Posted by: glenswatman | March 16, 2009

200903-1-MEXICO Pacific Coast



SUNDAY 1 MARCH 2009 – Heading further up the
coast we get a great view from the “mirador”. 
Zihuatanejo is a traditional fishing village and now linked to Ixtapa, a
purpose built tourist resort.  We go for
the former and stop off to do a bit of shopping before heading to Playa La
Ropa.  There are a few camping options
here but El Manglar is full and just a basic parking area for which they ask
P300 (£15), Casa Bella opposite is also full. 
Between them is a private house and we are waved into their walled
garden to park up for P100 (£5).  David
says we are fine there overnight.  It is
his birthday so lots of friends are around celebrating with a meal.  Although we cannot see the beach it is just
a short walk away and we are amazed to see just how busy and touristy it
is.  All kinds of water sports are on
offer, restaurants run along the back between hotels and vendors keep walking
around.  There must be hundreds of
people on the beach, a far cry from yesterday when it didn’t even get into
double figures.  Settle down with Sandra
on the lounger in the full sun, Steve in the half shade and me under an
umbrella.  Sandra is whacked from the
walks we have done so Steve and I stroll around the large bay.  We all take a few dips in the ocean, easier
to get in and out but still with a few sneaky waves.  David whose garden we are in also has a small restaurant and we
order our evening meal from him.  He
sets up a table for 3 complete with tablecloth and miniature orange tree
decoration.  Unlike the tourist beach
restaurants we only pay P45 (£2.25) for mahi mahi fish, sticky rice, tomatoes,
onions, beans and tortillas and P60 (£3) for 12 prawns with the same
accompaniments.  We’ve tired Sandra out
again so she has an evening nap whilst Steve and I take a stroll to the beach
to be amazed by the sheer number of lights around. 




MONDAY 2 MARCH – We manage an 8.30am start but
within a couple of hours Sandra is snoozing on the sofa, think the morphine
patches are knocking her out.  Near
Lazaro Cardenas we pass a huge British steel works with a canal linking it to
the shipping port.  Cross into MICHOCAN
state as we drive over a dam with nice river views.  Heading up the coast there are lots of really nice beaches.  Most of them are small ones backed by palms
or little coves with rocks.  Caleta De
Campos is famous as the best place for the seasonal phenomenon of the green
ocean.  If conditions are right the
ocean glows a bright luminous green and if you go swimming you come out covered
in green sparkles.  Having driven down
the new road to town we turn left and head to the last restaurant behind the
beach to park up for P50 (£2.50).  This
is a total contrast to yesterday with just a handful of Mexicans on the
beach.  At low tide you can walk all the
way around the bay.  The sand is white
but mixed with an olive green hue.  At
one end there are a few surfers but this is not the main surfing season. I make
up pina colada for us to enjoy before sunset. 
Although we are in the right season for the green spectacle conditions
are obviously not right as there is nothing to be seen, maybe a full moon would
have worked better. 




TUESDAY 3 MARCH – When we come to pay the
restaurant lady she won’t accept any money so Steve gives a coin to her son and
a gift.  The coastal Mex 200 continues
to reward us with fantastic scenery, a bit like the Great Ocean Road in
Australia.  As well as running along the
coast it frequently veers inland up into the mountains meaning lots of twists
and turns.  Sandra suffers with travel
sickness so ends up lying down again. 
It takes just over 2-hours to reach Maruata where we find a restaurant
parking spot behind one of the beaches. 
Sandra cooks up beef bourguignon for lunch and is surprised that the
lovely looking meat is to my expectations of being rather chewy.   Exploring the beach we find that we are in
an area with numerous small beaches surrounding a rocky outcrop.  There are many holes in the rocks and
crevices that roar with the incoming waves. 
Further east we reach the western end of the main beach with a small
river where the fishing boats anchor. 
You can get really close to the birds here as they scavenge for fish
scraps.  This beach is much calmer for
swimming.  The naval base backs the
middle of the beach where a couple of Canadians are also free camped.  Spend the rest of the afternoon with Sandra
sunbathing, Steve mixing beach with shade and me by the motorhome. 




WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH – Seem to be managing an
8.30am start to the day’s journeys, which is pretty good with 3 of us.  It is early in the day when we stop to check
out the American owned campground Rancho Bougainvillea at km196.  It’s a pretty hillside setting but
regimented sites with vehicles close together and a bit of a walk down to the
beach.  They want P210 (£10.50) for dry
camping so all in all not a great option for us.  At the border into COLIMA state we get the army inspection inside
the vehicle.  They look in lots of our
cupboards but don’t do an efficient enough inspection to have found anything
that we may have wanted to hide.  We
suddenly find ourselves on a very good, wide flat road and can now maintain
80kph for more than a few yards.  We
take the free road and turn off to the Mexican beach resort of Cuyutlan.  There’s a turtle sanctuary at the southern
end and the P25 (£1.25) admission includes use of their swimming pool.  Unfortunately today they are having staff
training and will close at 1pm instead of 4.30pm.  They have quite a few turtles in pools with information in
English, a few crocodiles and iguanas but it is not great, however the swim in
the pool is most welcome.  Move off to
park behind the beach.  It looks like
this area is starting to be developed with lots marked off and many sprouting
mansions.  We pick a vacant one between
two of them and park up for the afternoon and night.  The beach is completely deserted with blackish sand (probably
from the Colima volcano) and a rough ocean but beautiful.  Other than one train going through blowing
its horn we have an extremely peaceful night.




THURSDAY 5 MARCH – At the north end of the
village we try to join the road to Manzanillo but the only choice is the toll
road.  At the booth we see they want
P230 (£11.50) so we double back 8km to pick up the free road.  Eventually we make it down to the waterfront
in Manzanillo near the naval base then head towards the hotel zone.  The road is in terrible condition with lots
of traffic so not an enjoyable driving experience.  To cap it all we see nothing of great interest.  It is nice to be returning to Melaque, by
coincidence we were here exactly a year ago. 
The “almost free camping” area have put the price up to P40 (£2) night
or P1000 (£50) a month but they have now got a proper dump station and are
putting in a toilet block.  Manage to
get a great position with a palapa on the bank overlooking the river and the
bay.  Take an afternoon walk into town
to do the Internet and learn that Keith is ready to put a deposit on
Harry.  After cooking us fish &
chips for our supper I take Sandra for a walk along the “malecon”.  A fisherman throws his scraps to the pelicans
and there is a feeding frenzy.  One gets
a huge fish but it sits in his beak pouch with lots of protrusions.  For the next half hour we watch it trying to
swallow it.  The bird doesn’t want to
spit it back out as the others would take it so periodically it tries to
shuffle it around but with limited success. 
Eventually it flies off with his huge pouch hanging down.  Not sure whether it will survive as the
things sticking into the pouch looked really sharp.

MELAQUE – P40 (£2)



FRIDAY 6 MARCH – It is a short drive to take
us to Tenacatita Slabs, one of our favourite camping spots.  It is rather like coming home as we end up
on exactly the same slab as last year. 
Clem & Barb are already here plus Maz and his wife who we met last
year.  We are soon set up next to a
couple of American families.  The tide
is very low and snorkelling difficult. 
Stingrays are out in force and a Mexican girl gets a barb in her foot
and has to be taken to hospital. 
Shortly after an American guy also gets a small sting.  We wear our crocs in the water and swim on
the opposite sandy beach.  There are so
many people to chat to the day goes really quickly and we also have an hour in
the evening at Maz’s.




SATURDAY 7 MARCH – For the first day with
Sandra we don’t have to move anywhere so lie in until 8.30am.  Lucas & Marcel (the Quebec couple we met
in Zipolite) arrive, they have moved from Melaque as loads of Mexicans arrived
and played loud music all night.  They
opt to park here but further round the bay. 
Quite a few Mexicans arrive and set up camp with one car parked right
beside us for the shade.  They all like
to play loud music but luckily the guy by us has good taste and we like his
selection.  Sandra wants to take us out
for a meal so we head off for lunch in the village.  At the restaurant with the stone arches we enjoy chilli rellanas
(a huge chilli pepper stuffed with cheese and fried) whilst Sandra has a
delicious coconut shrimp.  We are
pestered with vendors and shoo them all away until we notice one lot coming
round with desserts.  The flan (sort of
home made crème caramel) is excellent buy it seems strange that they are
welcome to wander around the restaurants making sales.  Sandra is almost falling asleep at the end
of the meal so we go home for her to have a nap whilst we explore the bay.  It is a really low tide and the coral pools
are like aquariums where ankle deep in water you can see colourful fish.  We find a small rock pool with 14 stingray
trapped.  Clem hosts happy hour and
after a brief gap we re gather for Maz’s evening fire.  This is such a neat spot with friendly
people that it is almost tempting to send Sandra on ahead on a bus and stay
here for longer!  Although the days are
still very hot the nights are getting cooler as we head north and finally we have
to put a cover on top of the sheet.



