Its Liz here.
For 11 months we have struggled with the WORDPRESS platform for documenting our travels and sharing our journey. We won’t bore you with the reasons it’s a struggle but suffice it to say it’s the platform, not us. It’s just not working how we need it to work. We labour for hours creating what we think is an entertaining read and we are so happy with all the wonderful and excited feedback we get from our subscribers, thank you! However, it should not take hours to create so we are ditching it.
As this will be our last post we’ve made it a really long one with lots of photos. We will move our blogging onto Facebook where we can easily keep the stories and the updates coming in a much more timely manner. Nomad n Rad has it’s own Facebook page so look for us there, like us and follow along. We realize not everyone is on Facebook but we are hoping the majority are. Maybe this is a good time to get an account even if following us is all the activity you engage with on there? We’d love that. In the meantime, enjoy the read- we worked on it all damn day. xoxoxo Liz
With new, discounted hardware in our jaws (yes, we are also dental tourists!) we left our “happy place” on the Riviera Nayarit to continue our journey south along the Pacific Coast. We hadn’t yet spent any significant time in Puerto Vallarta, other than trips to the airport and Costco and one quick visit to our old neighbours, Stan and Marion, so we decided to drop in on our way through.
Mexico loves its mural art, and Puerto Vallarta has some wonderful examples like this in the Old Town.
Having dawdled a bit in PV, we only made it a short way south to the beautiful riverine pueblo of Las Juntas del Tuito. This is the restaurant/lounge area at the canopy zipline located at the end of the road. The two waterslides you see are of questionable engineering and dump the happy riders into natural pools in the river. Getting out of the river is your problem!
One of the best roadside taco stands we have yet seen is located on the side of the road in Las Juntas! La dueńa struck a pose for Liz when she asked to take a photo. Check out that salsa bar – that and handmade tacos make the difference!
We went for a hike and a swim up the river, which has formed the solid rock into amazing shapes. This is also the last known image of Liz’ favourite hat, which was claimed by the river later as we soaked up some sun on a large rock. Maybe we offended the river gods by taking our clothes off!
The local architecture in Las Juntas is fairly unique for Mexico, sort of a mash-up of mountain cabin and adobe hut.
Wild macaw in Las Juntas. This one has been conditioned to be fed tortillas by one of the locals. We were horrified by the prospect of seeing the bird electrocuted in the nest of live wires, but somehow it managed to safely negotiate the hazard without receiving the KFC treatment.
Further down the coast, in the area of Cabo Corrientes, was this roadside bakery. On offer were dozens of savoury and sweet empanadas, breads and pizza. We bought a bag full, at very decent prices!
In the dusty little town of El Tuito, a typical street scene. This truck appears to have been decorated to celebrate the “little grandpa and fisherman” who drives it by, one presumes, the grandchildren named on the tailgate of the truck.
Just outside of Tenacatita, our next destination, was this quirky raicilla outlet where the proprietor spins a conspiracy theory about the dubious quality of agave-based spirits popularly available in Mexico, then proceeds to try to sell you his own product which is of equally dubious quality! The whole presentation was good enough for a tip, but we didn’t buy.
We took a trip down memory lane and spent a night on Playa Amora where we had boondocked with our boys back in 2009. There are actually two beaches, as this is an isthmus that connects the mainland to the island seen in the distance, so you can catch sunrise (as in this photo) from the beach on the left, and then sunset from the beach on the right. There is a coral reef in the bay on the left, which makes for some good snorkeling and is known to locals as “The Aquarium”. A hurricane that blew through here about six years ago altered the beaches significantly and led to a serious deterioration of the reef, which was kind of sad, but we had the whole beach to ourselves once the day visitors left. This used to be a popular snowbird location, but legal issues over the land closed it down for a couple of years before the hurricane came, so it is no longer suitable for long stays.
On the road to Playa la Mosca, which winds through coco and papaya plantations. The roads are lined with bougainvillea bushes, which in addition to looking beautiful, also provide serious security with their thorny branches.
Every town needs a church, and in El Rebalsito they are building a new one! Who knows how long it will take to complete, but it is already in service as a church. The bell tower is incomplete, so the old bell hangs on a temporary scaffold and rings every Sunday.
View of Playa Amora from the other end after we had hiked up the island for the view. Tenacatita beach can be seen beyond the point. It is inhabited only by derelict hotels, victims of the old land dispute, and no one dares build anything new until the dispute is resolved. A sad state in comparison to how vibrant this area used to be. It was our stay on this beach 13 yrs ago that inspired the alternative lifestyle. we live now . Meeting people who travelled for years at a time was very appealing to both of us. It was good to make a pilgrimage back here.
