Puerto Escondido, in Afterthought

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

Two days after the robbery, we dared to venture out from the security of our apartment. At once, the excursion down our simple sand street to the commercial center of La Punta felt ordinary yet reckless. We had walked this road several times before, but now we did it with deep suspicion of all we passed. The small children dragging their sandals to kick up dust, the old man on his daily walk with his goats – we watchfully kept our distance from them all.

With hands clutched, we rushed to our destination. It was still broad daylight, a bit too early for dinner, but as late as we wanted to be out. We settled into the hard plastic chairs of the open-air taco joint and surveyed all around. There was one other couple dining, but our attention was drawn down the small street to the beach in front of us. There were plenty of people around enjoying the last light of day, frisbees were being tossed and sand castles were being built. The long fingers of thin cloud were just starting to pick up the colours of the descending sun – pinks and purples were set to burst soon.

As we savoured our food we found ourselves savouring our surroundings as well. Even after what Pete had just been through, he was the first to comment how quickly the easy-going and friendly nature of the neighbourhood was already loosening his resolve. This is pure paradise, we both thought and he said aloud.

After our meal was complete we walked hand-in-hand back down to the beach for the first time since the incident. Pete pointed out where he had been held up and we stood for awhile, staring. It was going to be our last time on that massive and alluring beach, probably forever. Had the robbery not occurred, I could have seen us make regular pilgrimages to our wonderful refuge in Puerto Escondido. But it happened. And even though we hold no ill will against the town itself, it will now always be known as the place where that happened.

And so, our last glimpse…

Playa Carizalillo

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  1. I definitely understand your need to move on. It would be very hard to shake off negative feelings after being held up at gunpoint. I was robbed in Guatemala, albeit passively, and it really gave me mixed feelings about my experience in that country. Looking back now I have a much more positive picture of my time there and I hope that when you look back on your time in Puerto Escondido in the future, you can more clearly remember the positive. Thanks for the great post πŸ™‚

    1. For the two weeks before the incident, we felt like we had found a true paradise, and are just crushed that one guy brought our utopia down. Hopefully time will heal.

  2. A lovely farewell tribute to a place that certainly put you through the wringer. I definitely understand what you mean about not wanting to hold a fluke negative experience against a place, but also knowing that nothing will ever be the same there for you after it nonetheless. I guess the upside is that Mexico seems to have no shortage of beautiful, wonderful places for you to explore, so although it’s adios to Puerto E this just opens you up to find a new piece of paradise.

  3. So sorry this happened to you and that it understandably tainted you experience of Puerto Escondido. We have been traveling through Mexico and Guatemala for the past six month and have been blessed to only have experienced petty theft of non valuable items from the beach. However we met with Tim of Marginal Boundaries the other day, he has lived in Mexico for several years now and he says that cel phones are one of the most stolen items as they are so very expensive here. Crime can happen anywhere but it helps to know what the most common crimes are in whatever location you’re visiting. After reading your story and speaking with Tim we will definitely be keeping our cel phones hidden when out and about. Hope the rest of your travels through Mexico are as fabulous as ours have been.

  4. Such a beautiful place, but such a shame what happened, and I completely understand why you’d never plan on returning. Hopefully the good memories and beauty of the place stay with you rather than the other thing.

  5. It is a pretty little place. It’s a shame it will never be the same for you, but that just means your paradise is still out there waiting for you to find it. πŸ™‚

  6. As a frequent visitor to Puerto Escondido, I was sorry to hear about the robbery. I , like many others, have traveled all over Mexico and spent months in Puerto without ever experiencing a robbery or even the threat of one. That said, it happens. One of the worst aspects of all this is that the police are not your friends. This is especially true in Puerto where the police just do not care. Part of this is due to the complex politics of Puerto Escondido which is not a city in its own right but an agency of two rural towns where corruption is rife. The other sad aspect is how this type of incident drives tourism down and this really hurts the hundreds of honest hardworking people who’s livelihood depends on visitors. Puerto needs to find a way of taking control of its crime problem.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Peter. After the incident, we heard the same thing, that visiting the police would be a giant waste of our time. It is a real shame, because every other second of our time there was pure bliss. I hope PE can figure it out for the benefit of all.

  7. Love the long exposure photos! Technique and vision is getting better and better by each post!

    The sun may have set on Puerto Escondido for you guys but the sun will rise on another beautiful place.

  8. That f*#@ing… ugh, I’m out of swear words for that pathetic specimen who inflicted those painful memories upon you both. Such a shame that PE is now tainted by that awful experience {sigh…} Gorgeous photos, comme d’habitude. Good luck and safe(r) travels!

  9. Proud of you for going out despite your nerves and apprehensions. What a pity that the robbery tainted PE for you guys. Hopefully you can still look at your gorgeous photos with some measure of fondness and recapture the bliss you felt before.

  10. They can take away your cell phone, but they can’t take away these beautiful pictures of Puerto Escondido that you shared with us.

    I’m glad you shared Pete’s experience b/c it makes other travelers aware of the risks involved with travel in some destinations.

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