Old Shamans and Mist in San José del Pacífico

A small magical town, halfway between the city of Oaxaca and the Pacific Ocean.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The idea of our whole trip was started by conversing with our landlord one morning about the mystical thrills of San José del Pacífico, and the extravagant views that stretch from on one side of Oaxaca to the Pacific Ocean. Within a week of our talk, our landlord Luis said that he had business in Oaxaca city the next day, and was traveling through the mountains, passing right through the town. He kindly offered us a free ride, so we packed that night, anxiously waiting to hear and see more of the small mystical town.

Just a quick back story- San José del Pacífico has a historic approach to aid healing / enlightening their people, by providing natural wild "magical" mushrooms that grow throughout the vertical landscapes. Their 150 year history consists of using these medicines in purifying ceremonies called “Velada”, which is why the state of Oaxaca acknowledges / allows this ancient practice to exist. The grow process for the mushrooms is only possible, because of the transformation of the weather; from the coast to the mountain range, it's amazingly significant. At an altitude of over 8,500 feet, the town also has amazing weather patterns, which ad to it's mystic. The extremely hot and humid conditions of the coast, change to cold and wet temperatures in the mountains; this gives the area thick fog, powerful storms, and wild spontaneous lightning & thunder.

The morning came quick, and after about three and half hours of going almost straight up hill, we were dropped off on the main road in the town, and were ready for excitement. We started in a little cafe with no internet, minimal Spanish, and reservations at a cabin with no directions provided. We slowly spoke to more of the locals with broken Spanish, and were told the cabinas that we were looking for were on the opposite side of town, which wasn't a very far walk at all.

We soon found our way through the the town, which was covered with magical art, mushroom souvenirs, and thick fog. There was also a group, of what seemed like stray dogs, that followed us along the way. It was hard to shake them, but they somehow made the trek seem a lot less lonely.

Eventually we made it to our quaint little log cabin, which rested on hilltop with an amazing scenic view of the town's mountain range. The cabin came with plenty of wood for the fireplace, a nice patio to relax and be tranquil, and nobody around except the organic sounds of nature. The dogs, who we had tried to get rid of for fear of being kicked out of the hotel, had found there way to our cabin once we were settled in; we welcomed them with food, a bed, some warm fire, and love. After a while, we became extremely attached to our new friends, and claimed them as our family for the night.

The experience of being there was powerful: breathing in the fresh cool air, looking out into the mountains that scaled down to the coast, being one with our animal friends, and listening to the sounds of the weather that echoed through the canyon. At times it was almost unbearable, because the history seemed to be so deeply rooted, that we felt almost out of place. It was quit a transformational trip for the wifey and I, to say the least. I wish I could go over absolutely EVERYTHING on this trip, but...I would have to turn it into a book or series ;)

I recommend this amazing opportunity for anyone to visit San José del Pacífico. If you are anywhere around the state of Oaxaca, the transportation would be very easy and inexpensive to get to the top of the clouds. Whether your looking for a deep ceremonial experience or just looking to have a fun weekend in nature, everyone will come out of San José del Pacífico with a deep respect and understanding for yourself and nature...

Good Luck Mi Amigos! Adios

Day 43 - Hippie Town Mazunte

A day to unwind, catch up, and do nothing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

After Nick and I decided that we wanted to stay in Puerto, we realized that our lease would not start for 3 days. We had no hotels booked, and no where to stay, so we thought it would be fun to check out the southern beach towns of Oaxaca. Besides, we needed some celebration time for finding such a sweet place to land, after such a long trip. Since we were totally stoked on our first AirBnB experience with Angie, I decided to book a room in each town along the way down the coast.

