I detest the tour operator we booked through, Sunwing. I swore I would never ever use them again, but time heals all wounds I guess? I had my fingers crossed - on both hands, and my toes too that I wouldn't regret my decision...We chose them because it was a direct flight. I refuse to stop on those charter flights anymore and the price was right for our budget. It was just over $1200 each all in after taxes and medical & cancellation insurance. My friend is 41 and I am 52. We've traveled on a few trips together, I think this is our 4th. The night before, I checked our flight status and it looked okay.
Tuesday, November 7th:
I got off to a rocky start and my friend phoned while she was outside my house in the cab waiting for me, wondering where I was. Um, I was still in bed sleeping! Apparently I turned the 5:30am alarm off. So, I frantically rushed around and was out about 20 minutes later. I was thankful that I had everything packed the night before. We made it to the airport. A $17 BLT sandwich (that contained processed cheese), later, we boarded. Everything from security to getting the whole row of seats (3) on the plane for the two of us worked beautifully - zero stress. Five and a half hours later we arrived!
First thoughts: Oh my HUMIDITY. My least favorite thing. As we went through customs, a bird sh*t on a ladies hand. She had to run to the bathroom to clean up. We looked up and it was a thatched roof. We were soon through customs and both received a green light. Our van was ready and we loaded and were off with only one stop first.
We got to our room and both immediately took turns showering. I desperately needed to since I hadn't had time in the morning. We realized how small the double room was. I felt really cramped so we went back down to the desk to ask about bigger rooms. He (Luiz) showed us a couple and we got one with a staircase (below) that had another bedroom upstairs.
My credit card told me it ended up being $189 CAD for the 7 nights. When I went to pay him (Luiz, who we adored - he was so kind) after dinner, he lowered the room rate by another $4 CAD per night. I asked him if I should go away again and keep coming back? Would the rate go lower? 😉 I was fine with the price and we had so much more room.
We had a couple of drinks before dinner and it was uncomfortable for me in the open air bar...
Outside looking into the lobby
Sitting in the bar looking right to the front desk
Wednesday, November 8th:
We were both wide awake by 5am. When the sun came out, we checked out the view from our room.
We stayed up until breakfast started at 7:30am. Again it was home cooking and our server even showed me I could get a made-to-order grasshopper omelette or quesadilla. I didn't this morning, but perhaps another day? Next we walked to the "Super Che" which is like a Mega Walmart. About a 10 minute walk.
We ogled every aisle. Below was chili heaven!
We picked up some interesting food products to take home and some wine for our room. The wine wasn't very good at the hotel and the bar closed at 11 and didn't open till 11am either. Wine was expensive in Huatulco, compared to Tequila. We got a taxi back and it was $30 pesos.
We decided to catch the shuttle to the beach club which leaves every half hour. That being said, it's really close and walking is easy. It's not necessary to wait for a ride if you're mobile and it's not screaming hot. It was a 5 minute drive (10 minute walk) and we were there shortly after nine.
The beach club said it was open at 9am daily, but while there was staff there, they were not interested in helping you. By 11am we were able to get towels (sign them out) and by noon we could get an alcohol drink. On the up side, we had the pool all to ourselves! AND, it was not humid so that was a big bonus.
Notice that in the sign above, "bathing suits are mandatory". We giggled over that. We moved to the beach after a while. It was a red flag and the waves looked fierce at times, so we just put our feet in.
Lunch is served at 1pm, so we had 4 hours to wait before food. We grabbed a table.
The wait was worth it! They brought us over guacamole, which we enjoyed very much. A buffet was set up.
For lunch I had some seafood cocktail (Campechana, as I know it), a couple of fries, a piece of chicken and some awesome fried fish! It was so good. We had no complaints at all, and like the hotel, it felt like homemade cooking from someone's kitchen.
The property is landscaped very nicely.
When we had enough sun, we took the shuttle back to the property. They have towels on all the van seats which is nice too. We showered and made our way across the street to the "Mercado". Had a look around, I bought my son a T-shirt and my usual fridge magnet. My friend bought a dress.
We walked back to the hotel and had a drink. Below is Tequila Resposado with Sangrita chaser. Sangrita is tomato and orange juices with lime and Tabasco. Very tasty! We chatted with a couple from one of the Canadian prairie provinces.
