Food, Exploring La Crucecita & Zip Lines

Yesterday was supposed to be another chore day. Christi took advantage of unlimited water and power and did load after load after load of laundry (we never explicitly mentioned that we are plugged into power here in the marina. Just in case anyone doesn’t realize, all of North America uses the same kind of power system, so at all the marinas from here on up, we should be able to plug into full power), but didn’t get much else done by way of chores. Eric worked on the internet all day, taking care of “life chores”. Unfortunately, the connectivity comes and goes, so it took a lot longer than expected and Eric never got to doing any “boat chores”. We did hire some people to wash the boat and polish the exterior metal. They did a fabulous job. By the end of the day, Kosmos was gleaming.

At 1800, we caught a taxi and went to the airport to pick up our friend Bruce. It was a longer drive than we expected. The road to the airport is nice, both in terms of road quality and scenery. We passed through an area that looked to be untouched forest. While the trees are barren right now, we are sure that in the summer the densely packed trees must be absolutely gorgeous. It turns out our cab driver, Saul, speaks pretty good English. We asked him to help us with our Spanish grammar and vocabulary. We had a conversation in Spanish, telling him all about our trip. When we would say something incorrectly, he would correct us and when we got stuck on a word, he’d tell us the missing word. Practicing with people like him helps us out a lot.

Like most of the rest of Huatulco, the airport is new and nice, though small. It is built in a rustic style, with charming tall palm frond roofs.

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Bruce emerged from the terminal a couple minutes after we arrived. It was so great to see him. Bruce commented that it was fun to land in an airport that only had one runway, exiting the plane via steps instead of a walkway. It felt very tropical and remote. Saul was waiting for us, so we piled back into the taxi and had Saul drop us off at the town square in La Crucecita. We picked a restaurant facing the square, this one located an entire block away from the other restaurants we’ve eaten at. We’re really exploring now!

Bruce ordered a michelada. There are lots and lots of regional variations of michelada, but generally speaking, it is a drink with beer; tomato juice or Clamato; a few drops of hot sauce; a few drops of Worcestershire sauce; a few drops of Maggi sauce (which is similar to soy sauce); and a healthy squeeze of lime served in a salt rimmed glass with some ice. This one had a slight hint of anchovy to it. Bruce’s initial response was that it was very unusual and wasn’t sure what to make of it. The more he drank, though, the more it grew on him. He says that is often the case! 😉
For food, Eric ordered a seafood dish that sounded interesting, though now we forget the name. Out came an aluminum foil package filled with steamed fish, octopus and shrimp cooked with green bell peppers (capsicum), onions, and butter. It was delicious.

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Christi ordered octopus Veracruz style. It is a sort of a thin stew, with finely chopped octopus boiled along with red bell pepper, onion, olives and seasonings. Hers was good, but not as good as Eric’s. After dinner, we headed back to the marina and called it an early night. Fortunately, Bruce packed incredibly light and is spry. We aren’t sure how we would have gotten heavy suitcases on board given the awkward tie up. And we know someone less agile would never be able to get on and off.

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Today was a much more exciting day. First thing in the morning, we arranged a zip line adventure activity. The company told us they would pick us up at the Cathedral across from the town square at 1000. As soon as we made the arrangements, we went into La Crucecita and got breakfast. Yes, you guessed it, we picked a place on the square, very close to the three restaurants we ate at the first couple of days. Not making any effort to explore town is so out of character for us!

Christi ordered divorced eggs, which are two eggs over easy, each with a different sauce. One sauce is green, one is red.

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Eric got juevos rancheros, which are two eggs over easy in the same red sauce that is used in the divorced eggs. Bruce ordered chilaquiles con juevo, which are basically breakfast nachos. Corn tortilla chips are topped with onions, cheese and sauce, with an over easy egg and black refried beans (made with black beans instead of pinto beans) on the side.

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When we were done eating, we still had about 45 minutes until we were to be picked up, so we finally walked around town. We think that our initial impression that this must be the old fishing village is probably right. Few of the buildings are super nice, like in the Santa Cruz and Chahue areas, though nothing looked especially bad. Most of the buildings look to be older than the 80’s, though there are a few that look very new. Many buildings are only half way completed the lower floor done but the upper levels still under construction and we get the vibe few of them will ever be finished. Most buildings ranged from 1 to 3 stories tall, and we were surprised that several had palm frond roofs. The town is not picturesque at all, but it has a genuine Mexican feel to it that is totally lacking from Santa Cruz and Chahue. It is clearly not part of the master planned tourist resort. Here are a few random street shots.

