Hotel El Crucero
"Crossroads Hotel" in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. It was a very pleasant little 2-star hotel ... clean and friendly ... and they served up a delicious plate of spaghetti. We were so hungry and it was so good, we both had a second portion!
Regrettably, we were running out of time in Mexico so we did not have time to see anything of Puerto Escondido or its famous beaches.
From Wikipedia -
Puerto Escondido (English: "Hidden Port") is a small port and tourist center in the municipality of San Pedro Mixtepec Distrito 22 in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Prior to the 1930s, no real town existed. The bay had been used as a port intermittently to ship coffee, but there was no permanent settlement due to the lack of potable water. The name Puerto Escondido had roots in the legend of a woman who escaped her captors and hid here. The Nahuatl word for this area was Zicatela, meaning “place of large thorns." Today, it refers to the area’s most famous beach.
Puerto Escondido is one of the most important tourist attractions on the Oaxacan coast. It caters to a more downscale and eclectic clientele than neighboring Huatulco, mostly surfers, backpackers and Mexican families. The main attractions are the beaches, from Zicatela Beach, which hosts major surfing competitions, to beaches with gentle waves. West from the town is a large lagoon area popular for fishing and birdwatching.
The area around Puerto Escondido had been inhabited by indigenous peoples for centuries, but no towns of any size were established during the pre-Hispanic or colonial eras. The bay was known as Bahia de la Escondida (Bay of the Hidden Woman) due to a legend associated with this place. The story states that a fierce pirate by the name of Andrés Drake, brother of Sir Francis Drake, anchored his ship in the bay when the area was completely uninhabited, in order to rest for a few days unmolested by authorities.
Some weeks before, he and his crew kidnapped a young Mixtec woman from the village of Santa María Huatulco and took her prisoner. While in the bay, the woman managed to escape the cabin in which she was being held, and being a good swimmer, jumped overboard to get to shore and hide in the jungle just beyond the beach. Since then, the pirates referred to the woman as “La Escondida” (the hidden one) and every time the ship returned to these waters, the captain ordered his crew to search and area around the bay, however, they never found her. Hence, the area became known as the Bahía de la Escondida.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was known as Punta Escondida (Hidden Point), then later, Puerto Escondido. At that time, it was just a small fishing village that intermittently was used to ship coffee. Back then, Puerto Escondido suffered from a lack of potable water, despite the fact that the Colotepec River ran nearby. This caused people to settle someplace else. Some did stay, including Nazario Castellanos and Escolástica Valencia, who were the night watchmen for the nearby coffee plantations and considered to be the town’s first residents. There was no real town until the 1930s, when Puerto's activity as a port was more firmly established.
Puerto Escondido belonged to the municipality of Santa María Colotepec. However, eventually the residents petitioned to change jurisdiction to another nearby municipality, San Pedro Mixtepec, which was granted in the 1940s.
From the 1940s to the 1960s, a church was constructed and the first school was built. Wells were eventually dug to alleviate the water supply problems, and generators bought to supply electricity to the pumps and the few streetlights. However, there were still problems getting needed outside supplies such as sugar. These commodities only arrived when a merchant ship entered the bay to sell its wares. Sometimes, this would not happen for months. Residents got by with local products such as fish, poultry, iguanas, chicken and turtle eggs. After the Sol de Vega road to the capital of Oaxaca was constructed, this problem was alleviated somewhat.
In the 1960s, Highway 200 was built, connecting Oaxacan coastal towns with Acapulco. Surfers and other tourists began to find the quiet beaches around Puerto and tourism began to flourish. Its function as a port diminished as coffee began to be shipped by truck. Other infrastructure added included those to supply the area with potable water, a small airport where the Rinconada is now, mail service and some government offices. However, in the 1970s only about 400 people lived in Puerto.
With time, Puerto Escondido’s importance as a tourist attraction increased, with hotels and resorts being constructed. For many years, restaurants were almost exclusively in “palapas” (thatched roof shelters) with fishermen preparing their catches; however, these have mostly given way to modern tourist facilities. Currently, Puerto Escondido is one of the most important tourist sites on the Oaxacan coast.
The community of Puerto Escondido is divided between two municipalities, so politically it is two separate entities. The Zicatela Beach side belongs to the municipality of Santa María Colotepec and the western portion belongs to San Pedro Mixtepec. The boundary between the two municipalities is also in dispute, leaving many businesses in limbo, sometimes paying taxes to both municipalities. Puerto Escondido has been lobbying for a more independent status with the congress of the state of Oaxaca, despite opposition from San Pedro Mixtepec. In additions to the above problems, backers of the measure state that while the community generates most of the municipality’s income, it does not receive support from the municipal seat. In August 2008, residents of Puerto Escondido blocked the highway to the municipal seat of San Pedro Mixtepec to protest the lack of money for infrastructure in the town. Also, 69% of the municipality’s population lives in Puerto Escondido. As of the 2009 census, Puerto Escondido had a population of 20,178 On 30 July 2009, the state congress declared Puerto Escondido to be a city. However, the declaration did not resolve the boundary dispute between San Pedro Mixtepec and Santa María Colotepec.
The main attractions of Puerto Escondido are its beaches, which have become internationally known. The area also is attractive to scuba divers because of the variety of fish to be found, as well as large oysters, lobsters and manta rays. Although the Pacific Coast of Mexico generally runs north-south, this section of the coast in Oaxaca runs east-west, Playa Zicatela is on the eastern end.
Puerto Escondido became famous due to surfing competitions held at Zicatela Beach every year in November. This beach is considered to be the second best place in the world to practice the sport due to its high waves. The competition brings competitors from various countries.
Nicknamed the "Mexican Pipeline" due to the similar power and shape of the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, the wave that breaks on Zicatela Beach draws an international crowd of surfers, bodyboarders and their entourages. Mid to late summer is low season for tourists, but a prime time for waves and international tournaments. A number of international competitions such as the ESPN X Games, and the MexPipe Challenge have taken place. This beach is separated from the other beaches by a rocky outcropping called "El Morro" (the nose). The beach is fifty to one hundred metres wide and four kilometres long with large waves that reach up to sixteen metres high. Lifeguards are stationed at this high-risk beach as well as on the other beaches. About half of these are professional and the other half volunteers. Zicatela is still a surfers beach, with the strong undertow making the area unsuitable for swimming. The Zicatela Beach tourist district caters to surfers, including specials on surfboard rentals. The beach now has a promenade, landscaped with flowers and shrubs along the restaurants, many recently established.