We went to dinner. We were delighted to see chicken pozole on the menu! I make pozole at home and its one of our favorite dishes.
Below was the highlight of the evening for me - the tamale, above the tamale is cactus (napales) salad, rice with some of the taco beef:
Thursday, November 9th:
We awoke early and made our way across the street to the Santa Cruz town square. There was a coffee shop in the middle called Cafe Huatulco.
You order downstairs and if you are going to stay there, they will bring it to you upstairs. The setting is lovely, overlooking the park and marina.
Coffee was fantastic and I highly recommend it. So much better than Starbucks! I'm sure this place is jam packed full and busy in high season or when cruise ships dock. We were visiting the first week that flights started going into Huatulco for high season. Luiz, at our hotel said by end of November everything kicks up into full swing. The cruise ships would start arriving on the 16th so we were happy we missed those too. Pretty awesome, quiet time to visit. We really liked that.
We grabbed a quick breakfast back at the hotel. It was packed! Luiz told us it was a convention of nationals and would be packed full, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then quiet again. Alfredo picked us up for a cooking class. We were learning to make Mole today. I have always wanted to add this to my recipe repertoire and thought there was no better place to learn than here in Oaxaca. Incidentally, the name of his school is "Wahaca Cooking" which teaches you how to pronounce it. 😊 And we were off. Alfredo, who was born in Santa Cruz told us the history of Santa Cruz, Tangolunda and La Crucecita (the three towns that make up Huatulco) as he drove. He stopped for a scenic shot but I didn't get far enough back to take a good picture. Alfredo told us everything was still green here as they had an intense rainy season this year. One of their worst ever. He said soon it would all turn brown.
We picked up two more people at "Secrets Resort" and then shortly after we arrived. Alfredo remodeled the place we were at, which was a steakhouse before.
Alfredo's sister Vicky was assisting in class and made fresh Hibiscus tea to start and gave us all a glass. I guess I could describe it as similar to cranberry juice.
And then it was off to work and start cooking. Alfredo's tales of his family recipes were heartfelt and I wished I could have met his mother, who passed recently. I couldn't help but like him. He was genuine, enjoyed telling us stories and was very proud, yet humble. A real pleasure to have met him.
The "black mole" was the more complex of the two we made. There was a long list of ingredients and steps, but it went smoothly along. Below is a picture of Alfredo's that he took of the four of us cleaning the chilies. That was plantain in the bowl, not banana.
Halfway through cooking, it was beer time which felt refreshing as it was a warm day.
Below, the moles were simmering on the stove and then we started to make our own tortillas. We were like a little factory, kneading the dough, pressing them out and then putting them on the grill.
And before everything was served, Alfredo crafted some fantastic margaritas for us. These were really good, as in perfect.
The table was set and then we all sat down to dine. Alfredo explained how everything was eaten and we enjoyed it all.
Lastly, Alfredo taught us about Mezcal and then gave us a tasting.
Cost of the class was $75 USD each or $1400 pesos. I gave him $3400 pesos for 2 of us. It was well worth the money and I enjoyed the class immensely. He drove us back and recommended a couple of restaurants which was nice. We planned to go to his at some point too. Wonderful afternoon. Alfredo sent all the recipes we made in class as well.
Back at the hotel we went for a swim. Getting ready, we saw housekeeping had left the beds beautifully made, with nice little touches throughout the room. We tipped them $100 pesos every day and they deserved it. They were always smiling and kept our room really clean and neat.
We were a bit peckish and wanted a snack. We wandered across the street where there was a taco stand.
Two tacos for $20 pesos which is $1.35 CAD. Wow, at home we pay $2.50 each for the same thing. They were good and hit the spot. We didn't like the one they called "black tuna" though as it tasted extremely fishy. The beef one which you can see below, was great.
That evening, we decided to try Alfredo's dinner recommendation and made a reservation for Rocoto. It is very small with only 5 or 6 tables so reservations would be absolutely necessary in high season. It was only $30 pesos ($2 CAD) for a cab. We tipped $20 pesos always, for every cab ride, which were always $30 pesos. Below is when we left and we were the last customers which is why it looks empty.
We were started with some very good grilled bread and two picante salsas. It was a good start!
