct flavour, and is distilled from the agave plant. It is clear in colour and served in a tubular shot glass, usually in quite a large quantity for a strong shot. The flavour of the agave within the spirit is a little unusual, and Michaela in particular finds it a challenge; the afterburn is not too ferocious. Now, the way to drink mezcal is to first put a powder on the tongue, in the same way as you take salt with tequila, except this powder is ground dried chilli and ground moth caterpillar. We’ve done it, and assume that the powder we’ve been given is that one as described, and were excited to try it. It’s rather unpleasant though, and has almost a disinfectant type taste which we don’t find palatable in the slightest.
So, on to the “moles”. Moles are the sauces which throughout Oaxaca state are added to, or available with, virtually every dish, as the different flavours of the moles compliment different dishes. They are mostly hot in terms of chilli flavour (piquante is the right word) but are quite different in character. Basically they are…
Mole negro – deep brown, almost black, contains chilli, spices and chocolate, but is savoury
Mole amarillo – yellow in colour, tomatillos and spices
Mole verde – green; corn, pumpkin seeds, nuts, spices
Mole colorado – brown; chillis and cinnamon
Mole coloradito or mole rojo – red; tomatoes and chillis
Mole manteles – red; the chilli sauce served over pineapples etc
Chichilo negro – three types of chilli plus avocado leaves and tomato, the least common mole.
You can’t help but enjoy moles whilst in Oaxaca, to Oaxacans, these sauces are what defines the meal. For us visitors, part of the delight is that the recipes vary from restaurant to restaurant, meaning no two moles are ever identical. All part of Oaxaca’s stimulating cuisine.
The heat is rising here in Puerto Escondido, the fiesta party time atmosphere is ramping up and this wonderful town has its already vibrant pulse racing. Puerto Escondido is one wonderful place, but there is now an extra magic in the air. If this paradise of a location wasn’t wonderful enough already, we’re now adding another level of experience. This has all the hallmarks of one of our best ever trips. Join us by selecting “The Americas” from the home page menu, then select “Mexico 2018”.
Day 5 of our trip to the Mexican state of Oaxaca is now posted – go to “The Americas”, then Mexico, to join us. Puerto Escondido continues to wow us!
The glorious reputation enjoyed by this stretch of Pacific coastline is richly deserved; in fact if anything, it’s an understatement. Originally a port specifically built to export coffee from the nearby plantations, the town has grown up around a sweeping bay and numerous pretty coves. The area is part of an enormously long stretch of sandy shores kissing the blue Pacific and Puerto Escondido itself has a number of beaches, each with its own character and each one different from the others.
The town is divided in half by the main highway, the upper town on the hillside is the old town where the locals live and work and is full of Mexican character, the lower half sports more small hotels and street stalls, especially along the “adoquin”, down to the bars and restaurants at the seafront.
All the beaches have “palapa”, which are beach bars with palm leaf roofs to provide shade, the number and size varying according to the different character of each beach. Bird and animal life is everywhere; so many colourful exotic birds, let alone the pelicans fishing on the main beach.
Stroll along the soft golden sand, play in the crashing waves, observe the expert surfers, walk the old streets, sip cold beer in the shade of a palapa whilst people watching on the beaches, chat with these proud and fun loving Mexican people. And then grab some more of this wonderful, tasty, colourful food. Pinch yourself to believe it’s all real.
Yes. Puerto Escondido is THAT good.
One of the absolute joys of free travel is stumbling upon something special, which hadn’t been part of the planning. Stumbling upon a Mexican fiesta is right up there; being able to join in, even better. We’ve just had an amazing day. Read about it at The Americas, Mexico, Day 4.