A tale of clumps and chumps

In theory, all beaches in Mexico are public. In reality, resorts and private homes often block off access to the beach and to the waves.

Since we were going to be heading towards the airport, I thought it would be a good idea to go look for waves along the Punta de Mita coast. This exceptional stretch of coast boasts several surf spots–mostly right-hand point breaks–not easily accessible to the public. Trespassing on private property and walking through the jungle are generally required to gain accesss to these spots, unless of course you have the dinero to rent a panga and a captain to drive it.

Gaining access into Veneros always has an element of uncertainty to it. Last year, there was an elderly security guard that usually let me through with the car. The younger guard usually granted permission to enter on foot. Today a different security guard was on duty, manning the gate.

I politely requested access to check the waves, like I always do, but today something went seriously awry. Access denied! Mr. Moustache explained solemnly: “I can’t let you through because recently on one occasion there were a bunch of break-ins; on that same day surfers had been granted permission to enter. All of security got into trouble over the incident and they have really cracked down on us.”

“Oh that’s terrible.” I empathized. “What if we just go to the restaurant and order something and if the waves are good then we’ll go for a surf afterwards.” Hesitantly, Mr. Moustache warned if we didn’t go to the restaurant then security would have to haul us out of there. “No hay problema.” I assured him. He passed over a clipboard for me to write down my name and entrance time. This was the first time I ever had to sign-in at this Veneros.

We cruised along and had to pass through another gate. After parking the car, a different security guard escorted us to the restaurant. Oh no! This wasn’t the restaurant I had been expecting. The restaurant I had in mind was still further down the beach. However, we’d come this far; my brother and I had no choice but to order something. Practically it was free parking in exchange for a menu item at Peppers. How bad could it be?

The sturdy palapa (palm thatched roof) overlooking the ocean offered a spectacular view and I had high hopes of spotting a whale or two. The northwesterly was so strong that it threatened to rip the lime green tablecloths right off the tables. Four older ladies, the only other table under the palapa, were sporting Mexican blankets wrapped around their shoulders in an effort to ward off the cold wind.

“Una limonada para mi, por favor”. Then Troy ordered a large bottle of water. A harsh English rap song, accented with some Spanish lyrics, blared in the background. I retreated to the car to find my jacket and some peace.
On my way back to the restaurant a feeling of unease started settling in. “We tried” was all I could think to console myself. I convinced myself that it would have been too windy at my homespot too. Moreover, I had done a good deed today by giving a couple of Canadian girls, learning to surf, a ride to Punta de Mita. I was actually starting to feel better by the time I returned to the table.

“What is that?” I asked my brother, pointing to the battered fish clumps on his plate that resembled chicken McNuggets more than anything else. ”I thought you ordered the coconut crusted fish filet.”
He replied, “I thought I did too.” We chuckled.
“Is it any good?”
“Not really.”
Just another link of disappointment in the chain of unsettling events that had transpired that day.

Then the bill arrived. It had been a long time since I felt this duped. $94 pesos for a bottle of water! How could this be? There must be some mistake. And the totopos, come off it. Little did I know my brother had ordered the nacho chips while I went to the car. ARRRR. Didn’t he know that touristy places often charge for nachos and salsa, even though any self-respecting Mexican restaurant includes these chips as a gratuity?

I doubled checked the price of the bottle of water with the waiter. ”Es importada” he assured me. It doesn’t matter if it’s imported or not; the same bottle costs about 35 pesos at the Mega grocery store. I didn’t bother to mention this to him–he knows. A large bottle of water at Peppers is probably the same amount of money he earns for a day’s work. Ludicrous!

When I asked my brother if he had anything to contribute he replied:
“I was the victim of the story and your endless obsession of trying to find a place to surf. It was torture.” He then concluded: “There were many exit ramps on that freeway of disaster. Heed the signs, take the exit.”

This trip to Veneros, and consequently to Peppers, has reminded me that when there are waves at home, don’t bother going to look elsewhere. It could cost you.

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