We ordered a bottle of "red sparkling" wine from Italy which was really good. We both liked it. In fact, the chef's mother came out and told us it was her favorite and that she liked us instantly because we ordered it. 😊
$450 pesos or $30 CAD
My entree is below and I could not believe the price which was about $13 CAD. What a steal!!!
Below, my friend's dish, which was about $12 CAD.
Wow, everything was scrumptious! We were stuffed full and happy. Chef Claudia came out to sit with us. She was full of amusing tales of her culinary adventures and time spent in Chile. We were so happy we got to try this place. We told her Alfredo recommended this place to us and her and her mother had nothing but nice things to say about him. They also said he does a lot of good things for the community.
Hugs goodbye and we walked back to the hotel. It was 10:30 at night, quiet as in deserted, but yet we felt safe. Can't say that's happened in walking around in strange towns late at night before. It was a lovely evening, cool with a slight hum of a breeze and that ended another perfect day in the beautiful ambiance of Huatulco.
Friday, November 10th:
We slept in today and had a hearty breakfast at the hotel buffet. Since the bar wasn't open, we got into a habit of bringing Bailey's with us to put in our coffee. Truth is, the hotel didn't have Bailey's anyway - we asked one night after dinner. BTW, the coffee was very good at the hotel. We always tipped our servers in the restaurant and bar too. They worked so hard and always made us feel special. Below, I had one cactus and one chorizo quesadilla. The refried beans were always good.
We took a wander over to the marina to look for a snorkeling tour. We encountered Captain Bruno, who's English was decent and his price was good - $1500 pesos for 5 hours ($100 CAD). He told us he'd supply a cooler, all we had to do is bring what we wanted to drink. Told us he would take us wherever we wanted to go. He told us his boats were named after his daughters, so we decided on him and gave him a deposit of $500 pesos for tomorrow at 9am. Walking back, we saw a different taco stand today, but we didn't stop.
We went back to the beach club for the afternoon. We spent all our time at the beach today. I sat in the sand to catch some waves, and oh boy, did I ever! The waves rolled me over and stripped my bathing suit off. Luckily I got it back on before the wave rolled out! 😄 I had sand everywhere in my body. I decided to stay out of the ocean. We took showers to cool down after that. I also gave my head a big whop on one of the poles of the palapa roof and that hurt - I saw stars!!! I am always clumsier on vacation though as I don't look where I should be looking, I get distracted easily...
We didn't have lunch today, though they did bring us some guacamole to the beach without us asking for it which was very thoughtful.
We went back to the hotel to clean up. While we were walking, the hotel shuttle drove by, pulled over and picked us up which was also kind and thoughtful. We showered and I got sand everywhere! It felt like buckets full were falling out of my swim suit. But, I survived it, though I felt horrible for it being all over the bathroom.
That night for dinner we were going to celebrate our birthdays which are both in November. We chose L'Echalote because I saw it had fondue! Luiz at the front desk kindly made the reservation the previous night for us, as the menu said 24 hours notice was needed. It was a $30 peso cab ride. All the rates are set, so you know before you ride. We had an early dinner as we were going to go to Alfredo's bar later in La Crucecita as there was live music tonight.
It was pleasant sitting inside and wasn't uncomfortable with humidity or heat.
We ordered a bottle of wine and the fondue. We chose the "bourguignonne". Again, for two people it only cost $13 CAD each. It was mind-blowing to me!
Below is the beef. The sauces from top to bottom were: Blue Cheese, Sweet & Sour, Mustard, Chili and Mayo.
A side salad was also included.
And fries (which were great with the mayo!) There was a lot of food, so three skinny stray cats got a nice meal of filet mignon with the beef we couldn't eat.
We ordered Irish Coffees for dessert and were surprised that we got a table side presentation with the flaming whiskey.
We chatted with Canadians that owned a house in Huatulco. They invited us to join them somewhere called "Rick's Place" which they said was for Canadians and ex-pats but we had Alfredo's on our mind and said we'd try to get there after. Taxi was - guess? Yes, $30 pesos.
We sat at the bar, met Alfredo and his lovely wife Chiara who owns a gelato shop next door and is from Sicily, I believe. We ordered a bottle of wine and the band came on. They were fantastic! They played a mix of music and were very talented. We had a lot of fun and a nice evening.
