We are alive and well in Puerto Escondido! Even though we had discovered this place in an article about great tropical places for digital nomads like us, this was the only country on our list that we had slight concerns about safety… Online, Mexico sounds like the most dangerous place on earth. We read conflicting stories with some people saying Mexico is all violence and crime and other people saying that the media reports are overblown, especially in certain parts of Mexico. Turns out that for us, the latter has been true.
It reminded us of our experience in Thailand: Right before we arrived, there was a military coup in Thailand which sounded really scary in the news reports. Everyone on the ground told us it’s totally fine and not to worry, and when we arrived ourselves, that was definitely the case. We never experienced any danger in our day to day lives.
Similarly, Puerto Escondido feels pretty safe on the ground (minus all the wild dogs and the risks of smoke inhalation from people burning their trash), which has been such a relief!
Overall, we’ve been really liking our time here. Unlike our experience in Thailand, we don’t feel like people in Mexico resent us for being white or not speaking the language. There are a lot of expats here, especially surfers, but it doesn’t feel like the foreigners have outworn their welcome yet, which is how we felt in Chiang Mai a lot of the time. It’s been great so far.
The food is amazing (obvs) and actually not very different than the Mexican food we’re used to in America. We were surprised in Thailand to find how different the food was than Americanized Thai food. We sometimes point out how we never had an outstanding meal in Thailand…nothing ever made us go, “Mmmmmm this is so delicious!” In Mexico, it’s the total opposite. So much of the food has made us drool. It’s been so so good.
We have a kitchen in our apartment, but have only used the stove once! It’s just easier (and tastier!) to eat out!
Playa Zicatela Beach
The location of our apartment is also pretty nice. We’re only about a 5 minute walk from Playa Zicatela, a super long stretch of beach that’s world famous among surfers, which means we walk down there nearly every day to eat and hang out.
We spend most of our days working on our computers at home but can’t really complain about the office space…
^^ The view from our balcony.
Dolphin Tour in Puerto Escondido
Our first activity here was a dolphin tour ($20USD per person). The tour started before sunrise so we got some pretty amazing views before leaving the harbor. Once we were out on the open water, we saw dozens of wild dolphins (white belly and spinner!) and also a few sea turtles way out from shore. It was so cool!!!
I only brought my telephoto lens along because I thought the animals would be way off in the distance, but they ended up swimming right along the boat! My lens was not nearly wide enough for me to get any good pictures of them so close. Bummer. BUT I also tried to put the camera down anyways and just soak it all in with, ya know, my eyeballs. So it wasn’t a total loss.
^^ I am SOOO SAD this one is blurry but I was focused on looking instead of shooting….Please don’t judge me.
Releasing Baby Turtles
A couple nights ago, we were having dinner on the beach when we noticed a million people crowded around near the shore. At first we thought they were just admiring the sunset (which was weird because all the sunsets are nice here and not particularly unique enough to merit a crowd), but then another tourist in the restaurant told us that it was a turtle release!
It’s not always possible for sea turtle eggs to survive long enough to hatch and then make it to the ocean, so to protect the species, animal organizations will collect the eggs and assist with their return to the ocean once they’re hatched. You can sometimes pay to have the honor of releasing baby turtles and it’s something I have aaaaalways wanted to do. So I walked down to the group of people and saw that some turtle sanctuary employees had buckets full of baby turtles and were helping to shepherd them toward the ocean!
Guys, it was to-die-for adorable. People were frantically taking photos and when the waves would come up to shore everyone would scream. It was kind of chaotic. This older Mexican woman next to me was screeeaming at people to be careful and not move when the waves came up on land in case you accidentally squished a turtle under your feet.
When the waves receded, all the little baby turtles got flipped over and turned around and were all spread out among the crowd. Their clumsy helplessness was so freaking adorable. I couldn’t handle it.
I didn’t get to hold one in my hands, but I did feel them swimming (or rather, being pushed around by the current) around my legs when the waves came in!
Three or four times a year, Laguna de Manialtepec (about 25 minutes drive outside Puerto Escondido) has this amazing phenomenon where the plankton literally glow when they’re moved and we happen to be here at a time when it’s happening. So three nights ago, we booked a tour with Lalo Eco-Tours and paid 300 pesos (about $18 USD) per person to swim for an hour in a GLOWING lagoon under a dark, moonless sky full of stars. It was literally the coolest thing I have ever done!
The water was amazingly warm and when you swam, the plankton lit up like little stars all over your skin (or as I told David: like Edward in Twilight). You couldn’t feel them, but you could see them everywhere around you. There were three other couples on the tour and all of us were laughing and experimenting: What happens if I swim really fast? Or really slow? Or blow bubbles? Or splash? Or open my eyes under water?
It was hard to decide whether you wanted to look up at the stars in the sky or down at the “stars” in the water, and at one point while we were floating on our backs a shooting star went by!
It’s difficult to capture the glow on camera because it’s super dark and when light shines, the glowing isn’t visible. Our tour guide said a bright moon makes it impossible to see the glow. So I took some long exposure shots of the blue phosphorescent trails left by David swimming and by our boat as it went through the water, and even though they’re blurry you’ll get an idea of what it looked like.
Honestly, I’d pay a $100 for this kind of experience and it was only 20 bucks. So worth it. I thought I would be scared to swim in dark water where I couldn’t touch the ground, but I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing the whole time. It was seriously magical.
^^ This is the trail of someone swimming back to the boat
^^ This is David spinning in circles as fast as he can for 30 seconds
^^ Left: David’s hand and another tourist’s hand dragging along the water. The red is from someone else’s camera and the white streaks are from our tour guide’s flashlight. Right: Our boat’s trail in the water.
^^ This is me dragging my hand alongside the boat as we drove back to the dock
^^ This is the trail of the boat in the water. Above the blue luminescence, you can see the gray sky, the black outline of the mangrove trees that surround the lagoon, and the lights of another passing boat.
Mexico is going to be a shorter trip for us than the rest of our monthly country destinations have been. We leave on November 23rd, which is so soon! We both have conflicting feelings about going back…for the last few months, I have been mostly looking forward to going back to America, but now that the day is almost actually here, I’m getting kind of nervous. One minute we’re making plans to keep traveling the world and the next I’m daydreaming about how I’ll decorate our kitchen. I can’t decide how to feel about it. I also see all this stupid stuff about America in the news, and just…ugh. It makes me want to stay on the road forever. I’m torn. So…who knows what the future holds for us. All I know is we have at least two good months of family time in America to look forward to and just a week and a half left abroad. Gotta soak it in while we can!