Mainland Mexico, our first time here, we had heard it was very different from Baja and it is in every way, except for the same crazy drivers and never ending Tope’s. Arriving off the boat at 11pm, we spent the night parked up inside the port of Topolobampo, leaving at first light starting down the toll road, then headed for the more interesting free ‘Libre’, road taking us South.
Arriving in Mazatlan on a Sunday, we headed for the Melacon (boardwalk) on the waterfront, with many tourists strolling in the sunshine. A pretty city from the waterfront perspective, but we didn’t stay too long, just a couple of hours for lunch & supplies.
Camping each night has been on the coast, mostly we find a secluded beach and set up for the night or two. One stretch of sand had us stuck again, this time not half as bad. After deflating the tires to 38psi, placing the sand tracks and we were on our way in 30 mins, and comfortably set up in time to make a campfire and watch the sunset with a gin & tonic in hand.
Our next stop was Chacala. While we set up camp, the kids went boogie boarding with Grandad. Taking the opportunity to get chores done without the kids we set off to find a laundry to take care of the 15kg of dirty clothes accumulated. The Lavanderia was the typical open air kind, machines lining the walls, our bags were weighed, calculated and quoted. We paid 230p roughly $19 CND for it all to be washed, dried & folded on overnight service, a fair price considering the amount of work involved for me to do it by hand, and a way to support the community.
Ten years ago Chacala was a small fishing village on the shores of yet another beautiful bay. Today it’s a buzzing village with beach front restaurants lined up in front of a long stretch of sand. New and seemingly haphazard construction underway to support the increasing demand of visitors, many of whom come from Guadalajara for the weekend in fully loaded trucks with Grandma in the back perched on a plastic chair in amongst the bags and food, and the seasonal visitors coming for months at a time. We met one lovely French Canadian family who have returned a second time for 3 months, placing their kids in a Montosori school.
A quiet night sleep here is not really an option, the music is loud, often pulling me out of a deep sleep in the wee hours to remind of exactly where I am. Can’t get too hung up about it, this is Mexico 🙂
The next morning we hiked the volcano at the end of the beach with a man Tim was talking to the day before. Garrett led us up the jungle path to the summit, 45mins up was just enough for the kids. He told us stories of how the Spanish invaded from this beach hundreds of years ago, we saw some different kinds of birds, took photos and were back down before the morning heat took hold to enjoy Blueberry pancakes, and an afternoon of swimming and boogie boarding.
Leaving Chacala we drove to Puerto Vallarta, on the way stopping at the Alta Vista Petroglyphs. Leaving Bruce at the main gate, we all piled into Dad’s Land Rover and drove the last 3km to the trail head. 4,000 years ago indigenous people lived in the area, petroglyphs offer evidence they were once here, rock carvings, symbols of sacrifice to the gods, for rains, crops & fertility. The trail followed the dry river bed surrounded by the lush jungle forest to an opening of basalt columns and cascading fresh water into a pool big & deep enough to swim in. The water was cold refreshing and put us all in a clean energetic mood. Did I mention no mozzies, a jungle walk without bugs!
After an unsuccessful attempt at finding a recommended place to camp on ioverlander, we headed into Puerto Vallarta. The place suggested was in a steep mountain village, but within 500 meters of our destination, we were forced to turn around due to low hanging power lines. Not great for finding a camp for the night, but it’s the side trips or wrong turns that we see some of the most authentic villages, people and their way of life. Because of the heat, most of the homes have 2 or 3 walls and a roof, no windows and some are all outdoor living. We headed in to Puerto Vallarta, with hopes of finding a place before dark, which is in the next 45 mins. Plan C would have been Walmart, thankfully we found another place newly mentioned on ioverlander. Not the prettiest of places but suitable for one night. Located on the edge of the old town, it’s just a large empty dirt lot that someone has transformed into a kind of campground, but not a very nice one. It looked to me to be more like a truck and bus parking lot.
The next morning we took a walk into the old and more touristy part of town, along the Melacon the tourist shops, bars, restaurants and pedestrian boardwalk has some fun bronze art sculptures polished from rubbing hands. Getting hot and crowded, we hit the road and rolled on.
The MX200 free road is lined with tiny roadside stalls selling everything from fruit to bird cages, freshly cut coconuts to copper cookware. People are just trying to scratch out a living growing, making and selling what they can. The villages vary from shabby and junky to neat and tidy. There are road side signs advising of no garbage dumping, but of course there will aways be the occasional roadside dump where people just toss every and anything.
Saturday January 11th, it’s 9am and already hot. We are camped on a remote part of the coast called Tokkiero in Jalisco State. With the 1hr time change we have gained an extra hour of daylight in the evening which is great. This morning the 7:30 sunrise gave a warm welcoming glow to the day. While I helped Charley with school books, Tim took Jaxon fishing, didn’t catch anything but they love having that time together.
I’m wondering how many times I’m going to be saying how beautiful this country is, but it truly is, the people too are warm and friendly, we have seen nothing of the bad press and dangers warned of. That said, we aren’t out there looking for it either! The beach lined coast takes my breath away. The uninhabited ones are our favourite, to fall asleep listening to the rolling waves is peaceful.
Taking the high road winding along the coast past wall to wall resorts and apartment complexes. The gringos out number the locals 12-1 I’m sure. Turning inland we temporarily left the coast behind.
With the 1hr time change we have gained an extra hour of daylight in the evening which is great. This morning the 7:30 sunrise gave a warm welcoming glow to the day. While I helped Charley with school books, Tim took Jaxon fishing, didn’t catch anything but they love having that time together. The beach stretches on for miles, the surf is strong, big and waves roll in with impressive speed. Great if you’re an experienced surfer, we are mere beginners and the thought of attempting to ride a wave here is not even a consideration.
The hammocks are set up, the kids are playing with the skipping rope, Jaxon is learning to jump, the timing comes quickly and he’s after Charleys record number of non stop skips, he’s at 5 she’s at 90.
Finding time to write with uninterrupted thought is very difficult. So this morning I’m taking advantage of time without kids who are off playing somewhere with my dad.