Puerto Escondido: 1982
I first arrived in Puerto in 1982 and it was a revelation. I remember the Adoquín as a dirt street from a Hollywood western sprinkled with rocks that ranged in size from pebbles to axle-breaking boulders. It was lazy by day, but loud and exuberant by the time midnight rolled around. We found ourselves at the Rincón del Pacífico with a view to the bay and what seemed to be a full band blasting music into our room from the disco across the street. For self-preservation we’d join the party since sleeping was out of the question.
There was a dynamite restaurant a bit up the street that served the best pasta con camarones in the world bar none. Owned by a sophisticated and gorgeous, constantly squabbling couple from Mexico City. Sitting in the restaurant I watched as the husband rode his horse down the street into the restaurant and used the tables as riders use barrels in rodeo races. Luckily the horse was sober because the rider had more than his quota of mescal for the day.
I remember hanging out at one of the three or four very funky palapas at Puerto Angelito. No permanent buildings yet but great fish to eat, fine snorkeling along the rocks, and always a domino game to break up the routine of reading, dozing, sipping beer, and swimming.
Next door to us, at the Hotel Las Palmas, there was a sunset cocktail hour that attracted the snowbirds, ex pats, and local folks dropping in for the reasonably priced beers, mescal, mixed drinks, friendly bilingual conversation, and dazzling personality of the barkeep. Stories were told and many were tall tales, indeed, about the really good old days. We’d look to the southeast, to the rocks in front of the Hotel Santa Fe but there was no Santa Fe, of course, and speculate on the possibility of development out that way. It made for a lively discussion with opinions from, “no way” to “for sure”. El Morro, the road paralleling Zicatela was a dirt track with very few businesses. It was surfer land.
Several months later we returned and set up shop in the Hotel Las Palmas, next door to the Rincón del Pacífico. One morning we were awakened by voices followed by the crack of a small fire cracker, and then the sound of a water balloon hitting the ground after dropping 25 feet. We looked out our window. Below us was the restaurant. It is surrounded by coconut palms. Pigeons live in the palms their droppings often landing on or near the customers, or even worse in their food. Hence, the voice of the owner, “there’s one”. Next, the report of the BB gun, then the plop as the dead pigeon hits the ground. Mystery solved.
On Playa Marinero I remember being entertained by a family of pigs that lived around and under a structure very close to where the Liza’s deck exists. Like all families with kids the porklets were constantly engaged in mock battle, happy as hogs in slop. Not far down the beach in front of the old Villas Marinero an outline of a boat was drawn in the sand and as you walked by you were sometimes invited to climb into this imaginary boat and help the crew power it with your imaginary oar on an imaginary ocean.
The airport had been moved from what is now the strip in Rinconada to its present location. It was a very informal palapa structure, comfortable and well suited for the few passengers embarking and debarking from the WWII era DC3’s that flew in from Oaxaca.
Still, what I remember most about my first arrival in Puerto, my epiphany if you will, was the revelation that I had been sent back to a time and place and culture where enjoying the moment is the prime directive.
Tom Flusty is a poet who divides his time between Puerto Escondido and California’s San Juan Ridge.