Heading down from the Sierra Madre del Norte, you will arrive at the Pacific coast of Oaxaca State. Most travellers head for Puerto Escondido, a city known as having some of the best, if not the best waves in Mexico. I decided instead to skip it (not being able to contemplate swimming, let along surfing with my dodgy knee) and head straight to the hippie beaches of Mazunte and Zipolite.
Mazunte is a small village on the Pacific coast about 1hr by bus from Puerto Escondido and 45 minutes from the local service and transport hub, Pochutla. Mazunte is hippie central and there is a hippie party scene there. I didn’t like Mazunte so much and only stayed there 3 nights. Accommodation is really basic and seriously overpriced. I couldn’t swim there, as it was too dangerous. There is no sunset, as it is obscured by the peninsula. I didn’t get a good vibe in the town either – it was a bit dirty and didn’t have a centre. One plus point – there is a turtle breeding rehabilitation centre there, which is worth visiting.
Full-moon hippie rave in a forest
I wasn’t planning on doing any partying there, but after 2 months in Mexico of just travelling and no partying (including a very quiet xmas and new year in Oaxaca city), suddenly the opportunity presented itself in a full-moon hippie rave and I decided to go for it. This despite 2 major reservations: the location was in a forest somewhere 3kms out of town over a huge hill. After injuring my knee on the Pacific Coast, I was in no fit state to attempt such a hike. I knew there would no taxis to take me back until after sunrise. Secondly, there would be the horrible music they play at these hippie raves – a type of electronic music called psychedelic trance (psy-trance) for short. I had had my first exposure to it 20 years ago in Goa, India, where a specific flavour of it gained brief popularity abroad, coining the term “Goa-trance”, which these days is synonymous with psy-trance. Since then, the music has not progressed or developed in any way. Every track sounds exactly the same, has the same relentless beat, so there no need for the dj to beatmix, because there is no change in mood, just the odd change in tempo, sending the hippies leaping ecstatically into the air.
Still, travelling is about taking the opportunity and trying new things – the no risk, no reward approach. So in the spirit of adventure and conquering adversity, I ventured forth. Everything started well – there was a good mix of hippies and traveller there – many from as afar as Mexico City. They had a big bonfire going on top of a hill with a good view of the moon and stars. I met some really nice people and was feeling euphoric in the natural and peaceful environment. However, in a flash it all suddenly turned bad, as it can in these situations. I found myself alone and isolated. The music got dark and sinister. I decided I had to get the hell out, but had to abandon my attempt to stumble home in the pitch black due to my precarious state of health. I was trapped in hippie hell! My only option was to wait it out until sunrise. I had no watch and it seemed like time was going backwards just to piss me off. To my great fortune and eternal gratitude, a kind and sympathetic young lad from Mexico City I befriended, offered me a lift back into Mazunte in his car, saving from an eternal hippie nightmare.
I much preferred Zipolite to Mazunte and ended up staying there 2 1/2 weeks. Zipolite is known famous for being a nude beach – I had the pleasurable view of nude joggers, couples and dog walkers every morning on the beach as I settled down to a good healthy Mexican breakfast. It is also popular with gay Mexican couples, who can just be free and let it all hang out, with no-one hassling them. It is an incredibly chilled out and laid back place. There is a nice long beach with a beautiful sunset every evening. You can surf, but it there is no surfer scene there. It is very safe and there appears to be no crime as evidenced by the lack of locks on any of the doors or gates of my hotel. There appears to be little or no police presence and weed is smoked openly on the beach and in restaurants. In addition to the great seafood on offer, Zipolite has a nice, small main street with some good juice and salad bars. I spend my time recuperating from my accident – doing yoga, getting massages, participating in temazcal (traditional mexican sauna) ceremonies and generally lazing around in my hammock reading and writing. I also stayed with a lovely family in their small hotel right near the beach. It is called the Castillo Oasis, has only 5 rooms and is built from all natural materials and timbers tree house style. Each room is decorated with care and attention and is incredibly good value for money with hammocks and private chill out areas everywhere. No wonder I couldn’t leave!