lighthouse, puerto escondidoPuerto Escondido's lighthouse, from the scenic walkway.

Puerto Escondido ’94: light winked hasta pronto

It was January 1994 and I was recovering from a car accident. My spouse came home on a Monday and foolishly asked if I would be able to go someplace warm for a couple of weeks. That Friday we were off to Huatulco on a last-minute flight, $359 all inclusive! Shortly after arriving in Huatulco we heard about a town called Puerto Escondido and some lagoons with great birdwatching, just down the road.

We were fortunate to find two other couples and together we rented a van and a driver to take us there. We departed Hautulco very early in the morning and arrived at Zicatela for breakfast.

The Santa Fe was there, as well as the building that housed the old Art and Harry’s. Otherwise Puerto Escondido was mostly little palapa restaurants and cabanas with few concrete structures. After eating a meal of frijoles, huevos and tortillas while watching the surfers, we headed to Chacahua. It was a memorable day touring the lagoon in a small boat, seeing the crocodiles and an amazing display of roseate spoonbills.

We spent time on a deserted beach with no one except a very elderly couple who cooked up some fresh fish, onions and tomatoes and offered cold beer from a cooler and a coconut with a straw. They had little but went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed ourselves.

The sun was about to set as we returned to Puerto Escondido. Our driver took us to what is now the Posada Real and it was there that we watched our first Puerto puesta del sol, with the magnificent view of Bacocho beach for a backdrop.

Dinner was at the Plato del Sardinia that used to be at the north end of the Adoquin, looking down the street. We were told there was only one fish left for dinner. We were somewhat dismayed but the waiter declared there was no problem. Shortly after the cook proudly brought out a very large snapper. That will do, we all agreed. He filleted and cooked it and there was plenty of fish for all.

That night the Adoquin was alive. Vendors selling things one doesn’t see anymore and lots of music. The most interesting attraction was a fellow who sat cross-legged on the street, surrounded by a large number of different shaped hollow balls with holes in the top. He made an eerie, haunting tune by picking up the balls in quick succession and blowing into the holes. Quite a talent, but haven’t seen the man since.

It was dark as we pulled out of Puerto Escondido on our way back to Huatulco. As we went up the hill out of town we looked back to see the lights. The lighthouse flashed. It looked like a wink that said not adios but hasta pronto. We were hooked!

 —Linda Gordon

Media credit: Mane Rosales