Week of October 26, 2003
We found Puerto Vallarta and ventured into town, only to restock our refrigerator and pantry. We had passed through a small suburb on the north side of town called Bucerias (Boo-say-reas) and that is where we stayed for the next few days. We found a very nice RV park owned by Canadians and we discovered this part of Puerto Vallarta is a hibernation spot for many, many Norte Americanos (both U.S. and Canada). On more than one occasion, Gerson used Spanish to ask people walking on the street for directions and they would respond "could you speak English" - it got funny after the third time.
Coming to Villas Las Parrotas, the name of the RV park, was a stroke of good fortune. We met several older couples that travel to Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias and stay from October to April. They were all a terrific source of information and their stories of their travels were awesome. We did not realize there were so many books on RV parks/campgrounds throughout Mexico and we happily copied over 50 parks that are possible future stays.
We unleashed the bikes and rode along the beach across the hard-packed sand (well, most of the time it was hard-packed, there were a few sliding episodes). What fun it was to ride just beyond the reach of the ocean and to stop whenever we wanted to jump in.
I would highly recommend Bucerias for any length of time one can afford. The prices are reasonable, it is beautiful and quaint, it does not have the "touristy" noise that Puerto Vallarta has, it is clean, the food is great, the people are a good mix of locals and other North Americans and Sayulita (Sigh-u-leeta) is just ten minutes away (a good surf spot). It's definitely a "come-back- to" place for us.
AHHHH, Sayulita - it should be called "Sigh-ulita". What was supposed to be a one-day stay, turned into three blissful, paradise-like days. We found the camp area that is run by a family that has owned the land for generations. If we did not know where to look, we would have missed it entirely. The land is settled on the beach and tucked in between a river and the seasonal restaurants (season is late October through April), and only accessible by a small, dirt road (but then, most of the roads here are cobblestone or dirt).
Again, we find ourselves amidst many Norte Americanos; however, an entirely different demographic. Since this is the better surf spot in the area, Sayulita is saturated with the surf influence and it cohabitates nicely with the local fishing community. Fishing boats, surfers and oyster/urchin divers all share the same area of water. Locals, tourists and the occasional horse share the beaches.
We had the camp area to ourselves but for the numerous large palm (and coconut bearing) trees looming overhead. (I swear, one of those coconuts was going to let loose on our heads!) We wandered through the accommodating town, snorkeled among the tropical fish and lobsters, walked along virtually empty beaches, board and body surfed in the bath-water waves and enjoyed the afternoon siestas in the hammocks. All for a whopping $100 pesos/day! (under $10 US) Another definite come-back-to place. I could not tell you how the food was as we had to endure Gerson's cooking tri-tip and fresh mahi-mahi on the grill with that annoying sound of the waves in the background. I guess, it could have been worse :-).
I was just finishing this chapter when the church bell started ringing. Today is October, 31, the night before the celebrated "Dias De Los Muertos" or "Days of the Dead" (November 1st & 2nd). Just imagine the church in the above photograph and someone pulling on the rope and the bell sounding out throughout the beaches and the hills. We can hear the people walking down the streets by the laughter of the children. It surely will be a festive weekend.
Dias De Los Muertos is a Mexican festival that is celebrated across the nation. Markets brim with marigolds (the flower of mortality), and the households fill an altar with these flowers along with favorite foods, drinks and even cigarettes of the deceased (I thought the part about the cigarettes ironic seeing as it is a celebration of the dead...if they smoked, I wonder what caused them to be celebrated?). Also, friends and family visit and pilgrimages are made to the cemetery.
Unfortunately, Sayulita has enough of an a North American (both U.S. and Canadian) influence that the celebration is more of a party rather than an expression of tradition. We may be able to catch some of the more traditional aspects while on our way to and in Patzcuaro itself. Until then...