Posted by: glenswatman | March 1, 2008

200802 -2- MEXICO Nayarit Jalisco

SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY – Steve gets up early for
a sprint to the bathroom but doesn’t return. 
I get up about half an hour later to find him sleeping like a baby in
the hammock.  It’s a gorgeous morning so
I stroll along the beach watching the fishermen in their small canoes.  We’ve getting to know a few more people here
and I go up for a chat with Bob & Ronnie from the Isle of Wight.  They have bought a motorhome in USA and
shipped it back to UK so have lot of advice. 
On the afternoon Steve has a paddle whilst I swim in the warm sea.



SUNDAY 17 FEBRUARY – Everyone lingers in bed,
of course being a Sunday we don’t have to get up for work but no matter how
long we wait the papers never get delivered! 
Steve’s feeling much better and potters round catching up on a few
jobs.  Mid morning we set out for a walk
north along the beach all the way the next campground, Tambora.  There are only 5 people there, the 100 pesos
(£5) fee seems reasonable as it includes electric but the ocean here is much
rougher and the long beach more windswept. 
Walking back we meet a gang of Mexican lads who have small planks of
wood that they are using to collect crabs at low tide.  They dig down with the stick then flick the
crab up into a bucket.  After a
leisurely lunch I sit out swinging in the hammock only to get a shock when the
rope snaps and I suddenly find myself flat on the grass – glad it was near to
the ground and not up in the trees.  In
the afternoon a group of Mexicans arrive and one begins shinning up the palm
trees to collect coconuts.  Someone on
the ground has a rope slung up over the branches to enable them to lower the
clusters.  By removing the coconuts they
are increasing the areas where people can camp as the winds over the last
couple of days have caused a number to drop. 
Afterwards the group gather round tables for a meal and start a fire to
burn some of the coconut husks.  We make
a late stroll through the campground and sit chatting to Bob & Ronnie.  Steve is definitely feeling better as he
accepts a small beer.



MONDAY 18 FEBRUARY – I’m up at 6.30am for an
early stroll along the beach.  Steve is
feeling much better so we accept Fernan & Nicole’s offer of a ride into
town.  The outskirts of the village are
now showing signs of development and we see some areas where people have
already built and moved in and others that are staked out as lots.  The fishing village is really big with
streets running off in all directions from the “main” road.  Small shops and street stands about and not
of word of English is heard.  There’s a
new Internet café, 10 pesos (50p) and hour so I catch up on mail.  Down at the waterfront and beyond the dirt
roads you suddenly reach the fully paved dual carriageway of the “Malecon”
complete with street lighting.  The town
seems to be developing in a very uncontrolled manner as we reach a very modern
hotel with swimming pool and a couple of luxury residences but they are opposite
the smelly fishing port and next to a small shack made of corrugated iron.  We plan to leave tomorrow so have invited a
number of our new friends around for happy hour.  Malcolm has set up a fireplace and once we have finished our
snacks and it has gone dark we sit around the fire trying to keep warm.  It’s a cool damp evening, so much so that
condensation from the trees drops onto the motorhome roof all night.


Fernan & Nicole – Quebec

Bob & Ronnie – Isle of Wight

Rob & Daphne – BC

Harry & Betty – Arizona

Tard & Betty – New Mexico

Kirsten & Helen – (Germany & England)


TUESDAY 19 FEBRUARY – Thanks to the Japanese
water torture we are all up early and ready to hit the road by 8.30am.  It’s still very misty so it makes it much
easier to leave this lovely spot.  Pick
up the free Mex 15 heading south through agricultural plains and banana
plantations.  The sun comes out and it
soon turns into a hot day.  Most of the
villages we pass through have narrow cobbled streets and no road signs but we
are learning to pick our way through with fewer problems.  Topes (speed bumps) are a continuous hazard
sometimes you get a warning sign but at other times not and occasionally you
get a warning sign but then no bumps! 
C&M want to visit the Huichol Centre for Cultural Survival and
Traditional Arts and we have to drive through the centre of Santiago Ixcuintla
to get to it. It’s a large bustling market town with an attractive main square
and a street with mosaic style murals on both walls.  Steve & I are unimpressed with the cultural centre as we just
see it as a few rooms with different local crafts on display however C&M
are impressed and come away with a few purchases.  The next town is San Blas where we head to Playa de Barrego.  Palapa restaurants line the back of the
beach and we park by the last restaurant and agree to have a meal there
tomorrow.  C&M walk back and explore
the town whilst we relax behind the long sandy beach.  This area is notorious for mosquitoes and no see um style bugs
but luckily the wind and cooler weather at the moment is keeping most at
bay.  Late at night we find young kids
coming to the restaurant to sit on their chairs.  When another car arrives with music playing Steve goes out to
investigate.  They are having an
impromptu party and invite him to join but he declines and says we will move
off.  With C&M lying in the over cab
bed we retreat down the road to the first car park.



