I don’t handle the heat well. I don’t tan. I don’t do exercise of any kind. I am quite possibly the whitest of white girls you will ever encounter. So it was kind of strange that sunny, sunny Mexico was the next stop on my list.
Although it was the middle of May the weather in Vancouver was still really shitty, so I decided to fly south for a week and booked a last minute trip to the tiny surf town of Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca. Since I’m trying to learn German it totally made sense to throw some Spanish in there, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, so I did the next best thing to a group tour and that’s a surf and language hostel.
Only having one week there made me feel a little bit of a fraud though, as everyone else was travelling for months and really keen to learn the language. I just wanted something to occupy my time and figured a little Spanish would be helpful. The other girls at the school were super lovely, and as luck would have it 95% of the students there were also German so I got a chance to practice both languages. Result.
My surfing lesson (yep, singular) was a disaster. Despite it being my first time and I clearly had no fucking clue what I was doing, my instructor lost patience with me being terrible (I have zero upper body strength) and kicked me out of the water because I misunderstood one instruction. Cue an awkward 15 minutes trying to get out of the water, then being so exhausted I had a panic attack on the sand. In front of some other students. Great. I cancelled the rest of my surfing lessons because I had hurt my neck flailing around like an idiot, but the staff just thought it was because I was a wimp. I mean that was true, but mostly because my neck was fucked. And the instructor was a dick.
One good thing though is that I managed to stand up a few times before I was kicked out, so that was fun. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.
I was staying in La Punta, which is at the other end of the beach from the main part of Puerto and I’m so glad I did because was much nicer than the town. I was one block from the beach and right next to a bunch of bars, restaurants and mini marts. So after Spanish class in the morning I would spend my afternoons eating tacos, drinking margaritas, sitting on the beach and actually reading! I’ve not read a book in ages. The beach itself was too rough to swim in, but it was nice to watch the surfers and the sunset.
My favourite day actually ended up being my last one. After “graduating” from Spanish school, I caught up with another Australian, Lulu, from Couchsurfing for lunch. Weirdly she turned out to be from my neck of the woods back home, and we ate grasshoppers, did some shopping and explored the town.
Then that afternoon I hung out on the beach with a fellow geek, Naomi, where we drank cocktails and nerded out about our love of Marvel, London and movies. That night I was the only person in the hostel that didn’t go to the social night, mostly because it was too hot, I didn’t want to and I had a super early flight the next morning. Instead I had some dinner by the beach, a couple of drinks, watched the sunset and then danced in the darkness of the yoga studio to Biffy Clyro. It was pretty sweet.
And probably hilarious to the security guard watching the camera.
So, practical stuff:
- If you’re a woman travelling alone in Puerto, don’t worry. I read all the forums about kidnapping, everyone telling me how they knew people who’d been held up at gunpoint and I freaked the fuck out. It was fine. I had no issues at all. I mean obviously don’t walk around fanning yourself with cash, but just be sensible and you’ll be alright. As you would anywhere
- Take the green cabs, and agree on a fare before you get in. If you’re not sure on how much it should be just ask at your hotel
- Stay off the beach at night (if nothing else, listen to this)
- Take cash. Some places take debit/credit cards, but it’ll be easier if you have cash. And there aren’t a tonne of ATM’s around
- Tipping is appreciated but not expected
- I ate salads and had drinks with ice in them and had no issues stomach-wise. Not sure if the places I went to used filtered water or not, but I wouldn’t stress too much about that
- Look out for dog shit. There are feral dogs everywhere and they relieve themselves everywhere, even on the beach (ew)