It is Disgusting

I am not one to complain.  If you read here regularly – dummy up!

Tuesday was a splendid morning as nearly all are here in Puerto Escondido. Monday night we had agreed to go to the Carrizalillo cove for the day with Anita’s brother and his woman. We have not spent much time at the beach while enjoying immensely it surrounding us.

At the west end of the Puerto beaches is Playa Carrizalillo, which has Pacific Ocean sand (the best kind) and cobalt blue water edged in light green with tropical conditions and luxury housing atop nearby cliffs.

This 300 meter wide beach is on a small bay.

There are no vehicular roads to this beach. A 167-step, stone and concrete, footpath descends a steep slope. This is a recently installed rock stairway. It takes about fifteen minutes to walk to there from the town; and then a bit of effort to climb down those stairs. A water taxi ride from Playa Principal is another option for accessing Carrizalillo; however perish that thought we need the exercise!

Anita and Harvey headed down the stairs – circa 2007

Probably the greatest attraction, even beyond its idyllic setting is calm water. Most of the water along the coast here about is cautionary – people drown here, quite often actually. Less than a year ago a number of people were swept away just on a walk way – so you might imagine the trepidation one can have regarding ‘getting-in’ the turbulent sea.

Just to the east is the twin beaches of Puerto Angelito and Manzanillo, between which are a small rock outcropping. These are on a sheltered cove, making it safe for swimming, with Manzanillo having slightly more surf. Angelito beach is full of family-owned small restaurants located in palapas (open-air thatched structures (palapas).

Both these beaches have water that varies in color from emerald green to turquoise blue.Puerto Angelito tends to be crowded and frequently invaded by huge tour buses loaded with visitors. Playa Manzanillo is quieter as there is no road access On this day there were many buses unloading tourists – but not the kind that go to the gym and are looking to top off that tan on their svelte bodies – not that type indeed.

So because of the many steps our little Playa Carrizalillo cove is usually not over crowded – we like that. The trek down and back availing a more peaceful beach scene is worth every step – who needs a stair stepper when we have this opportunity?

Most of the 300 meters is occupied with industrious little restaurants that serve beer and fried fish tacos at their recliners and umbrella sun-protected chairs. There are a few patches of sand available for those with their own towel, umbrella, snacks and libations. The category the Calypsos fall under.

In as much as we were with Anita’s brother and his woman we parked next to them at their convenient seating sponsored by Rosy. She has Bohemia beer for 25 pesos; the best beer bargain on Carrizalillo beach. I arrived first.  Rosy’s waiter tried to run me off – but he wasn’t getting through to me, so over came Rosy. She explained my umbrella next to her setup was not acceptable (albeit legal).

Rather than argue I assured her we were planning on buying lots of beers and fish tacos from her – what’s more there were even two lounge chair dwellers in our group – not to worry – in fact, Anita and I would buy without even using the facilities; just set up near them.

Satisfied with my answer Rosy went back to her wooden shack. The waiter brought us a menu.

All good so far. I mean it was a beautiful setting, moderately occupied and we were ensconced. The water temperature was tepid. I was reading, “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life  You Want and Change the World.” By Chris Guillebeau (I have since finished said book – not recommended).

What could be bad at a scene such as this? The Mexican bathroom scene, that’s what!

Here is the deal, before we even discuss the conditions: The price to enter the out-house facilities was 5 pesos. This being the highest ‘so you have to relieve-yourself’ fee we have encountered in the country.

WHY, when you have a wonderfully idyllic cove with cobalt blue waters rimmed by emerald green and the finest sand, would you charge a high rate to make available facilities that might keep people from peeing in the ‘pool’? Talk about penny wise and pound foolish – there you have it!

Mexican’s are not famous for good public bathroom conduct for sure. But you can imagine when it comes down to shelling out a half of buck or just wade out to about waist level and empty your bladder in the big pool – I mean come on there are thousands of gallons of water out there – millions upon millions actually – next land-stop southward is Antarctica. Disgusting!