SUNDAY 8 MARCH – For our last journey with
Sandra we get up early and watch the sunrise during breakfast.  Quite a few people have come out to wave us
off whilst Harry & Margot waste no time in relocating to our slot as we
back off the slab.  We’ve done this
journey coming south before so know it is going to take about 4-hours and it
does.  Sandra does not enjoy it at all
as she doesn’t like the twisty roads and the bumps give her a lot of pain.  We find it quite scenic especially the last
stretch into Puerta Vallarta.  Return to
Tachos Trailer Park and get a lovely spot opposite the swimming pool.  Jack & Michelle whom we met in
Tangolunda are camped opposite and fill is in on how things work.  After Sandra has had a rest and we’ve eaten
we catch a bus to the centre, P5.50 (28p). 
The Malecon is much quieter than when we were here last year with Claire
& Malcolm and that was also on a Sunday. 
Cheeky Monkey still does the $1 margaritas or beers but this year this
converts to P13 (65p).  At the bridge
over the river it is interesting to see dozens of Mexicans having a great time
swimming in the water backed by a fantastic luxury hotel with absolutely no one
enjoying their infinity pool.  Sandra
wants to treat us to another meal and the place we went to with Claire &
Malcolm is closed but further down Basilio Badillo at No 223 is “Asaderos”
advertising all you can eat BBQ for P125 (£6.75).  The meal is excellent as it includes cheese and bean tortillas
with salsa to start then a huge platter of spicy sausage, chicken, ribs and
fajita steak along with peppers, onions, radish, spring onion and
tortillas.  We just about make it
through the first batch but have to refuse second helpings.  Steve enjoys a game of pool with one of the
staff before we leave to catch the sunset at the beach.  Along the Malecon there are lots of food
stalls and the ones selling homemade gateau are just too tempting for me.  Walking back Sandra picks up a few souvenirs
and we visit Senor Frog shop.  Of course
we just have to go back to Cheeky Monkey for a last drink before catching the
bus home.




MONDAY 9 MARCH – Whilst Sandra sunbathes away
the day I set about giving Harry a much needed clean up and bringing the washing
up to date.  It is a tough call as the
swimming pool is really nice here.  Late
afternoon Sandra & Robert arrive and stay for a couple of hours.  After supper Sandra & I take a stroll
around the campground to look at all the decorative lights outside the



TUESDAY 10 MARCH – Sandra picks up hot dogs
for breakfast from Wal Mart whilst I shop. 
The airport is a short drive north of the city and we have to stay on
the laterals in a large vehicle so miss the turning.  This works out really well as we can pull up by a pedestrian
overpass that leads you straight into the terminal building.  I walk Sandra over then leave her to make her
way for her flight to Acapulco via Mexico City.  We continue north in the state of NAYARIT             where we should put our clocks back 1-hour but don’t
because the tourist sections still work on PV time.  In Bucerias we go onto Tres Banderas campground.  It’s normally $25 (£18) but we negotiate
P200 (£10) just for parking.  Robert
arrives shortly after and brings Sandra’s brother Phillip to meet us.  In the afternoon Steve goes off with Robert
in hunt of a pub showing the Liverpool match. 
Sandra takes me on a tour beginning at her sisters home then on to the
house that she is now building and there I meet Karen & Claude.  Next we go for a drive around the coast to
Punta Mita.  There’s a lovely long flat
beach there but it is almost too windy for us to lie down sunbathing for long
without being sand blasted.  When we get
back I have time to make use of the campsite laundry P20 (£1).  Steve & Robert arrive back after being
on a real wild goose chase and ending up in a pub just a couple of blocks from
here.  At least Liverpool had a great
game and won!  In the evening we join
Robert & Sandra in their motorhome parked next to Karen’s where we have a
lovely meal of seafood pasta. 




WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH – We’ve had a bad night
disturbed by numerous dogs, roosters and traffic.  However we want to spend more time with Sandra & Robert so
will tolerate it a bit longer.  Sandra
picks me up for a shopping trip to Mega. 
Using the ATM I find out the deposit on the sale of Harry has gone
through.  Funnily enough we have had a
lot of interest in him recently, someone even came up to us on the campground
yesterday to ask if it was for sale, we’ve had an E-mail from an Aussie wanting
to do an exchange and even Sandra & Robert were considering selling their
motorhome as they much prefer ours. 
Having picked up the lads we head off north up the coast.  First we stop at Roga’s Restaurant to see
about returning for sunset as it has fine views.  However to get to it you go up in this flimsy outside lift that
Steve hates.  There are obviously no
regulations here as the door to the outside and the internal lift door can both
be left open at any stage and the floor feels like it is liable to
collapse.  The views from the terrace
are excellent but unfortunately the swimming pool has just been given a shot of
chemicals and out of use.  Steve really
hates the ride down and this leaves him feeling quite queasy in the car.  First stop is Lo De Marcos where the
Tlaquepaque campground is behind a wonderfully artistic hotel.  Although it is on the beach it is so huge
that few sites have a view of the ocean and most are just parking spaces close
to other RV’s.  There are many other
campgrounds in the town but none as nice as the beach free camping we have been
finding.  Further along we visit a house
they had considered buying last year and then take a very rough road out to
Playa de Naranco.  There was a good road
out a few years ago and Sandra’s sister Karen camped with her motorhome on the
beach.  Today the road is totally
neglected and Sandra does well to get us through in her low slung convertible
as a 4wd would be much more suitable. 
You can no longer drive to the beach as a “security” booth (Mexican
palapa with a camp bed) prevents you driving down but you can walk.  The area has been cordoned off with fencing
ready for hotel development and we can see why as it is a stunning beach.   It’s late when we get back so by the time
we have had curry at our place we opt out of the sunset drinks and just play



THURSDAY 12 MARCH – Another noisy night so we
are hoping Robert has found us another spot to stay tonight otherwise we will
leave.  We relocate to Jose’s garden; he
lives between Karen’s and the Ranch.  In
the afternoon we all meet at El Ficas (the ranch) to use the free wi-fi whilst
enjoying their swimming pool and bar. 
Early evening we go to “Mauricio’s” restaurant between Puerto and Nuevo
Vallarta to be joined by Karen & Claude. 
The meals are all P169 (£8.50) but the price includes seafood soup to
start, tostadas with marlin, your choice of main course (many are combo’s)
unlimited tequila, fried banana for dessert followed by Kailua and milk.  Steve gets the lobster, prawn, fish and
mussel combo and when he orders a beer it arrives with a back up supply in an
ice bucket.  It’s not a touristy place
at all but has obviously been discovered by the ex pats living here but retains
it’s Mexican character.  As we are
leaving we spot piles of the “jicama” vegetable and learn that they are there
for you to help yourself. 



FRIDAY 13 MARCH – Back on the road again alone
and with no particular place to go – what a great feeling.  We check out the resort area of Rincon de
Guyabitos but soon realise it is not for us. 
Previously we free camped at Chacala Beach but when we drive out there
we see the beach road is fenced off.  In
the town we learn that Americans have bought it for development and there is
absolutely nowhere to now stay in an RV. 
Following the coast road we veer inland then drop back to the ocean at
Platanitos.  A steep cobbled street
takes us down to the beach with a huge, level paved car park behind it.  We are told it is safe to stay there
overnight so spend the afternoon on the beach. 
It’s a small one but bigger at low tide and backed by loads of
restaurants.  Just before nightfall and
small VW camper arrives with Claude & Marie from Quebec so we have a bit of




SATURDAY 14 MARCH – We’ve had one of the
quietest nights for ages with just a few roosters waking us in the
morning.  Had it now been the weekend we
would probably stay longer but know it is going to be packed with locals.  Unusually for us we check out the next RV
Park, Paraiso Miramar, and when we are quoted P75 (£3.75) pp with electric,
wi-fi and use of the swimming pools we are in. 
Walking round we see Bill & Bonnie whom we first met on the east
coast and who also travelled with Kevin & Ruth for a time.  It’s a very nice RV park attached to the
hotel with lush green lawns, 3 plunge pools then a swimming pool in another area
so we are well catered for and enjoy making full use of them.




SUNDAY 15 MARCH – We’ve had a peaceful night
and with the Internet we can use a bit more time here to research onward
plans.  Tomorrow is a holiday in Mexico
so many families are staying here over the weekend.  Throughout the day the pools are constantly in use with kids
having a great time.  Late afternoon we
play Euchre with Bill & Bonnie then catch up on watch “Long Way Down”.



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