This is one for the books. Literally. Perhaps this tops any of the discovery-based posts that I could conceive of or have had in the past, and I have to say, that is pretty out there.
One of the best discoveries over a Thanksgiving Break was coming to Puerto Escondido with friends last year – a beach I had never been to, and finding hardly anyone there –it was one of the best kept secrets of Thanksgiving and not being with family and in the states. As close to paradise as ever. So I knew, I wanted to come back here, absolutely.
Knowing this, in late September of 2016, I immediately booked a trip to do the same, roundtrip flight -1300.00 pesos on VivaAerobus, finding the lodgings a little less empty and not able to stay as planned at Chicitana like last year – I was familiar with One Love from eating an amazing fish dinner there – and with openings there available – I immediately booked a private room for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Total amount 2700.00 pesos. Again, do the conversion to the U.S. dollar and it is an amazing AMAZING ability to travel to a vacation getaway for that price.
I wanted to stay longer during the break. I looked to see what was around Puerto Escondido, but something different. I saw a place called Chacahua, and it had a natural park. NO IDEA what this was – why not I thought? I planned to go to Chacahua for two days, enough time to figure out what Chacahua actually was about, then head back to Puerto Escondido for one day, and leave for Mexico City Saturday. A definite plan made and something to look forward to. Little did I know, never in my wildest dreams would I know or think, what will occur and unfold.
FINALLY – after some very crammed weeks, days, and hours of what seemed activity after activity piled upon each other, the Friday half day was HERE! YES! It was almost as each of us could hear the waves breaking on that Friday as we all realized a well-deserved break had descended upon us.
The next two days I settled in to leave for the next week, the errands that would mainstay my leave, extra dog food, getting ready for Walking Dog to save the day for my absence, putting some items back and organized into its place, things fell into place. Sometimes I would go back and check the internet to find the information about Chacahua and always found the same website facing me, the same names about where to stay, what cabanas were offered, warning to ask for a fan when staying due to the isolation and the bugs since this was on a lagoon, and while I became more and more excited, the anticipation was paired with a slight level of worry of the unknown, heading somewhere I knew nothing, absolutely nothing about; yet, that was truly part of the fun as well.
Finally, running around like crazy, despite having plenty if prep time, I still found myself running around like a madman, right up until the time I had to leave and then finally grabbing a taxi to head to Terminal 1- VivaAerobus – and expecting many delays. ( Last year, although we were schedule to leave during the day – the repeated delays for almost 2 hours reminded me, do NOT expect any different – even with leaving at 8:40 at night, or 9:30, or later …)
True to my expectations, and despite my being there exactly 30 minutes before my boarding time of 8:05 PM, Location B, Terminal 1 kept flashing on the screen – no gate apparent. More to satisfy my own fears, I kept heading to the Aerobus desk, “No Puerto, no flight, right?” Over and over to satisfy my great luck of missing last flight out to Puerto.
While waiting, I overheard, and oversaw right next to me a couple that was contemplating after asking at the information desk, by how much time they were going to miss their flight. I knew by now, with my second time to expect delays, this was their case, so I jumped in to alleviate their worries. “I know you are seeing Terminal 1, B for the gate, but don’t worry, we all have that. Expect back to back delays until the gate appears, which it will, just not at the time you were expecting .” Relieved, we began an interchange with this couple, on vacation from Texas, and this was their connecting flight, first time in Benitio Juarez airport. We both were on vigilant duty for each other’s flight over the next hour. Conversations discovering his wife was also a teacher, on break, led to how I came to be in Mexico. Basic but but the real story, a great story – will review this if you ask me sometime – it is a dinner time story!
Truly Repentino. . When the question was asked “What is the cause for so much disparity in Mexico between finances and the groups, Upper, Middle, and lower financial statuses?” I realized how complicated that answer was. It would be too easy to say, the government. Truly the government maybe could play such a big role, but how does one also inform someone about the inability for that government at times to motivate, activate, and reach into such a vast, deep, and complicated history as Mexico to show the heartbreaks, the achievements, the amazing stories that have come to make Mexico – Mexico? It is as overwhelming a task as the 20 foot wave I was dreaming about seeing in Puerto Escondido, so “government red tape” would have to do for now. Gate 12, Cancun, Gate 3 Puerto Escondido flashed subtly on the flight screen, as if it had been there all along – and we thanked each other for making sure we were able to follow through to our destinations, and we embarked.