Having consumed a few bottles of Bohemia, we made several trips to the loo; the plumbing is not as sturdy as whence one was young(er). We saw very few make the trek up the path to the facilities – even though we were there at the beach most of the day. We saw a number of beer jockeys that one had to assume, after consuming all that beer, were finding their way to the Pacific to make space for more beer. DISGUSTING.

Then let us take a look (please don’t – you will not like it) at the high entry fee facilities themselves – oh my! Disgusting fly havens.

One rather proper German woman turned around, walking away muttering, “I just can’t do it.” To no one in particular – but totally understood.

There is a new highway being constructed between Puerto and Oaxaca City.  It is said the time for the trip will be cut to less than a third the current rate. This will avail access to our beaches by many thousands more each year. Business will be great and the tourist trade will flourish. Perhaps by then someone will figure out how to better deal with the beach bathroom scene – but probably not.  Stay Tuned!

  • tancho

    I would have to agree with your logic, except on the road, I do have to give my wife a few pesos now and then, usually no more than 2, to use the tiled facilities of some tourist bound strategically situated Penex station along a autopista on the main road between the states and the first or second large tourist destination.

    I have long ago stopped trying to understand the logic used in pricing such facilities, perhaps they include a several pages of an extremely soft magazine?

    As you noticed she probably doesn’t get many takers on her facilities, but those 5 pesos sojourns probably can add up to a tidy sum especially when the right bus pulls up to the location, or maybe she is doing a market study for the new road’s opening….

  • John Calypso

    I believe the facilities, be that as they may, are supplied by the city – but I have no information source on that – just guessing. A small token amount keeps the riffraff (do they have that here?) down to a minimum ;-0 But to charge 5 pesos and treat someone to poor conditions really invites the use of the sea – which just does not work for me.

  • Steve Cotton

    Speaking of bathrooms, what is with Mexican urinals. I am taller than most Mexican males. But I have t stand on my tiptoes to use the facility. maybe they are just fr decoration. I feel a future post coming on.

  • brenda

    I agree the public washroom thing is bad; especially here during Carnival and non existent on the beaches. It seems the city is finally smartening up and providing them cheaper and I think once even free to get people away from just going around a building corner. I do have to say that here when you pay they are kept clean by the person who collects from you and yes, you are given some paper on the way in when you pay lol. I don’t mind paying to use them when they are kept clean.

    Just an aside comment here. When you refer to Anitas brothers partner, could you possibly use a different word/phrase than, “Anita’s brother and his woman”, sorry but to me that makes her sound like a possession or someone not desirable. Just my morning rant lol.

  • John Calypso

    Brenda – Of course we foreigners do not mind spending 40 cents for the use of a ‘clean’ public restroom. Of course clean was far from the case here. However let us put this in a Mexican context: Wikipedia describes Puerto Escondido in part as, “Puerto Escondido is one of the most important tourist attractions on the Oaxacan coast. It caters to a more downscale and eclectic clientele than neighboring Huatulco, mostly surfers, backpackers and Mexican families.”

    I might be more specific by this quote alone, ” It caters to a more downscale and eclectic clientele” The families that vacation here are often poorer – less than middle class folks, and of course surfers speak for themselves in that regard. Now minimum wage in the U.S. hovers around $10 US dollars an hour . I know this is slightly high, but so is 10 pesos an hour as a minimum wage here in Mexico. Converting this to apples and apples means the Mexican commoner is paying near the equivalent of $5 US dollars to relieve themselves. I think you can agree that is a steep price. More importantly giving them a pass on the bathroom fees to save the ocean is well worth it in my book. If they say charged 5 or 10 pesos to use the beach GENERALLY and applied the funds to keeping the cans clean – how great would that be? But then – no – they just can not afford this – so let’s encourage them to use the facilities.

    As to not calling of my BIL’s partner “woman” that is waaaaay too politically correct for my taste. I tend to accept liberal doses of monikers and such – we can not be so uptight as to be offended by such an innocent label – this without dragging out the big guns as to relationships and possessing one another etc. I do apologize if this offends your tastes – but I am sure it will happen again ;-0

  • John Calypso

    Steve – are you sure you aren’t urinating in the sink? ;-)

  • Dana Jennings

    But isn’t the sewage going get get dumped untreated into the sea, when they clean those portable there at the beach?

