The long yet short road to Puerto Angel

26Feb10

At last posting we were headed out into the town of Tehuantepec to catch festivities going on outside our door.  We happened upon college students all dressed in tradition garments and they were gathered around the entrance of their school.  We realized they were watching fireworks going off on a homemade contraption that one man was running around with above him.  He was rushing at the students and the fireworks were going off rather dangerously close to everyone.  We thought we were far enough away from the action until a small crowd suddenly stampeded towards us.  While that was happening a student hurriedly gave us both religious pamphlets, the school was evangelical Christian.  We retreated to the steps of a building and watched the remaining fireworks and the screams of the students.

Fireworks captivate the masses

Saturday morning February 20th we packed up from our hotel room and headed south towards Salina Cruz, a busy port town on the Gulf of Tehuantepec.  We planned to cruise through it and continue on the highway west towards Puerto Angel appoximately 150 kms away.  Leaving Salina Cruz we began to descend out of the mountains and the terrain became drier and drier. The pavement ahead looked wavy and we were now in temperatures in the 90s with no sign of relief.

Ships in the Gulf of Tehuantepec

It's getting hot

Nice view through the haze

The Pacific

As we continued the shoulder evaporated from the road and we just kept climbing up through tight twisting terrain.  At times we could see the gulf, but it looked far away and hazy.  We found ourselves overheating and taking frequent breaks in what little shade we could find perched in the ditch.  Hot water wasn’t that great for cooling off and we started looking at the map in the hopes of finding a cool beverage down the road.

We ended up pushing our bikes up a particularly steep area as we just kept getting overheated and woozy when trying to pedal up.  A nice black pickup truck suddenly pulled off the road in front of us and offered us a ride.  We looked at each other and just accepted the defeat of the road.  We put our bikes in the truck and we sat in the back with them.

Manuel ended up being the fastest driver on the route to Puerto Angel.  He passed buses and trucks and anything else that was in the way.  It was exhilerating, overwhelming, and at time nauseating to watch the world fly away in front of us.  Each time a half hour went by we figured that was another day we wouldn’t be pedaling on this route.  There were hardly any services between where we had started that day and where we eventually planned on ending up 150 kms down the road. This was the first ride we’ve accepted in Mexico and it just felt insane to be moving so fast.

View from the back of the truck....wheeeeeee!

We went through a military checkpoint and for the first time we were searched.  We looked rather suspicious being in the back of this new pickup truck.  Once the soldiers understood that we got a ride we were motioned onward.

Two hours of flying along Highway 200 Manuel and his girlfriend dropped us at the top of the road leading down to Puerto Angel.  Oddly enough my tire went flat in the pickup truck so we were thankful not to deal with that in the middday sun on a road with no shoulder.  Bryan fixed my flat, two times actually due to the patch blowing out.  Dazed and amazed we got on our bikes after a brief meeting with our guide book and went towards Puerto Angel, 10 kms away.

We arrived in Puerto Angel around 5pm and checked into a nice hotel situated on a hilltop.  It was a climb and descent down into Puerto Angel, the coast here is so mountainous but it keeps it a low key destination.  It takes work to get out here so it’s not overrun with tourists.  We ate tacos for dinner and sat on the pier and checked out all the fishing boats parked on the beach.  Puerto Angel is a cove that remains calm and is a busy fishing port with 80% of the men who live in town being fisherman.

Puerto Angel

Fish are everywhere in the morning in Puerto Angel

For 200 pesos I'll take you for a ride....your husband can come too :)

Puerto Angel became our home base for the next day and night so we could take our bikes unloaded and continue down the road to check out the other small beach towns: Zipolite, San Augustinillo, and Mazunte.  In our research about these towns they each seemed to have a slightly different vibe and we wanted to get a feel for them all.  In order to get to each town we had to go over a headland, each town is situated on the beach with giant hills and rocks on each side.  It was work getting to visit all the towns!  It felt great to not have the panniers on.

We spent the hot part of the afternoon swimming at the beach in San Agustinillo.  It was spectacular, the town is situated on a half moon beach with turquoise waters and big waves.  We reacquainted ourselves with body-surfing and staying afloat in the ocean.

The beach at San Augustinillo

We decided on a hotel in Zipolite because of the price and vibe.  We could get a cabana, basically a small wooden room for 100 pesos a day-about 8 dollars.  It was the same price to camp so we like having a place to store our bikes and gear rather than just having the tent and a locker.  Also we get a table, fan, light, and double bed.

We returned to Puerto Angel for one last night and ate more tacos and finished the evening with a Popsicle and horchata, a sweet rice drink.

We’re going to leave the details of where we’re staying in Zipolite for the next post.  We’ve decided to stay here for a while, almost until the end of March.  The living is easy, cheap, and we can’t get enough of the beach.  We’re going to get boogie boards and ride those for a while.

We’ll leave you with the first sunset outside our hotel in Zipolite on Monday night.  It blew us and just about everyone else on the beach away and we took it as a sign that we’re in the right place.

Unbelievable colors play on the water

Hasta luego amigos!
Debi and Bryan

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4 Responses to “The long yet short road to Puerto Angel”

  1. Oooh,
    That water looks pretty awesome.!

  2. 2 Kate Cross

    You are totally in the right place at the right time. Enjoy! I am certainly enjoying your blogs.

  3. 3 Tre

    Sounds like you’ve found a niche in the mountains to soak up the sun for a while! Enjoy those rolling waves and rocky hills :D

  4. 4 Risa

    Primaaa!!! Os extrano!!!!! donde estan las noticias?? Jiji… espero que todo este bien por la playa! Besitos.


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