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Huatulco: Snorkeling, Beaches, Tortugas, y Crocodilos!

MEXICO | Thursday, 4 February 2010 | Views [2080] | Comments [5]

Flying through the water...

Flying through the water...

So I'm inspired to write tonight because of three things:  

  • The trip is rolling down - I leave for Mexico City tomorrow, for a Sunday departure to Canada.
  • I finally learned to snorkel!
  • I saw today the funniest menu translation I've ever seen.
  • And 4th, (so I guess three things + an honourable mention), WorldNomads.com picked up my blog last night and stuck it on their home page.  How very, very cool!  

The funniest thing first:  while at lunch today, at yet another beach restaurant for cervezas y camarones - this time in Puerto Angel, (yeah, I know it's a rough life!), here was the English translation of a menu item:

"Northern arrechera with tip of rooster and you eat the french." 

Um, what?  

So arrechera con pico de gallo actually means flank steak in an amazing marinade of lime juice, chiles, onions, tomatoes, cilanto, and some other stuff.  Tequila never hurts.  

"You eat the french"?  According to the Spanish menu, the dish was served with "papas a las fransesca" - french fries. It reminds me of the English menu translations you see at Asian restaurants in Vancouver.  Maybe menu and signage translations could be a business opportunity for me here!

Off topic, but also a funny thing I heard, is the Spanish word for handcuffs - unofficially - is the same as the word for wife. Hmmm. (Not the official translation for handcuffs, but the word used.)

Anyhow, lunch and my favourite menu came after a day at the Turtle Centre up the coast at Mazunte - also home to a supplier to Body Shop that we toured.  The area used to be completely dependent on (illegal) harvesting of turtles and eggs, but now is a major preserve and tourist attraction instead.  I'm a big fan of turtles, so it was a pretty amazing sight. It's hard to not like turtles, I think.  Also on the agenda was a tour of a crocodile preserve - we saw a few in the water, and on land there were a few others in pens just in case.  They didn't have any souvenir belts or handbags at the gift shop.  

Also today, a drive through Zipolite - famous for its, um, simple lifestyle, especially for aging hippies that lost their clothes somewhere and are too wrecked, 20 years later, to remember where.  Think Wreck Beach with hammocks - sleep in a hammock every night for maybe $5, hang out (lol) on the beach all day, play guitars and experiment with various intoxicants at night, and back to the hammock for some more sleep. Repeat until done.  

Hautulco is an area, not really a particular place.  The infrastructure is amazing in a "If you build it they will come" sort of way.  The only problem is they didn't come.  So there are many skeletons of great ideas that ran out of financing, and empty buildings filled with empty stores anxiously awaiting tenants.  The existing restaurants and stores are staffed by people anxiously awaiting customers.  But except for maybe the big resorts at Tangolunda, which might attract Canadians who never leave the comfort of their all inclusive wristbands, most tourism here is Mexican, and nowhere near sufficient to fill the rooms and restaurants.  

For me it's perfect - where else in the world can you be with great restaurants, a $2 taxi from a tropical beach, 1/2 a block from the Zocalo in a good hotel for about $40 a night?  But if you want the nightlife of Cancun or Acapulco, this ain't it.  (A quick hotel note - I am playing games with the maid, and she with me - every day I leave a little more money in a place that I'm sure she can tell it's for her. Every night I came back, and it's been moved, but is still there.)

The three communities break down like this - Tangolunda, home of the big all inclusive resorts, the golf course, and high end tourism orientation. Santa Cruz - optimistically referred to as a city, with the main public beaches and marina, and many development skeletons.  La Crucecita - a little inland from Santa Cruz, an actual town where people live and work - in my view, the actual centre of the action. The hotels and restaurants are small, good, relatively inexpensive, owner operated...all the elements you actually want.  

I arrived Sunday, and am fairly annoyed that I'm leaving tomorrow.  A quick review of the week:  

Monday: woken up by an earthquake.  Considering it was small at about 5.0 and reasonably far away near Oaxaca City, I don't want to be any closer. There was a little one in Puebla yesterday too, so I would have got one no matter where I was. (The locals like the little ones, though - they believe the little ones relieve the pressure and prevent or at least delay the big ones).   Walked around all day.  Hit Playa El Arrocito - "Beach of little rice" - cool little place, with sand like - wait for it - little rice kernels.  Saw Avitar at night.  Awesome movie.  

Tuesday - sea tour of the Huatulco Bays, 90 minutes of snorkeling, lunch on a beach somewhere, and an hour to swim and play in water as warm as bath water.  I FINALLY managed to snorkel successfully, and had a great time floating around in the coral checking out fish and assorted little critters.  Sort of a big deal for me - I have tried before, but couldn't get over the panic of breathing with my face in the water, and couldn't let the life jacket and snorkel do their jobs.  

Today - well, the night is still young - who knows?  Tomorrow will just be a beach day until my flight in the afternoon.  A friend is meeting me in Mexico City for the weekend - one last chance to see the inside of a Mexican jail!  (Oh, Mom, I'm kidding - OF COURSE I've seen the inside of a Mexican jail - who hasn't?)

I'll put up some new pics in a bit - by the way, thanks WorldNomads for all you do!!

Tags: beaches



Menu Translations? Cool idea, but please come to Comox first ...Here, we need translation from chef to English.I am up for Zipolite as a vacation.Sadly, it sounds like perfect fun to me - well, maybe not.Then again, I have never seen the inside of a Mexican jail, so I probably haven't lived enough. I love turtles and cowboys...bring both home :) See you soon!

  VivianLea Feb 4, 2010 2:30 PM


I love the picture...Crush...from finding Nemo maybe?
I've loved reading your blogs...you are such a great writer and it feels just like you're here telling your stories. Try to stay out of jail down there...pretty sure you wouldn't like it...I love turtles...especially the chocolate and pecan ones...I love cowboys too...but Jim probably wouldn't like it if you brought me home one as a gift. So just bring those for VivianLea!!

  Lori Feb 4, 2010 3:12 PM


"Oh, it's awesome, Jellyman. The little dudes are just eggs, we leave 'em on a beach to hatch, and then, coo-coo-cachoo, they find their way back to the big ol' blue."

Have fun in Disneyland:)

  Kari Feb 5, 2010 5:23 AM


Sounds like you could stay for another month or three, Brian. One of the older women in my exercise class says a couple of her friends have lived down in Mexico (can't remember the city - long 5 or 6 syllable word starting with ?Z?)...for about 30 years, and loved it! What's not to like, eh? Oh, and another friend spent time in Oaxaca and tiny villages as well re original textiles and weaving... wants to talk about learning Spanish - I told her you're the man! Cheers - see you eventually.
- Celia

  Celia Feb 5, 2010 7:02 AM


Hey buddy Nice blog, but just a suggestion, If you are gonna criticise the bad food menu traslations, I would recomend you at least learn basic spanish spelling. Other than that, I liked your blog.

  Angie Feb 14, 2010 8:02 AM

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