A Travellerspoint blog

May 2012

Bone-shaking roads and waterfalls

Las Cascadas Mágicas

Part 5 - Magical waterfalls

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It took 1 and a half hours of bone-shaking driving into the mountains to find the waterfalls but they were well worth the effort and damage to our bodies. It's not every day you get one of nature's spectacular spots all to yourself!

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We started off the day with a full-blown Mexican breakfast, knowing that there would be nowhere to eat along the way

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We soon found ourselves driving along a very dusty bumpy dirt road heading up to the mountains

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A small church we passed along the way

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This area was still very dry

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A typical house along the way

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Watched attentively by the locals - a dog and turkey!

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A small wayside stand by the road

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Driving deeper into the mountains.. here it was very green

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Crossing a stream

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Tree draped in lianas

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We finally arrive at the waterfalls. It took 1 hr 10 minutes to cover 30 kms of bone-shaking dirt mountainous road

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Beautiful lush rainforest all around

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The first waterfall we saw

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Th Bridal Veil waterfall

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Looked so refreshing

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Walking to the other waterfalls

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Green everywhere!

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Squeezing through the rock

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Huge tree trunks

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A waterfall all to ourselves!

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No captions needed for the following photos... this is paradise!

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Time to go back down... slow going, following the local "bus"

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A satellite dish in the middle of the forest!

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Breakfast on the beach at Santa Cruz - our last full day at the Bahias de Huatulco

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Delicious sincronizadas

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This can only be Mexico!

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Souvenirs in Crucecita

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Funny sign seen

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Fried ice-cream!!!!!

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Weaving looms where they make rugs and mats and fabrics

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Colour everywhere!

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Even the chairs!

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Mexican-style prawn cocktail - delicious!!

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Sunrise on our last day

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We ate breakfast on the empty beach at Playa de Chahue

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Huatulco Airport with its palm huts! The end of our holiday and back to Mexico City!

Posted by margaretm 06:11 Archived in Mexico Tagged waterfalls food beach mexico oaxaca Comments (0)

Bahias de Huatulco, Mexico

Part 4 - Beaches, surf and relaxation

The second part of the holiday was spent at the Bahias de Huatulco, a series of 9 bays along the Pacific Coast. When you hear the words Pacific Coast, you know that there are going to be waves! We discovered that not all the beaches are suitable for swimming!

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This was the hotel we stayed in, a little more "luxurious" than our ecological bungalow.

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Although Huatulco is more developed than Mazunte, it's still very quiet.

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A hotel at the Playa de Chahue

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The Playa de Chahue, beautiful sand... but no-one around!

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We soon discovered that it wasn't a place to swim as the currents were dangerous.

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So off we went a few minutes down the coast to Santa Cruz

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Boats in the port at Santa Cruz

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Ready to take people on excursions along the 9 bays of Huatulco

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Sign seen at Santa Cruz

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There were tables right along the beach where you could sit and order food and drink whenever you wanted

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Shady tables along the beachfront

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We arrived early and had the beach to ourselves!

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People started arriving later on

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My first coffee of the holiday... cafe de olla, Mexican-style

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It was a sheltered bay and safe to swim... no waves at all!

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Two seagulls eyeing us up

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The small port at Santa Cruz

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An "open-air" church on the beachfront... a roof and pews but no side walls... and incredible views.

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fun activities... the banana boat, a water-bicycle and other things

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The church at Crucecita, a small town inland

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Crucecita is a typical Mexican town, full of colour

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A local bus

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Enjoying a meal at Crucecita

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Ripe mangos on a tree

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Looking towards the church from the small kiosko in the town square

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La Iglesia de La Crucecita

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The inside was covered in paintings

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La Virgen de Guadalupe, painted right along the ceiling, is the largest painting of the Virgen in the world!

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View over the Bahias de Huatulco

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Blue-coloured building

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A small place called Bocana de Copalita

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The coast is rocky along here...

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...and popular with surfers

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Riding the waves

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Looks a bit dangerous by these rocks!

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No lifeguards on duty!

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The sand is blackish around here

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Locals playing football

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We visited a small locally-run iguana centre at Copalita where they breed iguanas and release them in the nearby National Park

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Marc holding a young green iguana

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Small green iguana

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Iguanas are still caught for their meat!

Huatulco still hasn't been discovered by international visitors...we saw very few foreign tourists. Most were from the centre of Mexico and Mexico City. I hope it doesn't turn into a Cancun type of destination!

Posted by margaretm 07:41 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach waves surfing iguanas oaxaca Comments (0)

Lagoons, mangroves and crocodiles

Ventanilla, Oaxaca

Part 3 - Lagoons and mangroves

Early morning at Mermejita Beach

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Dawn colours appearing over the hills

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Deserted beach

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The frothy white breakers

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Pattern on the sand

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A well-camouflaged crab, blending in with the colours of the sand

The next village down the road was Ventanilla, an interesting local indigenous community involved in ecological and conservation projects. A kind of low-key ecotourism run by the locals and very commendable.

