|"Time takes a backseat in Zipolite and people stay for longer than they planned (if they planned)". That's the introductory line of the Zipolite chapter in the LP guide. I must have read this line a zillion times on our bus journey from Oaxaca City, wondering what to expect. Well, we initially planned to spend about a week in Zipolite. A month later we left! And we didn't have any regrets to extend our stay as we both fell in love with the place and for the first time in our lives we didn't have any time constraints. We found a very basic cabana bang in the middle of this 2 km stretch of beach. The cabana complex was run by a young Mexican family who were great hosts.
We must have spent hours and hours in our hammocks, reading and staring at the endlessness of the horizon. Very mesmerizing! The weather was top bananas, very hot with a nice cool breeze and the "vegetation" was very lush. Time didn't take a backseat in Zipolite, time abandoned us altogether there. Every day stretched to an infinity and we felt like becoming more and more a part of this beach. For one month we probably moved within the radius of 50 metres with a couple of exceptions when we actually managed to leave this place... or rather when we managed to leave our hammocks! It was very quiet in Zipolite in September, hardly any tourists - some days we felt like having the whole beach to ourselves. Occasionally, vendors were walking up and down the beach selling hammocks, clothes, coconuts, cakes and jewelry. The most colourful of them all were the hammock vendor ladies who were virtually clad in hammocks in all colours.
Zipolite in Zapotec means "Waves of Death" - the currents here are very strong pulling you in all directions. If you're not careful they drag you out to the open ocean. Unfortunately during our stay two people drowned. It's very easy to underestimate the force of the sea.
The weather turned very bad for one week as a result of a hurricane that swept over Cuba, Florida and the Mexican province of Colima. For one week we had torrential rains, thunderstorms, 8-10 metre high waves and one of the most spectacular lightning shows we've ever seen...(naturally, from our hammocks). Pure electricity! Unfortunately, the bad weather-front coincided with the Day of Independence which turned out to be a very wet affair. For a few days we had a whole busload of students from the capital as our neighbours who came to Zipolite to celebrate this important day in Mexican history but it rained buckets that day.
Still the locals managed to put on a party in a club and to our surprise they played banging, minimal techno most of the night. However, from one minute to the next the dj switched to salsa and all the techno punters switched too, grabbing a partner and doing the salsa-thang on the dancefloor. The night abruptly ended though when a fight broke out in the club and everyone rushed towards the exit. Unlike in Europe, where people probably stay to watch the fight, Mexicans run away from it as someone might carry and use weapons.
During that time our next door neighbours were a lovely couple from Aqua Caliente (North of the capital) in their mid thirties. Both of them tried their best to teach us some Spanish. One night we spotted a huge turtle on the beach, burying her eggs in the sand. A bunch of Mexicans carried her back to the water and buried the eggs deeper in the sand to save them from the dogs who were in abundance on this beach.
Every day washed ashore new experiences and new faces. And the people we met were incredible. For a start there was Forest, a gay Texan boy in his mid thirties, who came to Zipolite with the intention to meet men but never managed to. He would get trashed every night and make a complete fool of himself and then hide the following day as he was too embarrassed about his behaviour of the previous night. And then one day he was gone. Then there were the locals right on the edge who canned it every day. One of them pretty much necked anything she could get hold of, lost in a world of her own. Naturally, we met some pretty "normal" people too but they seemed to be the exception rather than the norm...
There was "Buenas", a happy chappie from Italy who cycled from Venezuela all the way up to Mexcio and just said "Buenas" at every possible opportunity, Carlos from Barcelona, who had already done the whole journey we are planning to do, but in reverse direction. Naturally, he was a great source for loads of info and tips. Not to forget to mention the two rainbow children Turbo and Egghead, two American dropouts who came to Zipolite to sober up. Turbo gets paid by the US government for "being crazy" and both have left the States to start a new life abroad, "especially if Bush wins the next election" (which he unfortunately did).
On our last night in Zipolite a local jewelry seller lit a bonfire on the beach and two guys were playing the guitar and singing traditional Mexican songs. A very nice farewell to a wonderful time at very bizarre place.