The coastline near
Bahia de Huatalco is absolutely gorgeous. There are many secluded
little beaches here in little coves, and a resort typically gets
one all to itself. This place would be high on my list of romantic
getaways. It's way less commercial feeling than places like Acapulco
or Puerto Vallarta.
Travel agent brochures
also describe the area as eco-tourist friendly, and the jungles
and beaches are indeed beautiful and relatively unspoiled.
The airport here
is pretty lonely. That's 1 echo fox in the distance by the DC-3.
Timoteo is taking photographs to the left of the baggage porter.
We had our most difficult encounter with customs here. They sent
a gaggle of young teenage soldiers out who had a big checklist
on their clipboard. Apparently, they were trying to do a bunch
of cross-checking to investigate drug traffickers. I think we
were starting to get out of the zone where US aviators are commonly
The Aero Liberdad
DC-3 was our only other plane there.
Also, the English
here was much more difficult to non-existant. While waiting on
paperwork, I decided to go into the terminal. On the way, I stopped
to photograph a big Mexican flag. I was immediately accosted by
a security guard who indicated with sign language that I was in
trouble. He dragged me off and I thought I'd have a heck of a
time, but in the end he talked to a superior and just deposited
me outside in the terminal. I had no idea what they were saying
and they didn't try to communicate with me at all once they saw
I spoke no Spanish.
Once outside the
terminal, it was a little bit scary. I couldn't communicate with
anyone to get let back into go back to the plane. Fortunately,
I had my wallet and passport, so couldn't go too far wrong. Still,
it was a little bit off-putting to be accosted by a police officer
and escorted away from your party without any communication.
The last picture
is some more customs guys walking out to the plan. I didn't photograph
the soldiers. There was a definite vibe that this might be a bad
idea and would antagonize them. Nothing like a 16-year old carrying
an M-16 with an authority complex!
Shortly after the
two helicopters took off. It was cool to watch as they fly about
2-4 feet off the ground following taxiways and then they just
shoot up when they get to the runway.
I took this picture
just before security nabbed me.
the weather in the pilot briefing room, it became clear we probably
couldn't continue to Belize. There was a pretty heavy line of
thunderstorms, and we were already tired after 4 hours of flight.
decided to stay the night, we located a convenient hotel and checked
in. It turned out to be a very cool place to stay. It would be perfect
for that romantic getaway that I think Huatalco is perfect for.
The Camino Real
is really a first-class resort, though small. You are greeted
at the entrance with a virgin pina colada to drink and led down
to check-in, which is in a beautiful stucco-walled palapas (thatched
roof hutch). Guests are individually greeted in the same fashion
as the Mauna Lani, another favorite hotel of ours on the Big Island
The mural is hard
to see here, but was beautiful.
Our leader, Esteban,
is speaking with the hotel clerks negotiating a price. As this
was an unplanned stop, we have to play it by ear. Fortunately,
Steve owns a travel agency and can get awesome rates, as well
as knowing how to work the system. The hoteliers started out tough,
but Steve immediately asked for the phone to call American Express.
As a Platinum member, they will negotiate travel arrangements
on his behalf and carry considerable clout. The manager rapidly
withered and then acquiesced to a pretty descent rate.
The hotel is built
on a hill leading down to the beach. Here is the bottom of the
hill looking up. It's a very pretty contemporary/native mix that
looks like something you'd see in the pages of Conde Nast.
This was a pleasant
time to visit because we had the resort almost to ourselves.
pool was large and beautiful. Check out the nifty molded in concrete
Say hello to my
l'il friend. Al Pacino in Scarface.
Or in this case,
an Iguana that was sunning itself by the pool. On a recent cruise
ship visit to Cozumel, they referred to these guys as "Mexican
the pretty little private beach. This resort is adjacent to the
Club Med, which is off to the right on the next private cove over.
The rooms themselves
were nice. Part of Steve's travel agent moxy got us upgraded.
Each room had a private swimming pool!
Can you see what's
wrong in this picture? I think the builders made a mistake. The
glass door is on the toilet niche, and does no good at all. There
is no door or curtain on the shower, so water goes on the floor.
Check the little
private pool that each room has.
After a refreshing
margarita, a dip in the pool, and a visit to the beach, we retired
to our rooms to clean up for dinner. The beach, BTW, was very
nice and provided us with a healing saltwater swim. Not quite
as warm as the Caribbean, but warmer than Hawaii. Best of all,
we had the beach all to ourselves.
If you refer to
the hotel picture above, the dining room is underneath one of
the arches you see, and is open air with a view of the ocean.
Steve ordered Camerones
(shrimp). You can also see he is holding up an IFR chart of the
area. We need to plan our flying for the next day at dinner. Here's
a curious factoid--you can't get VFR sectionals for most areas
south of the border. The IFR charts show very little detail about
the terrain. I suppose these foreign countries prefer pilots to
had a very tasty little grilled fillet of beef, while Timoteo had
a dish of grasshopper-encrusted mahi mahi. All that stuff that looks
like herbs on his fish are actually tiny little grasshoppers. Apparently
this is a real delicacy in the state of Oaxaco (Wa-Hok-A) where
Huatalco is. The cuisine dates back to Mayan Indian times. Personally,
I couldn't quite get excited about it, but Tim ate it with great
is the whole setting. The flash didn't carry very well, unfortunately.
last look at the Camino Real on the morning of our departure. It
looks like a pretty day. I'm standing in the car port with our luggage
looking up at the topmost tier. These look like they might be timeshares
or condos, as they are somewhat personalized.
As we were waiting to
depart Huatalco, I was waiting in the customs office and met the two
young girls who ran it. They were considerably more friendly than the
guys, and desperately wanted to carry on a conversation. They were eager
to learn about us and about life in the US. I think they thought it
pretty glamorous that we were flying through on our own airplane. Unfortunately,
my Spanish is almost nonexistant and their English wasn't much better,
so we finally had to settle for friendly smiles and a good bye.
To make sure we were ready
for the short field on Ambergris Caye, we made a practice take off run
with some flaps. According to Tim, our chief pilot, this procedure is
no longer recommended for Navajo pilots unless they're really experienced.
The plane is a real bear to handle if you lose an engine on a short
field. However, this is the procedure he grew up with so he's used to
it. It works well. Practicing the technique before you needed it was
a refreshing piece of insight to get from a 5000 hour pilot.