Bahia de Huatalco

June 3

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 encountered.

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.

After reviewing 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.

Having 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 of Hawaii.

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.

 

The pool was large and beautiful. Check out the nifty molded in concrete lounge chairs.

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 Chickens".

Here's 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. Oops!

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 fly IFR.

I 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 gusto.
Here is the whole setting. The flash didn't carry very well, unfortunately.
A 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.

Onward to Belize!

 
All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.