Within the plane, I was lucky enough to sense the woman beside me had a sense of humor, with her inquiry of the likelihood that the passenger with the dozen Krispy Kremes, was going to share with the rest of the passengers. I thought not. Everyone was itching to JUST BE OFF to Puerto after what seemed like agonizing delays in having the plane arrive to the gate, and waiting on the plane until WE COULD JUST TAKE OFF. Halfway through the flight we began conversation that revealed her departure for the Los Angeles area, to Puerto Escondido frequently to decide if she wanted to continue to find a place to purchase. I told her of my favorable experience there last year, we discussed the favorable aspects of One Love versus other locations on the Zicatella strip and it just fueled my desire to be on the beach faster than I could fathom.
The familiar small airport greeted me, grabbing my lone small suitcase I found a collectivo van that held several of us heading to Zicatella, for 60 pesos I found myself at the door of One Love in no time. The young lady who greeted me was a dream come true at 11:30 PM at night, and got me all squared away in the Dylan room, the private cabana at One Love.
The Dylan Room? Truly, the quote, “You can’t be smart and in love at the same time” surrounded by images of Bob Dylan made me laugh considerably. My mind and body screamed at me, “You are HERE!”
I settled into plans and the awesome map One Love gave me, and loved every peso of the 2600.00 it cost to be right here for the next three days. It is so hard to describe how warm the Pacific water was each day, how refreshing the waves coming in licking my ankles were. How amazing it was to watch the Oakland Raiders (Oakland? Yes Oakland Raiders, lol) and the Texans play, IN MEXICO, on television with colleague Matt Maciness and his brother, how surreal it was to see colleague Jennifer on the Zicatella Beach and then the next day hanging out at Carrizalillo Beach with Mar – and their friend from Puerto Rico who worked for Disney, ending up at the amazing restaurant Espadin – with a view of the Lagoon most people would still not believe even though, as we watched the 4 minute sunset that was a dream sealed the deal that yes, what we were seeing was a miracle. Even with the jazz playing over us and descending down the cliffs into the ocean, this all seemed half real, half surreal.
Yet, meeting the day before, Lina from Switzerland, another young lady whose aunt owns a hotel at Puerto, that worked at One Love for the summer, had hinted that I might want to talk to Victor, a tour guide at Puerto, who was involved in many projects that took into consideration art, AND the interview I had done with Gerard, Hareth, and former ASF student Ana representing the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants – both of these had me combining work, research, and vacation at such a rate, I was on a activism high.
Leaving my friends at Estrada, I headed to my appointment with Victor at 9:00PM -ish at One Love. We went on for about 3 more hours of connections that we would discover that could connect our goals of involving communities into art, while improving the communities around us. Lina listened as we found matching goals, objectives, a starting point to try and make something happen that would impact the individuals around us, in the very communities that are assets and yet untapped for amazing things to come. Brilliant how someone you meet in Puerto Escondido, from Switzerland can connect two people in Mexico, and see how plans could develop to further both our goals. One was one amazing thing was how Victor had been using the strategy to map out his community for the assets AND the needs, just like the Jane Goodall Institute project I had embarked on this past summer, and he did not even know about it. Revelations.
Thanks to the assistance of One Love, I found a receipt –sketched plan to make it to Chacahua – there are two options. One taxi – roughly 500 pesos. I didn’t like that option, I had always been used to operating on a shoe lace budget, so I wanted to know the other options, briefly mentioned on the website. They proceeded to tell me the more complicated option. I could take a taxi to Banorte in town, 30 pesos. From there a van would take me for 45 pesos to Zapolito. From there a blue tarp-covered truck would take me to the mouth of Chacahua, 20 pesos). From there I would be able to hop onto the boat for 80 pesos and travel to the mainland of Chacahua. Deal. I knew my luck sometimes in discovering the accuracy and ease of what it SOUNDED like, but I also knew, my gut screamed, THIS OPTION. To be safe, I paid for my Friday to Saturday stay at One Love ahead of time, checked out as close to noon as possible on Wednesday, and stepped into the unknown.