Giving up pine trees for coconuts, I descended from the Sierre Madre to the small Pacific Coast town of Puerto Angel. I’m staying at the Posada Brisa Marina, a sixty unit four story hotel right on the beach. Ten rooms are ocean side so I paid the small premium for a room on the top floor with balcony, complete with my own hammock. There’s no hot water or towels provided, but you don’t need either. The atmosphere is thick and hot – a cool shower feels great after a day on the beach. And no need for a towel. Stand on the balcony in the sea breeze for five or ten minutes and you’re dry. The owner, Daniel, is a great guy originally from Chicago who’s been here 17 years. Upon arrival, he immediately welcomed me and we sat and chatted for about 20 minutes. He really makes you feel comfortable and at ease after a long day of travel. During our talk, I was facing the beach and became somewhat distracted. Are those breasts I see? Yes sir! Turns out Puerto Angel is one of only a few beaches in Mexico where nude sunbathing is allowed. Oh, the cost of my room: $18.90 a night.
Puerto Angel itself is a sliver of a village set between bigger resort areas. It’s certainly not a Cancun, Mazatlan or Cabo San Lucas, but there is progressive growth brought about from the slow but steady stream of tourists. Once a retreat for surfers and backpackers, the area remains laid-back but you may want to get here within the next 5 or 10 years before all semblance of a sleepy Mexican coastal hideout vanishes.
I love it here. After nearly three weeks on the road, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind for a few days. I paid day by day, keeping my plans open. But I found it easier and easier to pay for an additional night each morning. My second day here, I made the point of doing absolutely nothing. I grabbed a Styrofoam cooler from a storage room, loaded it with beer and ice then laid out in a hammock watching the exposed skin stroll past. Not too shabby!
Monday I walked to the end of the street where the colectivos run. Lacking a public bus system, the colectivos are owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. They’re basically a pick-up truck with two bench seats spanning the length of the bed. A tubular steel framework, wrapped in a tight fitting plastic tarp protects passengers from the sun and rain. You just flag one down like you would a cab, step up on the bumper and throw your leg over the tailgate. Ride as far as you wish and pay the fare of 75 cents.
After about five miles I arrived at La Ventanilla, a family run cooperative that offers tours into the coastal mangroves. I paid $7.58 and joined a couple from Calgary for a two hour tour. Our guide paddled a fiberglass boat several hundred yards into the grove where we see a number of birds along with crocodiles and iguanas. We then stopped at a small island within the grove and saw some animals being rehabilitated before being released back into the wild.
Well, after three days I think it’s time to continue my trek. This place is addictive and I need to break free. It’s easy to get acclimated. In the highlands, there aren’t any tourists and virtually no one speaks English. That’s OK but my Spanish is so limited, it’s really difficult to connect with anyone and have a decent conversation. This can lead to a little bit of loneliness. Here, I met a bunch of terrific fellow travellers: a couple from Washington D.C.; a musician / caregiver from Vancouver; a Polish woman bicycling across the Americas. I can only hope I find some place as nice as I move to the Caribbean and Gulf.