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Jun 19

The Hammock Diaries

Zack demonstrates the "feet-up lounger" position. Note the crossed-left foot positioning, the low wrap factor and edge-on head support technique. Perfect for hot early afternoons.

I arrived in Puerto Escondido with the full intention of taking a week off from my two-wheeled journey.  I needed a holiday from my holiday, as after 6 months on the bike I was feeling pretty worn out.  What I needed was a hammock on the beach with beers and good company close at hand.

I headed for Cabanas Buena Onda – a very low key hostel/cabanas right on the beach with camping – located near the La Punta, about 3km down the beach from the touristy surf town of Zicatela.  I had heard about this place from Marie and Johann (the swiss cyclists I rode with in Baja California (who are now in Colombia)) and they had raved that this was the spot for the road weary cyclist.  So I rolled up – drenched in sweat and covered in red dust – and checked into my hammock.

I had allowed for a stay of 7 days – thinking 5 would probably be enough – and I ended up staying for 10.

And I did very very little.

Surf at La Punta of Puerto Escondido

Master of the Hammock

With complete honesty, the majority of my time was spent in one of the dozens of hammocks (las hamacas in Spanish) scattered around Buena Onda.  The Oaxacan hammock is an unbelievably comfortable, versatile and adaptable piece of lounging equipment.  The beauty is in it’s simplicity: No sticks, no springs, just some woven string slung up to a couple of rafters or a couple of palm trees.  Yet, despite this simplicity, proper hammock usage is not something that can be learned overnight.

It’s a skill.

The master hammocker can comfortably use the hammock in a variety ways and in a variety of positions.  There are an intimidating number of factors that come into

Palapas at Buena Onda

play: Feet position, wrap factor, sling separation, hammock width, hammock entry spread, swing constant, and head support technique are just a few examples.  Using these tools a pro hammocker(s) can use the hammock as a chair, as a chair with a desk, as a feet-up lounger, or a horizontal bed, and that’s just the basics.

Beyond being fun – and incredibly comfortable once you have mastered the techniques – the hammock is also extremely practical.  It’s elevation off the ground serves many functions: it protects it’s occupant from run-off from the tropical rains, it keeps the snoozer safely out of harms way from ants, large 8-legged friends, sand fleas (if high enough), and many other pesky little insects.  It also keeps the dozer more cool as all sides of the body are exposed to the night air and to the night breezes.  Then, the next morning the hammock

Zack demonstrates the "horizontal bed" position. Note the "one-a-side" feet positions, the large wrap factor and the central head support technique. Perfect for that cool early morning nap, or for sleeping at night.

can easily be tied up to clear room in your dwelling, or it can be unslung and easily transported to a better location out of the sun or into the breeze.  Finally, a low slung hammock means that your beer stuck into the cool sand is always within easy reach.

It was hard work, but I made a concerted effort to get a decent amount of “hammock time” each day, and I am now a master of the art.  I don’t like to brag…. but you could say that I am a natural.

A routine of very little

After a couple of days of doing nothing I developed a routine that I would not-so-devotedly keep to for my entire time at Buena Onda.  It involved primarily a rotation of sleeping, eating, socialising, napping, eating, napping, socialising, drinking, going out, and then sleeping again.

That was the beauty of Buena Onda, one could easily pass an entire day by just lazing around but never feel bored.

The social area of Buena Onda

For me personally, I probably would have gotten restless if it hadn’t been for the quality mix of people staying at Buena Onda.  For starters, about half of the guests were spanish speakers, most from Mexico City, and the rest from other countries like Spain, Argentina, and Venezuela, so not only could I continue practicing my spanish, but I could get a taster of a range of accents.  Beyond the spanish speakers there was also a disproportionately high number of Melbournites present, most of whom had spent the last six months studying spanish in Guadalajara, so it was nice to reminisce all things Melbourne (Australia not Florida) and Guadalajara whilst making new friends that I would very likely see again in the near future.

And so in my routine of very little, each glorious day quietly slipped by with nary a need to don t-shirt or flip-flops, until one morning I woke up and with a shock I saw that I had deep and permanent overlapping hammock prints criss-crossed into my back.

Suddenly I knew that the time had come to leave.  Not today… but maybe tomorrow?  hmmm… Maybe.

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