Saturday, February 14, 2009

Puerto Escondido

I'm missing Oaxaca already.

I used to think that if I had to nuke just one place in Mexico I'd surely pick Cancun...around spring break time ideally. But now I'm not so sure...

Downtown P.E. is like a mix between Playa las Americas in Tenerife with Playa del Carmen's Quinta Avenida...packed with shambling 'silver' surfers.

No sooner had I descended from the bus than some cockney bloke appeared at my side like the shopkeeper in Mr Ben, albeit fezlessly. Using a clipboard he started hustling the charms of a hostel named after a major London landmark. "Aircon, boards to rent...and I've just picked up a pair of lovely girls who'd be pleased to meet a young man like yourself..." It sounded all too horrendous, so as if to spite him I checked into a place which appears to be full of silent, retired Canadians - quite possibly the only place in town worse than the one he'd been pitching to me. I did eventually spot someone there under forty, but she turned out to be the Italian owner's moll.
Everything here is overpriced, including this Internet joint. 10 pesos for 30 mins, compared to 8 for an hour in Oaxaca. It's located on a strip of tourist tooteries selling phoney machine-woven rugs, beady necklaces, sombreros and inflatable gekkos.

If you don't want to pay the earth for mariscos you will be hard pressed to find much else to eat other than pizza and pasta. I've learned the hard way in Spain that anywhere where the restaurants advertise their delights in German as well as Spanish and English is best avoided.

And it took 11 hours to get here on the OCC bus. 11 effing hours. I could have made it back to Europe on a plane in less time. It's just 300km as the carrion crow flies, but as soon as we reached Salina Cruz I realised that the bus had picked the longest of three possible routes, effectively taking me half way back to Guatemala before heading north-west along the Pacific shoreline.

For my last meal in Oaxaca I ordered a medley dish - Botano de Oaxaca - advertised to include the famous chapulines, as well as quesillo, memelitos, cecina and tasajo. But it arrived sin grasshoppers. "Es que ahora no es temporada," the waiter explained. Liar Liar Calzoncillos on Fire! I'd been offered the little red crunchy things numerous times in the market, but was still choking on my tejate.

Much more to say about Oaxaca, but these thoughts will have to wait until my return home next week.

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