Acapulco’s Little Sister: Pié de la Cuesta

Mexico travel Lying in a hammock is supposed to be relaxing, but this one had a mind of its own.

After twisting and turning, I finally got in without toppling out the opposite side, but the word “comfort” was far from mind. A few more turns though and I found it: a heavenly blend between stretching out on a chaise lounge and floating in air.

Seven other hammocks were strung a suitable distance apart under the palm leaf canopy of the palapa. The backdrop of the thundering Pacific surf provided each occupant the privacy to flip idly through a paperback, sip another Corona and even, as our hammock confidence grew, rock lazily. There had been no passers-by for hours. Earlier, an elderly peanut vendor had arrived, offering free samples and carefully measured bags of freshly-roasted peanuts with an origami-like cone of newspaper to catch the shells. A small brown and white dog followed him and then curled up for a nap beneath my hammock.

This was Pié de la Cuesta – just eight pesos (US$.70) and 30 minutes by bus north of Acapulco – and yet a world away from all of the resort cities’ noise and action.

On weekends, this two-mile (3.2 km) stretch of beach is packed with locals and families from Mexico City, but weekdays it seems like a flashback to a bygone backpacker’s haven.

Pié de la Cuesta has never been subjected to the development frenzy common to the Pacific coast of Mexico. The surf is too dangerous to swim here and the lifeguards charge by the rescue. Several enterprising restaurants, however, have created the perfect spot for visitors to spend a few peaceful hours. Many offer inviting ocean-front accommodations for those who surrender entirely to the spell of Pié de la Cuesta and choose to stay a night or more.

I chose to spend time at Las Trés Marias, one of several restaurants along the golden expanse of beach. It offered a clear blue swimming pool, an al fresco shower surrounded by lapis-blue tiled mosaic, and a choice of hammock for only a nodding understanding that I’d purchase a drink or perhaps lunch as the day progressed. There is no early morning dash to reserve a chaise lounge here, but it’s polite to let the owner know in advance if you’ll be having lunch.

If you’re energetic, there’s plenty to do in the area. Nearby Coyuca Lagoon is home to many species of birds and water hyacinths. It’s possible to hire a boat and guide to explore the six miles (10 km) of natural water channels, lined with dense jungle vegetation, where scenes from Rambo and The African Queen were filmed. Safari tours and horseback riding on the beach are also an option, but these are far enough away so that, back in your hammock, it’s easy to imagine you are a castaway, far from your forgotten home.

Lunch is close at hand if you get hungry and is, of course, primarily seafood. The perfect starter is ceviche, a typical Acapulco favorite made of shrimp, lime juice, cilantro and tomato served over salted crackers or tortillas with fiery red pepper sauce. The local lunch speciality is grilled red snapper, garnished with guacamole and a half-dozen sliced limes.

After lunch, your swaying hammock beckons irresistibly. If you are lulled to sleep and miss the last bus back to Acapulco at 6:30 p.m., there are plenty of taxis to speed you back to town.

The ride is just long enough for the hammock marks to fade before a night of dancing.

The journey back from Pié de la Cuesta also gives you time to contemplate how you can make a hammock a permanent fixture in your life.

If You Go

Acapulco Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at www.acapulco.org.mx

How to Get There from Alcapulco: To take public transit to Pié de La Cuesta, catch one of the air-conditioned Costera buses (they can be identified by their yellow color) to the intersection of Avenida Costera Miguel Aleman and Prof. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. From there, catch the Pie de la Cuesta bus at the stop on the north side of the intersection.

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