Tag Archives: Travel & Tourism

Pickleball – Silly Name, Awesome Game!

By Leslie Trotter

What do you get when you combine ping-pong with tennis and throw in a wiffle ball? Pickleball, of course – the fastest growing sport in the United States and Canada, and soon to be in Huatulco as well!

While usually perceived as a “game for older people,” it really lends itself perfectly for all ages, genders and athletic abilities.

Pickleball is easy to learn. Becoming really competent is another story but almost anyone can successfully hit the ball back and forth over the net their first day. Because the court is less than half the size of a tennis court and the paddle is short and light, it doesn’t require a high level of fitness. Pickleball does, however, work hand-eye coordination, balance, agility, reflexes and at higher levels, mental preparedness. There is definitely a strategy to pickleball once one reaches the intermediate+ level.

Another great thing about pickleball is that it’s inexpensive. A starter paddle is about $40 and from a Parks and Recreation perspective, pre-existing tennis courts work well for pickleball. Many a neglected tennis court has been revived for pickleball purposes!

The one thing that continues to astound me about playing pickleball is how often you hear peals of laughter coming from the courts. While competitive players take the game very seriously, the vast majority of people simply appreciate the exercise amongst friends, where inevitably crazy shots are a thing to cheer about. Pickleball is a very social game!

So now that I’ve got you intrigued to the point of wanting to experience this for yourself, what is a Huatulqueño to do about playing pickleball? Here are the current Huatulco options:

Snowbird Pickleball
This is a well-organized group that had a humble beginning with a net and 2 sticks as posts in 2018! Fortunately, they’ve advanced since then and have introductory classes for those who want to try pickleball.
Levels: beginners to intermediate
Location: Escuela Secundaria Técnica 144, 3 covered courts; Unidad Deportiva, 4 covered courts
Season: November to March
Membership: 90
Protocol: online booking
Fee: 50 pesos per day
Contact: Colleen Gagnon – cgbike33@gmail.com

Bahias De Huatulco Pickleball
This is a drop-in group without a lot of rules other than come and play.
Levels: beginner to intermediate
Location: Unidad Deportiva, 4-6 courts
Season: year-round, typically Mon, Wed, Fri: 8-11 am
Membership: varies, ±24 in high season
Fee: 50 pesos per day
Contact: Norm Ferguson – normferg1955@icloud.com; also on FaceBook

Marina Park Pickleball
This group formed as a way for more seasoned players to hone their game. These are uncovered courts and the play can be intense but in the end, everyone clicks paddles to acknowledge the sportsmanship of pickleball.
Level: intermediate to advanced
Location: Guelaguetza Park, next to Marina Park Plaza, 2 courts
Season: year-round, typically 7-9 am daily in high season
Membership: 15 main founding members with play-priority in high season
Protocol: drop-in when numbers allow
Fee: 50 pesos per day for drop-ins
Contact: Group is basically full – you’ll probably run across “someone who knows” if you play in the places listed above.

There are other places to play pickleball, such as Las Brisas Resort and some of the newer condominium developments. These aren’t listed since they are private clubs with membership fees, although I understand that during the high season, there is a very active group at Las Brisas. Omar is the contact to find out about monthly fees and the pickleball schedule – concierge.hux@brisas.com.mx.

So take heart, pickleball fanatics and interested others! There are great options from beginner to intermediate to make your time in Huatulco full of healthy, fun pickleball games.

The Lebanese in Mexico:How and Why They Got Here

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

The Lebanese began arriving in Mexico even before Lebanon existed as its own country. Its official geographic identity started in the late 1400s, as the Emirate of Mount Lebanon, part of the Ottoman Empire. Mount Lebanon was home to multiple religious groups; leaders of the emirate came from different groups over time, but no one seemed to like each other, much less the Ottoman (Turkish) governors, so there were several uprisings. France first (1860) became an interested party in the area when they came to the rescue of Maronite Christians being attacked by Druse Isamites. (Lebanon would become a French protectorate when the West divided up the Ottoman Empire after World War I; it would win its independence in 1943.)

