Oaxaca Stories and Tips

Oaxaca Day Two -- Traveling to Mazunte for the Beach

Oaxaca Day Two Photo, Oaxaca, Mexico

By 4am, we've checked out of Paulina Youth Hostel and cabbed to the suburbanes station for our 4:30am departure. The SUV seats eleven people and we two were the only non-Mexican passengers. We talked to a family in the back of the van who were curious about where we were heading. When we mentioned Mazunte, they remarked Que bonita, how pretty it is. They confirmed that there are a lot of tourists but that it shouldn't stop us from going. Nothing was stopping us at this point: we've gone very far in our adventure to get ourselves to the beach.

The drive from Oaxaca to Pochutla was equal parts awe-inspiring and horrifying. The landscape is impressive but as we entered the mountains, our driver's, shall we say, nonchalance at passing trucks on curvy roads both impressed and scared us. So when we rounded a bend and ran over a dog, we both leapt out of our seats. We looked at the other passengers and they smiled at our reaction as if to say, Couldn't be helped, with a shake of their heads. Our driver drove on like it was only a hump.

We were parked in front of the Hotel Sta. Cruz in Pochutla before 11am and made sure we were on the Oaxaca City return trip passenger list for noon four days later. As always, cab drivers solicited us to take their cabs. We've already crossed out Puerto Escondido from our list and have decided that Mazunte was going to be our destination. The Mexican store owners told us to wait for a collectivo which would take us to Mazunte or Zipolite. Collectivos are pickup trucks with makeshift rooves to cover the back. They seat about ten in the back but they are always filled as long as passengers can still stand. We stood throughout the thirty-minute ride and finally caught a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.

When the collectivo passed by Mazunte, we immediately saw a lot of tour buses and decided to stay on board to check out the scene in Zipolite. A VW minivan full of hippies (complete with dreadlocks and tie-dye shirts) drove by us in Zipolite. We decided that Mazunte full of Mexican tourists was better than Zipolite full of hippies. Later, we found out that the tour buses were only day-trippers visiting the Tortuga Museum (Turtle Museum) next to the Mazunte Beach entrance.

First order of business was to get a place to stay for three nights. Dona Porfiria was slicing vegetables in her kitchen when we asked her if she knew of any available cabana. It turned out that she owned the three blue cabana right outside and one was just vacated. Our cabanas a small studio with its own bathroom and ceiling fan for P200 a night. From reading our guidebooks, we expected a fee of about P30, but we couldn't give up what might be the only available place on the beach. We later realized that P30 only buys us space to pitch a tent or to set up a hammock! For $20 a night with our own bathroom and fan? We shouldn't even have winced at the price. Hot water? Not in 80-degree humid weather. Mosquitoes? Plenty. Our room, the middle one in a set of three, was the only one with windows. We were able to leave them open with only a bed sheet to try keep the mosquitoes out. At least we had a draft coming in at night and some light in the morning.

That afternoon happened to be when the Tortuga Museum put on a turtle release fundraiser. You can sponsor your own baby turtle for about P30 each. You then free your turtle and watch it crawl on the sand to the ocean with the other turtles. Although a hundred eggs hatch per clutch, sea turtles are still considered endangered.

Stops:

Atlantida Suburbanes Station
Oficina Martiz is on La Noria No. 101. They mean SUVs when they say suburbanes. From Oaxaca to Pochutla, the earliest departure is at 4:30am. The six-hour ride cost us P120 each making our round trip ride a total of P480 for two people.

Dona Porfiria Cabana
P200 per night for a one-bedroom with private bathroom, just right for two people. Dona Porfiria also washed our dirty shirts for P25 when we ran out of clean clothes. She told us P15 but upped her "fee" when we picked up our laundry. Tiene mucho, she said. Too much. Dona Porfiria might look ninety years old but she was a true business woman.

Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga
Web: www.tomzap.com/turtle.html
The four-hectare complex distributes information regarding conservation and legislation for turtle protection and conduct scientific and technological research for turtle management, development and conservation. They have crazy and short hours I wish I wrote down for you. We never made it in.

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