Edwin agreed to come along with us from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. I was looking to split the cost of gas and tolls; I’d budgeted for the gas (twice as expensive as the U.S., but the tolls were quite a bit more than I’d expected). I don’t think that Jeff and I were even heading to Puerto Escondido but it was on the way to Guatemala and it was by the beach. We had heard that the beaches there were quite beautiful; what other reason would you need? We drove due south from Oaxaca about 90 miles (about 140km) crossing over the mountains that separate the southern Mexican coast from the interior high plain. As we crossed the summit and looked towards the south we could see thick and lush jungle (above).
When we arrived, we checked out two or three of the local hostels and found one to our liking and then headed straight for the beach. It was a crowded post-Christmas beach week and we enjoyed the ocean, the sun, the view and the company of some of the local people.
I listened and was awed by the fluency of Edwin’s Spanish. It seemed as though he had been speaking it for years. Again and again the locals asked how long he had been speaking Spanish and stared in disbelief when he said only 6 weeks. And then, just like in Oaxaca, the conversation turned to football and his native Holland and he was an instant celebrity.
“Damn,” Jeff said again, “Really, we need to dump this guy or we’ll never meet any chicks.” We laughed again. Edwin was staying in Puerto Escondido after we left, but the inside joke was fun to laugh at.
We lingered as long as we could watching the sun set and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of the beach. Eventually we broke free and walked the block or two back to our hostel and showered to head out for a taste of the local nightlife. We stopped at a liquor store to buy some drinks and found the clerk asleep at the cash register. I thought I’d try out a new Spanish word that I had learned and said, “Casado?” But, I had mixed up the words, casado is ‘married,’ I had meant to say cansado for ‘tired.’
The clerk replied, “No casado, cansado,” to which Edwin quickly replied, “Casado, sansado, es mismo,” meaning, “Married, tired, it’s all the same.” Edwin, the clerk and I all broke into spontaneous laughter. It was the first Spanish joke that I ever “got.”
We ended up at a night club with a thatched balcony that overlooked the ocean. The warm breeze blew right through and with the loud club music it really felt like a tropical getaway. I met a pair of young women from Mexico City; Marisella and Maria. They were both recent graduates from college and had taken their first “real” jobs in the city. They were visiting the beach with family and had taken the night away to enjoy some music and dancing.
The two were quite interested to know about the United States and we were interested to know their “take” on, well, pretty much everything. They both seemed quite concerned that America had a “low” opinion of Mexico because of what they saw as an inaccurate portrayal of Mexico in the American media and in Hollywood. They went into great detail to explain to us how cultured Mexico was, how many of its people go to college, and how cosmopolitan the larger cities were. If I had to judge Mexico based on these two lovely ladies, I would have to say that I would agree with them.
The next day we made our farewells with Edwin; it was a shame to leave such a “laid back” beach community like this. I could certainly have stayed for another week and relaxed and enjoyed the ocean. But, we had a schedule and a few more countries to see.
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