In 1869, the Suez Canal opened, connecting Europe with the Far East and causing the Lebanese silk industry to collapse. Thus it was, in 1892, that the first Lebanese immigrants arrived on a French ship sailing from Beirut. Over 100,000 Arabic speakers – mostly Lebanese – arrived between then and the 1930s; they settled mostly in the Yucatán and along the Gulf of Mexico, with some moving out across northern Mexico. Although the Lebanese made up only 5% of immigration in the 1930s, they were responsible for about 50% of immigrant contributions to Mexico’s economy. If you go to the harbor in Veracruz, you will find the Plaza of the Lebanese immigrant, which contains a statue dressed in 19th-century Lebanese garb. There are copies of this statue elsewhere in Mexico and around the world, but the one in Veracruz is matched by one in Beirut – the starting and ending points of the Lebanese diaspora in Mexico.

Perhaps the most noted Lebanese citizen of Mexico is Carlos Slim Helú, born on January 28, 1940. Multi-billionaire business magnate Slim made his money mostly in telecommunications. In 1989 President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Mexico’s first economist president, embarked on a program of economic modernization that included privatizing telecommunications. In 1990, Carlos Slim put together a partnership that bought a controlling interest in TelMex. Nowadays, building on his fortune – he was the world’s richest person in the early 2010s – Slim is more known for his philanthropy, if not for the Soumaya Museum in Plaza Corso in Mexico City (there is an earlier one [1994] in Plaza Loreto). Slim built it in 2011 in memory of his wife Soumaya Doumit, who died in 1999.

As Maronite Christians, the Lebanese brought with them a favorite religious figure, the “miracle monk of Lebanon,” Charbel Maklouf (1828-98). Maklouf, a hermit thought to be responsible for miracles of healing; although he was not beatified until 1965 or canonized until 1977, he arrived in Mexico with Lebanese immigrants in the early 1900s. Saint Charbel is fairly popular; people adorn his statues with listones, long ribbons with requests for miracles or intercessions written on them, accompanied by a drawing of a cedar tree. Lebanese Muslims built the first dedicated mosque in Mexico in 1989; the Suraya Mosque is located in the city of Torreón in Coahuila.

Perhaps the most delectable Lebanese contributions to Mexican culture are culinary. While the meat on the spit is more likely to be pork or goat, not lamb, don’t we all crave tacos al pastor (shepherd tacos) or tacos árabes (Arab tacos)? Lebanese culinary influences are probably strongest in the Yucatán, where the Lebanese first arrived. Eggplant and potatoes, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, lamb, yogurt, onions, and olive oil, not to mention mint, oregano, cinnamon, and cumin, are all used in Mexican adaptations of Lebanese cuisine.

An Eye on the Women of The Eye

By Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

Julie Etra has drawn on her professional background in environmental sciences to write many articles about Mexican plants and animals, ever since the second issue of The Eye was published. Julie was born, raised and educated in New Rochelle, New York. When she was still in junior high, the New Rochelle high school building completely burned down, so her high school classes were held in temporary barracks. She then studied in real classrooms at the University of Colorado in Boulder, earning a BA degree in Environmental Biology, followed by completing an MS degree in Soil and Crop Science at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Continuing her westward trek, Julie worked for the U.S. Forest Service in South Lake Tahoe, California, for three years and then decided to start her own business, Tahoe Native Plants. One of her USFS projects involved restoration of land at a community college, and it was there in 1985 that she met her future husband who was also working on the project as a general engineering contractor. In 1990, Julie and Larry decided to buy land in Washoe County, Nevada (near Reno), and build their own home. Living in a 14′ travel trailer that was freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer until their construction was completed, they finally moved into their home, where they still live when not in Mexico. Once settled in Nevada, Julie moved her office to Reno and changed the name of her company to Western Botanical Services, Inc. She has continuously provided botanical surveys and soil analysis as a contractor to private engineering and landscape architecture companies and public entities overseeing implementation of erosion control and land restoration projects. Her business was incorporated in 1994.