WEDNESDAY 20 FEBRUARY – Steve & I take a walk to the town and find a
pleasant traditional village with very few tourists.  Call in at Los Cocos Internet café on the way back.  Steve tells me to take my time when he finds
Playboy magazines in the pile of reading material!  Return to move the van back to the restaurant where we enjoy a
fish lunch.  Your filleted fish can be
cooked in butter or breadcrumbs and is served with rice, salad, chips and fried
potato for 70 pesos (£3.50).  We’ve just
finished eating when the local ice cream man arrives to supply us with dessert.  Whilst C&M go back to explore the town I
head off with Steve on the track behind the beach.  He walked there yesterday and introduces me to Don who is
renovating a house.  It’s a large 2
bedroom, 2 bathroom one that has survived the hurricane, of a few years ago,
sufficiently to be done up.  Others
nearby have not done so well, his neighbour’s house is overgrown with creepers
and inhabited by bats.   Further along
you can see the remains of a huge modern hotel, what’s left looks like a
façade.  Early evening we re locate to
the quieter car park.  Claire spots the
new moon rising and then points out to us that it is beginning to be eclipsed
by the earths shadow.  Makes for some
interesting photos. 



THURSDAY 21 FEBRUARY – Make an early start to
drive back to the bridge on the outskirts of town in order to take a boat trip
into the jungle.  Run by a co-operative
the price is fixed at 90 pesos (£4.50) pp (min 4) for a 3-hour trip to the hot
springs.  Board our “lancha” then set
off racing up the main river before turning off into a narrow mangrove lined
channel.  Here we begin to see many
different species of bird.  There are
obvious creeks with a way through but it is often very narrow and frequently
the undergrowth dangles overhead causing you to keep ducking down.  Apparently it was here that Walt Disney
gained his inspiration for his jungle boat ride.  We pass a very pretty spot with 3 houses on stilts that were used
as a movie set.  Emerging from the
jungle we pass between fields with lots of ferns.  We turn a corner to reach the dead end at La Tavora springs.  We are the first boat in and the restaurant
is not even open.  Hop out and walk
around to the area that has been netted off to keep the crocodiles out enabling
you to swim in relative safety.  Steve
& I enjoy a dip in the warmish water whilst C&M walk around trying to
find more birds to photograph.  On the
trip back Steve & I manage to get the front seats enabling us to assist our
guide in wildlife spotting.  We see
crocodiles (they look more like long nosed alligators to us), a snake, iguana,
turtles and racoon but could probably have seen more had our driver not been so
insistent in getting back quickly.  At
Mantanchen we stop to pay the co-operative for the boat ticket and pick up the
soft drink that is included.  We could
have taken the same trip from there but the price is the same even though the
trip is shorter.  We arrive back at
10.30am after just short of 2 ½ hours so think he was rushing back to try and
get another trip in before lunch.  Our
journey south takes us past many more beautiful beaches then up over a couple
of hilly areas with fine views.  Just
beyond Las Varas at the turnoff to Chacala there are numerous fruit stalls
selling local produce.  C&M return
with a bag of bananas, pineapples, watermelon and the local speciality yaka.  Playa Chacala used to be accessed by dirt
track but since the road was paved it has become more popular.  RV’ers camp in different places along and
behind the beach and a small community of restaurants, tourist shops and mini
supermarkets has emerged.  It’s a very
pretty spot and we take a site amongst the trees, having first checked that we
are unlikely to be hit by a dropping coconut. 
A car rally pulls in for a lunch stop so we get chance to look over lots
of old vehicles.  At one end of the
beach there is a row of shops leading up the hill to the village and at the
other end a luxury hotel – quite a contrast. 
It’s a beautiful beach so we spend the afternoon there and even take a
dip.  Sunset is great and after our
evening meal we take a stroll into “town” but there’s nothing much