Liz on her morning constitutional in La Manzanilla. Another stop along Memory Lane, this is where Liz took the first step in establishing the “mommy sabbatical” way back in 2010, when she extended a Mexican holiday alone after I and the boys had returned to Calgary. Liz ended up making friendships with Jan and Sue that endure to this day, and we stopped in to visit with them (and to take advantage of their facilities!) as they conducted their annual snowbird stay in this town.
Riding along La Manzanilla beach, which is shallow and hard-packed enough to make it possible and pleasant. Sue is blazing the trail for us, demonstrating how to be active and interested in every stage in life. We both hope to be able to maintain the same level of energy that Sue exhibits!
The morning after the night before. We moved back to Playa Amora in order to hook up with Liz and Miguel for a few days and camp on a beautiful beach. Sue took the opportunity to realize a goal she had set for herself by paddling a stand-up paddle board from La Manzanilla to Tenacatita, about five miles distance. And she did it into a headwind! We were all astounded by her feat, and quite proud of the accomplishment. We spent the night around the campfire, and Sue slept under the stars. Her exhaustion should have made for an easy sleep but the local téjones were active and noisy all night, which made it difficult to relax.
Breakfast in the Radvan! With room enough to host all our other guests.
One of a family of tejones that came out to investigate as we were leaving the our illicit camp site on Bahía Azul. We had managed to talk our way onto private property by implying that we were going to the restaurant at the end of the road and boondocked overnight in a fabulous location along the beach. We were rousted by security in the morning and asked to leave as we did not have the proper permiso.
All class! Actually, I only staged this photo. A not-atypical situation in Mexico, the incomplete demolition took this interesting configuration just off the beach in Barra de Navidad. We were camped up the beach and walked into town for the day to look about.
I had an audience for my woodworking project. It was probably unusual to see someone working with a hatchet in this, the land of the machete. What began as a percussion instrument made of coco wood ended up becoming a cutting board during our stay at Laguna del Tule, and RV park on the outskirts of Melaque. This is one of Liz’s favorite photos of the whole trip so far.
Back in Barra de Navidad, we took the water taxi across the lagoon to search for a “secret beach” we had been told about and to check out the grounds of the luxury hotel. We didn’t find the beach on this trip but had some serious adventure on the hilly terrain when Liz’ bike brakes wore out.
A view of the beautiful and uninhabited grounds of the Grand Bay Resort. It smells of money laundering.
Our home site at Laguna del Tule RV Park. It is obviously low season as most of the snowbirds have flown in advance of the Easter holiday season, which in Mexico makes the beach towns very busy. We had beachfront all to ourselves and were equidistant from the hotel at one end and the beach bar at the other so it was relatively quiet, too. We ended up staying for almost three weeks and really settled in!
A fine example of Liz’ intuitive photography abilities. Large crocodiles keep people from swimming in the lagoon, but the local boys still got out in boats. This boat was of a unique style and quite photogenic with its paint job.
We made fast friends with Dave and Tracey, a couple of snowbirds from Halifax that had this swanky pad in Barra de Navidad. We had many adventures, fine meals and meaningful conversations with this fine and interesting pair!
Liz and Tracey getting some air at the beach restaurant on an island in the middle of the lagoon at Barra de Navidad. We were able to take a water taxi from here right to the back door of their place, which is situated on a canal.
We snooped around in the abandoned hotel at one end of the Grand Bay Resort. We are told that this was, at one time, the residence of the family that built and owned the resort. This is a grand dining room that looks like it was abandoned suddenly. The entire building is infested with bats, one of which was surprised by Liz and in making its escape ran right into the front of Dave’s head! An unforgettable adventure.
In the main hotel, which was largely also uninhabited. We were told we had to buy a $35 day pass in order to order a drink at the bar by the pool. Liz had come prepared, however, so we found this empty salon where we could all enjoy a passionfruit margarita. Weird!
Liz getting her morning, post-yoga juice fix. This lady sets up and prepares fresh fruit and vegetable juices to order, at prices that make it impossible to ever go back to a Jugo Juice again!
While we were in Melaque I signed up for a two-day “Spearfishing 101” course. The first day was mostly theory and a pool session to refresh on freediving techniques, followed by the second day in the ocean. The instructor, Josh, is passionate about all forms of ocean-based adventure and made the course very fun.
