With time pressing us, we realize that we have been in Mexico for more than a month, and it is time to go to the Central American countries. But we still want to make an important stop: get to know the famous Zicatela wave in Puerto Escondido, the Mexican pipeline. We see the forecast and it seems that a huge swell is coming. We have to speed things up and start driving as soon as possible since we have 900km ahead of us. The fastest way, recommended by Google maps, is to drive from Temascaltepec to Acapulco and from there drive all the way down the coast to Puerto Escondido. But our local friends do not feel the same way.
For us, Mexico has been super safe, calm, with great people, and without major inconveniences… but they warn us that this could change if we take the Acapulco route – there is a cartel fight.
The recommended route is longer, but they say it is way prettier and safer. We make sure there are chargers and hotels with chargers on the way, we call to confirm that they work and we begin the journey. On the first day, we made it to Puebla, where there was the LAST supercharger of the trip. We charge the car and sleep.
The next day we continue on the route to Oaxaca. In the afternoon we arrive in the city of Oaxaca, there was a hotel with chargers where we could spend the night, before making the final stretch. It’s amazing how the landscape changes as you go through Oaxaca. One of the things we enjoy the most is exactly this, driving drinking mate, seeing the changes in the scenery, stopping at the food stalls on the road to eat whatever the locals prepare, here is burritos and tacos at all hours, stretching our legs and keep going.
The last stretch, from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido was only 280km, but approximately 7 hours due to the number of curves. An average of 10 curves per minute (Tuti counted them multiple times and confirmed that this was the average). Multiply that by 7 hours of driving and the result is you just get the dizziness of your life. Anyway, it was lots of fun and at the end of the day, we arrived in Puerto Escondido happy as kiddos.
Puerto Escondido is a fishing village that became the Mexican pipeline due to the great waves of Zicatela. Surfers from all over the world come here to train and try to catch their wave of the year. Among them, we discovered that there it was Uruguayan, Santi Medeiro, and one of the most outstanding Mexican surfers of all time, Diego Cadena. Both, trained every day in those waves that at times made the sand tremble. Several broken surfboards were seen every day.
It was a pleasure to share with Diego and watch him surf. Observe him as he enters that giant sea, super calm and patient, and waits for hours until he gets his wave of the day that everyone on the beach applauds. He is a shredder. Chatting with Diego we learn that, although he dedicated his life to surfing, he never left aside the family tradition: fishing. His connection with the sea is tremendous since the day he was born, growing up in the coastal town of Sayulita fishing and surfing. Another Mexican fisherman-surfer! Diego is one of the two Mexicans in history who has managed to qualify for a World Surf League in 2021, already over 40 years old. This is an example that not only talent is needed but desire, perseverance, and clear goals. If surfing is what you really want, don’t let anything stop you, and don’t throw in the towel, the sea will give you waves and the world will see you. But, just as the sea gives you waves and food, one has to take care of it, respect it. That was the main message we got from Diego.
Santi Medeiro shared a similar message which might inspire you, “if you really feel it in your heart that your thing is the ocean, and the surfboard, and the waves, go ahead and do it. You won’t regret it… don’t take NO for an answer”.
But Puerto is not only surfing. Minutes from the huge waves of Zicatela, there is one of the most important beaches in Mexico and the world for nesting sea turtles due to the large number of turtles that arrive throughout the year. There is an organization, Vive Mar, which was founded by people from the community to protect 4 species of turtles. One of the activities they do is releasing baby turtles and one afternoon Santi accompanied us to meet them. We had the privilege of releasing newborn baby turtles into the sea ourselves! But why do they have the turtle eggs and have to release them? In Oaxaca, despite the campaigns and conservation efforts, the looting of nests for the illegal sale of eggs and the killing of sea turtles for meat consumption continues. So, what is done is, when a turtle arrives to lay its eggs, they protect her and wait for her to finish laying all her eggs and then they move them to a safe place, and when the hatchlings hatch they are placed in front of the shore so that they reach the sea by themselves.
We had already been in Puerto for several days doing what we love and connecting with incredible people, but there was something that caught our attention: the number of cafes, restaurants, and buildings – some of them very high on the beach – and of course, digital nomads and /or tourists too, like us. On Punta beach, you couldn’t surf with so many people, and the beach in the afternoon was filthy. We had imagined it a little quieter, smaller. We did some research and met Manuel, originally from Puerto, who told us the following. During the pandemic, Mexico became a very popular place as it stayed open. Puerto Escondido, although already well-known in the surf scene, quickly gained a lot of popularity among young people. Many came and fell in love with the tropical climate, nature, its waves, its streets, its food, its low prices, and never left. But behind the people came an unplanned, disorganized growth that was excluding local populations and harmful to all that people loved. Puerto began to change rapidly.
SOS comes to the rescue of Puerto. SOS Puerto is a growing community! It is a community that seeks to avoid this exclusive and unplanned development. Avoid megaprojects, the construction of buildings taller than allowed on the coast, and the expulsion of the local population. SOS Puerto seeks sustainable and inclusive development of the area. Today, they help to make the link between the people and the government, they demand things, they seek to generate dialogue and anyone can participate and support. Yes, they are open to development and for more people to come to visit, but in a respectful way with whom already lived there and what already existed. This way it won’t lose its magic! We loved this project. Yes Puerto, you are on time to reverse this situation!
Now yes, it was time to continue. Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica were waiting for us… we couldn’t keep delaying Mexico’s departure. We sat down to plan the route and see where we were going to charge the car since there was still a long way to go. Yes, Mexico is too huge and the task of reaching the border with Guatemala from Puerto Escondido took us 3 nights and it was not easy. We had two big drawbacks:
- The charger at one of the hotels for some reason didn’t work for Martin’s car. We had to go out looking for a welder or mechanic with a 220v plug until we discovered that there was a Nissan. Fact: all Nissans in Mexico have electric car chargers. Nissan was 40 minutes from the hotel, it was about to close and we didn’t have “extra” range. We drove there with both cars and with some small talk and stories we were allowed to leave Martin’s car in there overnight charging. We returned to the hotel in the other car to charge and sleep. Problem 1 solved.
- On the last day we had an easy drive. Only 3 hours to the final charger just before the border with Guatemala. It was a short day, so we didn’t leave very early as there was no rush… or so we thought. The first indication that something strange was happening was when there were masked people with machetes, sticks, and other things at the toll booth. They told us that they were the toll and we had to pay. We paid without saying a word and continued. But with 1 hour left to reach the destination, the route was blocked! Many trucks, motorcycles, and cars, nobody could pass. It was a protest. They had assassinated the governor of that town and had put one to supplant him in a dubious way. The people were not happy and they informed us that no one was going to pass that day. The car range was not enough to go back. What could we do? A local told us that there was an “alternative” route. It does not have tolls, but apparently, it was way longer with many curves and passes through desolate and rural areas. How many km would it be? How long would it take us? Is it safe? We had no signal to find out…there was no way of knowing other than estimating.
We decide to go for it. And that is how a 3-hour day on the road turned into a 9-hour road trip, through rural roads, with no signal, as night was falling, with groups of locals with machetes (again!) stopping to ask for money for passing through their lands, and we without knowing when we would arrive. Or even if we would arrive that day.
With 2% charge at 9:45 p.m., we reached our destination: the charger by the border with Guatemala.