Part 1: Flying from Puerto Escondido to Mexico City
After my quick 18 hour stay in Puerto Escondido I was off to the airport to travel to Mexico City and meet someone very special. Wandering one block down from the excellent Vivo Escondido Hostel near Playa Carrizalillo, it’s easy to grab a taxi to Puerto Escondido airport and it shouldn’t cost more than $50 Pesos (about £2 GBP). The airport itself is tiny, walking distance from the front doors to check in, through security and into one of two departure lounges can’t be more than about 300 metres (meaning there’s no need to arrive too early, they don’t even open check-in until 1 hour 40 mins before take-off, and word to the wise, the coffee shop outside sells horrible coffee). The flight from Puerto Escondido direct to Mexico City costs about £120 GBP with Aeromar.
This was also the first time that I’d flown with a skateboard in a good 10 years so I was a bit worried there might be excess baggage charges. Thankfully Aeromar are a pretty relaxed airline and they let me just strap the board to the outside of my large backpack to go in the hold, all I had to do was sign a waiver to say that my bag had ‘not been packed properly’ (i.e. was not wrapped in plastic and thus the board might get separated if one of the straps broke). Gone are the carefree days of the 90s when you could carry a skateboard on the plane as hand-luggage (a concept that seems ridiculous nowadays) and take every opportunity to glide around the large transit areas of airports which are literally perfect for skating; I only ever got told off once for skating around inside Gatwick airport as far as I can remember.
Sneaky shot of the plane which I wasn’t supposed to take (and got told off for, ha ha)
The twin prop aircraft is relatively small so the flight can get ‘a bit lurchy’ at times, be warned.
Part 2: Mexico City
Someone very special and I weren’t sure how long we’d spend in Mexico City so we’d only booked 3 nights to begin with; but since we hadn’t seen each other in over 3 months she’d decided to splash out and book a posh hotel in the nicest part of the city. After having spent 2 months living at the refuge where there were only cold showers and no air conditioning, it felt incredibly decadent to have hot running water, a choice of thick, fluffy white towels and a bath robe (and air con)! It was a nice change that’s for sure.
I’d arrived on an earlier flight so I took a couple of hours to investigate the local neighbourhood around the JW Marriot. The first thing that really struck me about Mexico City was how temperate the climate is, no more 32 degrees C with accompanying humidity and pouring sweat; instead it was a pleasantly cool 25 degrees C which saw me wandering around in trousers for the first time since arriving in Mexico.
View from the hotel overlooking the ‘Auditorio Nacional’ + Mexico City in the background
Humongous Mexican flag in a military parade training ground (just to the right of the Auditorio Nacional in the previous photo)
Parrot sculpture in the parade ground made from recycled firearms
Dolphin sculpture in the parade ground made from recycled firearms
Scorpion sculpture in the parade ground made from recycled firearms
You get the idea…
Besides the National Auditorium and the parade ground though there’s not too much of interest in this area of Mexico City. The streets around the hotel weren’t too dissimilar from the more affluent areas of London to be honest, expensive cars and restaurants, designer blazers, sunglasses, jewelry and handbags (and the odd facelift); it seems that banal consumerism gets everywhere.
On day 2 someone very special and I had organised to meet an old work colleague at the Casa de Frieda Kahlo in a more authentic area of the city. Unfortunately the queue was huge to get into this particular cultural attraction, so instead we headed off to one of the largest artisan markets in Mexico called ‘Ciudadela’ over to the west. It boasts an astonishing array of locally produced art in myriad forms, from clothes and jewelry to sculptures, knick-knacks, toys and more.
Huge skull at one of the hundreds of independently run stalls/shops
Hand-carved masks and totems (not sure I was supposed to be in this bit of the shop…oops)
Whilst it was great for me and someone very special to visit Mexico City, I’m afraid to say that overall we didn’t really rate it. Obviously we were only there for 3 days and didn’t see all that much, but even travelling around the city in various taxis and our colleague’s hired van, there just weren’t any stand out buildings, monuments or spaces as you might expect to see in other capital cities.
I think we probably need to give Mexico City another go in the future, especially to go skate some of the famous parks; but since urban life was getting us down we decided it was time to head to Puerto Escondido for some fun in the sun!
Part 3: Mexico City back to Puerto Escondido
The taxi ride from our hotel to Mexico City airport was probably more eventful than the actual flight. We hailed an official-looking pink-striped taxi that are common in the city and agreed a price of $300 Pesos (about £15 GBP) for the 40-minute journey (the journey time being hugely dependent on traffic). The driver seemed nice enough during the drive, it was when we got to the airport and I handed over the $300 Pesos that he piped up, “Faltas cien” (You’re missing 100), no I replied, we agreed on $300 Pesos…
He repeated his statement 2 or 3 times until I feigned partial acceptance and said we needed to get our bags out of the boot first; bags safely in our hands I sturdily patted him on the shoulder whilst reaffirming that we had agreed on $300 pesos (mate!). His response was a blatantly cheeky, “Oh go on then, just $50 Pesos”…smiling politely we both declined the offer to be ripped off and calmly walked away into the airport; he muttered something under his breath as he got back in the taxi. Good try mate.
Even though we were flying with Aeromar back to Puerto Escondido (about £120 GBP one way), the check-in person wouldn’t accept my skateboard being strapped to the outside of my large backpack as per the previous flight. We had to abandon the first check-in attempt to go and get my bag + board plastic wrapped at a cost of $280 Pesos (about £12 GBP!), I wasn’t happy about that one, but apparently it’s a Mexico City airport rule.
Pacific coastline + propeller on approach to Puerto Escondido airport
Part 4: Back in Puerto Escondido
We’d booked a hotel on Playa Zicatela this time round; Hotel Santa Fe is a superb hotel with 2 pools, air con in all rooms and a stunning view of the beach from the open plan restaurant area. Zicatela is the main surf beach in Puerto Escondido and renowned for having the world’s heaviest beach break. Watching the humongous waves repeatedly batter the rocks is utterly mesmerising and you can easily lose an hour of your day entranced by this spectacle of nature.
Pictures just don’t do justice to the power, ferocity and especially booming sound of these crashing monsters!
(Red flag = No swimming!)
I heart Zicatela
Map of Puerto Escondido (Zicatela on the far right, Carrizalillo on the far left)
Fresh mango, papaya, watermelon, grapes, apple, banana and pineapple for breakfast
Fresh fish tacos for lunch
Freshly made Piña Colada aperitifs
Hotel Iguana chilling near the pool (we named him ‘Drogon’ obviously)
Some days it’s just too damn hot…
Overlooking Playa Zicatela (and some cactus)
Sunset over Playa Zicatela
One of the highlights in Puerto Escondido is visiting a sea turtle protection area. This eco-tourism spot charges visitors $100 Pesos each (£4.50 GBP) for the opportunity to release a baby sea turtle onto the beach and watch it make a scramble for the ocean. I named my turtle ‘Barry’ obviously (although I’m sure those of you who know me were expecting it to be Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo or Raphael).
I’m pleased to say that Barry successfully completed his ocean scramble with only minor interference from a pesky crab who erroneously believed he could take down another creature 10 times his size (I must also admit to saying ‘Go Barry Go’ quite audibly with some sense of paternal pride).
This is Barry.
Barry is the best. Be like Barry.
Celebrating the turtle, the myth, the legend. Barry, we salute you!
(in Spanish it’s pronounced ‘Hoompy Hoompy’)
Tune in next week to hear more about daily life at the Hostel Vivo Escondido and Playa Carrizalillo.