Our first stop was going to be Mazunte; a place recommended to us by the locals, because it was supposed to be super mellow and beautiful. We decided to take minimal stuff this time, only taking our backpacks, as this trip would require a lot of walking. We were also warned that we'd have to take some collectivos as transportation, which were essentially pickup trucks with a canvas cover over the bed; not the best thing to be lugging around heavy bags in. Angie said that it was cool if we left our stuff at her place, so it worked out perfectly. Our biggest mistake was trying to figure out how much money to bring; since I had already paid for the rooms, we only brought a little bit of cash and our card. Later, this would turn out to be a huge miscalculation, and a big pain in the ass!

We set out on foot, early in the morning, walking down the streets of Puerto, trying to find the collectivo pickup spot. We had never been on one, nor did we know where they were. Eventually we heard a guy on a corner shouting "Mazunte", and a couple of other cities. We noticed that he was directing people towards a small bus, and we decided that this was way better than riding in the back of a truck. So, we paid him $3 each, got on, and hoped we'd find our way there.

Since we had been lost trying to find our way before, we were super careful of not letting that happen again; I took pictures on the iPad of the addresses from AirBnB, the step by step directions, the overview of the route, etc...etc. It was because of this, that I knew the bus was not going to us drop off, all the way into Mazunte; it had been traveling along the hwy, and the the road to the town split off toward the coast. I had no idea where to get off, or what we were going to do when we got there. Luckily, the bus driver stopped at our appropriate destination, and told us that we needed to get off.

We were dropped off in the middle of an empty highway, with only a few little small shacks, and an Oxxo convenient store. Nick asked around for rides from taxis, and they all shunned us off; none of them were heading in our direction. The only option left was go on foot, so we grabbed some hydration and started walking.

It didn't take long before we heard a honk, coming from behind us; to our surprise, it was the long awaited collectivo we'd heard so much about. We were totally stoked to be saved from the heat, and jumped in the back without question. It was, quite honestly, the funniest thing we'd been in so far. However, from that moment on, we started our long lasting relationship with the collectivos.

Nick and I finally arrived at Mazunte, and were greeted by dreaded hippies, and European expats walking along the roads. It seemed simple, quaint, and very safe; Nick joked that the town seemed like it was meant for beading and braiding hair. We were eagerly pointed in the way of our hostel, by a French girl selling bread in the street, as she told us to walk down to the beach, and turn right. It seemed simple enough, but when we arrived to the sand, there were no roads at all. We started walking along the beach, and eventually found our hostel, which was located right on the beach.

The hostel was very simple, and had an amazing view, as it was only steps away from the water. For most of the day, we played in the calm ocean cove, and Nick tried to teach me how to body surf; it was a concept that I could not grasp for the life of me. We also swam our butts off, and shared a small piece of snorkel gear to see some fish below. It seemed as though, the only thing to do there, was to hang out in the ocean or lay in a hammock. It was pretty romantic, simplicity at its best.

I guess that's why we Nick and I started talking about our future while we were there. Mazunte gave us a chance to clear our minds, and focus on each-other for a day. We went over the possibilities of when we'd have kids, what parents we'd be like, and what challenges we would face. Some of it brought up some uncomfortable issues for me, as I am a lot more scared of having children than Nick is; my childhood was not so stable, so it's hard for me to know how to correctly raise a human being. I voiced all of my phobias to him though, and he was very positive with had a great understanding to where I was coming from. I think that we came to some really great conclusions that day, because we both decided when we'd want to start our long awaited family.

Day 38 - Soaking Up the Culture in Oaxaca

When everything started making sense.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

On the morning of our flight to Mexico, we were groggy but totally stoked. The connecting flights on the way there were pretty awesome actually, as Nick and I celebrated with complementary Tequila drinks. We took a new airline this time, Interjet, and it was our favorite by far. It was time to get back into the Mexican lifestyle.

When we arrived in Mexico City to connect to our second flight, we were subjected to more Mexico customs. This time, all of our shit was searched through, and most of our food got confiscated. Nick also got written up for having hard boiled eggs in his suitcase, and we learned that they were the most dangerous things you could bring into the country. Who would've thought? But we both had a good buzz going at this point, so we were totally cool with whatever they threw at us.

