The Mixtec Coast, also called the Costa Chica (Little Coast), which includes the Oaxacan Pacific coast west of Puerto Escondido  and the adjoining state of Guerrero coast all the way to Acapulco, isn’t very little. Highway 200, heading out of Puerto Escondido, requires approximately 300 miles (480 km) to traverse it.
From Puerto Escondido, you head northwest, first passing settlements such as San José Manialtepec, on the southern fringe of Chatino-speaking country. Next, you pass the wildlife refuges of Laguna Manialtepec  and Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua  and continue into the Mixtec coast (Mixteca de la Costa) past its main towns of Tututepec , Jamiltepec , and Pinotepa Nacional .
To many native people of Oaxaca’s Costa Chica, Spanish is a foreign language. A large fraction of the indígenas—Chatino, Mixtec, and Amusgo—live in remote valleys and foothill villages, subsisting as they always have on corn and beans, without sewers, electricity, or paved roads. Those who live near towns often speak the Spanish they have learned by coming to market. In the Costa Chica town markets, you will brush shoulders with them—men, sometimes in pure-white cottons, and women in colorful embroidered huipiles over wrapped hand-woven skirts.
Besides the native Mexicans, you will often see African Mexicans—morenos (brown ones)—known as costeños because their isolated settlements are near the coast. Descendants of African slaves brought over hundreds of years ago, the costeños subsist on the produce from their village gardens and the fish they catch.
Costa Chica costeños and indígenas have a reputation for being unfriendly and suspicious. If true in the past (although it’s certainly less so in the present), they have had good reason to be suspicious of outsiders, who in their view have been trying to take away their land, gods, and lives for 300 years.
Communication is nevertheless possible. Your arrival might be the event of the week for the residents of a little foothill or shoreline end-of-road village. People are going to wonder why you came. Smile and say hello. Buy a soda at the store or palapa. If kids gather around, don’t be shy. Draw a picture in your notebook. If a child offers to do likewise, you’ve succeeded.