Friday, November 29, 2013

Huatulco's La India Beach

The beauty of Huatulco, Oaxaca is underscored by the fact that this quiet Mexican town boasts nine bays and 36 beaches. All of the beaches are unspoiled and uncrowded but playa La India, a crescent-shaped beach located in Chachacual Bay, wins the most attention for its serene loveliness and outstanding snorkeling.

Accessible only by boat, La India stretches out with pearly sand and lush forest. I walked the beach from one end to the other and even though there were a couple of boats full of visitors, the peace and beauty of the spot was soothing.

A coral reef surround La India so the snorkeling is very exciting, you're bound to see lots of jewel-toned fish and other sea creatures. But I preferred to just stroll the beach and listen to the waves.

I couldn't leave La India without discovering the inspiration for the beach's name. According to locals, an indigenous couple lived on the beach before it was declared part of the national park system. The government offered money for them to relocate but the woman refused to leave. I don't know how they finally persuaded her but the beach is named in her honor. I like to think that her strong spirit protects the beach from pollution and desecration to this day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gulping Down Grasshoppers in Huatulco

I believe in experiencing the culture of every place I visit. That's how you really connect with the essence of a location. So I was a little taken aback to discover that Huatulco's essence is buried in little, wiry, grasshopper legs. Located in Southern Mexico, along the coast of the state of Oaxaca, Huatulco pulses with Southern Mexican traditions. Munching grasshoppers or chapulines, is one of those traditions. I was hosted by Secrets Huatulco Resort and when an array of Oaxacan dishes was presented to me on my arrival, chapulines were the first ones. As you can see from the photo above, they are toasted and seasoned into a mound of spicy critter snacks.

Traditionally, chapulines are served with a variety of salsas, guacamole and totopos or tortilla chips or sprinkled on a taco.

I was lucky that my first servings were small ones that once covered with guac and salsa, I could forget that I was munching grasshoppers.  I know the closeup above looks like they're dancing on top of the chip but I didn't look at them before I stuffed them into my month. They weren't chewy or really crunchy.  They tasted like a savory, spiced snack, with a flavor a little like jerky.

When I spotted the big ones at a Mezcal tasting, I was glad that the wee ones were my first initiation. There was no way that I was crunching on a big ol' grasshopper, regardless of the quantities of  premium liquor supplied to wash away the memory.  

I saw chapulines for sale all over Huatulco, in beach shacks, in little stores and restaurants. I was glad that I had tried such a big part of Oaxacan culture but I was never tempted to try them again. Although I did buy a bag to bring home. You never know when you'll need a quick dose of spicy protein.....

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Next Stop: Huatulco, Mexico

I'll be escaping Chicago's cold and snow this week with a press trip to Huatulco, in the Southern part of Mexico. Located on the coast of the state of Oaxaca, along the edge of the Sierra Madre mountains, Huatulco is famous for its nine lovely bays; one of them, Santa Cruz, is pictured above. Of course, I'l also be exploring as much Oaxacan history and culture as I can mange. Stay tuned for posts next week!