Day 21: Puerto テ]gel

Puerto Angel Travel Blog

 › entry 22 of 120 › view all entries
Puerto テ]gel
 Why Puerto テ]gel? That was the question most asked by the other tourists on the bus. When we got off in the village of Pochutla about half of the tourists on the bus continued on to Puerto Escondido, which is considered a surfer's paradise and one of the most visited places on the Oaxacan Pacific coast. About 20 others got off at Pochutla, but they all continued on to Zipolite, another town on the Pacific coast, some 30 kilometres past Puerto テ]gel.

So again, why Puerto テ]gel? Nobody goes there!

Well, that was exactly why.

Puerto テ]gel
Before embarking on this trip I had the idea to celebrate New Year's either in a big lively city with huge parties, or in the smallest bourgeois coastal village we could find. Well, we certainly succeeded in the latter! I had wanted a local New Year's party, not a place packed with tourists where you have to search hard to find a local Mexican.
Puerto Escondido is dubbed the Benidorm of Oaxaca. I don't like Benidorm, so the choice was quickly made not to go there. Zipolite? That town seems to be firmly on the 'stoner trail'. Could be fun of course, were it not for the huge numbers of hippy-like people this town attracts (mostly French, by the way). So nope, not us. We went for bourgeois, for local, for provincial, for peasantry, basically for anything but gringo. We have Cancテコn later on our itinerary anyway, so plenty of gringo still ahead.

Oh, and besides, Puerto Escondido and Zipolite lie west of Pochutla, and we were travelling east towards Guatemala, so that was another good reason to go to Puerto テ]gel instead.

Puerto テ]gel

So we took a taxi to the small town Puerto テ]gel, which turned out everything I had wanted it to be. Situated in a secluded bay, a wonderful light yellow beach, crystal clear blue waters, and only a handful hotels, most of them housing Mexican tourists rather than gringos.

As we arrived at 9 in the morning we couldn't check into our hotel yet, so we took the opportunity to investigate the town a little bit.

We had to get used to the heat. After three weeks of temperatures between 18 and 25 degrees the mercury had gone up to 35 here, which, coupled with the absence of wind and high humidity, took some getting used to.

On the other hand, this really felt like a holiday!

With Puerto テ]gel being largely ignored by the gringo crowds you can expect people to react a bit differently to foreigners than elsewhere.

Drinking piテアa coladas on the beach - did anyone say 'holiday'?
Do not attempt to go here if you don't speak any Spanish!

Not sure of it is because the people are not that used to foreigners, or if they simply don't mesh completely due to the combination of a permanent heat stroke and years of inbreeding, but in our two days in Puerto テ]gel we didn't meet a single local we would classify as 'normal'.

It started with the taxi driver, who just stared at us wide-eyed, occasionally nodding to whatever we said. I know this kind of reaction from Asia, but never experienced it in Latin America before!

In the hotel as well. We had booked a room the night before, but when we arrived we didn't really feel as if the staff had any idea what we were talking about. In the end we figured we just best give up trying to explain we had phoned them up two days before, and asked if they had any rooms available for tonight instead.

holidays in Puerto テ]gel
Fortunately they had a couple of rooms left, so no harm done. We also asked them if it would be possible to hold a room for Michael and Christine, the German couple we had met yesterday, as they would not arrive until mid-afternoon. We left them a note asking to meet up for dinner at night.

Well, when we got back to the hotel in the afternoon and asked whether our German friends had arrived we were told they hadn't showed up and that we had to pay for the room. Well, uhm, that was not our intention. We simply asked to keep one room for them available until the afternoon and give them our note when they arrived. We would definitely not guarantee payment for a room for people we barely knew (and were not even 100% sure if they would even make it to Puerto テ]gel).

During our discussion it occurred to me that the perhaps they had checked in and the receptionist simply had missed the fact that we had left a note for them.

New Year's Eve dinner
So we asked if he could confirm whether or not any Germans had checked in today.

Nope, no Germans in this hotel.

Really? Are you sure?

Well, apart from the couple in room 14...

Right, I asked him to have a look at the guestbook, and indeed, there it said, Michael and Christine - duh!
His excuse: 窶徂ey, I didn't know these people when you gave me the note this morning. And you made a reservation for room 20, and these people checked into room 14窶
You can't beat small-town logic!

We wrote a new note for them, this time sticking it to the door of their room, with the directions where were planning to have dinner.

We spent most the afternoon trying to phone home, where, due to the time difference, it was already 2003.

after-dinner pre-party on the beach
With some difficulty we managed to get through and wish everyone a happy new year.