Julie is avid about music, plays the piano, and listens to “almost everything.” She also enjoys playing tennis, swimming, gardening and, like the other writers for The Eye, constantly reads books, magazines, and newspapers. Julie first visited Mexico in 1977, where in Cozumel she was certified for scuba diving. In 1988, she and Larry began spending 3 months each year in Baja Sur. They visited Huatulco in 2007 and in 2008, decided to spend the winter here and built a home in Conejos. They also are extensive travelers and, with the exception of Antarctica, have visited every continent; Julie’s favorite is (subSaharan) Africa. Julie has two step-kids from Larry’s previous marriage and two grandkids with whom they stay in close contact.

The first articles Julie published in the Eye focused on corn – three articles on corn – until our editor suggested she might explore other topics and something less technical. The Eye article she enjoyed writing most described her travels with Larry and their puppy during COVID – “It was fun!”

Reading: Reminders and Recommendations

By Carole Reedy

Before you look for my list of yet-to-come 2022 books, don’t forget those still on your “to read” list from beginning of the year.

If you’ve not already read these two recently published novels, they stand among the finest literature of the 21st century:

YOUNG MUNGO by Douglas Stuart
I’ve read every review I could find and listened to interviews with Stuart because I am in awe of this 45-year-old Glaswegian, now living in New York City. He brings to us the realism of the 19th century novelists in the style of the master, Charles Dickens, but without the uplifting endings.

If you haven’t read Stuart’s Booker Prize winning novel, Shuggie Bain (2020), stop now and run to your nearest library or bookstore and get it.

These are not happy or cozy books. Rather, they’re the stories of people from the poverty-stricken East End of Glasgow. Shuggie Bain, the protagonist of the first novel, is a young boy growing up with his beloved alcoholic mother. The protagonist of Stuart’s second book, Young Mungo (named after Glasgow’s Saint) is a teenage boy discovering his sexuality and identity among the gangs and joblessness inflicted by the previous Margaret Thatcher administration. Both novels will stir every emotion you have ever had.

Stuart writes stunningly descriptive prose against the backdrop of harsh reality. Mungo’s male role models are severely limited. Tender moments and whispers of caring contrast with poverty and violence. It’s all written in the lilt of the vernacular, making this novel a classic piece of literature.

Los Angeles Times reviewer Hillary Kelly (whose writing is as expressive as the books she reviews) concludes: “Misery is just a necessary ingredient in his novels of sentimental education, the hit of salt that makes the sugar sing.”

TO PARADISE by Hanya Yanagihara
Misery is expressed in a constellation of ways in Yanagihara’s novels. In To Paradise we’re taken to a diverse range of locales, from a townhouse on New York’s Washington Square to the undeveloped shores of Hawaii, over three centuries.

The complex structure and the writing that carries the reader through this novel re-envisions history and tells a past and future created entirely by Yanagihara’s brilliant mind. This is a story you will never forget. Every word resonates, each character is finely drawn, and emotions are stirred to exhaustion.

Now onto the new books to accompany you on your reading trails.

ELIZABETH FINCH by Julian Barnes
Avid fans of this well-established British novelist and Francophile won’t need convincing to read another of Barnes’ 14 novels. This newest work is longer on philosophy and shorter on plot, as is much of his writing.

Elizabeth Finch is a professor of culture and civilization, and her story is told by one of her students, Neal, the narrator. The book is divided into three sections, the second section an essay written by Neal about Julian the Apostate, a pagan. What would the world of ours look like now if Christianity hadn’t caught on? No small consideration.

This exceptional and daring novel should be already on the shelves of your local library and bookstores.

THE LOCKED ROOM by Elly Griffiths
You have until June 28 to get yourself up to date on the lives of Ruth, Kate, Cathbad, Judy, and Nelson before you start this 14th novel in the Dr. Ruth Galloway (everyone’s favorite archeologist) series.

