When planning our itinerary for this trip, I thought perhaps we might visit a coffee farm and play in some waterfalls while in Huatulco. However, the drive to get to the farm and waterfalls was 2 hours each way, over twisty and bumpy roads. After our long and winding drive from Oaxaca to Huatulco, we didn’t want to subject Genevieve and Sebastian to 4 more hours in a car so soon (even though the kids rarely complained). So we spent another day exploring the nearby beaches and towns.
In the morning, we drove a couple of miles inland to the town of Crucecita. Unlike the rest of the Huatulco area, the town does not cater specifically to "tourists". Instead, it serves the large population of people who work in the nearby resorts. Crucecita has a lovely town square, good restaurants (nothing fancy, but with excellent Oaxacan dishes), and fairly inexpensive prices. We visited the local bakery and allowed the kids to pick out a donut or chocolate croissant for breakfast. (Our kids generally eat very healthy, with plenty of vegetables—for example, when Sebastian’s classmate asked him what was his favorite food at Legoland earlier this year, Sebastian replied without hesitation, "The salad!" However, two years ago on our family trip to Spain, where the pastelarías were devine, we fell into a pattern of eating pastries in the morning. Both kids thought this was so "special"—they giggled and talked about it for quite a while after we got home. So now it has become the family’s "secret tradition" to have donuts/pastries for breakfast on our international trips.)
Here is Sebastian with his treat:
Here is Ben (I love this picture of him . . . he looks like he has a big "secret" . . . hmmm . . . maybe he doesn’t want anyone to know that he had two donuts for breakfast!):
We ate our treats at an organic coffee shop around the corner, overlooking the plaza.
When we were almost finished, a guitarist and singer came in and performed a couple of songs.
Then the singer collected donations from the customers. We had all been bopping our heads to the rhythm of their music, and we were happy to pay for the entertainment.
I liked this "guitar dude" attached to the wall of a bar:
The main plaza had a pretty church on one side:
Now that we were full of caffeine (Ben and I) and sugar (all of us), we headed off for some excitement. The owner of our apartment in Huatulco had told us that we could find iguanas if we walked along the beach in front of a certain resort in Tangolunda Bay (5 minutes away). He also recommended that we bring along pieces of fresh fruit to feed them—however, we opted to go empty-handed so as not to interfere with the iguanas’ natural food hunting abilities.
We drove to the resort entrance high above the bay, but it was blocked with a big security gate and a guard who would not let us in. Hmmmm . . . how could we get down to the beach to see the iguanas . . . ? Ben, being a resourceful and persistent soul, drove around here and there (generating squeals and bursts of laughter from all of us) until he found a tiny dirt road that led to the Bay’s edge. The road ended at what looked like a boat-launching spot for locals. We continued on foot to see what was around the bend.
Aha! We found some large iguana tracks crossing the sand and disappearing into a huge pile of rocks!
We searched and searched, but we did not see an iguana. (I guess this is where that fresh fruit might have come in handy, as bait to lure out the iguana.) However, we did find a big lizard with a pale turquoise tail:
And the children had oodles of fun feeling their feet getting sucked into the sand after each wave receded:
Our apartment had boogie boards for the kids to use, so we set off today to find an uncrowded beach with some mellow waves. The Huatulco area has numerous beaches, each with a slightly different personality. We had read some good things about a nearby beach called Playa Entrega—clear water, good snorkeling, gentle surf. To get there, we had to drive up and over a small mountain.
These signs (saying "Dangerous Curves") were common.
When we arrived, we found all of the good things that we had read were true—the water was a clear aqua color, and the waves were perfect for the children. However, lots and lots of people, besides us, also thought this beach was an ideal spot--it was very crowded.
Sebastian and Genevieve tried out their boogie boards.
But after 20 minutes they abandoned their boards, saying that there were just too many people around them in the water. We stayed for a short while longer and then decided that the best beach for today might just be the less populated one in front of our own apartment. (Hmmm . . . isn’t there a quote about searching for something and finding it at the place where you first started?) Anyway, I am glad that we visited Playa Entrega, not only to experience different scenery, but also to gain a greater appreciation for all of the positive elements of the beach right outside our homebase in Huatulco. On the drive back, we could see our own beach (Santa Cruz de Huatulco) in the distance:
(And you can also get a broader view of all the brown vegetation in the photo above. I imagine that this place looks very different covered in green plants.)
Back at Santa Cruz, Genevieve and Sebastian spent time hunting for more crabs and starfish among the rocks.
The starfish were "brittle starfish", which I had never seen before, and which were very different from those found in the Monterrey Bay in California. These starfish had long skinny "legs" and were very fast moving, with a wriggly wom-like method of traveling. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the one that the children found.)
Once again, language differences were not a barrier to the children finding some friends to play with.
Genevieve with a group of girls:
The girls ran up to Ben and I several times to giggle and talk to us in Spanish.
We gave each of the girls a post card of Santa Cruz, California (the main town near our small Aptos community); we have found that traveling with a stash of post cards allows us to make connections with other people, who are often curious about where we live. The girls knew how to say "thank you" in English, making us smile with their sweet sing-song tones of "thank oooo!" They must have liked seeing us laugh because they ran back several times to thank us.
Sebastian asked this boy if he wanted to borrow the boogie board. The boy didn’t understand the question, but they ended up floating together and playing for a while.
Ben purchased some cheap snorkeling gear for the kids (less than $5), which provided hours and hours of fun over the next few days.
Genevieve trying out her gear:
Outside our apartment balcony was a large open area; two buses full of Mexican families had unloaded there this morning, spreading out blankets, big suitcases, coolers, and grills to cook food:
They ended up sleeping out in the open overnight, with soft guitar playing and family games that stretched into the late evening.
For dinner tonight, we drove back into the lovely town of Crucecita. Our apartment owner, as well as our Moon guidebook, highly recommended the restaurant La Crucecita; we were not disappointed. The food was delicious and inexpensive, served in an open dining room. The restaurant is a local favorite, and we were the only tourists. Here is the front of the restaurant (Ben is sitting inside to the left, partially hidden):
The restaurant had a playground across the street, to the delight of Genevieve and Sebastian:
After dinner, I was craving some flan (a traditional Mexican dessert); don't ask me why, as I normally lean toward the desserts that ooze rich dark chocolate. However, the craving was intense, so we strolled around the plaza, looking for some flan (I have an extremely loving and patient husband!). After making a full circle, we finally asked someone, who directed us to the bakery where we had selected our morning donuts:
They not only had flan . . . they had two different kinds of flan. And, of course, I had to try out both kinds in order to make sure I wasn't missing out on the "best" one. (They were both yummy!) The bakery was fully stocked with literally hundreds of fresh pastries, so we bought tomorrow's "breakfast" while we were there.
Back at the apartment, the kids spent about an hour snorkeling in the pool, and then dropped happily into bed:
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