The best part about arriving back into Mex, was the food. It was everywhere, and it was freaking cheap!! We were so excited to finally eat meals again, and celebrated every part of it. We couldn't get over the fact that a huge salad only costed $3. This alone, made us certain that we had made the right decision on where to go. It's amazing how much our mood changed, once we were nourished properly.

After arriving in Oaxaca, it quickly became our favorite "city", by far; It was such a beautiful area, and the people were very friendly. As you walked down the streets, no one tried to sell you anything, like they did in the tourist areas. The people were humble, and kept to themselves. The parks were filled with families, and the streets were very clean. It kind of felt like a place stolen from Europe, as all of the buildings were unique and classic looking. Nick and I roamed the streets for a while, and soaked up the culture. We gorged ourselves on more food, and kept getting excited over the thought of it all. It made me feel at peace just being there, and I had this gut intuition that this region was what we were looking for.

We also FINALLY bought me new luggage at a place called Coppel, because my "dead body" bag was not cutting it anymore. I couldn't even stand the thought of schlepping that thing around for another second. The new one that I bought for $40 was totally sweet, and I think it made Nick a little jealous. But still, it was time to prepare for our next journey, as we would have no car again, and would have to rely on taxis/buses. Mobility is crucial at this stage of traveling; I had learned this from earlier our journey in Mexico.

That night at our hotel, I presented Nick with some options on how to get to the coast from Oaxaca. The main issue, was that the beach was not easy to get to; there is a huge mountain range that blocks the pathway there. The cheapest and fastest method, was to take a $6 van, and trudge through the center of it. The only downside, was that it would take 6 hours to get across, and they warned that people always get car sick. Supposedly the drivers went fast, and never stopped along the way, but we were willing to try it out anyways; we were tough.

After our convo about the next day, and when Nick had passed out, I sat in bed thinking about how happy I was to be there. It was the first place that I had felt that in a long time. I couldn't really sleep that night, because the excitement was just to unbearable. This was uncharted territory for both of us, as neither had ever been to this part of the country before (Well, actually that's not true. I had been to Huatulco when I was about 12, but Club Med doesn't really count, because you never leave the premises). Despite our lack of familiarity, I felt safe and at ease for some reason. "We are in good hands", I thought to myself; something about heading to Puerto Escondido felt right. Occasionally I would look over at Nick, while he was sleeping, and I thought about how far we'd come together, and how close we had become. It was a nice feeling to have, and it allowed me to relax a bit.

Day 39 to 42 - Puerto Escondido Here We Come

The start of our anticipated trip to Puerto Escondido!

Friday, April 8, 2016

We woke up early on our long anticipated traveling day, to find out that we had a free breakfast waiting for us at our hotel. From there, we started walking 6 blocks down the street; C-Boo had a huge smile on here face, as she was finally rolling, and not dragging, her new luggage bag. We strolled up to an almost empty small van leaving, asking if we were headed for "Puerto Escondido". I gave the driver a thumbs up, threw our luggage in the back, and set off to what we hoped would be a great place to stay; at least longer than a week or two. The van ride was extremely long, but was filled with exciting new terrain throughout the entire trip. We clocked the ride at 6 1/2 hours, as the driver took a little bit longer than expected due to multiple stops; we were much happier anyways, because of the bathroom breaks, lunch, and the occasional candy for C-Boo/ cold beers for me : )... Once we arrived in Puerto, we paid the driver $12, jumped into a taxi for $1, and arrived at our Air BnB spote (Casa Marymas).

We were happily greeted by our soon-to-be friend, Angie; a nice, down to earth, Italian mom in her 30's. She was very kind/hospitable, and as happy as ever to help us out. She gave us a tour of her lovely home, and showed us our room (which had a/c and a nice deck with a view of the coastline). We spent the whole afternoon talking about the town, her lifestyle in Puerto Escondido, and tips/tricks on getting by there. W also learned that Angie was a surfer, a Spanish teacher, and a property manager for homes around the area. We were so thankful for her time and energy, and her willingness to help us out. We had already learned a considerable amount on our first day in Puerto Escondido.