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Sign indicating where to turn off to the village

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Houses near the beach

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Boat rides on the lagoon to see the mangroves and visit the Island of Um

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Hand-painted information board

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Making our way down Ventanilla Beach for 10 minutes till we arrived at the lagoon.

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A lonely lifeguard's tower which has seen better days!

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Our guide Juan paddling the boat

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The first crocodile we saw. This endangered species is one of the largest in Mexico. This community is breeding them and introducing them into the mangroves.

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One of the many birds we saw

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The beautiful still waters of the lagoon

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Passing by the trees with their aerial roots in the so-called white mangroves... these are fairly new since the hurricanes in 1997 destroyed this area.

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Rows of shady palms on the island

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A crocodile basking in the sun

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"Don't approach the crocodiles"...

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There was also an animal rescue centre on the island... a spider monkey looks out at us from his cage.

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Nice fresh fruit

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This lady is using a molcajete (mortar and pestle) to prepare the ingredients for the salsa

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Like most molcajetes, this one is made of volcanic rock and has been shaped like a turtle

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Smoking chillies, an essential ingredient in Mexican dishes

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A peckish guinea fowl hoping to get a few tasty morsels

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A nice cool spot to have a refreshing coconut drink and some watermelon

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An iguana running for the safety of a tree

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Heading back to the boat

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Passing a local family on their way to the island

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The beach goes on like this for 40 km up to Puerto Escondido!

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Trekking back along the beach in the hot sun to reach the village

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Bright Mexican colours

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Cristina off to do a 3-hour horseback ride along the beach and to another lagoon

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Accompanied by a 16-year-old guide from the village who knows all the shortcuts

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Marc and I head back to Mazunte beach and watched some boys battling to get their small boat out past the waves

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The waves are really pounding the beach today

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Marc deciding whether to go in

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This is our last time on this beach... we're heading off to Huatulco tonight

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Back to the beach at Ventanilla to wait for Cristina to arrive. A microlight about to land on the beach.

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Cantering down the beach...

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... and back to the village

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Mexican-style saddle

Posted by margaretm 06:11 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach waves lagoon crocodiles horseriding oaxaca mangroves Comments (0)

Swimming with turtles in Mexico

Mazunte, Oaxaca

Part 2 - The Pacific Ocean and its creatures

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One of the highlights of our holiday was getting up close to some of the wildlife that inhabits this area...

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We got up early on Easter Sunday morning, just as the sun was rising and drove to Mazunte to take a boat trip to see dolphins, turtles and other creatures. Thank goodness the sea was calm, not like yesterday!

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An empty beach with the boats waiting for us.

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Just enough time to get a quick breakfast at the only place open... hot chocolate croissants and juice.

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Time to don our life-jackets and help launch the boat. This meant us all physically pushing it through the sand down to the water line, waiting for the right moment in between the waves, launching it into the sea and then clambering into it as best we could. My small camera had to be confined to a waterproof case until we were out of danger of being doused by the waves.

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There were seven of us in our boat, plus the "captain" and his helper. Two of the tourists came down very early from Puerto Escondido to join the excursion.

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The weather conditions were perfect!

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The other boat which set off with us at the same time.

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As we passed by Mazunte, the guide told us that in the 1970s, these very beaches were the largest centre for catching sea turtles in Mexico and where the slaughterhouses were located.

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At the slaughterhouse in San Agustin, which opened in 1968 and closed in 1990, more than 30,000 turtles were killed each year, leading to a serious depletion in their numbers. Some of the early European "tourists" took photos and the turtles' plight became known around the world. Pressure was put on the Mexican Government to put a stop to this practice and in 1990, a ban on turtle meant and eggs was established. (Well done, photographers!!)

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Our captain and guide told us that because of the ban, many local families were deprived of their main source of income. In a bid to provide jobs and help the locals change their ideas, they started promoting the conservation and protection of turtles here, setting up the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga, and also the production of natural cosmetics.

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One of the many frigates flying overhead.

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One of our first "stops" was to see the "white rock" where thousands of birds come to nest.

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The rock has turned white from all the bird droppings.

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A brown pelican flies past us.

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As we chugged away from the coast, we saw the first sea turtles which from time to time come to the surface.

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A close encounter with a school of dolphins

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Dolphins swimming around the boats for a while.

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At certain times of the year, you can also see whales.

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Cristina filming the dolphins.

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A turtle close to our boat... the boy jumped into the water to show us what it was like.

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Much bigger than I had imagined!

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Cristina and Marc swam with the turtle for a few minutes... an incredible experience, they said.

