Huatulco, Mexico, We were desperate to get away from our bone chilling weather, shovels and slushy sidewalks, winter coats, scarves and mitts and the ever present grayness of winter. My wife Ellen and I decided at the last minute to travel to a warmer place and leave the winter behind for seven days.
Huatulco (pronounced Wa-tool-co) is located on the edge of the warm Pacific Ocean about 500 kilometres south of Acapulco, Mexico. We left on an Air Canada Airbus from Pearson International Airport and about five hours later were basking under a bright blue sky with a temperature of 29 degree Celsius (85 Degrees Fahrenheit).A big contrast from the weather that we left back in Canada.
For one glorious week we hung out at the Las Brisas Hotel set in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains. After checking into our clean, generously sized room which overlooked the ocean we put on our bathing suits and headed for one of the three beaches. For those who don't like sand there are three pools that will help you in the serious business of soaking up the sun.
A bit of caution, this place is not suitable for those in a wheelchair or who don't like walking. To get to the lobby, restaurants and the beaches below you have to wait for a shuttle or take steep pathways and many steps.
We realized quickly not all the staff is fluent in English except for the standard questions and we spoke no Spanish. To get non-touristy questions answered we relied on Omar at the front desk who spoke excellent English.
Here are a few tidbits we learned: 50 peso's equals approximately $5.00. The minimum wage for a Mexican is 71 cents an hour (on par with India) and most work 6 days a week. Live entertainment is offered nightly in the hotel lounge and a stage show will keep you amused. Before you go to the beach make sure you have everything you need for the day. The trip back to your room is time consuming. Keep your passports in your room safe. If you lose them there's an eight hour drive to the nearest Canadian Consulate to get a new ones. Protect the two cards you are given to obtain beach towels. If you lose them there is a fee of $25.00 per card.
Each morning we enjoyed a buffet breakfast on the patio of the El Mexicano Restaurant overlooking Ventura Beach with Mexican music playing in the background. Palm trees were gently swaying in the early morning breeze. Our package allowed us also to pick four out of five restaurants for an al a carte dinner. Food was never far away and we were never disappointed.
One of the best tips Omar gave us was to take an early morning free walk with a naturalist named Pablo Narvao. The walk is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 a.m.
We met Pablo and two other hotel guests in the lobby and for two hours he entertained, informed and amazed us with his knowledge of the flora and fauna found outside the grounds of the hotel. Here's a bit of advice for this walk, wear long pants and running shoes because we discovered 25%of the plants in this area could be poisonous. Along the way we spotted amidst Barrel and Coyul Palms the Melodious Blackbirds, Golden Chick Woodpecker and the noisy White Throated Magpie Jay. We all agreed the tip we gave Pablo was well worth it.
Twice during the week we ventured outside the hotel and took a $10.00 return taxi ride to the nearby village of Santa Cruz, a quaint colourful Mexican village. We spent time shopping at the tiny stores surrounding the village square and visited the lovely Holy Cross church built in 1695 that dominates the village.
The local indoor market has over 50 vendors selling everything a tourist or local will need. We enjoyed having a coffee at the little café inside the market. Locals didn't seem to mind that we were tourists.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.