Everything takes place once again in Norwich, England, this time during the Covid lockdown. Driving the story are a discovery at an archeological site, a new neighbor for Ruth and Kate, and a mysterious old photo found among Ruth’s recently dead mother’s belongings.

Fans have been panicked. Will there be a 15th book? Yes! The Last Remains is due out in February 2023.

TRUST by Hernan Diaz
This most-anticipated novel of 2022, according to several literary venues, has been described as “a kaleidoscope of capitalism run amok in the early 20th century.” Naturally, success, power, and wealth dominate.

Grounded in history, four story arcs make up this work and, according to previews, are successfully executed.

Díaz was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his novel In the Distance (2017). Trust is due to be published in December 2022.

THE LAST WHITE MAN by Mohsin Hamid
In his latest book, British-Pakistani author Hamid (of the notable migration novel Exit West [2017] and the thought-provoking The Reluctant Fundamentalist [2007]) presents a conundrum. The premise is this: a man wakes up to a darkening of his skin while simultaneously the population as a whole is experiencing changes of many kinds. This leads Hamid to examine the disruption of the established order that occurs as a result.
A portent of things to come?

The book provides much to ponder and could even be a vehicle for metamorphosis and transcendence that only a writer the likes of Hamid can achieve. Look for the novel in August.

ROGUES: TRUE STORIES OF GRIFTERS, KILLERS, REBELS AND CROOKS by Patrick Radden Keefe
These twelve stories of skullduggery will once again bring Radden Keefe’s name to the forefront this June. You’ll remember his investigative reporting and subsequent tomes about the Troubles in Ireland (Say Nothing, 2020) and the unconscionable role of the Sackler family in the opioid addiction crisis (Empire of Pain, 2021).

Whatever topic Keefe explores is intricately examined, the details written in a style as un-put-downable as a Sherlock Holmes mystery. He does for investigative reporting what Ben McIntyre does for spy tales.

Look for a June 28 publication date.

LESS IS LOST by Andrew Sean Greer
If you were a fan, as I was, of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Less, you will count the days until the September publication of the follow-up, Less Is Lost.

Once again Arthur Less is at sixes and sevens, handling the problems and disruptions of his life as many of us have considered doing: he runs away. Less’s distraction from the day-to-day drudgery is again found in traveling to literary gigs, but this time in the US. You’ll recall he did the same through Europe in his first novel.

Greer is first of all a storyteller. His novels are full of comic moments, he is witty yet wise, and he is a serious thinker.

Christopher Buckley of the New York Times praises Greer’s first novel: “Less is the funniest, smartest and most humane novel I’ve read since Tom Bachman’s 2010 debut, The Imperfectionists … Greer writes sentences of arresting lyricism and beauty. His metaphors come at you like fireflies.”

Many months of fine reading ahead!

Then and Now, A Guidebook to Mexico

By Randy Jackson

When I was in the second grade, my family moved to a small tourist town in British Columbia in 1964. The welcome sign to the town proclaimed “55 Businesses to Serve You”; the running joke was that 50 of them were motels. Such places in those days only saw tourists in the summer months, and most motels sat empty for five or six months each year. The owners were rumoured to be in Mexico for the winter. One of the motels was named “La Siesta” and the sign out front showed a man sleeping up against a cactus with a large sombrero pulled down over his face. When the snow had piled up sufficiently, the only thing showing was the cactus, like a green middle finger, flippin’ the bird at winter.

Growing up, I was aware of a number of people from our little mountain town who ventured to Mexico. These were all overland journeys, seemingly packed with daily adventures. More than the escape from winter, Mexico represented a wildly exotic place. It seemed incongruous that such a different place could be driven to. And in keeping with the 1970’s, what my friends and I came to see as something we had to do in life, was to explore Mexico in a campervan. While still teenagers, some of my friends had already done just that. It took me a bit longer.

