There is a spot on the southern coast of Mexico where the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains reach the Pacific Ocean, and this is where you will find the once sleepy town of Huatulco. This resort area has been developed since the 1980's to what we see today. It has become a neat tourist destination , smaller than other Mexican cities, but laid back with nine or more bays, lots of activities, and great dining.
There are coffee-growing plantations, waterfalls, ravines, and farms. Close-by La Crucecita has a quaint church, as well as restaurants and lots of shopping. What the small town of Huatulco does not have, we bet you can find it in the more modern village of Le Crucecita. We could have hiked to this city from the pier, but why? Unless we needed to buy supplies, the last place we want to be is in a mall or even strip shopping centers.
Shore excursions offered 12 tours here today. They ran from 2 ½ to 4 hours, costing from $60 to $190 per person. The four hour tour, and the most expensive, was a chance to catch and release blue marlin, sail fish, swordfish, yellow-fin tuna, dorado, or mahi-mahi. Other tours available we most that we have taken in past years. The water adventures were all fun, since they gave us the chance to sail in a catamaran to the five bays for a beach and snorkel swim. We went on a bird-watching eco adventure, but saw very little. During the later afternoon, a group was going off of the ship to do this tour. Passing he group, we bit our tongues, not mentioning to them it was highly unlikely to spot any bird life in this heat. However, maybe they will have better luck. On one stop here, we took a drive to a rural farm, where we sampled fried cactus served in a cheese omelette. We also learned how tortillas are made, then pressed with an iron press. Hard work.
La Brias Resort offered a 4 ½ hour get-away with passes for the use of their pool, beaches, and renting snorkel equipment. Vouchers would also work for food at their restaurant, or some stuff in their boutique. We have done a similar tour while in Acapulco, and found it to be most delightful and safe. At that time, we were able to get their buffet lunch at the resort, no extra charge.
We knew that the Amsterdam would be approaching the shoreline around 12:30pm, so we went up to deck six forward, armed with the big camera. Sailing here all night, found that the seas were rough and rolling, and the weather had taken a turn for the worst. It had poured all night, accompanied by lightning and thunder, which has been a constant traveler with us since leaving Florida. Not that we mind. However, we did wonder if it was too rough to get into this port today. Hate to admit it, but one of us experienced a bit of motion sickness upon getting up this morning. Not severe, just slightly queasy. It's only been perhaps the second or third time it was wise to take a meclizine just in case. After breakfast, the symptoms disappeared. Eventually, we were through the worst of the coastal patch that produces these turbulent seas and high winds.
Around noontime, we began to see more bird life, as several boobys were flying across the bow, fighting for the perch on the top of the ship's flagpole. That's when we went to deck six forward to watch the sail into the port. Not sure we have ever come here so late in the day, but we were happy to see the sail in. Even better, while watching the birds, we spotted some turtles, the size of dinner plates, floating by. They were followed by plenty of dolphins, most of whom were swimming under the surface of the water. These creatures love to duck under the bow and follow the ship's wake. And we have the fun of shooting them jumping and racing each other. Good thing we had the big camera, or else we doubt the photos would have come out. We knew tht Denise would find her way up here, and sure enough, she did come armed with her camera. They have not been here for many years, so they were anxious to see the changes, of which there had been many.
Did we mention that we shared the dock with the Crystal Symphony, the ship we intend to take back to Los Angeles after next year's world cruise. The Amsterdam will be going into a much-needed dry dock in 2018, and the only way back by ship was the Crystal Symphony. We had always intended on trying a cruise on Crystal when they were docked in San Francisco. However, we never did, then they pulled out of the city, and seldom return now. Anyway, this ship is smaller than the Amsterdam, with 51,044 gross tons of luxury/premium sailing. The passenger capacity is 1010 all berths full, which they never are. It is described as a highly comfortable ship with elegant, refined décor. For several years now, it has been almost all inclusive. All the tips are included, and the beverages are free, even the wines at lunch and dinner. One very positive aspect about this ship, is that it does have a walk-around promenade deck, although there are no lounge chairs. Another plus, we think it is announcement–free also. Over the years, we have heard many good things about sailing on these ships, so we shall find out firsthand next year.
Once we were dock, the breeze stopped and the heat of the day settled in. It was going to be another hot one, the same as we remember every time we are here. Going off the ship around 1:30pm was soon enough, since most all of the touring guests had left. We explored around the small town, checking out the picturesque marina along the way. Many passengers had booked the water tours, and there were plenty of boats to take people swimming somewhere in the numerous bays. Hawkers were there to tempt us to take independent tours, at a much cheaper price as well.
Instead, we ducked into the block of souvenir stalls where everything under the sun is sold. One shop sells folk art, similar to our Mexican skeleton man we bought while in Guatemala. We inquired about the price of a painted jaguar, and the amount came back around $250. No wonder he had no customers this afternoon. One pair of silk thread earrings for $3 was fine with one of us. And we added a checkerboard tablecloth for the dining room in the brightest of colors for $22. Knowing this was a super good deal, we checked out more similar tablecloths in shops on the way back to the beach. The same identical tablecloth in different colors was $55 in the artisan store. But wait, the vendor was willing to go to $50. It does pay to shop around.
It was time for something cold to drink as well as lunch. There were two restaurants that had the big outdoor clay ovens, which we were certain were used for baking pizza. The nicest restaurant in town was Ve El Mar, located right on the beach, and tiered for good views of the water. Checking out the menu, we discovered the oven was for cooking everything but pizza. It was not on the menu here, or anywhere else nearby.
The next best thing was getting appetizers plates of chicken and cheese quesadillas. Ordering two Corona beers, our cute waitress brought over a bowl of large round crispy tortilla chips and some hot salsa. Along with the food, came the local Siamese cat, who insisted on watching every bite of food we took. Yes, one off us caved in and gave her a bit of chicken, until she looked like she might want to jump in our laps. That did happen in Rhodes, Greece. That's when our waitress came along and shooed her away temporarily.
While waiting for our food, many local vendors wandering through the customers selling jewelry, sunglasses, wooden trinkets, sun dresses, crocheted purses, hats, toys, and even some things we recognized from Vietnam. These were the little wooden clowns with a pull string, which we bought for $1 each in Viet Nam. Except here, the fellow wanted $4 each. Guess you can't blame him for trying.
It was 4pm by the time we headed back, looking in the last of the stores along the way. When it is this hot and sticky, shopping is about the last thing you want to do. We stayed in our room working on photos until it was time to go to dinner at 8pm. This time we had reservations for just the two of us in the Pinnacle Grill. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, there was a Mexican Fiesta Dinner in the Lido until 8pm. The dining room menu offered the same items. For us, it was a better night for Pinnacle food, as we tried the Jidori chicken entrees. Very tasty. Since there were only a few tables of customers in here, our service was quick, and we were done by 9:30pm.
Taking our PM walk on the promenade deck, we heard really loud mariachi music at the restaurant where we ate lunch. Sure sounded like a lot of happy folks were having a fine time (maybe it was the numerous margaritas and beers, too).
The Crystal ship had left their slip, and we would follow right before 11pm. Our next stop will be after two days at sea, and the last stop for us….Cabo San Lucas. We missed it last year, due to problems with the platforms, so they had better stop this time…..we love it there.
Bill & Mary Ann