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MEXICO - PUERTO ESCONDIDO -4. SURFING & SUNBURNS

SURFERS AND SUNBURN-SUFFERERS

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07/10/2008:
Alex had been taking sun yesterday and his whole face, shoulders and back are scorched. I had told him to be careful about sunbathing but what can you do. He told me about a small restaurant shack, where there are rock crops and where the surfers are. In front of the shack the proprietor has hung two hammocks where I could lay down, read or write while he is gone further up where the young people are sunbathing on another stretch of the beach of white sand.

So we walked up the whole stretch of the beach to this restaurant at Playa Carizalillo, which is called Sabor a Mar (Taste of Sea) and found it a nice place indeed. In front are big rock crops and the sea is in constant rage, heavy waves breaking over the rocks with a thundering sound. The spot is ideal for surfing but not for bathing. I ventured in the water twice but the waves threatened to drag me inside. I said no thanks, came out of the water and had a cold dark beer. After that I ordered a Gin & Tonic but the owner, Señor Mundo, could not find the gin bottle. So I had a Cuba Libre and since I was feeling so relaxed, I went behind the counter and made myself one more, and only then, searching the shelf where were stacked all the bottles, did I notice the lonesome bottle of Tanquery Dry Gin, nearly empty. But I was content and at peace. Like Hemingway.

When Alex came back, his face and arms black, shoulders burnt, he could not lie down in the hammock and I had to put after sun cream on his body to protect it from further burns. He drank two large glasses of fresh Orange juice and I ordered a Gin & Tonic. Drinks cost 35 pesos each, beer 20 pesos and fruit juice 27 pesos.

We went back to the hotel and rested for some time, then took a shower and decided to again go the Municipal market and explore the place. The market was not full, but the stalls were full of different kinds of fruit & vegetables, spices, adobos and cheese. And fresh fish. We decided on one restaurant which had clean table covers, ordered cold beers and asked to see what fish they had. The owner, l stout woman, brought a tray on which were giant (king) prawns which like in Spain, are also called Camarones here and the fish was Pargo.

Camarones al ajillo or al pil-pil are delicious. In a clay or ceramic skillet, heat olive oil, put chopped garlic and after a minute add peeled prawns, and fry for five minutes. Add white wine and after a few minutes simmering the prawns are ready. sprinkle whole salt and red chili, garnish with lime/lemon juice, fresh coriander leaves and Viola! Camarones al ajillo. Great with dry white wine.

We did not want to eat fried fish so I explained how we preferred our fish and camarones. The owner called another woman, who cut the fish in slices, broke the head in two halves, took out the gills and grilled the fish on a hot plate. Alex wanted his camarones al ajillo, and since there was no white wine to add, I told the lady to pour in half cup of beer. They were delicious and succulent. He liked the prawns so much that he had three plates and said he was still hungry. We enjoyed the food so much that we promised to return the next day.

In the evening we watched the US presidential debate on CNN. What a disappointing and uninspiring sparring between two lacklustre candidates.

Alex has been feeling uneasy, too much sun and travelling with me, he misses the young crowd.

Posted by The Islander 04:26 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches churches buildings skylines monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)

MEXICO - PUERTO ESCONDIDO -3

A LEISURELY DAY

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F428BBBD2219AC6817E042A5334220C6.jpg06/10/2008: I have noticed a very curious thing on my trip to Mexico, neither Mexicans nor the few tourists we have met, look at you, there is no eye contact. Mexicans are very affable and polite but they do not smile. It feels as people are living in a sci-fiction world. It reminds me of the paintings of Paul Gauguin, all his protagonists, especially women sitting or standing are sad, the reason was that in Tahiti and other south sea islanders, at the time of his stay there, were dying of syphilis, the incurable and deadly disease with which the french and other European sailors had infected the islands. Mr. Gauguin himself was suffering from this disease and he died of it. But the sadness of Mexicans was very strange.

Last evening, when we came back to the hotel, rain clouds were gathering and the wind was brisk. The sun was already setting over the trees and I could see a distant glow at the horizon. We went to bed, it was hot and mosquito's were buzzing about. I had a beer and Alex had a soft drink and about ten O'clock we went to bed. At about two O'clock at night, I suddenly heard a thunderbolt, followed by a flash of lightning. The window was open and the lightning filled the room. I could hear the strong wind moving the trees outside. Then the downpour started and a full blast of thunder. It rained the whole night and the early morning was blissfully cooler.

