After our surfing adventures yesterday we were all in need of rest, especially me. I woke up this morning with bruises on my lower ribs, burns on the back of my legs an arms and sore muscles. It was all worth it of course! Maria and I mustered up some energy to go to the mercado (market) to pick up some fresh red snapper (huachinango) and prawns (camarones) for supper tonight. I am slowly learning more Spanish words and considering learning it as a third language. It has a lot of crossover with French so I can pick up quite a few words while listening. 

One thing that I wanted to learn while visiting Puerto Escondido was how to surf ocean waves. I have never surfed in the ocean but have some experience with wake surfing behind a boat. The two are very different. Before we left Canada I did some research to find an instructor and kept coming across Puerto Surf Lessons which is owned and operated by the well-known Celestino Rodriguez. Celestino has a great amount of experience teaching surf lessons and an intimate knowledge of the unpredictable ocean.

Never having ocean surfed before, I started the lesson with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Before getting into the ocean we did some stretching and learned about proper body positioning. From Celestino’s home we walked to La Punta (the point) on Playa Zicatela, which is at the south end of the beach. This area of Playa Zicatela is popular for surfing and can be quite busy. Soon after entering the water the ocean quickly initiated me. A large wave rolled in and despite my leg being leashed to the surf board I was commanded to dive head first into the wave. Never turn your back to a big wave, I learned that lesson quickly. Then a newbie surfer came hurtling towards me and again I dove down into the water. Evade surfers by swimming under them, that lesson I learned too. With these two important lessons learned I was feeling a bit more confident.

Getting out into the open water required strong paddling arms, and by the end of the two hour lesson mine felt like wet noodles. But when I caught my first wave, even though it was just a little one, I was addicted. Celestino and his co-instructors were great at reading the waves and helping the newbie surfers catch them just right. It was exhilarating! And I can hardly wait for my muscles and sunburn to heal so I can go back out for more fun.

Jeremie and I did our surfing lesson in the morning and then we had the chance to watch Maria and Grant do theirs in the afternoon. I was thrilled to watch them and take pictures. At one point during the lesson a giant creature swam under Maria giving her quite the surprise! Maria is convinced it was a whale shark which is a gentle creature with no teeth. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Jeremie and I are quite blind without our glasses so I doubt we would have noticed anything in the water unless it was removing our limbs. Apparently there are no such creatures in these waters this time of year.

About an hour south-east of Puerto Escondido lies the charming small town of Mazunte. Here we stopped to explore the Living Museum of the Sea Turtles (Museo Vivo de la Tortuga Marina), a place of conservation and research. The museum itself is divided into two parts: an outdoor area and an indoor aquarium. The outdoor area is somewhat pell-mell, with some structures empty and others occupied. There were a large variety of turtles to see, however, which my children enjoyed, but no touching was allowed. The indoor aquarium has turtles and fish to admire as you walk around its circular shape. The cost of entry was $31.00 pesos for adults and children over age eight (at the time of this post), and I should also mention that all the information plaques about the turtles is in Spanish only. Interestingly the museum use to be a turtle processing plant and apparently converting it into a living museum has been a successful venture for this small community.

Near the town of Mazunte we had the chance to admire hand woven hammocks. I would have never known of this place if it were not for my friend insisting we go there. Maria has spent a good amount of time living in this area and is well acquainted with its secrets. Truthfully, I have never seen such beautifully made hammocks and chose to invest in a matrimonial hammock for back home. Before leaving the area we drove to San Agustillino to enjoy drinks on the breach. Felix helped a local gather snails from the rock outcroppings while the other children enjoyed scrambling over the rocks and playing in the waves.

Playa Zicatela is a long stretch of beach on the east side Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. This popular beach is a world renown surfing destination, aptly named the “Mexican Pipeline”. Scattered along the beach there are yellow life-guard stations, red flags and warning signs discouraging people from swimming. The crashing waves and strong undertow can easily overwhelm swimmers and there have been injuries and losses in the past.

We made our way to Playa Zicatela and enjoyed lunch at one of the many restaurant along the beach. Afterwards we walked out to the ocean and strapped the children into life-jackets. The adults walked in a little ways and cordoned off a safe area for the children to body surf as the waves broke on the shore. At one point my husband got adventurous and wandered out a little ways, but the waves were changing and getting larger and I felt nervous. Reluctantly he returned but then as an act of rebellion he dove into a large wave… and came up missing his prescription sunglasses! Saddened by his lost, and perhaps a little humbled, we had a good chuckle. It was a small offering to the ocean, and I suspect there are many sunglasses floating around in the sea.