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Finally, I've arrived (in Puerto Angel)

It’s my third day at the airport trying to get a flight out of Mexico City. This morning has started with its own frustrations. Moving from [non-working] kiosk to [wrong] line to [non-working] kiosk to [correct] line, I finally checked in my bag and found the gate. But my flight’s been delayed again. I’m taking the opportunity to write. It’s not in the setting that I’d planned, but I’m able to tune out the bustle of the airport to concentrate. Trusting that God’s itinerary trumps my plans and airlines’ errors is my current peace lesson, and I don’t want to waste any more opportunities to practice it. I’ve asked for eyes to see the divine appointments this unexpected detour brings.

In the airport I approached a European I overheard asking about the flight which disappeared from the monitor. Unless that happens often I guessed it was my flight; I’d just inquired about the same thing. I discovered he was here to install a fire prevention system in a naval ship, the most frequent use of which is to chase drug lords. Intrigued about having an opportunity to speak with the navy, which would have a unique perspective on peace (rather conflict, in this case), I asked if it would be possible to visit the base. “There’s no hope of that,” he replied. A Finn, he had to get clearance from the USA to work in Mexico. That’s a new development; he doesn’t understand why the USA is involved. As a foreign tourist, there was no hope I could pass security. Unfortunately, there seems to be more than tourism happening in Huatulco. What a scourge on the peace of ordinary Mexicans! It made their politicians susceptible to bribes and intimidation; it diverted public funds to impossible odds against rich drug lords; it lured people to earn illicit livings, and complicated and depressed honest living. With reluctance I contemplated the contradiction to my planned peace retreat.

It was pure luck when my co-traveler noticed the “Final boarding” sign on the monitor in the adjacent waiting hall. The monitor in our hall now said the hour-delated flight was “On time” and departing in 30 minutes. Thank you God! While I’m intentionally nurturing peace about travel delays, I did not want more lessons from Aeromexico on this trip.

After a 90 minute flight over green mountains, between which I saw a few small rivers and houses, I saw the sea. The coast had a thin strip of sand which stretched for miles, then a rocky cove, then another beach and cove. Some rocks emerged from the sea, vertical walls with verdant tops. The land was dense with green.

Double and triple checking to ensure I’d understood correctly, I finally bought the $70 taxi ride to the remote village that made the town of 37,000 we landed in look like a metropolis. It would have been wise to go to the bank before we headed out; while there is an ATM in my village, it’s low season and it doesn’t reliably have cash. I must watch my budget and ensure I get cash before I’m down to the cab fare to a further ATM.

I could have explored the whole town in 30 minutes, descending the dirt path to the beach, then following the main road along the coast, then back, but instead it took 3 hours. First I walked from one beach to the next across the cliffs. Next I stopped for lunch on the beach, grilled fish and rice. I briefly dunked my feet in the sea, but the brown, churched-up sea and strong waves dissuaded me from returning for a swim today. On the way back I met Flavio (who I’ll tell you about tomorrow), and Alex, the owner of the laundromat whose sign attracted me from the road. Alex is an elderly woman whose laundromat consists of a washing machine on her covered porch. With translation help from a man fixing machinery in an open-air workshop, and a woman who appeared to be a neighbor, I communicated that I needed some clothes washed. Discovering that a load costs $1.15, I abandoned notions of washing my clothes in the sink. I need to save time for writing, and she needs work. Continuing my tour, I noticed a disproportionate number of taxis, whose drivers ubiquitously asked me if I needed a ride as I walked through town. My final errands were to three fruit stands until I found one with ripe supplies, and the “super” near my house, with its limited but adequate supply of goods. I stocked up on juice, yogurt, hibiscus flowers for “Jamaica” juice, and biscuits. Wishing I knew enough Spanish to ask how to eat green tomatoes, which look like huge gooseberries, I paid for my supplies. With sweat streaming down my cheeks and off the tip of my nose, I carried my heavy bag back up the hill, then the 4 flights of stairs to my room. Taking a long drink of water, I realized the 2.5L in my fridge would be gone by dusk. Once I’d showered and rested, I’d have to go out for more provisions.

Photo: Puerto Angel's bay - it is angelic!


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