Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Puerto Escondido, Mexico City, Puebla and Guadalajara

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is one of the top 10 surf beaches in the world and is on the Pacific side of Mexico. When I was in Oaxaca I met an Aussie who lives there and he told me I should go. 

His story was interesting. Basically he owns a house in Noosa which he rents out. He works for free accommodation in a hostel in Puerto Escondido and the rent money he gets in Oz pays his mortgage leaving him enough for beers and surfing everyday. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

So thanks to his glowing recommendation and my new friend Nina convincing me that I should get the overnight bus with her that is where I went next. 

Puerto Escondido is not ideal for swimming but there are some protected beaches nearby which aren't too rough that you can walk to. Not as nice as the Caribbean side but you do get to perv at hot surfers, so that's a bonus.

The Aussie also told me I should go to Lagunas de Chacahua National Park. Nina was keen so we decided to make a day trip. Lonely Planet said we had to take two colectivos then a boat. Seemed easy enough. 

Famous. Last. Words.

We had to take three colectivos to get to the town where the boats go. Then it was like Cuba all over again. Everyone wanted to take us in their boat at like M$300 each. We had to keep saying no, we want the colectivo boat, which Lonely Planet mentioned. After walking around for about 20 minutes fending off boat guys we found the colectivo boat and a timetable. We were just in time for the 1.20pm departure. Excellent. We see a boat come in and the guy says M$20 (which is much better than M$300). Then some other boat guy says that boat is the 3.20pm one and his is the 1.20pm boat. So we swap boats thinking what a scammer, since he was quite prepared to let us sit there for two hours. Grr!

We get in second boat guy's boat, which leaves more or less on time (since he had to go buy some stuff and of course try to round up some more passengers). The boat probably takes 15 minutes and is quite nice through the mangroves.  

Then we get to the boat ramp on the island and there’s nothing there.

The boat guy says he will call another colectivo to come get us to take us to the main town cos it would take 3-4 hours to walk there. By this stage Nina and I had had enough of paying for colectivos and said no, we’d just walk around here. We checked with him the boats back were at 3pm and 5pm since we were in the middle of nowhere and off he went. After walking along a deserted dirt road for a while (there was nothing round) we hear the ocean so we walk towards that. Again, it’s another awesome surf beach but really unsafe for swimming. There were rips everywhere and the waves were really high. Dangerous.

This beach is also a turtle laying beach. We saw a turtle skeleton, which was interesting. I hope it died of natural causes and not dickheads interfering with it.

We also saw some egg shells and tracks down to the beach, so some babies must have hatched within the last 24 hours. That would have been so cool to see. I'm still annoyed I keep missing this.

Then I got all paranoid the boat wasn’t going to come back and we would be stuck in the middle of nowhere. Plus there were big clouds coming in and thunder. We decided to try the 3pm boat. We made it to the boat ramp shelter bit just in time to avoid the rain. Then the boat goes past us and we had to wave and yell to get him in back. It seems my paranoia turned out to be right!

Then of course there was lots of waiting around in the rain to get the three colectivos back. This half asleep dog pretty much sums it all up!

There is one great veggie restaurant in Puerto Escondido which is also a hostel. Even though it's mostly vegan I only ate here once since it was a pain in the arse to get to. If you decide to walk down the beach, beware it's a good 30 mins from the far end of town and there's no signs. That said, all the locals knew about it and told me to keep walking. Once I'd reached the middle of nowhere I found a sign and started walking up some path until some scammer locals came out and tried to get me to pay for using the path. Fuckers. I turned around and walked back down the beach, went 20m further and then up the road.

I recommend getting the colectivos along the highway instead of walking. It's cheap and takes about 5-10 minutes.

I didn't mind Puerto Escondido. It is pretty chilled out but if you want non-surf beaches the Caribbean side is way nicer. 

Mexico City

From Puerto Escondido I took a cheap flight to Mexico City. It's a cool city and I like that the metro system only costs about 25c to get anywhere including the airport. On the down side of the metro, Mexicans walk really slow and do not keep left (or right). 
It's the exact opposite of using the tube in London. There you only make the mistake of standing on the right once before everyone tells you off and you never do it again.

Mexico City also smells and there's a constant haze which cannot be good for your lungs.

My hostel was right next to the Cathedral in the old city.  

This was my view at breakfast. Nice!

And this electric vehicle recharge station was out the front. Apparently there are some zero emissions taxis driving around the city. Progressive!

There is a lot to see in Mexico City, especially if you're into museums and stuff. It is very cultural.

I walked past a gallery and there was a free exhibition of this Brazilian artist. His stuff was awesome.

Since I only had two days I stuck to the highlights as well as checking out as many veggie places as possible. I liked that they are all near metro stations so they are pretty easy to get to. As usual, they are all listed on Happycow. My favourite place was probably Falafelito, a vegan falafel place that also did some tasty vegan muffins! It was also in a very nice area with lots of tree lined streets and a park full of squirrels. We don't have squirrels in Australia so I get a bit excited when I see them.

I took a walk through the gay area (Zona Rosa) since this veggie restaurant nearby I wanted to try. The area is quite nice.

This isn't very gay.


One of the best things to see is in Mexico City is the frescoes. The artwork in many of the buildings is amazing. You need a guide book or a local to tell you which buildings they are in. Most of them are free to enter.

This street full of bridal dresses amused me. It's basically a one stop street for everything you need, which is convenient. I am not sure why Mexican women like the puff so much though.  

Chapultepec Castle is one of the main tourist attractions and is pretty interesting.

More excellent frescoes.

Some cool heads.

The usual old crap you see in castles.

A fancy rooftop garden.

And finally the room full of ugly men. Seriously, every single one of them fell out of the ugly tree. I looked carefully each painting just in case there was hottie hidden among them. 

There wasn't. 

You also get some good views of the downtown area.

Although you get better views from the Torre Latinoamericana building, which is in the old city.

There are a lot of helipads in Mexico City. I didn't see that many helicopters though.

There was still some Day of Dead stuff up at the entrance to this building, which was cool.

All up I liked Mexico City. It is easy to get around, feels safe (where I went), has a lot of veggie restaurants, and offers a lot for tourists. 

Go there!


Two hours east of Mexico City is Puebla. I heard good things about this place but on the whole I thought it was a bit meh and kinda cold.

I only spent a day there so all I really did was walk around the city centre. To be fair it is a nice looking city.


The inside of the cathedral was impressive.

Puebla was a bit average for vegans, although a new restaurant has opened up since I was there.

The next day I flew to Guadalajara, which is the furthest north I got in Mexico.


After Mexico City and Puebla I was ready for some hot weather again and Guadalajara delivers. Another hostel. Another pool!

I like that this city has fruit trees growing in the street. Handy if you're hungry and not near a veggie restaurant.


More cool Day of the Dead stuff.

There's a cool horse statue in the middle of a roundabout. I found out about this on tripadvisor and convinced two others from the hostel to come with me. I think it was worth the bus fare.

There's some very nice street art in the city centre. However, brass and hot weather don't really mix. Ouch!

More frescoes.

And that was Mexico. I rushed through it a bit cos at the time I hadn't changed my flight and only had six weeks left to do Costa Rica and get back to South America. I liked Mexico a lot. It was more developed than what I expected and there is a lot of cool stuff to see and do. The food is good. The weather is good. I will be back.

Next stop: Costa Rica.