FRIDAY 22 FEBRUARY – We’ve spotted a nicer
parking spot further along the beach so re-locate after breakfast.  We are now directly behind the beach with a
picture perfect palm tree in front of us, very tropical.  Our morning walk takes us along the beach
and around to the local fishing port. 
Pass many iguanas sunbathing on the rocks.  The water is lovely and warm so we have many swims.  I’ve had my last dip and am about to step
into the shower when I hear Steve coming back from his swim crying out for
me.  He’s stepped on a stingray and the
barbed tail has cut him between his toes. 
I’ve no first aid knowledge on the correct procedure but do remember
that white vinegar is used for jellyfish and other stings so dunk his foot in a
jug of that.  I take a closer look and
find it is a small cut between his little and next toe.  If it weren’t for his foot starting to go
numb I would not be worried.  Clean him
up and put a clean dressing on then sit him down with his medicine – rum and
coke.  We’d seen the stingrays earlier
and I have worn shoes in the water since but Steve felt he would be OK having
done the shuffle going in and out.  He
was starting to swim and realised his shorts were on back to front.  Having removed them he put his foot down to
put them back on and that is when he got stung.  Of course before he could make his way to the shore he had to put
his shorts back on!  By the time I’ve
showered his foot is feeling normal and he can now walk on it.    Sit out by the campfire with our Quebec
neighbours Nicole and Albert.



SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY – Enjoy our breakfast sat
out with a superb view of the bay.  I
take a morning walk and dip but Steve is no longer keen to go in the ocean.  As I final lunch at the beach for C&M I
cook up a Mexican meal of refried beans, rice, enchiladas and baked
peppers.  In the evening we stroll
around the village looking for the advertised live music but to no avail.  We pop into a bar – restaurant just as they
are about to close and order drinks.  It
amuses us to see young lads being sent out to the local shops and liquor store
to buy the ingredients for our margarita and pina coladas.  Once they have customers other people
gravitate towards the bar and each time a drink is ordered the lads are
dispatched with the empty beer bottles as well.  An entertaining evening after all.



SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY – We leave on a misty
morning bound for Puerto Vallarta, the main tourist destination for Americans
and Canadians.  Crossing From Nayarit
into Jalisco state clocks go forward 1-hour to “central” (GMT – 6hrs).  We drop down a hill into a different world,
white people everywhere, signs in English and wall to wall hotels.  Tacho’s Trailer Park is on the northern
outskirts, near the airport and with public transport to get us to the tourist
areas and old town.  I take our washing
to the laundry across the road, 11 pesos (55p) per kilo for wash & dry.  Local buses have a flat fare of 5 pesos
(25p) and we hop on one that takes us south to the main beachfront area.  Begin our walk along the “Malecon” where
there are lots of interesting sculptures, impressive sand sculptures and an
unusual display of balancing rocks. 
Timeshare touts approach us but we can’t participate as we are staying
at the trailer park and to qualify you must be in a hotel and we are UK not USA
citizens.  The persistent vendor says
Steve’s USA driving licence gets over the residency problem and that it will be
OK if he just writes in the name of a hotel for us.  Can’t resist the offer of $£300 (£150) plus a free breakfast for
taking a 90-minute presentation at the Mayan Palace tomorrow morning.  He asks for a $30 deposit (to be refunded
when we show up), reduces it to $10 then finally takes our booking without a
deposit.  Playa Del Sol Grand for $200
but we mention we were already offered $300 for a different one.  He ups his offer to 3000 pesos (£150)  + breakfast + a bottle of tequila + a
Mexican blanket + $30 (£15) for our camping fees (shown on the form as a
deposit paid by us even though we have agreed no deposit) as we will need to
stay an extra night to do the presentation on Tuesday.  At this rate we could be held up here for
quite some time!  Back on the Malecon we
are side tracked near the ladder sculpture as “Cheeky Monkey Bar” offers $1
(50p) margaritas.  Refreshed we manage
to make it to the old town where the cathedral has an impressive crown on top
of the spire.  High up in the back
streets we find the house that Richard Burton bought for Elizabeth Taylor.  He had a place over the road and a pink love
bridge connects them.  Back at sea level
we cross on a swing bridge to a small island containing a flea market.  The bridge at the far side brings us to the
southern part of town where the cheaper hotels are located plus many back
street restaurants.  C&M have
offered to take us for a “thank you” meal and we find an interesting restaurant
“Pacifica Grill” offering steak and all you can eat shrimp menu.  We are first in when it opens at 5pm and it
soon fills up.  The 3-course meal is
excellent and the number of extra shrimps the others get through amazes me –
they are offered steamed, in beer batter or coated in coconut and served with a
selection of dips.  Emerge just in time
to walk to the beach for a lovely sunset, can’t believe it when the Americans
clap.  The Malecon is now very busy and
we pause to watch many street performers before reaching “Cheeky Monkey” for
another drink.  Bus it back to Wal-art
for a quick shop before walking home to upload photos etc for C&M.


