Puerto Escondido: The Grim Gripa

07.08.2009 – 12.08.2009

Puerto Escondido: The Grim Gripa

Just before leaving Malinalco, I took a ride to explore a couple of nearby towns and look for motorcycle oil. Found the oil and got some advice on a route toward Puerto Escondido that I hadn’t previously considered. By the map it didn’t appear to be such glorious advice, but the time-savings the fellow estimated were so significant, I had to give it a shot.

First problem came when the slow free highway I started on was supposed to pop out at the fast 4-lane highway. It did, but there was nowhere to enter the toll road anywhere. The company that had built that highway had plugged it up extremely tight to prevent non-payers from entering it, but neglected to add sufficient entries for those who did want to pay. So, had to stay on the slow, dilapidated free highway almost all the way to Taxco… bouncing along at a snail’s pace behind countless fruit trucks spewing diesel smoke and over giant topes (large Mexican speed bumps).

Finally made it to the toll highway and tried to make up for lost time with higher speeds than I’m usually comfortable with. Having to deal with increased wind resistance really started increasing my fatigue much quicker than I was prepared for.

By the time I made it to the so-called “short cut” highway, I was already pretty tired and the sore throat I thought I was getting the night before was starting to feel like it was in fact turning into full-on fever. I brushed it off as likely due to the extra fatigue and heat.

The short cut was a two-lane that took me across and down to the highway that hugs the Guerrero and Oaxaca coastline while completely avoiding Acapulco. Trouble is, the road is extremely curvy with constant small towns and large topes to slow down for.

Oh, and then there’s all the free-roaming cattle and the occasional driver who thinks he’s driving in a high-speed video game, taking curves at way too high a speed. So fast it sends them careening out of their lane and heading directly at me as they try to correct. One such driver was coming out of a curve and appeared to be losing control. He luckily missed me, but on the other side of the curve I saw a burro on it’s side. The animal's eyes were still open and looked like he’d just been hit by the same maniac who'd just barely missed hitting me. He didn't even slow down. 

The ride only got worse with more heat, more topes, and more dead animals. I think you get the point that it wasn’t one of the more pleasant rides I’d had. 

After finally arriving in Puerto Escondido to trade taking photos of this gorgeous villa for staying in it, the developer of the house (who also rides motorcycles) told me that route I just took was extremely dangerous with regular bandito holdups and crashes. And, that it really doesn’t save you any time at all because there’s a new toll road that also allows for you to avoid driving through Acapulco without having to do all the dangerous mountain driving. Some “short cut”!

Was finally at the villa and checking it out. To say this place was nice is an understatement. Only trouble was, that fever was starting to make me a little delirious and dizzy. I brushed it off as allergies, the hard ride, the altitude change, etc. Fact was, I was sick with some strong flu and getting sicker by the minute, just as I was settling into this amazing house with an infinity swimming pool over-looking the ocean. All I wanted to do was eat handfuls of Tylenol and try to get cooled down from the fever. Wasn’t so interested in taking photos yet at this point. 

The whole scene got awkward in that it was suggested that I might actually have swine flu. Great! Just what I wanted to hear. Tried to keep to myself in order to not get my hosts sick as well. Being that sick and alone is pretty tough. Doesn’t matter how nice the house is, it’s just as miserable as it would be anywhere. Though I have to admit I’m glad I didn’t have to do be laid up in a cheap Mexican flophouse like I’m used to staying in, with no infinity pool to cool off in from my head pounding fever and delirium.

I was envious of that house while I was there, but I learned that none of that material stuff matters one iota when your health is failing. I would have easily traded not being sick for staying in a primitive hut instead. 

Another problem was that the few times I'd drugged myself up enough with flu meds and tried to do something other than lay in bed, and walk out of the security gate to pass a primitive palapa restaurant. When I’d return after dark, the owners of the restaurant would be laying in hammocks swatting mosquitos and watching a TV outside on plastic crates. Their dogs would come running to attack me, but the owners would do nothing to stop them. I’d scream at the dogs trying to both scare them off or get the attention of the owners to call them back.

They’d just look at me grinning and say nothing. This went on every time I ventured out and every time they’d do nothing. Eventually found a big stick and chased their dogs all the way back to the restaurant. The owners would finally say something but mostly to protect their dogs from me and my big stick! It baffled me that they could be so cold as to let their dogs attack a passerby who they’d seen every day for nearly a week at this point.

The only thing I could figure out was that perhaps they thought I lived in one of those amazingly beautiful villas beyond the giant security gate, and perhaps there’s a little resentment toward the wealthy folks who either rent or own such places? Perhaps if they’d known I was just a workin’ stiff trading my skills for lodging, maybe they would have done a little more to call their dogs off. Pure speculation of course, but imagine there’s at least some ol' fashioned resentment to blame in the mix. Could be they simply didn’t like the looks of me. Or, perhaps it was just too freakin’ hot to get up out of their hammocks to bother with some dumb gringo walking by with their dogs threatening to tear meat off his legs. And yes, it was that hot and humid that I could almost understand not wanting to move or get up for anything, including saving someone else's hide.

Started feeling a little better for the last day or so and enjoyed listing to music, drinking some of the beer that was in the fridge, and lazing in that glorious infinity pool like I was some kind of high roller or something. Could have easily kept that up a few more days, but my agreed stay was up and it was time to hit the road. The ride was only going to take about 4 hours South to Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. The fever and body aches were still plaguing me a bit but I was definitely feeling like I could handle a short ride and ready to be back to exploring again.

My hosts were very kind to me and said I could stay as long as it took to be 100% but, after being laid up for so long, I really just wanted to get back on the adventure. I’d spent a good deal of time in that house and didn’t want to get too awfully used to it. Besides, I'd learned an even more valuable lesson than the price tag on that house, that all of the 

Next stop Tehuantepec, the culture where all the women are reportedly in charge of everything. Ladies in charge… hmmm... definitely sounds interesting, and perhaps more preferable to general, machismo male domination!