Carl's note: Stan and Diane live in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Not ones to pass up a free ride, we hooked up with Dan for a shakedown cruise, Guatemala planning session, and general warm-up, by heading south. We took our guidebooks, old Geographics, net site printouts and scraps of paper containing notes from friends.
On Sunday, we drove to Puerto Angel where we stayed for two nights at the Angel del Mar, a "modern" hotel on a hilltop above Playa Panteon. At 320p per night for our two-bed room, without hot water, but with a nice pool and a great view, I became even more convinced that PA in general is not a very good deal for middle class types such as ourselves. It may offer more to the low-end traveler, but quite frankly I found our next stop, Puerto Escondido, a much better deal. The food was cheaper (and better prepared), the rooms are cheaper as well, and there is more entertainment available.
As usual, when in PE, we gravitated toward the Cafecito when we were ready for breakfast. Dan's cup of coffee is still the best in town, if not the state, and the mango croissants are still to die for. With the addition of a dinner restaurant next door, where we had a magnificent dorado platter for 29 pesos, Dan now has an all-day eatery. We did duck into town for one of Herman's fish platters, but at 25 pesos it probably doesn't represent a better deal than Dan's.
In comparison, we paid anywhere from 30 to 50 pesos for fish fillets in PA, which were not as well prepared or presented; and the Ben Zaa, which is also concrete and about as well put together as the Angel del Mar, charges under 200 for a double; and it's pool is excellent. For 300 pesos, you can get a triple at the Casa Blanca, a very well maintained and secure hostelry right on the Andador Turistico in "downtown" Puerto.
In deference to Dan, we spent our two nights in PE at Rockaway, where the walls of the cabanas are carrizo (a bamboo-like cane) and the roof thatched, so the mosquito nets they provide are essential. A cabana without hot water costs 200p. The pool is excellent, and the staff is very friendly.
It took about as long to drive back to Oaxaca from Puerto Escondido through Sola de Vega as it did to go down to Puerto Angel through Pochutla. However, the road from Puerto Angel is so bad and there is so much one-lane traffic that Dan, our driver, says that the extra half hour it would take to go thru Pochutla is definitely worth it in comfort and peace of mind
For more about Stan Gotlieb's articles and e-letter: Oaxaca Essays & Online Newsletter: www.realoaxaca.com