Day 010 14th Feb. 2010 Huatulco

Huatulco with its unspoiled nature and laid-back attitude was a welcome sight at 8am.The weather is fine, not yet humid and with it’s nine splendid bays, Mexican cuisine, pure white sandy beaches, water sports, excursions into the forest and tours of archaeological sites there is plenty to do for the five hours we are ashore. Santa Cruz Huatulco, once an ancient Zapotec settlement and Mexico’s most important Pacific port during the 16th Century but was later abandoned. The cove where we entered was well guarded by the steep rocky outcrop typical of a volcanic area. Deep blue waters splashing white against the black rock added contrast. High priced condominiums of the rich and famous clung to the cliffs giving a cave like appearance. Fuchsia coloured bougainvillaea contrasted with the sand and water. Green Cactus plants set against purple or yellow lime-washed walls denote Mexico.
Hawkers wearing their wares greeted the passengers. Sombreros shading the dark eyes and cheeky smiles; striped ponchos appearing so much brighter when worn by the dark skinned locals. Drink peddlers with their cold cart attached to their bicycles moved through the town offering their services to locals as well as the tourists. Friendly folk offering service with a smile. As well as the restaurants and bars that jostle for shoreline real-estate,rows of jewellery shops,art & craft markets and a marina full of fishing and tourist boats, there is an attractive open-air pink and white walled chapel by the beach,the Capilla de la Santa Cruz, and a well groomed park.
Mass was being celebrated at the Chapel when we arrived so I joined for communion then continued on being a tourist. A musical trio and a few singers added to the overall ambience. Delightful service.

Further down the promenade little stalls were set up selling bananas cooked in honey,another one shucking oysters, another selling freshly roasted peanuts served with a wedge of lemon.The bananas were delicious. Nearby, another local carried a large bag over his shoulder housing his pet iguana.
 ‘You take picture signor?’ ‘Only one dollar’ ‘No thanks“ the animal had the same effect on me as any other reptile; Stay away.
Further on we met a gentle elderly signor, dressed in his very best trousers,crumpled white shirt,mirror sunglasses,brimmed Panama hat, with his three string violin. What a photo opportunity. This time the spiel was reversed. ‘Hey, Signor, I take your photo?’ ‘I give you a dollar’! He couldn’t refuse so posed while playing his favourite tune to the best of his ability. Grabbed some great images but thank goodness our cameras were not recording sound. Paid the dollar and left while we still had hearing.
Visited the silver jewellery shops and viewed beautiful designs and settings. Some very good deals.Other upmarket shops displayed painted timber-work quirky animals that were outstanding in design and colour.
Moved to the park and sat with the locals in the only (non-hassle) peaceful area. A restaurant had set itself up in the top floor of the bandstand and was serving the coldest drinks. Our throats were parched by this time.
Negotiated a taxi to go about three kms. inland to Crucecita, a planned city that sprang up in 1985. It has a well grassed city plaza with a cute bandstand, more shops (less touristy), more reasonably priced restaurants and the less expensive hotels.The two dollars each way in the taxi was money well spent. Military presence was marked. Everywhere a soldier with a rifle over the shoulder. While we were standing on the pure white sand, dreaming of another long,cool drink, some police, in full combat uniform, guns at the ready, ran along the beach, grabbed a guy, handcuffed him and dragged him off to the utility come paddy wagon. Possibly a drug runner.
Nearby the tiny artisans market, with it’s vibrant colours and atmosphere gave us a further look into Mexican life. Little kids helping their parents in the stalls, stall holders eating lunch from poly styrene boxes as they waited to make their next deal. Cuban cigars, Sombreros, silver jewellery, Mexican nicknacks and the cant-go-home-without Tee shirt. Just off the plaza is the Iglesia de Guadalupe. Set on a steep hill,the white lime-washed with gold yellow painted trim,has a large mural of Mexico’s patron saint gracing the entire ceiling of the central chapel. The image of the Virgin is set against a deep blue night sky complete with some 52 stars. Naive art but charming. A gold mosaic of the Virgin adorns a side chapel.Votive candle wax odour fills the air.
Got a taxi back to Huatulco and the ship.The suitcases are going to bulge. Len has just purchased a strange looking brightly painted horse.