  • Kim G

    I’m totally with you on the logic of the bathrooms. And five pesos would be a lot in DF; in Puerto Escondido, it’s extortionate. I find the commonplace practice of charging for bathrooms in Mexico to be annoying in general, particularly in places where I’ve already paid like bus stations. However, if the bathroom is clean, I feel like I’m getting something for my pesos. But if the toilets lack seats (frighteningly common SOB) or the bathroom is dirty, I’m quite put out.

    And Dana’s thought occurred to me too. Isn’t there just a drain from the toilet right into the bay anyway? Isn’t that the case at Playa Principal? I mean Mexico isn’t famous for tough environmental regulations.

    In 2008, we rented a house during Semana Santa above Playa Manzanillo. It was an idyllic spot, very quiet, and the beach was well worth the hike down and back.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’re glad that the tradition of coin-operated toilets seems to have ceased.

  • John Calypso

    Dana – The claim is the waste is removed to containers and hauled away – not dumped in the ocean. We checked this and can only repeat what we were told when inquiring.

  • John Calypso

    Kim – The facilities are the common plastic “outhouse” – self- contained and in this case not attended to and quite disgusting – but no the waste was not heading directly to the ocean. There is a lot of ‘flap’ and concern about sewage here – so I trust that at least it is not heading to the ocean. No telling what the truth is of this currently. I may get up the nerve to bring it up on the local TomZap Forum where there is a lively debate about a faulty, uncompleted sewage processing plant and stories of sewage seeping up through sealed man-hole covers near the Santa Fe Hotel. If not there, the area seems to be headed in a concerned and do-something -about-it posture; a good thing. The beaches are lovely here. We hope they will remain that way and be preserved with more forward thinking.

  • Richard Murillo your brother

    I enjoy the articles you are posting brother. I hope everyone reads the article on the water company and their unethical ways. What a way to run a business. crooks that’s what they are crooks.

  • Richard Murillo your brother

    We had a great time walking down the 167 steps to heaven. What a beautiful day. Keep it up great job on the write up.

  • John Calypso

    “…the 167 steps” – by your count!

  • John Calypso

    Thanks for the reminder ;-) Yes – crooks. Absolutely!

  • Croft

    Yes, two pesos seems to be the standard fee (sometimes three) and I have actually found most facilities are kept acceptably clean, in one notable case, even scrubbed clean between clients. I do not mind paying when this is the case. Once on the beach in cruise ship rich Costa Maya we had one banos proprietor demand “one US dollar”. We were with our Dutch friends and PJ said, “then I will piss right on the sand at your feet”! What can i say, he is Dutch. A nearby waiter came to the rescue and said, “For two US dollars, I will sell you a beer and let you use our banos for free.” Good deal!

  • Gary Denness

    Once upon a time, I had an ‘incident’. I’d been bombing my motorbike up the motorway for a couple of hours, and stopped off at a service station to make use of their facilities, which were mightily busy. Such was my need, I didn’t even take my helmet off, grabbed to sole vacant urinal at the far end and went about my business. About half way through reliving myself, I noticed that my urinal had taps…

    Question: in such a situation, does one turn the taps on to flush the basin, or does one just leave?

  • Zannie Alvarez

    Having gotten as far in the post as the photo of the little bay, I thought to myself, “I’m pretty sure that’s where I had my surfing lesson, the place with the terrible bathroom situation.”

    I have been in one worse bathroom situation, in a dive bar in La Paz, but that little fly infested “gem” is a close second.

  • Zannie Alvarez

    I can’t remember where it was (definitely not Puerto, but maybe Lago Catemaco) but I did spend an afternoon in a “Snack Hut” (so-named in English) literally out on the water, where the toilet just went right down to the ocean. I mean, when you looked down into the bowl you could see down through to the ocean.