Sayonara Suzuki. Adios Amigo

Due to a change in the Mexican Immigration rules, and not to get into too much detail, we had to remove our trusty towed Suzuki Samurai from Mexico before our next visa renewal, which will be next month.

We also had to remove our fairly new Dodge Journey AWD SXT.

Sad to see them both go. The Suzuki had saved us many times by running out for spare parts. We now have a Italika Motorbike, to hopefully fill the role of the Suzuki, however, I doubt that it will ever be able to be as capable, comfortable, and as much fun as the Suzuki.

We took it easy and made it a two day trip to San Antonio, TX.  The first night we stayed in Matehuala, in the state of San Luis Potosi, at Las Palmas Hotel.  We have stayed there before and it is very nice, and has a great restaurant, waiters in red jackets, and black trousers.  Quite formal to be in the absolute middle of nowhere in the high Mexican desert.  They have a lot of RV parking, but I have never seen an RV there.  Behind our room there was a large lot of hook-ups for RV’s.  I will certainly remember this for another trip.

We sold the Dodge Journey at “Car Max” in San Antonio.  A very painless transaction, if you were willing to accept their price.  Not “too” low, but a tad lower than I had hoped for.   I guess I always hope for “more”.

Friends from Arkansas wanted to buy the Suzuki, and they drove down and met us there.  We stayed at a hotel on River Walk, and had a very nice visit with them and another friend from Houston.

 

 

 

 

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Laguna del Tule, Melaque

After two days at Boca Beach, we were planning to head back home to Ajijic.  We had considered staying in Melaque on the way north, but we had heard that they were usually full at this time of year, so we went to La Manzanilla instead.  On the return trip, we decided to check out Melaque, and if it was full, we still had plenty of time to drive on back to Ajijic that day.  We had stayed in a hotel in Melaque on two previous occasions, but had only found a few tiny, or rudimentary places to camp. Also they were full when we were there before.

From Wikipedia, here is a little about the town:

San Patricio – Melaque in the Mexican state of Jalisco is a busy community located 4+ kilometers northwest of Barra de Navidad on Bahia de Navidad. It was named for a unit of 175 mainly Irish immigrants, Saint Patrick’s Battalion, that fought with the Mexican Army against the US during the Mexican-American War (1846-48). The area comprises three beachfront villages: San Patricio, Villa Obregón and Melaque—all generally referred to as “Melaque.” The small village of Melaque has been a vacation retreat for Mexicans for generations. San Patricio is a kilometer strip in the middle of the three villages that contains a colorful town square and retail shops. Villa Obregón, to the east, is much more residential. The three “municipios” form the largest community along the coast between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. Playa Melaque is the main beach in the area. The west end of Melaque beach is protected from the large swells found elsewhere on the beach, allowing for swimming for children and the less adventurous.

We recently read about a campground on the lagoon in Villa Obregón, associated with a hotel, but RV caravans often stay there taking up all of the spaces.  The contact information on the Internet was incorrect, so we could not check ahead of time to see if there was space available. Lucky for us, there was plenty of space available. It was a little hard to find, but when we did we saw that it was a very nice resort hotel complex.  Not anything that you would win a trip to on “Wheel of Fortune” but very nice, none the less. There was a restaurant occupying the bottom floor of one hotel building, an adjacent swimming pool with bar, beachfront tables with umbrellas, campsites, bungalows,  a small tienda (store) for supplies, including beer, wine and liquor.

We only planned to stay one night, but very soon decided to stay for two nights.  It just seemed the right combination of remoteness and convenience.  Of course, if the campground had been full, it might have been another story.  We had two empty campsites on either side of us.

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Boca Beach, near La Manzanilla

After a long weekend in Cuyutlán, we headed for La Manzanilla to a campground named Boca Beach.  The area was called Boca de Iguana, referring to the mouth of the Iguana River.

We had read and heard many nice things about the area, but as always beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  It was a very large campground with around 120 spaces.  Some with  full hook-ups, many with only water and electric. It was a little on the expensive side.

It was located right on the beach in what appeared to be an old coconut palm plantation.    There were only about 15 beachfront sites, and they were all rented, most of them annually by Canadians who spend the winters there every year.  I was told that there was a waiting list to get one of those sites.

