San José del Pacífico: Communal living above the clouds

San José del Pacífico in a Nutshell

Located about half-way between Pochutla and Oaxaca City in Mexico’s state of Oaxaca, San José del Pacífico is the perfect place to get away from civilization for a few nights. As San José  in the mountains, you will find yourself watching sunsets from above the clouds. The name “del Pacífico” comes from the fact that you can see the Pacific Ocean if you climb to the top of the mountain (I gave up only partway up). By the way, you won’t find this place on Google Maps, so don’t bother trying.

View of San José

View of San José

Getting There

A collectivo from Pochutla to San José costs about $80 MXC, takes about 3 1/2 hours, and puts even the strongest stomachs to the test. Travelling along the windiest roads I have ever encountered (with sharp turns every few seconds for hours on end), I strongly regretted eating a $10 MXC doblada immediately before my departure.

Pit stop on the way to San José

Pit stop on the way to San José

Accomodations

We were told that “Casa de Cata” (Cata’s House) is the place to stay in San José. After a relatively short climb up a mountain (although a breathless one, due to the altitude), we found ourselves at a cozy little house covered in hallucinogen-induced wall art and complete with a terrasse that offers a magnificent view of the sun as it’s setting. The cost to stay at Casa de Cata was $50 MXC, and included free coffee and drinking water. There was no hot water, so bathing was either quick and painful, or involved heating water on the stove.

Sunset at Casa de Cata

Sunset at Casa de Cata

Sunset at Casa de Cata

Sunset at Casa de Cata

The Scene

Casa de Cata is the type of place that will restore your faith in humanity. Travellers from all over the world – Korea, Switzerland, France, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Germany . made Casa de Cata their home away from home. Conversations flowed in a mix of Spanish, French and English, and somehow everyone understood each other, if not by the help of a bilingual or trilingual friend.

Many of Casa de Cata’s guests spent their days smoking and working on hand-made jewelry that they sell to fund their travels. In the evenings, we took turns cooking meals for the entire crowd, which ranged in size from 8 to 15 people. In the evenings, the sun set drew us outside. With everybody putting in a little work and a little money for ingredients, we ate like kings and had plenty of time to relax while enjoying the fresh mountain air and the warming sun. Proof that life can be good when people work together!

Casa de Cata living room

Casa de Cata living room

Communal eating at Casa de Cata

Communal eating at Casa de Cata

Casa de Cata's Kitchen

Casa de Cata’s Kitchen

Terrasse at Casa de Cata

Terrasse at Casa de Cata

Watching the sun set at Casa de Cata

Watching the sun set at Casa de Cata

One night, something that doesn’t happen very often (or so I’ve been told) at Casa de Cata finally occured: a fiesta! It all stared with some innocent drinking game involving copious amounts of mezcal. Before you knew it, the furniture was being moved around to make room for a dance floor. The rest of the night was a blur…

Fiesta at Casa de Cata

Fiesta at Casa de Cata

Fiesta at Casa de Cata

Fiesta at Casa de Cata

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