Oh what a difference 50km makes… We have been touring the beaches of Oaxaca and loved every one of them, but as we prepared for our VW work and pending departure from mexico…we saw another side of things. The bus is now resting at the shop/vw spa and we are killing time until we get have to head south to guatemala later this week.
Huatulco, provided a good place for us to take care of business, but (while i’m sure heaven to some) was nothing short of frightening to us. These bays were circled on a map by a few engineers flying overhead and looking for a decent place to turn into the next cancun or puerto vallarta. Huatulco is seen as mexico’s chance to learn from their mistakes with the fast/uncontrolled growth of those other cities, and they have done admirable things in trying to respect the environment while planning/building.
It seems to us that nature was left intact while culture was completely removed. The engineers even decided to lay the development areas out in Sectors. Probably fine for drawing/planning purposes, but as you drive around you actually see a sign pointing you to Sector C (should you decide to leave Sector B) which feels very clinical. We felt like we wandered onto the set of X-files or The Hunger Games. The mega resorts that line the hills are mostly all inclusive, meaning that there is intentionally no access to/from the outside world. The small strip mall “towns” in between bays seem to have followed suit and are little more than 7-11s and souvenirs shops. All in perfect english and all without a single taco. We’ve tried…a taco cart could not be found in the bay around us, not one. If you want mexican food, you go to the themed restaurant on the corner and buy an american burrito and an $8 frozen margarita from the waiter in a sombrero. Sigh.
We stayed in a small rv park, and even there things seemed slightly out of place. A bit too orderly. The spaces are all outlined with straight lines of white rocks, the bottom half of all trees are painted clinically white. Our first day, as we made our way to the beach we chatted with one of the other “campers” about his love for the area. They’ve driven down every year for the past 15years after staying at the resort on the hill, but have never stopped anywhere else en route. He ventured out of his 36ft rv to fill the water bottles but drove the 75ft from the rv to the faucet. “We never walk anywhere” he states proudly. I’m guessing since its on the other side of the trees he’s never seen the beach maybe 300ft away. We continue to the beach for sunrise and even the path through the forest has been lined with pallets and plywood bridges to ensure we don’t get our feet dirty/wet along the way.
The beach is fantastic and beautiful, as though it was manufactured. The rock outcroppings that line the bay are picturesque, and because all the resorts and million dollar homes sit up above on the hills, the view close to the beach is completely unobstructed… until you reach the ropes sectioning off private areas for each resort. The sand is (of course) perfect, and may have been shipped out to be professionally strained/bleached before dumping it back in the bay. We were a bit earlier than today’s planned curtain raising, and the guys were still out driving the sand zamboni that ensures everyone has fresh tracks when they walk across the beach. Paradise it seems, shouldn’t include walking across a set a footprints in the sand…especially if those tracks were left by someone who doesn’t have a red wristband or isn’t from Sector G.
As we walk the beach and mess up the work of the “sandboni”, I realize maybe i’ve judged Huatulco a bit harshly. We keep meeting others who have a completely different experience within the resort walls and love this island within mexico. Maybe i‘m just bitter that i have to leave mexico while others are choosing to not even see it. I softly sing the lyrics of “big yellow taxi” to myself while watching tourists get ferried back and forth from shore to their booze cruise.
As we leave the beach we note that on the rock island in the bay a giant mexican flag has been implanted atop the highest rock. It also seems out of place, and we wonder whether it will be taken down as soon as someone figures out how to get to the island without getting their feet wet. Can’t help but wonder who or why it was put there, but to us its a reminder in the middle of all this madness, even if you cant find it…that this is (or used to be) mexico.