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Another of the spectacular sights - the flying manta rays. These incredible creatures can jump 3 metres out of the water, flapping their fins like wings for a few seconds before landing back in the water.

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After our 3-hour boat trip, it was time to beach the boat. Had to put cameras away, then we sped at full throttle towards the beach, hitting the sand and sliding up as far as possible on some wooden bars!

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Back to El Copal for a rest and something to eat.

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Delicious beef kebabs for lunch

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A happy bunch of ladies in the kitchen!

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In the afternoon, we visited the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga, which has seven of the eight species of sea turtles in the world as well as some freshwater and land ones.

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The centre has tanks and pools and aquariums where they breed some of the species which are endangered.

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A rare baby albino turtle

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A manta ray

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Young turtle swimming in a tank

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Poster showing the seven species of turtles found in Mexican waters

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Some of the turtles swimming in the aquarium tanks

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Are they playing tag?

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This one has a sharp beak-like mouth

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They look like they're flying underwater!

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An unusual palm tree

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View over the coast with the white rock in the distance

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Some buildings in Mazunte

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Buying some cold drinks at the local shop

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Man with his donkey

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A show with acrobatics and jugglers being held in the square

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Doing acrobatics

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A lot of locals turned up to watch...

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... as did the tourists and resident hippies!

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Turtle-shaped soap - produced locally by the natural cosmetics community project.

An amazing day out seeing some of the incredible creatures which co-exist peacefully with our species along this coast. Thanks to all who did their bit to put an end to the massive slaughter of turtles in Oaxaca!

Posted by margaretm 12:19 Archived in Mexico Tagged boats sea turtles coast dolphins Comments (0)

Travels along the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico - in photos

Mazunte

Our trip to the coast of Oaxaca was the perfect antidote to our normal everyday life in Mexico City. It felt like we'd travelled to another planet, far from the stress of our Massive Urban Colony, also known as DF, an ideal place to disconnect for a while, charge our batteries and live the simple life close to nature.

Part 1 - In search of Mazunte

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As we drove down the coast, we passed lots of palm trees. Elsewhere it was very dry, this area being famous for its dry rainforest. During the months when no rain falls, the trees lose their leaves.

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The roads were blissfully "empty" after the traffic jams of DF, and mainly populated by this type of public transport, small trucks where people sit inside or cling to the back.

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This part of the country is quite poor and undeveloped.

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Along the way, we passed lots of small wayside stalls selling lots of fresh fruit...

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.. or coconuts

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A colourful fruit stall in Puerto Angel

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Our first stop was at San Agustinillo for a bite to eat in lovely cool "restaurant" overlooking the beach.

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The pace of life is much slower here but we didn't mind, with a view like this to entertain us!

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The family which served us some egg dishes and Coke

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Beautiful uncrowded beaches

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San Agustinillo is a small fishing village, just starting to become known by the alternative tourist industry.

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Looking down the main street.

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Don't know how safe it is to ride in these pick-ups... the words on the front windscreen say "No-one knows when I'll return"!

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We drove up the coast till we came to Mazunte...

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Our ecological bungalows, El Copal, right on Mermejita Beach

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There are only four bungalows. This was ours, up on the side of the hill.

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Looking towards our bungalow from the outdoor sink and shower area.

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Guess who got to sleep here... by myself?!

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Looking out towards the small balcony with hammock

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Cristina and Marc slept upstairs under the palm roof

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The amazing view from the restaurant and communal area

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Marc soon found the hammock!

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Down to Mermejita Beach

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Looks like we're the only ones here!

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The impressive surf... well, I guess this is the Pacific Ocean!

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Back to our open-air shower...

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... and sink

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We decided to check out Mazunte...

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This is the main road where many of the eating places and a few shops are

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Like most Mexican towns and villages, Mazunte has a freshly-painted church.

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Small lanes lined by shady palm trees

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A sign down by the "hippies" beach

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The beachfront...

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This beach has a few more people!

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A boat on the beach, waiting to take tourists for an excursion

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Children playing on the beach

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A vendor walks up the beach selling his wares. People were selling anything from food, bags, homemade clothes, drinks, trinkets...

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At least her wares keep her cool!

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Cristina and Marc facing the enormous Pacific breakers

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Taking the full force

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A pelican on the look-out for his supper

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Now I wonder what they're looking for?

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Boats like this one take people to see the dolphins and turtles, or to go fishing.

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As there are no jetties or piers, when a boat returns from a trip, a man on the beach clears the area, and then the boat heads for the beach full speed and ploughs into the sand as high as possible!

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A rather novel way to beach the boat!

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Some of the restaurants in Mazunte near the beach

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We went back to Mermejita Beach to enjoy the spectacular sunset.

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Posted by margaretm 14:13 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach waves palms oaxaca Comments (0)

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