Of course this urge of young adults seeking adventure and exploration beyond their own familiar world was not new. The “Grand Tour” of Europe taken by young aristocrats dates back to the 17th century. By the 1970s this luxury became available to the burgeoning group of middle-class youth, the Baby Boomers. They took up independent budget travel in large numbers. In Europe this overland youth exploration route came to be called “The Hippy Trail,” which ran from Europe through Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan to India. The comparable route in North America became known as “The Gringo Trail.” Although this “trail” stretches all the way to the tip of South America, for a lot of us wistful youth of the 70s, the destination was Mexico.

While my Mexico dreams were still formulating in the snows of British Columbia, Carl Franz and Lorena Havens had been exploring Mexico on the cheap since the 60s. Their meeting in San Miguel with John Muir (no, not THAT John Muir), who had successfully published the book How to keep your Volkswagen Alive in 1969 (various editions had co-authors), convinced Frans and Havens to publish The People’s Guide to Mexico. The first edition came out in 1972.

My copy is the 13th edition – 2006 (as I said, it took me a bit longer). This book certainly fueled my notion of an exotic land crying out for exploration. But it meant more. By the time I got to it, the book was a cultural reference to a time and place, a quintessential expression of the youth of the baby boomer years that still resides in the neurological stalactites of my personality cave. To quote the authors directly:

One of the main purposes of this book is to show the traveler how to accept, as calmly as possible, the sights and experiences of a strange place.

This “strange place” is probably intended to mean any place that is unfamiliar. But Mexico is the unique tableau on which such a laid-back, hippy-dippy, humorous expression of time and place shines through. Mexico’s cultural strengths and quirkiness enable this guide book to stand up against the passing decades. Where else, for example, would a story of policemen stopping someone to syphon gas from their vehicle so they could get to a gas station (and offer to pay for it), resonate – besides in Mexico? Or the advice to clear out a bug stuck in your ear by adding a little tequila.

More than a guide to Mexico, this book captures the energy of the coming-of-age youth of the 60s and 70s who travelled to Mexico on the cheap, seeking their own versions of freedom and independence. That energy wave echoed along a far-away valley in British Columbia, where I heard it rattle the windows of those closed motels. Of course, this group of travellers that I so desired to join back then, were but one of many different groups of migrants and tourists over the ages seeking something in Mexico. Independent travel in Mexico still requires that attitude of calm acceptance of things that come your way. Mexico, then as now, isn’t as easily anticipated as, say, Singapore or Denmark. For good or bad, Mexico leaves a mark.

I’m still connected to this little mountain town my family moved to in the 1960s. Needless to say things have changed. Motels now receive tourists throughout the year. This modern and charming village has its own library, and their catalogue will soon include The People’s Guide to Mexico. I will donate my copy in the hopes that it will fuel the aspirations of future visitors to Mexico.

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” — Henry David Thoreau’s journals

I fell in love with the landscape of this place almost instantly. It were as though the earth reached up and took hold of me and said ‘you are mine.’

Love is an invisible thing, a gravitational pull that can’t be explained and defies practicality and reason. My heart soars everyday as I arrive home. The breeze off the river wakes me each morning with sweet caresses and a rippling sound that reminds me that everything is constantly changing. At night the moon hangs over me with her pensive calming demeanor and a reassurance that all is right in the world. In the afternoon the parrots squawk past my house telling me to find the lightness in things. The expanse of night sky, unblemished by light pollution, is to feel the grandness of the universe greater than in any cathedral. Even the earthquakes and storms feel like a conversation between the elements and an intrinsic part of life.

What is the purpose of our lives if not to find balance and harmony with the natural world around us? More than ever we need to evaluate our effect on the world around us. There has never been a time when human beings’ need for stuff has damaged so much of the planet. Our consumerism is destroying ecosystems.