We knew we had to get up early, so like good girls, we went home after our wine was finished. Took a taxi back and went to bed. Another awesome day in the books.
Saturday, November 11th:
We got a quick bite in the buffet and headed over to the Marina for 9am. I felt marginally okay after our evening out last night. We found Bruno (at the left below) and he took us to his boat "Cecilia".
It was then we learned that Bruno wasn't going on the trip. Our boat driver (Hernando?) didn't speak any English at all. We asked where the cooler was and Bruno told us that he had one, but it had no ice. I think when he saw the look on my face, he said he'd get some but wasn't happy about it at all.
We took the boat over to a store. Bruno dropped the bag of ice in the cooler and jumped out. My friend and I looked at each other in shock, and then off we went...I really wish Bruno had told us what to expect before he left, as all we told him yesterday was that we wanted to snorkel for about 3 hours...we picked him because his English was good.
Our driver took us to see a few bays... We understood the names as we had read them, but little else. For sure, he took us to Playa Maguey and Playa Organo. It was a game of charades between us all again. My friend did much better at figuring out what he was saying. It was really wavy and my stomach was kind of wonky from last night's wine. I stared straight ahead and looked up and I was fine. I didn't want to barf over the side of the boat!
His first stop was at "La Entrega Beach". He used charades to show us the fish, and that we would snorkel there after he took us around to show us the other bays. You could see lots of fish in the water. Below is a shot of my camera looking down from outside the boat.
Lower right at the bottom looks like a woman in there, to me
Above was funny. Our driver stopped and was saying "mask" to us. My friend thought he was saying we were going to get our snorkel gear somewhere near. Then he said "rock" and kept pointing. Ha, we finally got it, the face in the rock or "Cara en la Piedra". Then back to Playa La Entrega.
Here we didn't know what was going on either. He pulled into the beach area and some men were there and helping us out of the boat. They kept asking how long we would stay and we said 3 hours. Then our driver was leaving with our cooler stuff, so we had to get them to get that and then he left. We had no clue what was going on. A couple had reasonable English so they brought us to a table in a restaurant and said they would take us over for snorkel gear when we were ready. We sat down and collected our thoughts.
View from our table
They took us over to a hut where we got our snorkel gear for $100 pesos each and that included a locker. They handed us vests that had "Gigantica" written on the back. I said to my friend, "he just picked our size, I guess". She giggled and showed me a little girl who also had a vest on that said "Gigantica". It was the company name. 😃 We locked up our purses and went to sit down to finish our drinks before we snorkeled. As I was standing on the beach, a man named "Willy" who said English was his specialty offered to take us on a snorkel tour for $100 pesos each and told us we would see "thousands of fish". We talked it over, and said we would in a half hour. My friend has never snorkeled before, and its been a while for me too, so we thought it was a good idea and it was...
Willy cleaned our masks, put our fins on and tightened our vests for us. He apologized while putting them on as they have to be done up like a corset so they don't ride up. I said, something to my friend about my boobs being squished and Willy said he didn't know all the English words but he knew that one. Of course, he did, haha. He asked us if we were "Brokeback Mountain" or just friends? We assured him we were just friends.
He was able to tell us all the fish names in English and lead the way. We loved it! Such a good time and it was so clear and beautiful and lots and lots of coral. He told us when it would be shallow and guided my friend through a cave (I have claustrophobia so didn't want to). It felt like we got some good exercise too. He kept us out there for an hour. We tipped him an extra $100 pesos and just had time for lunch before our 3 hours was up. My friend had the underwater camera and if she sends me some pictures after she develops the film, I will edit the blog and add them.
Top left was Margarita and I had a Michelada
They brought us over some tortillas and salsa which he said was habanero and it was super "picante" great. Loved it.
Below are my "Con Carne Quesadillas":
Below is my friend's "fish soup" which was pretty bland and she didn't like having the whole fish. I took the head and tail and put it on my plate but she still said it was staring at her...food wasn't very good and we just nibbled. At least the drinks were tasty.
We got the bill and this was expensive. It was $600 pesos or $40 CAD for 2 drinks and the two plates compared to the other meals we've had. But, we understood "why", you pay for the setting...