The setting was very nice, the beach was beautiful for walking, nice and level and wide.  At the north end of the beach, just north of the campground and the mouth of the Iguana River, the beach ended into a large rock outcropping.  There were many crosses and memorials there for those lost at sea, I assume.  Besides walking along the beach, there was not much else to do there, it was about 5KM from La Manzanilla, which would have been a pretty long walk on the beach for someone not already used to that much sun exposure.

The road leading into the campground from the highway was very narrow, about a mile and a half long, and overgrown with small trees and bushes on both sides.  There was no shoulder, and it was impossible to get over to the right enough for another vehicle coming from the opposite direction without scratching the sides of your motorhome on the overgrown shrubbery.

There was one very nice restaurant associated with a six room boutique hotel on the beach nearby.  I could not tell if it was open to the public, or just for the guests.  Upon inquiring of the owners we were told that it was open to the public, but they wanted to keep it exclusive, so therefore they had no signs on the place indicating that it was a restaurant, or that you might be welcome to enter.  Just word of mouth through community Internet boards.

A little further down the beach were the remains of what appeared to be a grand hotel. We were told that it was to be a time-share, but there was some explosion there.  It is not at all uncommon to see these grand old relics along the beaches, totally abandoned.  Sad.

Two days there was plenty of time to see all there was to see, several times over.  Maybe I just have not yet learned how to just sit somewhere and do nothing for days on end, and enjoy the experience.  We met several of the long time quests, and they were very friendly and welcoming to us.

 

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Tecoman Lime Festival

Tecoman is the third largest city in the State of Colima.  It is known as the “Lime Capital of the World”.

Manzanillo, Mexico’s largest port on the Pacific Ocean is also located in the State of Colima.

On Saturday night we went to the Lime Festival, and it was a much larger event than I had anticipated.  Sort of along the lines of a “State Fair” but of course, with a distinct Mexican Flair.

The pictures will hopefully tell the story better than I could.

 

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From a mile high to sea level

We left right on schedule Friday morning.  We both had a long talk with the motorhome, and told her that if she did not act right, then she was out of our lives.  Last chance.

It may have worked, because we had a flawless trip from Ajijic to Cuyutlán.  We made it in just a little over four hours, driving at a casual rate of speed.  I was really surprised.  The last trip in a car, pushing the limit the whole way, it took three hours and twenty minutes.  I really enjoyed the more relaxed pace of this trip.

Ajijic is at an elevation of around 5200 feet.  The trip to the coast takes us through two dry salt lake beds, then back up to Cuidad Guzman.

Coming into Cuidad Guzman we passed the “Colima” volcano, which is currently active, and has been for years.

Not long after Cuidad Guzman, the four lane toll road narrows to two lanes for 11 miles of road through a section of the Sierra Madre Mountains, with several bridges over gorges that are in excess of 100 meters above the bottom of the gorge. (100 meters is longer than a football field.)

Being afraid of heights, my peripheral vision was better than I wished for, because I really did not want to see how high we actually were.  Mind boggling to me.

The slight bit of extra play in the steering gear created an extra level of anxiety/excitement to the crossing of those bridges with a line of double semi-trailer trucks, passenger busses, sugar cane trucks, and assorted other oversize vehicles headed our way from the other side.

After Colima, it was literally a “coast to the coast”.  Downhill for miles, leveling out into palm orchards, with cattle grazing under the palms, altogether another eco-system.

Then it was not long until we arrived in Cuyutlán.  We have friends here, that we met on our last trip.  It was good to see them again.

Saturday morning we settled down, parked on a street in the city that dead-ended into the Malecón right in the heart of town.

 

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Back to the Coast

Friday we are headed back to the Pacific Coast to Cuyutlán.  We will be trading our mile high arid temperature in the high 70′s for warmer and more humid conditions.

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Cuyutlán is the home of the “Green Wave”  In the spring late in the afternoon, the sun shines through the waves.

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The Beaches are called “Black Sand” because they are made up of volcanic rock.  The sand is actually more of a dark grey.

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They also produce salt there, and have for a very long time.

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The rest of the trip is open-ended.  We may travel on up the coast for a while towards Barra de Navidad, Melaque, and La Manzanilla.