But instead of focusing on changing our habits: recycling more, driving less, eating more sustainably, maybe we should focus on getting out in nature more. Hug more trees, take more walks, look up at the sky and breathe deeply, listen to the birds, love all animals the way we love our pets. Fall in love with the natural world around you and you won’t be able to help but change the way you live.

This month our writers focus on the environment. The beauty of what it has to offer and the wins of the past year, because it isn’t all dire.

Also we are approaching the deadline for our essay contest about your Mexico Moments. Thank you to everyone who has already written in with their uplifting and interesting tales of what it is to love this place. I look forward to reading the essays that are still brewing.

Thank you for reading and being a part of The Eye.

Jane

The Lagunas of Manialtepec and Chacahua

By Julie Etra

What to do beyond the gorgeous beaches of Huatulco? Well, if you are a nature lover and want to experience unique ecosystems, consider a visit to the lagunas (lagoons) of Manialtepec and Chacahua. These are large, unique wetland ecosystems located along the southern Pacific coast of Oaxaca, west and north of Puerto Escondido. Together they are home to more than 327 species of birds.

Laguna Manialtepec

Manialtepec, which means place of the lizards in Náhuatl (manine means animal that drags, e.g., lizard or perhaps crocodiles, which are known to inhabit the lagoon, while tepetl means location, usually a raised area) is the smaller of the two lagoonal systems and is located just a short drive west of Puerto Escondido. It is about 15 km (9 miles) long and up to 15 meters (nearly 50 feet) in depth. The water is brackish – a combination of fresh and salt water – and varies in salt content with the season and with the breaching of the barrier beach during the rainy season.

There is one outlet to the Pacific Ocean at the west end of the lagoon, known as Puerto Suelo or El Carnero, where it is joined by an adjacent river descending from the Sierra Madre Sur. Dense vegetation, dominated by mangroves, provides habitat for abundant wildlife, including many species of birds. The lagoon is an excellent site for bird watching.

It is also known for its phosphorescent microalgae, called dinoflagellates, which are luminescent in moving water and visible at night – it is best seen on a moonless night, and is said to be more prominent during the rainy season. When we were there a few years ago, a paddle, or even just a hand, sufficed. The luminescence is caused by a chemical reaction; although not all bioluminescence is well understood, in algae the mechanism provides protection from predators.

The Manialtepec lagoon is easily accessed from Highway 200 west of Puerto Escondido, and guided trips at dawn or dusk via a lancha are readily available.

Laguna Chacahua

Chacahua is a much larger system than Manialtepec; it comprises much of the Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua, established on July 9, 1937 (I can’t imagine what the coast looked like that far back!). In the Mixtec language, Chacahua means place of abundant shrimp, or chakal. Like Manialtepec, Chacahua offers a chance to experience bioluminescence caused by microalgae in the water.

The laguna is actually three lakes, Chacahua, La Salinas, and La Pastoria. This rich ecosystem includes 14,000 hectares (almost 35,000 acres), with over 153 species of birds, Abundant wildlife includes mammals and herpetofauna – amphibians and reptiles. There are two species of marine turtles (Laud [leatherback], the largest of the marine turtles, and Golfina [Olive Ridley]) and of course extensive stands of mangroves.

Four species of mangroves occur here: the red mangrove, mangle rojo (Rhizophora mangle); white mangrove, mangle blanco (Laguncularia racemosa); brown/salt mangrove, mangle prieto or saladillo (Avicennia germinans) and buttonhole mangrove, mangle botoncillo (Conocarpus erectus).

Mangroves provide nesting sites and cover for the myriad of avian species, but also harbor the nurseries for fingerlings (young fish) and marine/brackish water species, including crabs and shrimp. Mangroves are also nature’s engineers as they are essential for shoreline protection and erosion control.

There are several small islands in the lagoon, including el Corral, with its 80 inhabitants totally dependent on fishing for a living, and where chicken is considered a delicacy. The western end of the outlet to the sea is maintained by two constructed breakwaters consisting of rock riprap.