290 pesos (£14.50)


MONDAY 25 FEBRUARY – Leave C&M packing up
whilst we go to the presentation.  We
are supposed to be picked up outside the campground but our lift does not arrive.  With little to lose we take 2 buses up to
Nuevo Vallarta (the second longer ride 12 pesos, 60p) and then begin a bit of a
hike to the Mayan Palace.  This is a new
rapidly developing tourists area and hotels are springing up all along the
beach.  Arriving at Mayan Palace the
representative looks suspiciously at our paper.  He asks who gave them to us and says they are old forms no longer
in use.  We can still do the presentation
but the reward has dropped to $100 (£50) + breakfast.  Next he queries the hotel we are supposedly staying in and says
that to qualify you must be in a main tourist hotel at $80 or more per night
and the one on the form is not.  By now
we are fed up wasting our time and want to speak to the Manager to tell him
about the fake tout who got us there under false pretences and is no doubt
taking deposits off other tourists. 
After all he wouldn’t want us telling this story to other people
surely?  He seems uninterested in this
angle and says the Manager is part of the Mexican mafia, things are done
differently in Mexico and that we should take the offered 180 pesos (£9) for a
taxi a buzz off – we do!  There are a
few things that don’t add up in our minds but we put it all down to an
interesting experience.  Arrive back to
find C&M packed up and about ready to go. 
They are taking a taxi to the airport for their flight to LA then
onwards to England tomorrow.  Spend the
afternoon cleaning up and rearranging the van but run out of steam half way
through.  The majority of people on the
campground are Canadians from Quebec, almost no one speaks to you and they seem
quite unfriendly.  Collecting the
laundry we find that things are not really clean and don’t smell particularly
fresh so we retract the second lot that we had put in. 



TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY – Walk to Wal-Mart where
the timeshare rep is waiting for us.  He
quickly exchanges our form and says he has altered to hotel to the Marina
Condos, as they are in the area that we know and meet the other criteria.  He checks that we have our photo ID’s and
credit card and dispatches us in a pre paid taxi.  Arriving at the Flamingo resort we are met by Jose who takes us
to one side.  He is obviously in cahoots
with the tout and runs us through the routine even telling us to say we have
come from Arizona to explain our suntans. 
At this stage he does refund the $30 (£15) deposit that we didn’t pay,
in other words our campsite fees.  An
office girl begins the paperwork but is not happy that I only have a UK drivers
licence as opposed to Steve’s USA one. 
We explain that the rep checked what we had before he sent us up in the
taxi but they still can’t proceed.  They
say that the only way to do the promotion is to go back and get our passports
(can’t do that as it would show a different entry date into Mexico) or Steve as
a single man at half the reward but they would need his credit card and we have
only brought mine.  We go back to talk
to Jose and decide to bail out.  He puts
us in a free taxi back so less time wasted than yesterday!  So we reckon that although we won’t do it
again here we do have better info as to how to do it in another resort.  Jose explained that they wouldn’t take people
from the trailer park as they can only convert 1 in10 to buy whereas 1 in 3
people in hotels sign up. It’s now almost 10.30am and we have no reason to stay
in PV so in spite of the time we do a quick pack up and hit the road at
11am.  It feels a little strange to be
travelling alone.  Entering Mexico we
had Kevin & Ruth tagging and Claire & Malcolm staying with us since
Cabo San Lucas.  We manage to get
totally confused by the road signs and end up driving right along the Malecon
and through the old town before emerging ½ hour later at the south end of
town.  The road heads along the coast up
the hills with fine views including the 3 rock arches.  Mismaloya Beach, where “Night of the Iguana”
was filmed, is the last part of the coast before we head inland through the
mountains.  Get stuck behind a caravan
of 3 fifth wheels, very frustrating as they are going much slower than us and
show no consideration to other drivers by periodically pulling over.  Get past them at lunchtime and make good
progress back to the coast to arrive at Tenacatita at 3pm.  The slabs camping area is on a narrow
peninsula with beaches on both sides (so we get a sunrise and sunset over the
ocean) and coral reef in the water. 
Canadians Jack & Bonnie move their car so we can park beside them on
one of the concrete slabs.  They make us
so welcome that within minutes we are sat out enjoying an early “happy hour”
with them.  Our other neighbour Cathie
is an elderly ex Scottish lady who travels with her small dog Lady in a car
with a small caravan.  She is really
adventurous and backpacks in other parts of the world as well.  There’s a kind of caretaker here called
“Chewy” and you are expected to “tip” him about 50 pesos (£2.50) a day for
staying here.  Reckon we could be
settled into this beautiful spot for a good few days.