 

 

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Sayulita – On the Beach

On the beach at Sayulita was a different experience.  In front of the Sayulita Trailer Park & Bungalows was a nice and relatively un-populated beach.  We, admittedly, were there a little before “high season” so I do not know how it might be then.

There was a restaurant, beach front, associated in some way with the campground.  The food was good, and the restaurant was right on the beach.  The vendors were few and far between, at least at this time of the year.

There were many nice beach front homes, and hotels/villas just north of us along the beach.  Very nice looking, all of them.  One seemed to have a “personal” turtle egg hatchery on the beach side of their property.  There was also a run down place, that I felt I could buy and fix up, but don’t we all have that little dream?  There was obviously some reason that it was vacant.

Late one afternoon, we were eating at the beachfront restaurant at the campground, and saw someone out in the ocean, way far out there.  We called over the waiter and asked if he thought the person was in trouble. He said no, that he was just on a paddle board.  Probably a friend of  his.

We remained worried, and after dinner walked out on to the beach to watch his progress, ready to sound the alarm, if needed, that he was in trouble.  He was not.  I cannot imagine the stamina it takes to accomplish this feat.  Really, I think we watched him for over one hour, and no telling how long he had been out there, and where he came from.  He finally got close enough to zoom in on and get a video.

 

The last little bit of his ride:

 

Pictures from along the beach.

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Sayulita – Around the Town

About an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita began as a small fishing village that hippies, and surfers started coming to years ago.  Now it has become a very touristy destination for many retired gringos, and still populated with many surfer types, and lots of younger folks with strange hair, lots of tattooed men and women. Also packs of women (AKA Cougars), down for a week or so, and after the surfer boys.  Three gals from Canada were sitting near us, and “entertaining” all the cute beach boy musicians, and vendors.

From what I have heard from previous reviews, Sayulita must have cleaned up quite a bit in the past few years, since those reviews were written.  Many paved roads, colorful buildings, lots of restaurants and shops.

The beach front restaurants were absolutely overrun with vendors.  They would just line up single file, and wait their turn to hawk their wares to you.  It got old very fast.  Some would take a “NO” answer and move right along.  Others were much harder to get rid of.  This is part of what  comes along with a more developed and touristy destination.  If you want clean and neat, and colorfully decorated, then this is part of the price you pay for the more upscale locations.

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La Peñita – On the Beach

I was out on the beach one morning, and there were three fishermen laying out their nets.  They ran the nets from the beach out into the bay a ways, then turned right to run at the same angle as the shore line, then another right turn to head back to the beach.

Then they proceeded to start pulling in the net from the beach.  It seemed like just about  every passerby would stop and join in with the job of pulling in the net.

 

I was taking pictures, and Brian, our host, encouraged me to join in.  “If you are going to take pictures, then you need to help”, he said.  By now Steve had come up and he took pictures of me helping out.

 

 

Later that day, I was walking along the beach and came upon another set of fishermen returning with their catch of the day.

Then I came upon a cemetery that was very old, and now, due to beach erosion, was much too close to the beach.  There have been some fairly severe hurricanes along the coast in the past few years.  I heard that they were moving the cemetery, but the sight of the old tombs unearthed by erosion was striking.

 

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La Peñita – Around town

La Peñita de Jaltemba is a quaint little fishing village, somewhat north of Puerto Vallarta.  It is a little bit worn around the edges, but appears to be trying to make a comeback of sorts.

Most likely government sponsored improvements include a new Malecón, paved streets and new concrete sidewalks, painted a dark red, and textured to look like tile pavers.

Most of the buildings do not seem to have been updated in the recent past.

It is now obvious that living in Ajijic for the past three years has spoiled us.  The weather was very hot and very humid.  Although the food in several restaurants we sampled was very good, it was hard to really enjoy the dining experience in the sweltering heat.

If what you are looking for is a laid back, relatively isolated beach front community, with sufficient services to have a good time, but without the crowds of tourists and the accompanying hordes of beach vendors, then La Peñita de Jaltemba might be just the right place for you.

From what I heard from some of the locals, it stays hot and humid through November, so you might as well wait until after Thanksgiving before venturing down here.

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