I haven't seen that much of it, but I am amazed by what I find, and at times, amused by my amazement.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yelapa, Mexico - Part One

Originally emailed March 23, 2005,  it was followed by part two, two days later.

I have been back to work for a couple weeks and have finally gotten all the sand out from between my toes. My tan has started to fade in a couple places, but not too badly. I have had a chance to collect my thoughts and sort my pictures, so I will send you some of each.

For anyone who might not know, I have been working at the London embassy since September '04, doing the same kind of work that I did in Beijing and Athens. On 22 Feb '05 I took a two week break from this job and traveled to Yelapa, Mexico to spend some time with Joann before she took off on a sailing trip across the Pacific.

Puerto Vallarta is at the center of the coast of the Bay of Banderas, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Yelapa is a small village on the southern tip of the bay, a 45 minute water taxi ride from the pier in Puerto Vallarta. Although there is a road connecting the two places, it is so bad that the water taxi is the only feasible route. This has the advantage of keeping Yelapa remote and devoid of cars (although there is a four-wheel ATV in the village for those who need an object to curse).

The warm, tropical breeze that greeted me when I got off the plane in PV was a welcome contrast to the daily snow flurries that had started in London a couple days before I left. I passed through customs and found myself standing in a sea of cab drivers eager to take me for a ride. Suddenly, I saw Joann standing by the door holding up a sign with "Juanito" scrawled on it. She had arrived in Mexico the week before, but I hadn't expected to see her until I got to Yelapa the next morning. She showed me where to catch the right bus.

The old blue and white bus, it's windshield personalized with rodeo trinkets, pictures of the young driver's family, and devotionals to the virgin Mary, ground it's gears and belched smoke as it took us on it's roundabout way to an ocean-front hotel in the old-town section of Puerto Vallarta. From there we would catch the water taxi the next morning.

By 11 am we were traveling the length of the Bay of Banderas in a "ponga," an open-topped fiberglass boat with rows of bench seats and a large outboard motor. The twenty or so passengers and their baggage would endure the whump-whump of the boat pounding through the chop and the occasional spray of seawater. Joann, having already experience a couple of trips, warned me that we should sit as close as possible to the rear where both the pounding and the spray were less intense.

Yelapa itself climbs out of the bay and up through the palms and fruit trees like a scene from an old movie. The stone and brick dwellings with red clay tile roofs alternate with open, palm-thatched palapas. Riders on burros and horses share the narrow rock-paved lanes with villagers and tourists on foot. Small cafes and casas perch on the rocks and line the arc of the beach.

The water taxi pulled right up to the north end of the beach, where some of the passengers disembarked, wading through the surf with their belongings. It then swung south, to the other end of the beach where we got off on a pier jutting out from the center of town. Joann led me up the rabbit-warren of pathways that wound between (and sometimes it seemed, through) the buildings. Soon we were climbing the stone-stepped path (182 steps - I counted!) that led up to Casa Milagros, the place that would be our home for the next two weeks.

The view from Casa Milagros was one thing that set it apart from most of the other casas. Climbing all those steps did have its advantages. Our room was on the top floor of the three story casa (add 17 more steps for a total of 201) and the roof of the second floor was our patio. To the west we could see far out into the sea. To the east we could see the entire town and beach. One other advantage of those steps was the feeling that the hike justified a big dinner at the cafe!

Antonia and Joann in the kitchen

View from the kitchen window

Casa Milagros is fairly typical of places to stay in Yelapa. While a couple of the rooms have private baths, most are simple rooms with screened windows (no glass) and mosquito nets over the beds. The large kitchen is shared and all guests can shop in town and cook their own meals.

Lunch on the patio.  Let's eat!

Joann and I took turns making each other breakfast burritos and sometimes lunch, but most dinners we ate in one of the many wonderful cafes in the village. Electricity is fairly new to Yelapa and the most prevalent form of lighting is still the "Yelapa Lantern", a candle stuck into a sand-filled tin can, over which is placed the chimney from an oil lamp. We were encouraged to bring a flashlight or two to negotiate the walk back to the casa after an evening's dinner and dancing.

Joann introduced me to Hugo and Antonia, our hosts at Casa Milagros.
 Hugo is a transplanted Texan who, though he has lived in Mexico for the last ten years still prefers to speak in English with his broad Texas drawl. Antonia (shown here making her wonderful ceviche) is native to the area, prefers Spanish and is very patient with those trying to learn the language. She is famous, perhaps mostly to Hugo, as the most beautiful girl from the village. Her first husband, now deceased, was an American pipeline worker who built the village's water supply piping from springs in the hills, or so the story goes.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Beach of Yelapa is a remendous fun and frolic view.Yelapa’s another tourist attraction is Chelly Pay here this lady has been serving delectable pies, from last 20 years. Chelly has become a popular ideal in the town of Yelapa. Don't fail to visit iguana boys, don’t miss to snap some photos with iguana. It is a real Mexican experience. For more details refer Yelapa mexico beach