The capital of the Pochutla governmental district was founded around 1600. One look along the busy, cluttered main street of Pochutla (pop. 30,000) reveals that it’s a market town. This is most apparent on Mondays, when the side streets off the main street (Highway 175, locally known as Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas) bloom with colorful tianguis of vendors offering a collective mountain of merchandise.
On other days, vendors confine their piles to the formal indoor market, the Mercado 5 de Octubre, between Calles 1 and 2 Sur at the downtown center, on the east side of Lázaro Cárdenas.
Although most people come to Pochutla for business or to catch a bus, this town offers more than the merely perfunctory. A closer look reveals that Pochutla is really two towns rolled into one—the busy main street and the spacious, completely automobile-free central plaza and mall just one block downhill to the east.
On the west side of the plaza, the townsfolk have planted a living reminder of Pochutla, whose name comes from the Aztec-language label Pochtlán (Land of the Pochotes) for the locally plentiful pochote tree. You’ll see a young specimen with small green leaves, five to a bunch, and spines on the trunk. People say that the pochote tree’s edible roots sustained many starving families during times of drought and war.
Excitement mounts in Pochutla during the June 21–28 Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo. Celebrations begin with early morning masses and religious processions, then carnival rides and games, food, and fireworks. Finally, a parade of floats carries a gaggle of mysterious masked characters who climax the festivities with a traditional dance.
Even during non-festival times the nighttime plaza, illuminated with Porfirian-era streetlight globes, is doubly interesting, so much so that you may decide to stay overnight. If so, Pochutla can accommodate you with the invitingly traditional Hotel Pochutla (Madero 102, tel./fax 958/584-0033, $16 s, $20 d, $24 t), at the plaza’s northwest corner. Owners offer 34 rooms arranged around an intimate, plant- decorated inner patio. Although many downstairs rooms are musty, upstairs they are invitingly quaint, with old-world louvered tropical-style doors, some of which open to balconies overlooking the colorful plaza scene. Rooms come with fan and private hot-water shower-bath.