Mid-January, 2013 – Huatulco’s underwater world is truly glorious, with exotic aquatic creatures wriggling, swimming and soaring about. But the above water world is full of land animals with equally unusual modes of transportation. Ever since we arrived in Huatulco two months ago, we’ve been keeping tabs on all the crazy rolling contraptions we see around town.
The climate in Huatulco is sultry and hot (a winter “cold snap” dropped the mid-day highs down to 85 F for a few January days, but it didn’t last long!). So most folks like to buzz around town in something breezy.
A group of motorcyclists showed up at the beach Playa Entrega one day in black leathers, bandanas and tattoos. While we sat at the table next to them in the sand, we were impressed by the steady stream of ice-filled Corona buckets that arrived at their table all afternoon. Other than speaking Spanish, this happy crowd was just like their Harley brothers up north!
But big bikes are actually in a minority in Huatulco, as scooters and small motorized bikes are easier to maneuver on the narrow roads. People often ride them two-up, and we saw one pair toting surf boards too. Sometimes these scooters function as the family car, and it’s not uncommon to see Mom, Dad and a kid or two zooming past together.
There are those who prefer traveling at slower speeds while getting some exercise, and they pedal around town on all types of bicycles. One of the coolest bikes we saw had a special wooden passenger seat mounted on the top tube. Very clever!
Lots of snack vendors like to peddle their wares by pedaling a trike with all the goodies laid out in front of the driver. You can either flag them down as they ride by, or catch up with them later when they set up shop under the shade of a tree.
Even “pollo asado” (grilled chicken) and pizza delivery are done on two wheels in these parts. The pizzas or chicken dinners are loaded into a big box on the back of the scooter and then buzzed out for delivery to homes and hotels.
Drinking water is often delivered in big trucks, but there are a few guys around town who use little converted tricycle tuk-tuks instead. This is just too cute!!
A tuk-tuk can also make a good miniature pickup. Whatever’s getting hauled, if it’s not too huge, a tuk-tuk truck bed is low-slung and makes it easy to load things in and out.
Some folks simply operate their food service business right out of the back of a regular pickup truck. Coconut meat and coconut milk drinks are very popular, and turning a truckload of coconuts into a pocketful of cash is just a matter of sitting there among the fruit, machete in hand, and slicing away as customers stop by.
One day while we were standing in front of the row of “fruterías” (fruit stores) in town, a pickup full of watermelons parked in front of us and was soon unloaded onto the store shelves. Talk about fresh fruit!
If you’ve gotta haul stuff around town and don’t have a truck, another great option is to convert a motorcycle into a truck of sorts by removing the back wheel and replacing it with a two-wheeled cart. Lots of motorcycles here lose their back ends to practical upgrades like this.
Sometimes the motorcycles get to keep their back end in the conversion but lose their front end instead.
We passed one fellow who had lopped off the back of a VW bug and replaced it with the back of a motorcycle. Since the VW had originally had its engine in the back, he’d apparently worked out the drive-train issues and was able to drive this gig around.
Volkswagons are hugely popular, and they get chopped and cropped and rebuilt in all kinds of wonderful ways.
We saw a red one that had been reworked to be something of a dune buggy, or golf cart, or very cute convertible.
A black one got a similar remake. When it emerged from its overhaul, it no longer had opening doors. We got a kick out of seeing the driver leap over the side into his seat before driving off.
One of the most popular rental vehicles for tourists is little convertible buggies. Every so often one will drive by. And why drive it alone if you can fit four?!
But we did a triple-take one day when we looked up the road and saw a whole group of these buggies barreling down a curvy road towards us. What fun!
A few lucky people in town have high end roadsters. It sure would be nice to travel in style like that, though you’d want to be sure your bathing suit was dry and you’d brushed the beach sand off your feet before climbing in!!
In the end, if you need to get around Huatulco, having any kind of wheels is better than having no wheels at all.
And if you don’t have four wheels, and you can’t get your hands on two, just one will do!
We were getting such a kick out of cruising around the streets of Huatulco, that it came as quite a surprise when we received an invitation that swept us off the streets and back into the land of luxury for a night!!