Abajo de la Costa (Part 1)
So, looking at the calendar it’s the end of the eighth month, more than half the year gone? Woah.
Everything since leaving Milwaukee has been insignificant but perfectly good, the days blurred together with a recipe of red dust and sweat. I’ve been keeping a journal again. I scribbled the forecast for the coming days in the same notebook, packed a backpack and two boards, walked up to the highway and hopped a bus down the coast for some different waves and fresh perspective. You’re not renting a car in Mexico, you either have one or you don’t. Things had grown stale at home in Puerto, just a little chewy around the edges; I’d visited my favourite haunts, fallen in and out of love with Zicatela half a dozen times, given the garden its bi-annual haircut, painted this, fixed that. Adios, for now.
As I left it neared midday, I knew I risked an afternoon soaking between buses, colectivos and finding a place to stay. It’s been a dry August, the only real storm was the day I arrived, a purple-black patch of sky that ushered me down Calle Conejos and into another month-long stay.
A window seat is a must along the Carretera Costera, the further south you go the greener it becomes, lots of big green things. And windy, the roads are windy. The lower coast of Oaxaca is a fertile part of a fertile state. Fertility. That’s the way it goes, everybody’s buying little baby clothes. First stop Huatulco if you don’t count the piss break in Pochutla.
Arrived in the late afternoon, feeling like the new kid, clouds squirming but managing to hold their bladder. Went through the usual ‘hey, do you have a room?’ routine. No Airbnb here. Pepe’s was full but I didn’t mind, found a cabañita attached to a family house, perfect for a few days, a week or however long the waves hang around.
Ten years since my first visit, back when it was actually a lip-sealed secret. I knew Pepe before he was Pepe’s Cabanas, knew Joe when he had a ponytail and a chihuahua I couldn’t stand, stayed in a hammock at Carlos’ house before he turned it into the best (and only) pizza place in town. Change is change and this place is no exception. Although this sleepy pueblo is in capable hands; an extranjero wanted to build a hotel earlier this year so they closed the place to tourists, including surfers, for nearly three weeks. They thought about it and politely refused.
Dumped my belongings, screwed some fins into a board and walked the dirt road to find some stormy but fun waves. Sometimes it’s revitalising to feel a strong wind on your face. Invested a couple of hours and then retraced the same steps home. Stomach reminds me it’s late. Rinsed and then out the door of my little hotbox, shirt in hand, money and Steinbeck’s “The Moon is Down” in the back pocket. Pizza! Peñafiel!