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La Crucecita is actually pretty small, and we had walked most of it before it was time to be picked up. Back in front of the church, Christi quickly went inside to check out the cathedral while Eric and Bruce kept an eye out for our ride.

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The church’s claim to fame is a giant painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Mexican version of the Virgin Mary, on the ceiling in the sanctuary. It is big, unfortunately too big to get a decent photo of. But here is a shot of the sanctuary, which gives you a good idea of what the inside of a typical Mexican Catholic church looks like.

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A truck pulled up in front of the church a few minutes later. The front cab was pulling a large, open trailer with row upon row of bench seats. This must be our ride. We piled in and took off. We were getting seriously wind blown in the open seating, but being so high up off the ground with nothing to block our view, we had fantastic views of the scenery. The truck took us past the marina, into the forested area that we had driven through on our way to the airport yesterday, though we quickly turned off onto a different road than we had taken yesterday. This road was just as heavily forested.

We eventually turned off the paved road and onto a bumpy dirt road. After a few minutes of bouncing along, we came to Rancho Tangolunda. Rancho Tangolunda offers a wide variety of adventure activities, so we were surprised when we pulled into a real honest to God ranch instead of a tourist center. We get the impression the land was once used solely for agriculture, but that with NAFTA and the death of small agriculture, has added tourist activities to keep it alive. Later in the day, our guide told us that most of the farmers in the area once grew coffee, and when their coffee farms went under, they turned to growing marijuana, instead. He commented that people have to eat, so they did what they needed to do to survive. Hmmm”¦ if drugs are a major cash crop here, maybe drug wars really are a problem. That was another possible explanation for the crazy number of military patrolling the streets.

We were let off near a small covered patio. We were checked in and handed harnesses. We had two guides. One is fluent in English and quite the comedian. He cracked jokes the entire time they helped us get into our harnesses. These harnesses aren’t as solid feeling as the ones in Costa Rica. Then they handed us the brakes. The brakes in Costa Rica are leather gloves that really don’t work well. These brakes were simply a block of wood with a handle attached and look even less solid. Our guide assured us that the wood works much better than the leather does.

We piled back in the truck and went up a series of dirt roads and came to a stop at a small platform. We weren’t nearly as high as we were in Costa Rica, but we were still pretty darn high up. We walked out to the platform. We were expecting it to be the practice run and were a little surprised to find out there is no practice run, nor do they do short lines to get you warmed up for the long lines. You go on the long line first thing. The non-English speaking guide zipped off down the line, positioning himself at the other end to catch us. Eric stepped up and the guide strapped his harness to the line. There was only one line, so if it suddenly snaps, death is imminent. This doesn’t feel nearly as safe as it did in Costa Rica. Here is Eric about to go. Note the brake in his right hand.

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Eric zipped off down the cable, finding that he was flying along even faster than he had in Costa Rica, and finding it to be even more thrilling than the long runs in Costa Rica. At the end of the run, there was no tree to slam into, just a wooden platform. Eric applied pressure to the block of wood and could smell the wood burning, but he really did slow down and landed gracefully. Looking back, he realized that the reason it was faster was because the slope of the cable is steeper.

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Christi went next. She is pretty sure that if this was her first zip line experience, she would have backed out, thinking the run to be too long and scary to even attempt. But, being as she is an old pro now, she took off down the line with only the slightest of hesitation. After all the problems of crashing into the trees last time, she braked hard, stopping well before the platform. Then she was stuck dangling in the air and the guide at the end had to manually pull her into the platform. Bruce was last. This was his first time on a zip line, but he zoomed off confidently, apparently feeling no fear at all. He didn’t land as gracefully as Eric, but better than Christi. We all loved it. It was definitely a huge rush.

Then came the second line, even longer and steeper than the first, and even more exciting than the first. The third and last line was relatively short, but very steep, and took us back down to the base.

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We got some crazy speed on the last run, and Christi braked so hard that she was seriously worried the wood would burst into flames. We are not sure if the three lines together totaled 300 meters, or if the longest line was 300 meters, but it is one or the other.

To be continued”¦

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