During our 4 day stay at Angie's place, we really wanted to take full advantage of the area; we yearned to see the culture, beach life, and cost of living around the area. Our second day in Puerto was filled with many adventures/highlights; we decided that we wanted to take a walk across the whole town, and stop at selective stops along the way. La Punta, which was on the very southern tip of Puerto Escondido, would be our destination. It was about a 6 mile adventure through streets, beaches, and a fishing harbor.

We started our walk down to a cove called Playa Carrizalillo; this beach was beautiful all in itself. It was lined with beach cabanas, and was great for snorkeling. C-Boo loved it, because it was a great place to swim around and relax. It was very reminiscent of what we would assume Thailand would be like.

We had seen enough of Carrizalillo, so C-Boo and I jetted up the 200 sets of stairs that led back into the town, and walked to another inlet called Puerto Angelito. This cove was a little easier to access, and had many locals playing in the calm water. We took a couple pictures, and realized that it wasn't worth stopping at for long, so we kept going towards the next cove. After much walking, we soon found a cove called Manzanillo, which contained a stone walkway that connected to the next beach; Angie had spoken about this the day before, so we knew we were going the right direction.

After walking across the long stone path, we eventually hit the main section of Puerto Escondido. Zicatela (or people of the clouds), which is also referred to as "The Mexican Pipeline", is known for its huge powerful swells and perfect sandbars. As we walked the downtown strip, there were little to no tourists nearby (well, maybe there were a couple of Canadians). we did notice that there were many restaurants, surf shops, and souvenir stores along the way.

We stopped at a local restaurant nearby and decided to relax; we had lunch paired with a Margarita and a Screwdriver, while watching the small amount of people pass by. We were tired, but knew we were only half way to La Punta, so we filled our waters up and took off; this time walking on the beach the whole way there.

Eventually we arrived to the small hippie community, that reminded me of some of the towns in Costa Rica. The beach is also known for its left hand point break, and has many beginners spread along the rocky point. Becoming hot and tired, we took a taxi back to Angie's; when we arrived, she was just about to leave, and pick her daughter. She told us to jump in, so she could show us some of the houses for rent on the market.

Angie drove us to the central coast region of Puerto Escondido, and said she had an offer we couldn't resist. She introduced us to Casa Mocha, a nice collection of condominiums located just minutes from the beach. They had a pool, restaurant, and a bar; all of them were ran by an awesome guy named Luis. He had tenants split on 3 months of paid rent, in a room called "Las Estrellas" (the stars); it was half the price each month, because of the situation.

After our introduction to the room, the response was a "hell yeah!" It was four stories up, overlooked the whole coast, and was topped with a palapa for observing the sunset. Breakfast, cleaning, laundry, and a/c were added bonuses; C-Boo and I were totally stunned at our luck in finding this place. We were also ecstatic of the availability, appreciative of Angie/Luis, and happy to find a place for longer than a week. That night, Me and C-Boo talked it over in more detail: rent, location, prices, and safety. We came to the conclusion that we were happy to find a place to be landlocked for a while, and finally settle down.

The lease was going to start the following week (on April 15th), so we had quite a few days to blow before our big anticipated move. We traveled around more of the town for a couple of days; partying with Angie, checking out the scene, meeting mew people, working, and relaxing. It was an amazing time for both of us, as we got to know the area, and familiarized with the new town, in which we were about to live.

Our reservation at Angie's was coming to an end, so we decided to check out more of the Oaxaca region. We went back online to find new places to stay, and decided to travel by bus down to Huatulco; hitting small surfing towns along the way. Next on the plate, was Mazunte, Zipolite, and Puerto Angel.