By Susan Birkenshaw
Early last year, my husband Michael and I found ourselves in search of a new adventure. We had spent the last nine winter seasons living and travelling in South America using Cuenca, Ecuador, as our home base. As we do, every time we consider a move, we sat down to create a list of absolute musts, might be nice to haves and absolute no-no’s. We’ve grown too old to throw darts at a map! We have done this type of major move four times, plus this move here to Huatulco. Surprisingly it is getting better (or should I say – smoother?) with practice. If you ever hear me say – “Never again!”- don’t believe me! Some random thoughts on our first couple of months . . .
Life is not a fairy tale, it is a challenge and an adventure. In Huatulco, the best time to go to market is EARLY, my absolute worst time of the day. So, my first adventure began early one morning.
After struggling out of bed I joined my new friend Claudia, the owner/chef of Rocoto Restaurant. She took me to her favourite haunts for fresh veggies, meats, fish and spices. Her magic can’t make me as brilliant a chef as she, but my eyes were opened to the wide variety of new foods that are available here in Huatulco. A huge plus came in the form of fresh herbs, which are always available. In Canada (now covered in snow) herbs are so seasonal it’s impossible to create the same dish every time. Going to market will be a regular adventure, and an outlet for my creative curiosity. I will say I am a random cook – some days I do it because I’m hungry and some days it fills my soul to experiment! Both have had great failures and successes.
No matter what is available on the outside, for me home is first and foremost a sanctuary and a place to regenerate my energies – always included on our wish list. Where we live in this town has a balance of people, noise, activities, music and peace. As I write this, we have been here for exactly 8 weeks – and it IS home. We are thrilled to feel this so soon.
As I continue to compare, it’s easy to see so many differences. The obvious: beach versus mountains, shorts versus long khaki trousers, outdoors activities against all indoors.
And so many food options – ceviche, chicken, tacos, fajitas or pork ribs! The variety is extraordinary, and the new adventures waiting for me continue to multiply. I am often amazed to find that this small town of less than 25,000 people has so much to offer visitors and new residents.
Admittedly, there are the naysayers and those who turn tail when things don’t go just their way. It would be impossible for us to tell you all the reasons why we will never take the option of running away. I have learned that this town is full of fascinating people, beautiful and finely created local crafts, big and small vibrant art and the weather is simply incomparable. And the music – oh the music – that’s for another time!