Thoughts on Huatulco as We Prepare to Leave

Marina Chahue
Huatulco, Mexico

Huatulco Highlights

As we prepare to leave, I thought I’d better jot down our impressions of this great little spot, for those that are following our journey and hope to call in here one day.

Marina Chahue? Meh. Serviceable. That’s about the size of it. The showers and bathroom, in the words of a couple of ladies just finishing up a circumnavigation, are the third worst in the world.

The dust blows everywhere, 9 months a year. The surge at the dock eats lines. No pool. No restaurant. No shop. No amenities. Just a place to tie up, unmetered electricity and good potable water, and friendly security guards and staff who speak little to no English.

But as a place to park me and the boat, it’s by far the safest we’ve felt since we left Florida 5 years ago.

The little town of La Crucecita has just about everything…except a real “cruisers infrastructure.” You can get welding, woodwork, windows, upholstery, and fiberglass repair…but the tradesmen have no marine experience.

We had a table made for the fly bridge by a craftsman who makes all the cabinets for the high-end condos here. It’s of a local hardwood, Macuil, that looks a bit like cedar. When he delivered it to us, it was hand-crafted and beautiful – living-room furniture quality. And the first he’d ever done for a boat. Price? $`100.

When I got tired of how shabby the salon chairs were looking after 6 years in the tropics, I went to one of the upholsterers in town with the cushions, and told him I had more work on the boat if he cared to come by. When all was said and done, we got new pilothouse cushions, re-upholstered chairs and sofa, decorator pillows and matching roman shades…all for less than $900 including fabric and labor.

We needed two of the salon windows replaced because of stress cracks near where we screw them down for security. Great safety glass, custom measured and ordered, and installation complete with new gasket and “monkey fur,” for $100 apiece.

As long as we remembered that time is measured differently here, and the culture is relationship-based rather than achievement-based, we weren’t disappointed in the least. In other words, “tomorrow morning at 10” has to include an unspoken caveat (“unless somebody more important needs me”).

In addition to the services, there’s the community.

The locals are friendly, hospitable, warm and welcoming. As a matter of fact, there are two signs in town that cracked us up: one on the side of a restaurant that says, “We Welcome Our Dear Tourists,” and another at a jewelry store reading, “We Won’t Rip You Off Too Bad.” Everyone – man, woman, child – no matter what their station in life, greets you with good morning, good afternoon, good evening – and says goodbye with “que le vaya bien” which loosely translated means, “I hope you go well.”

There’s a huge, active expat community made up mostly of Canadians who fly down in force every December and stay until Canada thaws out. They support the local Rotary Club, sponsor hockey-watching parties, and generally have a great time in the sun.

Perhaps the quirkiest feature of this little town of 25,000 is a street corner the expats call “little Italy,” featuring a bakery and café run by Max, an ex-cop from Rome who makes fresh croissants and cinnamon rolls and the best cappuccino this side of Florence; Giordana, from Piemonte, who runs a deli selling hand-made ravioli, lasagna, and desserts and imported olive oil, Grappa, and Limoncello; Franco, from Amalfi, who runs Mama Mias Itialian restaurant and recently put in a wood-fired pizza oven to complement his pasta specialties; and Las Primas, two young women who import Italian gelato base and make fresh ice cream every day.

Going out for dinner here is amazing. Our favorite haunt is a little street-side café called Tacos El Pastor, where for 50 pesos you can get 5 open-face marinated shaved pork tacos and 2 beers. That’s about $4 at the current exchange rate. One night we really splurged and finished up our cheap taco dinner to stroll to Krystal Rose and top off the evening with no-kidding crepes suzette, complete with flaming orange peel and tableside show.

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