Our Travels In Mexico (Jalisco)
As seniors, we have discovered that spending the winter months on the west coast of Mexico, also known as the province of Jalisco, is much more enjoyable than shoveling mountains of snow in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.
We fly to Puerto Vallarta, which takes about 4 and 1/2 hours direct from Toronto, non stop. The airport in PV is small, so it is easy to take either a taxi or local bus and head north, up the coastal highway about 15 min., to Bucerias or another 15 min. to San Pancho. We have stayed in both communities for months at a time. They are both different and both wonderful!
Bucerias has about 15000 people. There is lots to do and there is easy access to neighbouring towns. The bus system is cheap and always available.
We have stayed for many years in a small Mexican hotel called Ana Ruth’s, which is located in the core of the town, right on the ocean. We rented the “tree house” penthouse and loved it so much. The hotel is next to the largest parrot tree in the area. The view of the ocean is spectacular. The owner, Francisco, is very nice and the restaurant on the ground floor is the best in the village.
Here is the hotel and the “tree house”.
There was even room for yoga, so we held a free class every Friday morning at 10 a.m.
Look for more information on our tree house under Bucerias Mexico.
San Pancho is a little further north on the ocean and it has only 3000 people. It is a model progressive Mexican community with an award winning community centre (Entre Amigos). It is much more peaceful than Bucerias, but still has lots to keep you interested. The beach at San Pancho is about 1 km long and the water is deep and violent. The surfers love it and you can swim down on the south end, but you have to be careful. The sand is nice, the water is nice, it isn’t too crowded, and we love it.
We recommend both Bucerias and San Pancho highly!
Market Day is a particularly popular activity that we have enjoyed, especially on Sundays. because there were two distinctly different markets open. The Bucerias Market, in Bucerias centro along the dry river bed below the highway. You can’t miss it and they even sell the kitchen sink. The Gringo Market in La Cruz, which is just a few miles along the coast from Bucerias. We take the bus for a few coins and we are there in minutes. Just follow all the gringos on the bus and they will lead you right to it. This market is situated at the marina and the fish vendors are right there too if you want fresh fish. But, I wanted to say that the La Cruz Sunday market is very gringo oriented and upscale. They also sell everything and the fresh organic “foodstuffs” are to die for. Go on an empty stomach because you will buy the food anyway, so you might as well taste it there. There is always live music and a yoga class taking place right in the centre of the action. Don’t forget your camera! I get hungry thinking about it!!!!
There are markets every day of the week on every corner. The fresh fruits and veggies taste so different in a good way.
Avocados are half as much money as back in Ontario. One of our favourite dishes is “beet soup”.
Since my mother was Ukranian, I have the beet soup recipe down pat. Sue relaxes on the couch while I prepare her a delicious meal.
Every day was sunny and beautiful which was perfect for us, since our apartment was outdoors. I learned from one of the tenants living in the apartment below, how to make bread from scratch. Even the the Mexican flour is different from what is sold in Canada. It was so simple and my bread was delicious. I made 3 loaves and gave one to “Wayne” from New Brunswick, who also stays every winter in the Ana Ruth’s hotel, but for 5 months.
We walked the beach in search of beach glass and beach tiles before 10 a.m., when the temperatures are most comfortable.
Collecting clay tiles and coloured glass from the beach …
Ceramics in Mexico dates back thousands of years, when ceramics became popular as people in the Americas learned new things. Pre-Hispanic wares were not glazed, but rather burnished and painted with colored fine clay slips. The potter’s wheel was unknown so pieces were shaped by molding, coiling and other methods. Many wares and homes were made with coloured tiles and much of the extra pieces ended up the the Pacific ocean. After years of being tossed about and smashed into smaller pieces, the tiles washed up onto beaches like Bucerias Mexico.
We had collected thousands of tiles from the beach so we decided to create something with them. Francisco, the owner and manager of our hotel, Ana Ruth’s in Bucerias, gave me an old coffee table. I created an ocean scene on the top of the table with the clay tiles. After glueing and shellacking, and painting the table, I was finished. Of course the table is still at the Ana Ruth’s hotel. The pelican and frigate bird are included in my design because they are very popular birds of the area.
My wife seemed to be always walking the beach with her head down looking for tiles and beach class.
Beach … Surfing Sayulita Beach Mexico
Let’s talk about surfing …
Thank heavens for public transportation. The local buses were always traveling up and down the coast from village to village and beyond. We used the bus regularly for lots of reasons, especially to get to surfing beaches.
Sayulita has a good wave reputation and has become a “little” surf city. The reefs are mellow and ideally suit beginners to intermediate and very mellow longboarders who don`t mind the crowds. Sayulita & San Pancho are more adapted to intermediate or beginner level surfers. They have an international surfing contest in Sayulita in March every year. Here are some photos and a video. Everyone was waiting for the waves to begin to roll in.
The surf in these two towns peaks August and September but those waves are not good for beginers or intermediate surfers. You have to be a little crazy to surf there in Aug. and Sept., but it is fun to watch.
Hanging out at the beach …
When we were living in Bucerias, we rented the penthouse in the small Mexican hotel called, “Ana Ruth’s”. One of the reasons for choosing this hotel was because of its proximity to the ocean.
It just took us a few short steps from the hotel to reach the beach. You can walk in either direction for miles – Puerto Vallarta to the south and La Cruz to the north. Keep your eyes focused on the water because Bucerias is on Banderas Bay which is the nursery for humpback whales from December to April. They swim down from Canada to this bay because it is ideal for having baby whales. Of course, we enjoyed the warm breezes, white sand, beach glass, and coloured clay tiles. There is lots to do like surfing,
paddle boarding, kite flying, horse riding, boating, and of course swimming. The water is warm and perfect for frolicking in. Weekends are busy with Mexican families spending the entire day on the beach enjoying quality family time.
If you want a little more beach adventure or a change of beach scenery, you can walk one block to the coastal highway and catch a bus north. Tell the driver that you want off at Destiladeras beach. This cheap bus ride is fun and Destiladeras beach is only about 10 min. up the road.
We love birds and we never travel without a great pair of binoculars. San Pancho is just a short ride up the coastal highway from Bucerias Mexico. It is the home of Luis Moralis, who is a famous award winning biologist, who knows tons about birds. His tours are delightful, knowledgeable, and cheap. We have been on many and have learned so much. Check out his website for more information … http://www.birdingsanpancho.com
Puerto Vallarta (PV)
PV is only 4 and 1/2 hours direct from Toronto. Check out flights on flight network.com
The PV airport is small and very manageable. Take a taxi or public transit out to Puerto Vallarta or north to Bucerias and San Pancho.
Make sure you dedicate at least one full day in Puerto Vallarta centro in the area near the melon (beach boardwalk). You might even want to eat at the Cheeky Monkey on the beach. The food is great and so is the view.
We loved the art that was everywhere. Even Sue is part of the art.