There is even a cocodrilario (crocodile nursery) founded in 1969, on the west side of the southern outfall, where two species of crocodiles (river and wetland), as well as caiman, are raised for reintroduction to the wild. The nursery has about 140 animals. Entrance is free, as it is operated by the federal government, but the visitor is encouraged to donate to its maintenance.

The Park’s famous surf break, called Chacahua, on the south side of the southern breakwater, is where most of the basic – read “funky” – tourist facilities are found, including surf lessons, rustic cabanas, restaurants, and small stores. Spectacular views from the lighthouse (el Faro), located at the southern end, include both the open Pacific and the lagoon to the north. The other outlet to the sea, at the east end of the lagoon south of the small town of Zapotalito, is often blocked by a sand bar and a smaller breakwater.

It is located farther to the west/northwest of Manialtepec – it’s about a 1.5-hour drive from Puerto Escondido to the community of Zapotalito; the Park can also be reached by boat.

Close to Home

If you are short on time but interested in wetlands and lagoons, you can explore several closer to Huatulco. Laguna Cacaluta (blackbird in Zapotec) is considered an ephemeral system, as surface water typically disappears completely during the dry season. Recognized by the Ramsar Convention, an international non-profit organization established in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, initially to protect aquatic birds, particularly migratory species (www.ramsar.org), Cacaluta was officially included in the global wetlands registry in September 2003 (Ficha Informativa de los Humedales de Ramsar [FIR]). In Huatulco, FONATUR developed the estuary of Chahue into the existing marina, but historically it was a backwater lagoon. Similar seasonal wetlands can be found along the road to Playa San Agustín and at Barra de la Cruz (barra refers to a sandbar).

Soft-Top, Hard-Top – Which One and Why?

By Randy Redmon

How did soft-top surfboards enter the world scene of surfing?

Let’s flash back to 2006. Soft-top surfboards first became available at Costco and were manufactured out of Taiwan by a company called AGIT Global. Even at the approximate retail price of $120 USD, Costco’s soft-top brand, called Wavestorm, was not exactly flying off the shelves. Why? Back then, soft-top surfboards were considered only for “newbie” beginners and kooks! In ten years, however, Costco had sold over half a million Wavestorms, was set to sell over 100,000 in 2015, and anticipated ever-increasing sales.

What Changed?

Jamie O’Brien is responsible for that! Jamie O’Brien is a popular professional free surfer from the North Shore of Hawaii. Side point … the North Shore is very respected in the “surf world” for its incredible and dangerous wave, the Banzai Pipeline. So what did this very experienced, well known and respected Pro Surfer do? Well, on one episode of his 19-season YouTuber video series, Who is JOB, O’Brien actually goes to a Costco and buys a Wavestorm soft-top surfboard as a joke. He asked the cashier, who didn’t recognize him as a professional surfer, that if he broke the board would he able to bring it back for a refund. Being Costco, she replied, “Yes, as long as you have the receipt.” Off went O’Brien with this cheap beginner board to the world-famous Banzai pipeline to surf!

What happened??

It was unreal! O’Brien’s performance was awesome and he fell in love with that soft top surfboard. Those who watched him at the pipeline, as well as the viewers of his video series, were convinced. and the soft-top surfboard’s popularity was born! Wavestorms did indeed fly off the shelves at every Costco in America – and the price jumped from $120 USD to $250 USD.

To meet the demand and to capitalize on the massive popularity of soft-top surfboards, new manufacturers started springing up. One such manufacturer, Catch Surf, is now a Jamie O’Brien sponsor and even has a special “Jamie O’Brien Collection.”

So now you know the history of the soft-top surfboard – what does that mean to you?

The soft-top surfboard is an excellent, and recommended, choice for all beginner surfers. I personally believe it has sharply reduced the number of injuries for both beginner surfers, as well as other surfers who may be hit by a wayward board while a beginner is learning. As a very experienced surfer, with over 50 years of experience, I feel that anyone who wants to learn to surf should start on a soft-top surfboard. This will help them to comfortably and safely learn the basics of surfing, as well as the etiquette of surfing.