I went out and brought fresh fruit (12 pesos) and a orange juice in a plastic bag (10 pesos) and put them in the fridge. Then we went walking to to the super market Che, which is about a kilo meter from the hotel. Che is a modern super market, with a very large selection of products. They bake fresh bread, sell grilled chicken and spare ribs, pork, and have a good selection of wine. We bought fresh bread, tomatoes, cheese, chorizo, Spanish Olive Oil, some beer and a bottle of Californian Red Wine. It cost 130 pesos. Expensive, and after drinking it, had nothing to write about it. Back at the hotel, we had a leisurely breakfast and sat reading and writing.

It is now past 12 0'clock and Alex has just left, he has gone to the far end of the beach where there is a sandy beach. It is quite hot and I do not feel like going in the sun as it gives me a headache, also I am beginning to get a cold. So I will take it easy.

It is 3 0'clock, I must have slept, Alex is not back yet so I will go down to the beach and join him.
I was half way to the far beach when I saw him coming back. He said he was hungry, so we went in a beach restaurant which had tables and chairs outside, but there was no one eating. Almost all the restaurants are empty.

We told the waiter that we wanted to eat fish and could we please see the selection they had to offer. He brought us two fishes, one was a mackerel and other a small white fish, name of which he did not know. He recommended the white fish 'al ajillo' (garlic butter) and the mackerel 'a la Mexicana' (marinated in adobo). I called the cook and suggested that he grill the white fish and not fry in butter. However, the fish came out burnt, totally carbonated and without any taste of garlic or anything else and was uneatable. The mackerel 'a la Mexicana' was somewhat better. The bill came to 105 pesos. We paid and went back to the hotel. Time for a Mexican Siesta.

Posted by The Islander 09:36 Archived in Mexico Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches churches landscape bus monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)

MEXICO- PUERTO ESCONDIDO-2

Food & Drinks

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The main street in el Puerto Escondido, El Adoquin, is a long street from one end of the town to the other. At that time it was unpaved, men were working to improve it, small shops on both sides looking forlorn. As I have said somewhere else, the year 2008 was a year of unrest in Mexico, there were a few tourists and this was apparent in Puerto Escondido too. Many shopkeeper with whom we talked, told us that the economic situation was very bad, many shops hardly sold anything at all.

A small town like Puerto Escondido have restaurants selling Pizza and pasta, hamburgers, and other non Mexican food. Tourists prefer the food they know and are less likely to try the local fare. We had food at some of the restaurants but the best of all was La Langosta, a seafood restaurant, albeit more expensive but with a variety of food and drinks. It is our habit to visit local markets when we visit new places and this we did in Puerto Escondido too. The market was at a distance of some two kilometers, so we took a taxi. It was past five 0'clock in the afternoon and the market stalls selling fruit & vegetables save a few were all closed and so were the stalls selling food.

However, the owners of one stall, father, mother and a daughter, having closed it, were sitting and eating and on enquiring if we could get something to eat, allowed us to sit down and the man, without asking, brought us two cold beers. So we started talking and asked if we could have some fried fish and prawns and salad. We were told that we could, and the man got up and went away and in ten minutes returned, accompanied by a young boy, who brought two fresh red snappers, cut in chunks and marinated in a dark red sauce, and a tray full of large tiger prawns. The fish, when we asked about the sauce, were told, was marinated in Adobo sauce, which is made of hot Chipotle chilies, sesame seeds, peanuts, sugar and vinegar, garlic and other spices, all blended together, mixed with dry bread crumbs.

In Mexico city we had asked for fried fish and this was fried without any condiments, totally carbonated, without any flesh left, without any taste. In Oaxaca city, we had grilled fillets of Mojarra (bream) marinated in lemon juice, fresh garlic, red hot chilies, vinegar, fresh coriander leaves. You need a fish of firm flesh like bream or snapper, tuna or bonito, marinate it overnight, and then grill it over charcoal fire or hot plate.

The kitchen in the food stall was small but well kept, inside was a charcoal grill with a hot plate on one side and a rack on which the young lady put the whole fish and placed the prawns on the hot plate to grill. Outside the kitchen and the wash up space, in the common area, were two tables and benches for diners. Soon the smell of grilled fish filled our nostrils and buds of appetite and hunger started bubbling in our stomachs. We had two small glasses of tequila, chasing them down with couple more cold beers and after a wait of about 20 minutes, were served grilled prawns and fish, sprinkled with fresh lime juice and coriander leaves. The fish & prawns were well grilled, flesh firm and juicy and tasted delicious. After eating our food, we each had a cup of Mexican coffee, paid our bill, thanked the family for their hospitality and took a taxi back to Mayflower.

Posted by The Islander 05:16 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches churches bus monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)

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