The ruins at Ek Balam, near Valladolid, Yucatan


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Page 11: On the Beach, February 19 - March 26

We arrived bleary eyed in Pochutla on the morning of February 19, after an 11-hour bus ride from San Cristobal de las Casas. Pochutla is a busy market town, below, and we often go there to shop and to see our dentist.


However, for us Pochutla is just a stop on the route to San Agustinillo, about 20 miles away, the little beach town where we spend a good deal of time on each trip to Mexico. There are only a few hundred year-round residents, and accommodation for several hundred more tourists in season. The two photos below are of "downtown" San Agustinillo, on the only paved road in town.

San Agustinillo is pleasant enough, with several restaurants and a range of places to stay, from very basic and cheap to nicer and pricier, but the town is not the reason most people come here. It's the beach, below.

What can we say? You have to be there. This photo is from Las Hamacas, where possibly the best hammocks in Mexico are made. Below, we are seeing the beaches from the opposite direction, early in the morning, from a hilltop pavillion where we practice Tai Chi. The crescent beach immediately below is the one seen in the distance above, with good swimming, body surfing, and boogie boarding.

For several years we've been staying at Posada la Barca, below left, alone on its own little crescent of beach. (It would be around a small point to the right in the photo above.) Our room is at the top corner; if the image were bigger, you could see Barbara on the balcony. The room itself, center and right, is modest but clean, with a fridge and basic kitchenette .

Just as we go to San Agustinillo for the beach more than the town, so we stay at Posada la Barca for the setting more than the room. Below are the views from the balcony outside our door. (In the photo below right, notice the distant bluff on top of which is a large cactus tree. That's Punta Cometa, the southernmost point in Oaxaca. It's about a 35-minute walk away, and it will come up later.)

We also like Posada la Barca for the great people who work there. On the right are Enrique, who manages the place, his wife Juanita, who does much of the cleaning, and their two very nice sons. Typically, the minute we arrived this year, Enrique was running down the stairs, smiling much more than in this photo, to welcome us and help us lug our stuff upstairs. We could write a lot about the many things he has done to make our visits comfortable. The owner of Posada la Barca is Jose Guillen, also a great guy, a Mexican-American who lives in San Antonio, Texas.

There are good neighbors. Donita and John, below, built a lovely small home just behind Posada la Barca, left. They added a guest cottage, some beautiful landscaping, and moved to San Agustinillo full-time last year.

Remember the mention of Punta Cometa? Photos below were taken when we walked there on the evening of the spring equinox this year. There was an Aztec ceremony on the point — at least that's what we think it was — and the full moon rose in the east just minutes after the sun sank in the west.

Above, Barb hiking out to the cactus tree at Punta Cometa. Right, from top: Looking west soon before sunset; sun going down; moon coming up.

There is much more that's great about San Agustinillo — an excellent little library so we never run out of good things to read, and of course the wonderful people.


Below are photos of Barbara getting worked over by a dentist and a tatoo artist!

The dentist, left, is Dr. Omar Silva Mendes, known to everyone as "Dr. Omar." This year we spent a lot of time with dentists — six visits to Dr. Omar, and two for Barbara's difficult root canal by a specialist in Huatulco. Dr. Omar handled Barbara's porcelain crown and all the other work. The whole business, including cleaning for both of us, cost around $500. Think several thousnd in the USA! (Dr. Omar, by the way, is an enthusiastic swimmer and boogie-boarder. He just bought land in San Agustinillo and hopes to build there over the next few years.)

Below right, Israeli tatoo artist Mickey, who works in California and Florida but was staying in the next-door village of Mazunte, starts work on Barbara's sunflowers. It was a five hour job, but the end result was worth it.

These are folks of whom we think when we remember good times in San Agustinillo. The very first, top left, is Jose Guillen, owner of Posada la Barca.

Since San Agustinillo is so beautiful, it may seem surprising that we were eager to be on our way near the end of March. But we'd been there almost six weeks, and that is more sun, sand, and salt water than we really need, or that our skin can survive, in one heavy dose!

On the evening of Saturday, March 26, we boarded the overnight bus back to San Cristobal de las Casas. We packed our bikes and spent a few more days there, enjoying a couple of hikes, but also getting just a little bit sick — a very rare occurrence for us in Mexico. Then we took the longest bus ride of our lives — 19 hours — to Cancun. We still had a few nights before our flight home on April 5, so we spent them on Isla Mujeres, just off the coast in the Caribbean. There are a few photos and recollections of these places on the next page. But first, two more photos on the wonderful beach at San Agustinillo. First, Barbara warming up for Tai Chi just before dawn; then an exceptional sunset from Posada la Barca.


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