The rest of the day was spent as it should be in a small town on the pacific coast: sipping cocktails on the beach!

We had found a great restaurant for dinner, perched on a cliff, overlooking the entire bay. Very nice. We had been there for about 30 minutes when we saw Christine walking into the restaurant. She had found the note we had left on their door. She told us they had asked the receptionist about us when they checked in, but he had assured them there no Dutch people in the hotel. What weird people in this place...

They had met another German girl in the bus, who joined us for dinner as well, and the five of us had a great New Year's Eve dinner.

time to open the champagne

Too bad it wasn't the right season to have lobster, but the barbecued fish, prawns and octopus we had instead was also very delicious.

All night long we had seen fireworks going up in the air, including quite a few professional looking ones. That looked very promising for midnight. I had read that Mexicans love fireworks almost as much as the Dutch, so I expected at least some form of professional fireworks display.

We had bought a bottle of champagne when we were in Oaxaca, which we had put it in the refrigirator in the hotel, so that we could open it at midnight. However, once we were on the beach with midnight approaching, we had a problem with the time. When was it exactly going to be midnight? All five of us had a different time on our watch.

some fireworks (but not a lot)
I figured my time was pretty accurate. I had missed a connecting bus in Aguas Calientes last week because the Mexican time was two minutes ahead of the time on my watch. However, later I found out that each bus station has its own time, so you can't really depend on that either.

In the end we just started counting down, but another group sitting at a table next to us immediately shouted to us that we were too early.

The fireworks I had been hoping for didn't really happen either, so that couldn't be used as a pointer either. There were some fireworks, but on my watch it was already 10 past 12 when this started! Anyway, we decided it was midnight for us, so we opened the champagne and wished eachother a happy new year. Quite strange, standing on a beach at the other side of the world.

Midnight (whenever that may have been) was also the time that a party started on a pier in the harbour.

All day long I had heard stories of locals talking about previous years when there was this huge party with the whole village (some 2500 people) attending. However, by the time we arrived at the harbour, 1 o'clock according to our watches, there wasn't an awful lot happening.

The music had started at midnight, but everybody stayed at the quay, watching and waiting. At first I thought this was because of the entrance fee that had to be paid when entering the pier, but it turned out the people were just waiting until it got busier! And so it happened that it wasn't until 2 o'clock that people started showing up at all, and until then people just stayed at the quay waiting. Funny people in this town..

But the party was great fun. I had expected it to be somewhat more extravagant, but of all countries in Latin America I think Mexico is one of the most conservative - especially here in central Mexico.

at the party, where some local hunk tried to hit on my sister
Soon though, as alcohol flowed richly, most of the local men became somewhat less conservative, and I think I married off my sister about six times that night.

Most of the night the DJ played Mexican salsa music, alternated with Mexican crooners. We didn't know a single tune that was played, but we didn't really mind. Robbel said to me 窶彿t would be nice if they'd play at least *one* song that I know...窶 and right at that moment the DJ started 'The Ketchup Song' (which had been a big hit in Europe that summer). And while I am slightly ashamed to admit it now, I knew how to do that dance. So Robbel and I and an English girl we had just met, together with two Mexican guys from Mexico City, we were dancing that silly dance to that horrible song, while all the locals looked at us as if we were completely crazy - splendid!

It was around 5 o'clock when we rolled into our beds. Slightly tipsy from all the wine, beer, champagne and margaritas we had been drinking (not to mention the four piテアa coladas I downed at the beach in the afternoon).

Then suddenly we became vaguely aware that we had booked a tour for tomorrow morning. In the afternoon we had figured it would be fun to go swimming and snorkelling in an area where there are a lot of sea turtles. After all, we would only be here for two days, so we had to make the most of it.

But as we rolled into our beds Robbel told me: 窶徘lease remind me how much I like sea turtles, because I doubt I'll remember that in the morning窶

sylviandavid says:
Fun blog.... sounds like new years actual time was "vague" at best but you did well.... Sylvia
Posted on: Feb 20, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Puerto テ]gel
Puerto テ]gel
Puerto テ]gel
Puerto テ]gel
Puerto テ]gel
Puerto テ]gel
Drinking piテアa coladas on the beac…
Drinking piテアa coladas on the bea…
holidays in Puerto テ]gel
holidays in Puerto テ]gel
New Years Eve dinner
New Year's Eve dinner
after-dinner pre-party on the beach
after-dinner pre-party on the beach
time to open the champagne
time to open the champagne
some fireworks (but not a lot)
some fireworks (but not a lot)
at the party, where some local hun…
at the party, where some local hu…
Puerto Angel
photo by: Biedjee