They called the "Captain" and soon the Cecilia arrived back to pick us up and then back to the Marina. We tipped our boat driver $200 pesos. We walked to the hotel. As we sat poolside, I sprayed more bug spray on me (OFF). I have got quite bitten while here. I guess I sprayed my foot and saw that it literally ate the toenail polish off 3 toes! We imagined what it was doing to my skin...
We were quite hungry so ordered a clubhouse to share.
That filled us up. When we went back to the room, housekeeping again had left us a welcoming entrance. They did yesterday too, but I had to rip the towels apart because of all the sand I was tracking in so no photos.
Because the hotel was full, we figured it would probably be a special "locals" meal tonight and it was. The first thing I saw was:
I took pictures, but I didn't indulge. But when I was taking a picture, I couldn't help but notice how many were taking plates of the grasshoppers. We joked about it while eating dinner, saying we would probably regret it if we didn't at least try...
Below was my favorite dish of the night. Yum. It's like a good beef stew.
Okay, and then it was time...I went back and got a plate:
Our wonderful server tonight was "Freddy". He had pretty good English and was super friendly and sweet. I tried a few times to pick one up but couldn't do it. I'd go in and then stop. My friend was laughing so hard at me she had tears. I finally asked Freddy if he ate them and what they tasted like. He said yes and that he liked them. Then he said they tasted like they are stir-fried in salt, lime and spices. It was good enough for me. I ate one. AND...it was TASTY! I'm not lying. It was like a snack food, crunchy and salty. My friend ate the little piece on the right (the wing, I teased her). I don't think she liked it as much as I did, as she said she would never eat it again. Hey, I credit her with being adventurous, so many I know, are not...I ate the other one too. Add grasshoppers to my list of strange of foods I've tried.
After dinner, we thought we'd go outside the hotel/bar and have a drink or two. We heard there was "Guns N Beers" down the street so went there.
I'm guessing the dumb name is because they are a "rock bar", not cocked and loaded, lol.
The music was good, the Eagles were ending as we came in and then a "Journey" marathon came on, but it wasn't live or anything. We had cocktails but they were super sweet (pre-mixed) and were giving us both heartburn so we left them. My Cadillac margarita was absolutely horrible. Back at the hotel, it was packed. Everyone was having fun, drinking and dancing but it wasn't our scene tonight. There was even live music with a 2 man Latin band. We retired to the room, dropped and rested the eyeballs until morning.
Sunday, November 12th:
We awoke and went back to Cafe Huatulco. I had a wonderful "Cafe Con Leche" and my friend bought some coffee.
I was sure I had a picture of the beautiful Banyan tree nearby somewhere in my photos, but I couldn't find it, if I do.
It was "Caliente" today. Saying that reminded me that you don't use that word for hot sauce. That's "picante". We used some words that got "lost in translation" and had some very funny results, but honestly - you had to be there and I'll leave it at that ... Today was maybe the hottest day so far? We had decided to shop in La Crucecita, so it figures we picked a day like this. We took a taxi instead of walking because of the heat and got off at the Church in town center. Then we walked around taking us wherever our feet found us.
I did find a nice Xmas tree ornament, hand crafted. We noticed that they didn't barter much in Huatulco. For us, the most they dropped price on anything was $20 or $30 pesos. We didn't care much anyway. We didn't even try to bargain mostly, but this was certainly different than other parts of Mexico we have visited.
The guy we bought our ornaments from took us to his store too and when we left, we told him we needed to stop for a drink so he took us next door. I had a Shrimp Michelada and my friend had a Sangria. They put the fan on for us, though the bartender at my hotel said they are in "cold" season and we did see women with scarves and jackets on. We were frying like bacon and the heat was draining to us, but was it better than being at work? Um, I think you know the answer...I seriously could see spending some time in Huatulco when I retire...
After our drinks, the shop owner came out and walked us to the "Loom" factory. It was pretty neat to visit, and we could have took pictures, but I was uncomfortable with the blatant tipping basket for it and I chose not to. In another moment, I probably would have but I didn't today... I didn't buy anything either though my friend bought a shawl that she liked.
I wanted to go to lunch at "La Crema" which was a wood fired pizza oven bar but they weren't open.
So we went downstairs to a coffee shop. I had a Cortado and it was very, very good, and only $30 pesos. There was some really fine coffee we tasted, on our travels in Huatulco.
