December 8, 2007

All in the Fly-mily

Thirteen years ago, George Aldana flew to Puerto Escondido on a skydiving plane, and never left: it was a classic case of being “Puerto’ed”. His car sat at the drop zone in Cuautla, some 12 hours north, for four months before his mother came to terms with the fact that her son really wasn’t going to be on the next bus back to Mexico City, and finally went to retrieve the car herself.

With wild dreadlocks almost reaching his lower back, and a content, Buddha-like grin on his face at all times, George could be the poster boy for la vida tranquila at the beach in Mexico. Surf shorts, a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, and flip-flops--mandatory beach attire--don't do much to set George apart from the local surf scene, but everyone in Puerto knows who George is. He'll make you the best Tamarind Drug in Mexico.

Bar Fly is located at the east end of Zicatela Beach, just where the main street curves slightly toward the beach, right past Carmen’s famous “Cafecito”. Bar Fly has bright red metal doors that open to the stairs; the familiar smiley face logo is painted in white, drawn with a trembling hand, x’s for eyes and a crumpled mouth. You climb the stairs to the open-air and breezy bar that overlooks the ocean; looking up, you will almost always have a good view of the stars. Poured-in-place concrete furniture lines the perimeter, and a row of high tables and stools fills the space between the bar and these comfy benches. On any given night, you can expect to see surfing or skydiving videos projected on the white wall toward the back of the room.

The Bar Fly owners are 3 friends: George, Julio, and Beto.

Recently a new father, Beto spends part of his year in Austria, with his wife Katarina. Beto was the owner of the original Bar Fly, back when it was located in the Adoquin, the brick paved street just west of Playa Principal. In it’s first location, Bar Fly was tremendously successful, but closed 2 years ago when Beto couldn't renew his lease. The building owner's son wanted to open his own bar, the fledgling "Blue Station" that is still there today.

After the 2 years hiatus, Bar Fly is back, and better than ever; in a prominent location on Playa Zicatela, you can expect it to be hopping even during low season.

Julio has been in Puerto for 10 years, also a transplant from Mexico City. He worked for the original Bar Fly in the adoquin, playing music and mixing drinks. When Beto wanted to reopen at the beach, Julio took the opportunity to be part owner. He also jumped--literally--at the chance to learn how to skydive on the beach.

On any given weekday, after last night's business is taken care of, you might find the three loading up into the skydiving truck and heading to the airport to make a jump. One by one, Skydive Cuautla/Puerto Escondido nabbed and trained the three friends how to solo skydive, each one taking the Accelerated Freefall Course and now jumping on their own.

A lawyer by training, Monique was also Puerto’d 3 years ago when she came for the Christmas holiday season. “I was at a point where I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer, shortly after finishing school I knew it wasn’t for me,” she says. “I came to Puerto to figure out what I really wanted.” It wasn’t her first trip to the Oaxaquenan Coast, but it was the first time she considered staying. She stayed for one month, working for Beto at the original Bar Fly, but then ended up returning to Mexico to work and save some money so she could relocate to Puerto. After one month she came back to Puerto, and hasn’t looked back. She says her life in Puerto is simple, but very happy. “What more could a girl want?” she says. ”I have it all here; it’s beautiful and I am enjoying every moment.”

Many of these moments are spent running La Flayita (pronounced Fly-ita, a Spanglish word translating as "little Fly"), a joint venture between Beto, Katarina and Monique. It is a pink palapa bar, commonly referred to as the “little sister of Bar Fly”, with woven mats and funky floor furniture, including bean bag chairs and inflatable cushions covered in printed canvas, laid out on a brick floor. Wooden platforms sit right in front of the bar on the beach, with u-shaped rocking beds that are shaded by big umbrellas.

Closer to the water, chaise lounges can be rented for the day, with beachside service of food and drink. Serving up smoothies, juices, snacks, beers and cocktails in a chill atmosphere, La Flayita is by far the hippest bar on the sand.

They refer to themselves as the “Fly-mily”, and there really does seem to be a genuine sense of family, both in how they interact with each other, and in general how they intercept and in a way adopt their clientele. The vibe goes well with Puerto, which is described by many as “magical”. There is one thing for sure, while being served your fruity “Ticket to Fly”, or your famous “Tamarind Drug”, made with Tamarind pulp, mescal, and crushed ice, and always 2 for 1, you can expect to feel right at home while away from home. The Fly-mily wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photos, courtesy of Daniel "Pana" Angulo, Top to Bottom: George Aldana; Bar Fly; Beto's Family; Skydive Puerto Escondido; La Flayita, Sepia; La Flayita's Pink Exterior; La Flayita from the beach; The Fly-mily with Bar Fly-esque drawing of Beto and Katarina's baby the day it was born (in Austria).


betofly said...

val:: thank you very much for all your comments...its really nice....we wish you a good year and a beautiful life...the flymily !!

Val said...

Hi Beto!!!
Wow! I am so happy you saw this post! (I hope I am accurate with the storyline)
I wish you all well, and hope to see you very soon in Puerto!