Flying Down to Puerto

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Yesterday I took the 7 am Aerotucán flight from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido for the first time. The flight lasts all of 35 minutes and cost 160 CDN. Aerotucán uses a small 16 seater plane which doesn’t fly all that high, so the lovely view of the Sierra del Sul mountains on the way to the coast made the flight worthwhile.

The other alternatives are a collectivo, or crowded van, that travels across the mountains in seven hours over a bumpy potholed road involving many hairpin turns, or a regular bus that takes eleven hours by the roundabout highway. I’ve taken the van a number of times, and most passengers get sick. One time the van was cancelled due to roadblocks, so my husband and I opted for the larger bus which seemed to take forever so we vowed never to take it again. Of course, you can always rent a car and drive, but we met a crane operator from Calgary who found the experience terrifying.

There is a much anticipated highway under construction that was supposed to be finished in 2014 and then by the end of 2015, but the government ran out of money. It will probably be completed sometime within the next five or ten years, but who knows?

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However, for some people like myself, the fact that “progress” has stalled is a good thing. As soon as news of the new highway hit the press, there was a sharp increase in interest in real estate on the Pacific coast, and luxury resorts and condos began sprouting up like mushrooms, as did the price of accommodation.

As the name suggests, Puerto Escondido means hidden port. According to the history of the town on Wikipedia,

Prior to the 1930s, there was no town. The bay had been used as a port intermittently to ship coffee, but there was no permanent settlement due to the lack of potable water. The name “Puerto Escondido” had roots in the legend of a woman who escaped her captors and hid here. The Nahuatl word for this area was Zicatela, meaning “place of large thorns”. Today, it refers to the area’s most famous beach.

In the 1960s, Zicatela Beach became popular with surfers and the town began to develop as a tourist site.

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So a sleepy little fishing village that morphed into a surfers’ paradise is now transitioning into an exclusive resort town. There are a few other ways to get here, but I’m not going to mention them.