It’s always the way that on your journey to get to one place you find a little piece of paradise along the way, the trick is to recognise it before you continue on your quest to find the right place. I was looking for somewhere to be still, somewhere I could call home for just a short while. Baja is a stunning place to stay but my itchy feet were too curious about mainland Mexico to be still so on Dec 29th we took the ferry leaving Baja behind for now. After a uneventful but expensive ferry trip from La Paz, Baja to Topolabampo we drove south towards Puerto Vallarta heading for Sayulita in Nayarit for a quick stop with a plan to drive onto Barra De Navidad. I won’t bore you with the details of getting the ferry tickets but the three key points you should take note of; 1) you can’t buy a ferry ticket unless you have your vehicle documents for the mainland, 2) you can’t get your vehicle registered if you don’t have your vehicles at the Banjercito which is at the port in La Paz 3) you will have to back your vehicle onto the ferry which gets tricky in a large RV. Tickets are expensive for truck and trailer combo ($800 for 8 metres length plus $70 per person). Good news is that the ferry is new and only a 6 hour crossing. The ferry will get you in at around 10pm so head for the nearest town which is Los Mochis, but be warned there are no RV parks open here as we had to just park up in the street with our trailer.
So we arrived in the once sleepy fishing village of Sayulita and felt crowded out. It is packed with eager surfers enjoying the surfing paradise and of course partying plus those that like to hang out in a cool town. You can get custom surf boards made by dingbatz for the same cost for one bought off the peg or you can buy your little bit of property in Mexico at a high price. Real estates agents are two a penny alongside bars and restaurants and you would have no problem finding an apartment to rent out in this funky little Mexican town. There was no room at the RV park when we arrived on New Years Eve so we were forced to check out the next town 16km north of Sayulita, the truly sleepy town of Lo De Marcos with a beach to die for and the kind of laid back ambience that Sayulita must have had when the hippes discovered it in the sixties.
Lo De Marcos, a town of 3,000 is going through continual transition to accommodate the increasing visitors feels positively Mexican. The town is frequented by Mexican families during the major holidays and weekends with some long stay RV’ers campers here. Most of the streets are cobble-stoned with dogs lying camouflaged into the dusty grey cobbles with their dirty creamy curly coats, spread eagled and relaxed. On the rare occasion I need to drive the truck I have to be careful to skirt around the dogs and keep a keen eye on the children playing on the corners, some aged as young as 3 or 4 never wandering far from a small radius in front of their houses, laughing and chasing the dogs who also seem to have an unmarked territory from which they explore and guard. Altars sparkle outside houses. Our Lady of Guadalupe always the centerpiece with her gold beams and ribbons lit by the xmas lights. Old people sit outside their houses which look like shops. I find myself peering into open doorways expecting to see items for sale and then once closer look away quickly realizing that I am peering into someones home. Shops which look like houses are equally confusing selling a handful of items outside their front door. Men play dominoes outside the plaza wearing shirts and cowboy hats whilst cowboys trot pass on their horses. In the mornings all manner of people are selling their wares, the bin men ringing their bells, the gas man tooting his ice cream van style horn with interspersed with cry of “calour, calour”. Street stands sell taco’s and churros, mariachi CD’s and jewelry and like everywhere in Mexico there are always the internet cafes around to make those cheap calls home (thank god for Skype ).
The beach is sandy and wide with , the waves crash in and wallop onto the beach providing a constant background noise. Mexican families adorn the beach in groups sitting under beach umbrellas with picnics but between the major holiday seasons the beach mostly empty. Mornings bring out the mostly Canadian golden brigade who are out for their morning constitutionals walking, jogging, strolling with rarely a car to be seen. When the tide conditions are right a handful of surfers and boogie boarders race out to the rocks on the western edge of the beach bobbing on the waves waiting to catch the big waves. The local fishermen compete with the pelicans for catching the fish out by the rocks in the late afternoons with the heavily laden shrimp boats hanging out in the water resting from the nights fishing. The cicadas break into their singing in the evenings with a variety of sounds that rush at your ears all wanting to be heard. The referee whistle reaching out over the rest of the sounds as regular as a heartbeat.
The small pond along the road behind the beach houses egrets sitting alongside the turtles taking a break from the slow creeping around the waters. Iguanas race across the road to get to the pond in a rush of luminous green that disappears into the undergrowth. Hummingbirds fill the air like fighter jets swooping and collating mid air in a fight to the death over the feeders hung from the houses. The birdlife is intense every day bringing a new and wonderful specimen to wonder at. Huge butterflies gorge on the feast of bouganvillias that are bursting out everywhere, vampire bats rest during the day in the roofs of buildings. Lo De Marcos is the place to be right now because in effect the two smaller beaches frequented by the Mexican holiday makers have been bought, well the access roads have been bought (always a work-around in Mexico) and the plan is for the Japanese developers to put up the hotel and the bungalows. The sleepy charm will soon be lost but for the locals there will be more job opportunities. While I was there I saw more estate agents opening their doors and Lo De Marcos is for sale in terms of property and houses. The price is going up substantially each year.
If you want to get involved with the local community there is a non for profit organisation La Casa De Los Ninos that is always looking for help.
GETTING THERE The closest airport is Puerto Vallarta; either take a taxi (45 minutes) or hire a car.
WHEN TO GO It is surrounded by jungle and receives 345 days of sunshine per year with temperatures reaching 90 degrees F (32 C) during the summer, along with high humidity, but at night, the onshore breeze. The rainy season is June through September, however, August and September are considered the two “rainy” months. December and January, the peak tourist season, are generally warm, sunny and dry, with comfortable, balmy nights.
WHERE TO STAY There are plenty of places whether RV camping, renting houses or bungalows.