WEDNESDAY 27 FEBRUARY – We’ve had a lovely
peaceful night.  Jack & Bonnie are
off to La Manzanilla for Internet and invite us along.  On the way back they drop us in Tenacatita
to explore.  Away from the slabs the
dusty street is lined with mini supermarkets and restaurant.  There’s a modern campground, a couple of
nice hotels with swimming pools then beyond all development another cheap
camping area.  People pull up beside the
palapas and wait for the owner to collect money; low season rate is $100 (£50)
month.  Walk home and decide that we
have the best spot for us and it get even better once we re adjust our position
to fully enjoy the sea view.  Cathie’s
car is broken down but Jack has bought her some transmission fluid back and he
and Steve have a good at fixing things up for her.  It seems to have worked so tomorrow she will go for a test
drive.  Steve does a bit of snorkelling
in the afternoon but with the full moon the tides are high and the waves
strong.  The water is a bit murky and he
is now afraid of getting caught by the stingrays.  Todays on site deliveries are from a beer truck and a gas
(propane) tanker.  Needless to say the
beer truck does most business.  Doing a
late afternoon walk Steve meets up with Bruce & Karen at the far end of the
beach, we first met them in Juncalito when they told us about this place.  Being on a peninsula we have a sunrise and
sunset beach so join Jack, Bonnie and Cathie on the other side to sip tequila
whilst watching the sunset.  After our
evening meal we join fellow campers around a beach fire.



THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY – A very hot start to the
day.  A bread delivery van arrives
selling rolls at 3 pesos (15p), the same price as the small local stores.  Another water delivery is also made, 14 pesos
(70p) for 19 litres.  Make a short walk
part way round the headland to see the waves crashing into the rocks.  A stingray warning sign appears on our beach
and Chewy tells us the best treatment is to put the injured part in hot water
with one of the special local plants, but he can’t tells us which one!  A local lady comes round selling slices of
milk flan and shortly after a lad with lots of pastries, you certainly would
not need to move from here for shortage of food and drink.  Happy hour with wine at our place and as it
is such a pleasant warm and light evening this goes on until well after
7pm.  Jack & Bonnie come round in
the evening to learn more about hospitality club. 



FRIDAY 29 FEBRUARY – We are woken early
morning by are car pulling up nearby followed by lots of voices and then
hammering.  When we finally get up we
find a large tent has been erected in front of us and 4 Mexican middle-aged men
are sat out at their table drinking. 
They are down from Guadalajara for the weekend and have just made the 5-hour
drive.  When the vendors arrive we share
a huge 100 pesos (£5) sack of oranges with Jack & Bonnie.  Jack helps Steve with a repair to our
leaking shower tray.  We think that
Malcolm’s weight has caused it to sink a little and produced a leak by the plug.  In case we get any more weighty visitors we
decide to pack wood underneath to create better support.  Steve does a quick snorkelling expedition in
the afternoon and although the water is too cloudy for good visibility he does
spot over 20 stingrays.  The 4 men spend
the day playing loud music and partying, they have parked their car right in
front of Cathies caravan and seem totally oblivious to the fact that we have
all lost our view even though they could have pitched in many other
places.  At least she is leaving
tomorrow having had a new gasket fitted to her transmission leak.  Whilst sitting out having our happy hour we
are amused to see the Mexicans receive a delivery of a fish dinner from a
restaurant .



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