Catch of the day! This fish fed us for three meals. Unfortunately it wasn’t mine – Josh got this trigger fish while I took a couple of shots that missed. No bother – I still got to swim with a pod of dolphins and a school of amber jacks and have found something around which to organize future tropical trips! Now for the fun part – shopping for gear!
Out of Jalisco and into Colima. This state is like Nayarit, a real food basket with miles and miles of coco, papaya, mango and banana plantations. The bunches of bananas are covered with these bags for some reason, protection from pests or predators most likely.
We stopped at this salt farm in Colima where water from the lagoon is pumped into these pans and the salt skimmed from the surface as the water evaporates. It is a purgatorial place to work. We were given a batch of flor de sal, the highest-quality salt for free!
It is mango season in Colima, as evidenced by this roadside fruit stand. A bag containing approximately two dozen mangoes costs about 20 pesos ($1.25 Cdn!)
Colima is a small state and we were soon passing into Michoacan. The coasts in this state are some of the most beautiful in Mexico, with many hundreds of kilometres of vacant coastline. This state is also interesting for the fact that a number of years back when cartel violence was getting out of hand, state and municipal police were overly corrupt and the federal police were ineffective in dealing with the violence, local people took matters into their own hands and drove the gangs out of their towns. A semi-formal guardia civil was established, and it is still common to pass through checkpoints on the outskirts of small towns manned by men in civilian clothing and armed with automatic weapons, identified only by ID cards on lanyards as the local authority.
Some of the coastline referred to above. This is the Costa Sierra (“Mountainous Coast”), so vistas like this are common.
This is us on one of those uninhabited beaches! A short walk down the way from where we were camped at the surf town of La Ticla.
Ramada on the beach at La Ticla. These are all over and will be occupied during the day by families that visit for some beach time.
A family on the way home after their day at the beach. This is the most common way to transport groups of people in this area, and this truck still has lots of room!
One of the local young caballeros rode this horse, bareback, to the beach to catch sunset with some buddies.
Finally, some hammock time! The ramada we camped beside was ideal for slinging a hammock while being able to enjoy the breeze off the beach. It is important to stay hydrated, and no better way to do that than with a coconut!
We met this young couple from Toronto who are touring Mexico by bus – very adventurous! They were in a bind because they had counted on there being an ATM in La Ticla, which is a town that barely has a corner store. We were able to bail them out through the wonder of e-transfer, giving them enough of our own stock of pesos to get them to the next big town along the coast. Check out the Nomad N Rad sticker on his guitar!
We made another “Memory Lane” stop in the town of Maruata where, in 2009, we had had another boondocking and turtle rescue adventure with the boys. The town has grown substantially since then and was filling up with a young party crowd for the Easter weekend so we bailed after only one night.
“Look! A swamp!” In Maruata.
Maruata has some crazy beaches, which brings out the crazy in people!
We spent some time in this gorge watching the waves crash against its sides – you can see the spray from one particularly good wave on the right! Incredible scenery at this end of the beach.
View from the top of some of the other beaches at Maruata – nice to look at, not so great for swimming.
If you are a pig for beer, then Modelo Breweries has a bottle for you! With the neighbourhood boar and compost disposal.
Occasionally at topes (speed bumps in the highway) you will be stopped by groups of people holding a rope across the roadway and soliciting money for… who knows. This was a particularly colourful and disturbing group who I think said they were raising funds for their church. I suspect that the money likely goes toward funding the holiday celebration in the form of beer and tequila. These fellows look like they had already been dipping into the fund.
Staying hydrated in Barra de Nexpa! This was one of the largest cocos that we have ever encountered and we were both well-watered by the end. We had a great Easter weekend here as it is another small surf town with scant amenities. Surfers are pretty quiet and the local tourists were mostly families so the music and partying was fairly minimal. Looks like we managed to dodge the holiday train quite handily!
Still mango season! The going rate here is 10 pesos ($0.60 Cdn) per kilo, and this guy wanted to sell us the entire wheelbarrow. We bought a dozen of them then he gave us one for free.
This brings us up to date, with the next stop being Zihuatanejo. I hope you have enjoyed the blog until now, and as Liz stated, we enjoyed bringing the final product to you. Unfortunately the combination of technical challenges made the process of creating the product no fun for us, and the anticipation of that frustration caused us to put off writing the blog so that we were generally months behind. We have chosen to shift how we keep people updated on our progress and will be shutting down this channel after this post. I hope this doesn’t disappoint, but we want this to be fun for us to do. See you soon!