We got a taxi back to the hotel as we had enough sun and decided to go for a swim. I hope everyone sees the beauty that I see in Huatulco so far. 😊
Tonight for dinner we walked across the street to the town square to Restaurante Mercader. I was honestly all "Mexican fooded out" today. I wanted something different. When we went over, she told us they were booked until 8:30 that night, which was fine for us. We went back and had more drinks in the lobby bar until they could accommodate us.
We were seated at a 2 top table outside and it was a comfortable evening. Cool with a very slight breeze. We both had margaritas and they were really delicious. A little girl came by trying to sell us something. We said, "no, gracias" and she moved back and just stood there and sang songs. OMG, so I gave her 10 pesos and then she left. Then the boys came. I bought a key chain for $20 pesos and then more boys came over. My friend bought 3 key chains for $50 pesos. Then the mother came by with necklaces. LOL. We stopped and they didn't come back until later. I told them we had already bought from them and they left. My friend said the boy was pointing me out to the others. MARK on my forehead. 😊
My friend had the "Summer Roll" which she said was great.
I saw they had croquettes on the menu, which I LOVE, so I got them. These were "salmon tartar" and I devoured them. So good!
I had Pad Thai also:
It was interesting that they didn't ask how hot I wanted it, but brought the heat on the side. It was good, but probably not the best I've had.
We had another margarita each and the bill was $510 pesos ($35 CAD)! The owner/chef talked to us a bit about how they opened up here and they actually didn't intend to do Thai, but their business partner promoted it, so they had to. They were planning to do contemporary Mexican food. It was all good and I recommend this place and making a reservation. As we walked back, it looked like a wedding or something was going on in the town square. We went back to the hotel and soon retired for the evening.
Monday, November 13th:
When we got to the lobby, Luiz was there. He always looked genuinely happy to see us and I liked him so much. If he was busy or occupied, he would stop and always take the time to say hello and wave at us. We asked when check out was tomorrow and he said 1pm. Then he asked when we were leaving. I told him about three, and he told us it was no problem to keep the room until then. That was sweet! I thanked him profusely. We decided to spend the day at the Beach club. We slept in and got there for lunch. It was nice being lazy with nothing to do today. Below was lunch but I didn't like the fish. I don't like fish that tastes fishy, lol.
They had a hammock hut that was inviting.
We went in the pool, but there was tons of dead bugs. My friend didn't put her head in, but it was too late for me. I saw a grounds worker in the hammock hut so used my Spanish app to tell him. Immediately, he went around with a net and fished out the bugs. I'm guessing someone forgot to do this in the morning today. Anyway, it was much better in the pool now and I told him "muchas gracias". Below are the flower petals housekeeping used on our beds each day. Facebook friends said they were "Ixora Coccinea" when I asked.
And the beauties below are "Bougainvillea".
We went back to the hotel and got ready for our last evening. We decided to go back and try "La Crema". I had a margarita and my friend had a mojito. Neither were very good, and felt sugary sweet and heading for heartburn.
She got a burger and I ordered a small "La Crema Special" pizza.
Mushrooms, Ham, Pepperoni, Green Peppers, Sour Cream - $120 pesos or $8 CAD
I could only eat half, so packed it to go. We shopped for her boyfriend and then took a cab back. Our regular bartender made my friend a drink he called "Manuel's Special". Yes, that was his name. It had a bunch of stuff in it, like vodka, melon liqueur, daiquiri mix, OJ, etc. I gave Manuel my pizza and he gladly accepted when I told him it was from La Crema.
Tuesday, November 14th:
Today was our day with Federico. He was usually our breakfast server but said he would be doing bar this afternoon as well. So we just hung out with him. He took care of us fantastically. We tipped him well and enjoyed our day and a lot of drinks before leaving. We said goodbye to Luiz (pictures and hugs) and the lovely Montserrat at the desk. Federico got us a great fan and then we were able to stand the open air and sit. It was a scorcher of a day again. We went up to shower and then checked out. We took a taxi to the airport for $170 pesos or $12 CAD. Plane left on time and arrived home 15 minutes early. First time I haven't encountered an issue with Sunwing. Other than I had signed up for texts for any flight changes and when I got home, it started texting me EVERY flight of theirs! Saying "STOP" did nothing, so I had to block them.
Plumeria, which we also found on our beds some days