There is, however, a word of caution. You will find it hard to gain respect in the world of surfing, and be accepted as a common surfer, if you stay on a soft top surfboard. Why? It is too easy to get comfortable and stay comfortable on a soft-top. The soft-top makes it much easier to get waves.

Does that mean Pro Surfers don’t use soft-top surfboards? The answer is that they do, but often it’s a novelty for them, almost tongue-in-cheek, as well being entertaining for them. It is never their go-to choice for surfboard.

On to the Hard-Top Surfboard, or Hardboard

After you have learned the basics of surfing and have caught your share of bluewater waves, it is time to move to a hardboard surfboard. What’s the difference? Soft-top surfboards are made with an EPS foam core wrapped in either fiberglass or a synthetic wrap with a soft, dentable ethylene-vinyl acetate sheet on top. In contrast, hardboards are generally constructed of a Styrofoam blank with a wood stringer and fiberglass overlay.

So what’s the advantage of a hardboard surfboard? First, there is no better feeling than catching a wave on a hardboard surfboard … this is basically how it should be, as that is the original way to surf. Second, this type of surfing will take you to another level and challenge your abilities as a surfer!

The Long and the Short of It

The next decision you need to make is whether you want to surf on a longboard or a short board. There’s no right or wrong decision. Whether you choose a classic longboard style of surfing, or the more radical, high-performance world of short boarding, either will be an expression of your own personal surfing style and what you enjoy. No one style is better than another, it’s a matter of preference.

At the end of the day, soft-top surfboards will always have place in the world of surfing. They have opened up this incredible sport and made it accessible to a much wider audience than ever before. So thank you, Jamie O’Brien, for having the guts to pull off one of the greatest jokes in surfing history – it has 100% changed the surfing landscape.

Are you interested in surfing or do you still consider yourself a beginner? I encourage you to come down to the Huatulco Surf Company shop in Tangolunda, Huatulco. Our very knowledgable and experienced team would love to support you in your surfing journey!

Spanish Lesson

By Julie Etra

This month, let’s take a look at two verbs with multiple, not-always-obvious meanings – andar and echar.

Andar literally means to walk, but also to go out with or date, to be, to come out, run (operate), to run around, go ahead, go around doing something, to be from; synonymous in some meanings with caminar.

Examples:

  1. Andamos juntos al cine. We walk together to the movies.
  2. Mi coche anda bien. My car runs fine.
  3. Todo anda bien/mal. Everything is (going) fine / wrong.
  4. Maria anda con Juan. Maria is dating Juan/going out with Juan.
  5. ¡Andale (pues)! Move it!
  6. Tomas siempre anda tomado. Tomas always is/ goes around drunk.
  7. El andaba borracho cuando se cayó. He was drunk when he fell.
  8. Ella siempre anda preocupada. She is always worried.
  9. ¿Andas por aquí? Are you from around here?

Echar is complicated! It is very idiomatic but fun and versatile. There are lots of ways to use this verb. Common meanings: to throw, launch, toss, drop, throw out.

  1. Echar de menos. To miss someone. Te echo de menos. I miss you.
  2. Echarse a perder. To rot/go bad. La leche se echa a perder. The milk is going bad.
  3. Echar ganas. ¡Echale ganas! To be motivated, move it, let’s give it a try!
  4. Echar un vistazo. To glance. Le echo un vistazo a Carla. I glance at Carla.
  5. Echar chispas por los ojos. To glare (literally, to throw sparks from your eyes).
  6. Echar aguas. To warn someone, “Watch out!” (From the medieval custom of throwing dirty water, including night soil, out the window into the street.)
  7. Echarle porras (a alguien). To encourage (someone).
  8. Echar hojas. To sprout leaves.
  9. Echar el ojo. To take a look, to choose.
  10. Echar tacos. To eat lunch. Echarse un taco (de ojo). To look, maybe leer, at someone very attractive.