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Playa Zicatela is a busy spot in Puerto Escondido. It is where most of the people who visit Puerto go at least once in their stay. Zicatela, as most people refer to it as, is known for it's surf. Before there was any hotels or resraurants or pools or street there was surf. Although Zicatela was known before, it was not until around the early 1970s that it was "discovered" by surfers. At that time there was not anything on the beach except vegetation. The beach was considered dangerous by anybody except the expert surfers that came to Puerto Escondido for the sole reason to catch some of the best waves in the world.
As time went by people with a vision started to build on the beach. They built small "hotels" that were not real hotels. Most people would refer to the first cabañas as shacks. As time went by more and more people came to Puerto not only to surf but to lounge in the sun or to watch their friends catch waves or since it was on what was commonly refered to as the "Gringo Trail" backpackers and anybody with the desire for adventure would find their way to "The Hidden Port". And as more and more people arrived they crossed over the rocks to see what the surfers were up to. More cabañas were built and places to eat and some little convience stores popped up. It has been very interesting watch the evolution of what has become a destination from around the world. From nothing to a few shacks to a hotel or three and a couple places to eat (it was hard to call them restaurants) to a paved street and palm trees. Some of the first businesses on Zicatela were Las Olas Hotel and Paco's Place.
Paco's Place was high up on the hillside and was only a one room bungalow but it had the best view in town as far as surfers were concerned. It is now named Hotel Buena Vista and is one of the nicest places to stay while relaxing in Puerto. It is the perfect name for the hotel because it has what might be the nicest view on all of Zicatela. Las Olas is down on the street and was there when there was nothing. It was when the street was only sand. People thought the mother and daughter team who owned Las Olas were crazy to have a place on Zicatela way back then. It was dangerous and hot and difficult. The women who own the hotel were truly adventurers. They have had to endure quite a lot. Their land was taken from them at one point and they had to fight to get it back. Everybody who knew about the land grab thought that the women would never sleep there again. Well, they persevered. Not only did they get their land back, their business has prospered and is one of the nicest cleanest hotels on Zicatela.
Art and Harry’s was another business that was there early on. At that time it was called “Tres Osos”. When it was first built it was way down the beach... or so it seemed. Now it is in the thick of things and doesn’t seem like it is far away like it did when it was first built. Rocky was another trail blazer. When he started putting up his cabanas he was pretty much all alone at that end of Zicatela as far as places to sleep were concerned. Now Rockaway is right were the elite meet. The world famous Cafecito has relocated right next door. I remember sitting in the back of Rocky’s land where the first cabanas were built (and are now not there because Rock has built new cement rooms) and listening to Rocky describe his vision. “Sure Rock, sure Rock” was all we could say. He told us about his pool and store and restaurant that he pictured in his mind. He was going to have the deepest pool in Puerto and he was going to make all his own bricks to pave the dirt because he could not buy the kind of bricks he wanted in Puerto at that time.
Carmen's "El Cafecito" is an interesting story. Carmen use to come to Puerto Escondido back in the early 1980's. She would stay at one of the small places on the beach at Zicatela. To help with the huge expense (all of $3.00 dollars a day) of staying in a small palapa on the beach she would make "Pan de Platino". It was the best banana bread on the coast of Oaxaca. Surfers would come from up and down the beach in the afternoon to buy a small loaf to satisfy the munchies they all seemed to have. As time went by Carmen started making bread in Chila (up highway 200 about 10 kilometers) and would bring it to Puerto to sell. Her bread became more and more popular which forced her to open up a small café near Playa Marinaro. She met a guy named Dan and fell in love. Dan had a vision of a place for the surfers to eat breakfast on Zicatela and with Carmen at his side opened up El Cafecito right in the middle of Zicatela. Over the years it has become one of the most successful establishments in Puerto Escondido. People from around the world know who Carmen is and where El Cafecito is located. Zicatela Beach has become the location in Puerto Escondido where tourists and travelers (yes there is a difference) and parents with kids and kids with parents (yes there is a difference),
friends and lovers and people of every size shape and color come to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets on Playa Zicatela. They come to have fun in the surf and on the beach. The come to eat at the good restaurants. They come to have coffee and hotcakes in the morning and gossip and tell wild tales of the night before. People come to listen to the live music that sometimes plays at night. Travelers and tourists from around the world come to people-watch and maybe meet their soul mates. More than a few couples have met on Zicatela or the Adoquin or the Mercado or Carizalillo or Puerto Angelito. You can ask pretty much anybody who travels to Puerto Escondido and Zicatela Beach and they will tell you that they will be back. Most of them will tell you that they already have their plans in their head and are figuring out how they will manage to fit it into their lives. Many will even tell you that they are planning to move permanently to Puerto Escondido. The place that many call paradise.