To and From Puerto Escondido

The flight to Puerto Escondido on Aerolineas Oaxacinas made the cab ride into Mexico City seem tame by comparison. There were only 6-7 other passengers on board as we sat on the runway waiting for the pilot to show up. There were also a lotta crates and boxes piled in many of the unsed seats. Finally he strode over to the plane. Wearing a long white silk scarf, mirrored sunglasses and smoking a cigar he looked right out of Hollywood. We taxied to the far end of the strip and he gunned the engines full throttle while holding the brakes on. It seemed like every rivet in the plane was dancing. Finally he let her go and up we climbed headed straight for a notch in the mountains that surround the city. The closer we got more it looked like we'd never make it, i expected him to turn and circle to gain altitude but that wasn't his style. i was totally sure we were going to crash, the tree tops were right in front of us, my stomach was churning, every pore sweating as we cleared a narrow crotch in the trees by what seemed like inches.

Dios meo, we'd made it. But that wasn't the worst of it. About an hour into our 90 minute flight, high over the mountains, we started into a hard left turn. i was on that side so i could see he tiny village perched on the mountside below. There was an a short runway cut into the hillside, the far end butting the mountain, the near end starting at the cliff's edge. Sure enough we were landing there. The plane skidded to a stop a few feet from the mountain side, turned and stopped. The pilot climbed out and i got out right behind him. i figured, like a guy in front of a fring squad, i'd be allowed one last smoke. i watched as the indios from the tiny village unloaded the boxes from the cabin and anther buncha stuff from the storage bays underneath [guess all that weight was paryta why we barely made it outta Oaxaca valley. It took them a while to unload so i walked down the runway and looked over the edge, musta en a thousand feet straight down. We got back in and again he opened her up with the brakes on. Off we went hurtling down the short gravel runway towards the cliff. We had no where near enough speed to get airborne as the tires cleared the edge. We dropped like a rock, gaining speed like one too. Finally he started to pull 'er nose up and we leveled out just over the valley floor, i almost puked.
We landed in Puerto Escondido about 10 minutes later. i could barely walk i was so scared, but i grabbed my bag and got out certain i'd never get back on. All of us crammed into a VW bus for the ride into town. i learned from the driver that we'd been on the once a week supply run to the mountain village and that the flight back would be way more normal.

i checked into a funky little beach front joint and headed for the beach, it was late afternoon and i've never seen a perfect sunset. i spent the early part of each day the next week walking the beaches, body surfing to cool off, then having lunch and hiding out under the palm trees during mid-day. A couple of evenings i walked into town by mostly i hung out in the palapa bar-restaurants enjoying the food and drink. Puerto Escondido was an undiscovered surfers paradise back then, sleepy dirt roads, excellant fesh seafood, and a great panadaria. Things have changed, the bay is circled with many highrise hotels, everything costs a fortune, sure glad i got there back then [apparently Puerto Angel, a couple hours south, hasn't changed much though so...].

The days rushed by and way to soon i was back in the old VW bus heading for my return flight to Oaxaca City and scared shitless. As predicted the return flight was uneventful and the pilot circled the valley a couple times to let us all see the views.

That night i returned to the hotel as arranged before liftoff. The manager welcomed me like a long lost brother, maybe he was surprised i'd lived. i walked to the zocalo, had dinner then as watched the young unmarrieds circle in opposite directions checking each other out and giggling. Every group of young women had at least one chaperone waking with them, none of the boys or girls were allowed to talk to each other or even stop their circumambulation. Coming from the wild sex-drugs-rock-n-roll culture of Vancouver it was very strange yet neat to watch.

Returning to hotel fairly late the manager asked if i'd like to join a group going to Monte Alban the next morning. i'd learned some about it at the museum in Mexico City and jumped at the offer. i stumbled into my room full, drunk and happy but i had enough brains not to put out any underwear that night.

Tomorrow it's Monte Alban and the return to Mazatlan and me amigo Roberto.