Monday 18th April 2016 – Huatulco

27 degrees in the shade at 06.30 hrs, according to the telly. This is going to be hot and sticky, Welcome back to the Tropics.

No internet. All day. Grrrr.

Huatulco (Wah-tool-ko) is not the town – it’s the area. Why P&O don’t call it Santa Cruz, I have no idea. There are about five Cartagenas in the world, so half a dozen or so Santa Cruzes wouldn’t kill us. Anyway, Huatulco is, in fact, nine bays (or is it eight?) of unspoiled sandy beaches, clear water and reefs, and the one we moor in is Santa Cruz. So there you have it.

There is a VERY long concrete quay, so that the ship can moor pointing into town. But I’m not sure it’s long enough for the really big ships, as it currently stands. Yet even now, they run an electric buggy service to get the less mobile from the gangplank to the shore. Lovely touch, that. It is a heck of a walk, mind you.

We were booked on an excursion to Las Brisas resort. We don’t often book excursions, and resorts, even less so, but we’ve been to this one before, and it is very pleasant indeed. It used to be Club Med 18-30, but changed hands in 1992.

At the hotel, they still insist on blaring out dance music by the main pool, whether or not anyone wants it, but it’s still otherwise very pleasant. We don’t use the three private beaches available, but those that did were very happy. We pretty much took over the town when we arrived, so there were other ship people to chat to. And lunch was basic but adequate. And free.

Our excursion brought us back to the port at 2.30, BOB was 4.30, but we did not slip our lines until 6.30, because someone was waiting for an ambulance. Oh dear.

I imagine the Captain will be a bit stressed by now. We have a time slot booked for the Panama Canal on Thursday (it is single alternate lane traffic, so you absolutely cannot miss your slot), and we’ve been chasing to catch up since San Francisco, I think. I am guessing we will be really pegging it overnight tonight.

When we arrived for the first time, in 2005, Santa Cruz was a lovely little town with very few shops or hotels. They were cutting a great scar through the rainforest to build a big road to connect them to the big city. Eleven years later? The scar remains, but now has paving and benches and flower pots. No road. It seems to be a park of some sort. Our tour guide, Jordan, who took excellent care of us all day, assured me the road would be built, but he’s only been here five years, so I knew more about it than he did!

Other than that, the place has barely changed at all. A few more hotels, perhaps, but that’s all, and they are quite in keeping with the area – not big, ugly, modern rubbish. And the bar with the balcony overlooking the square has closed in said balcony and become a nightclub called the Black Cherry. But, other than that, it is still a very beautiful, and remains a resolutely unspoiled, part of the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough. They have some sort of special status to protect the area and the beaches here, so, hopefully, it should stay this way. And they seem to understand the concept of disabled access, too, which is nice.

Try not to laugh out loud at the prices of the wares made from the local silver, though. They find it off-putting.  Although labelling something as 630 USD when I wouldn’t pay 630 MNP for it (there are about 20 pesos to the dollar at the moment, give or take)(AND it was broken!), is so overly-optimistic that your customer is a fool with more money than sense, that I have to give them credit for the sheer chutzpah.

Things I have learned today #1: There is some sort of plumber’s code, whereby they are not allowed to fix a problem in a customer’s bathroom without leaving a piece out when they put everything back together, neatly put on the side, for said customer to discover after the plumber is long gone. Happened in LP a few months ago, happened here today.

When I got back on board, I was hot and sticky and dusty and needed a shower. But this was the moment where my shower decided that I did not merit any cold water, for some reason, and so provided only two options – scalding or scalding. After two desperate calls to Reception, a plumber came, fixed the problem and then announced that my fluctuating temperature issue, that had me swaying in and out of the flow of water (remember?) was actually a faulty thermostat, so he changed it. And left me the apparently obligatory small circle of silver metal by the sink, that I have no idea what do to with. And a continuing fluctuation in temperature (didn’t have the heart to call him again). But at least cold is now an option. My sunburned shoulders were very grateful. It must have occurred when I was swimming, because that was the only time I stepped out of the shade all day.

My sarky email to Southampton about gluten-free bread appears to have hit home, because when I was chatting to the head waiter, Subodh, at dinner, and said I had sent the head of Diet Reservations an email, he said, “Yes, I’ve seen it!”. He told me to bide my time and see what transpires at Aruba. And then he winked.

Watch this space…

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