Our time on the Mexican Gold Coast: leaving Banderas Bay, but first . . . .
It’s been far too long since I’ve set aside time to write about our adventures south of La Cruz–and there have been many! Part of it, admittedly, was pure burnout. Let me preface this by saying: we have loved our adventures and the experiences we have shared as a family aboard Dakota and on land! But, at some point, after running down the Baja *and* Pacific Coasts of Mexico for weeks and months, it’s fair to expect some level of burnout by both the adult and kid crew on Dakota. But before that, let’s go back a couple months…..
La Cruz, Guadalajara, Guachimontones and Tequila: January 10 – 29, 2017
We spent 3 lovely weeks in La Cruz letting it grow on us and us on it. It’s true what “they” say– as a kid boat, it’s *very* easy to get comfortable there what with all of the organized activities for boat kids of all ages, plenty of like-minded and like-aged parental units always up for a cerveza or margarita while we “watch” the kids by the pool, the on-point seminars, the social gatherings and parties, the walkability of the gorgeous and well-appointed marina (so very cruiser oriented) to the lovely town of La Cruz (which is also amazingly cruiser-oriented and cruiser-friendly), and the feel of the community we have there–having friends as neighbors and willing babysitters (WOOT!) and just everything being so easy. So yea, we got sucked in. But after a few weeks, we felt we needed to get off the dock and go SEE something else. So, we rented a cheap little car and headed out on a road trip through the Sierra Madres, driving through valleys and hills with acres and acres of blue agave plants (it’s like driving through wine country and the Rockies at the same time!) and making our way to Guadalajara, which we learned is the second largest city in Mexico.
And MAN! What a shock to the system after living aboard and cruising the dusty, quiet streets of La Cruz for the previous few weeks. The city was vibrant and modern while at the same time maintaining that ever-present Mexico chill vibe, you know, the one that happens between 1 and 4pm when everything just slloowwss down. And the only things to do or places to eat are the ones that cater to tourists (luckily there are plenty of those in GDL too).
After 3 days in GDL visiting the historic sites, walking around and soaking up the sights, sounds, food and people-watching, we decided to take a road-trip to Guachimontones –the pre-historic UNESCO site that exemplifies the Teuchitlan tradition–circular pyramids.
So glad we did! It was well worth the short drive out of the city to the base of the mountains where there is a gorgeous (and huge) lake and they were cool to see in contrast to the more traditional Mayan ruins we’ve seen on the Mexican Riviera.
Our final stop on the road trip to Guadalajara was the town of Tequila–and yes, the name aptly describes what they’re all about. An educational and tasty trip for all! We’ve learned, after having lived in Mexico for a few months now, that we really like being out and about on Sundays when all the Mexican families are out in full force. It’s been humbling, inspiring and amazing to see these families hangin’ out together, just doin’ their thang. And it’s without exception–Sunday is FAMILY DAY. So unless you’ve gotta work (because you work with gringos or in tourism), you are hangin’ with the fam. It’s not even a question, it’s just how it is here and we love it. And we happened to go to Tequila on a Sunday. Besides a tequila tasting and tour of Cuervo World (which was surprisingly educational and fun for the kids!), we mosied around the town (every Mexican pueblo has a town square either on or across the street from the main cathedral in town–and Tequila is no exception). We enjoyed the outdoor market and, as always, try to support local businesses by buying their homemade wares and treats. Tequila (and the surrounding areas in Jalisco) are known for their obsidian–which should not be surprising given the proximity to the volcanos in the Sierra Madres–so we perused the handmade obsidian jewelry, arts and crafts. We had a lovely little lunch on the town square with tons of other Mexican tourists and locals. We mosied the pueblito shops and streets and then said a bittersweet goodbye so we could make it back to La Cruz before dark (it’s a 3 hour drive from Tequila to La Cruz).
After our road trip, we felt reinvigorated and ready to re-enter life at the La Cruz Marina. The kids missed their friends and after a few days in a hotel, we were all ready to get back home on Dakota. Alas, the stay would not be for too much longer–it was time to head south and make it to our goal destination: Barre de Navidad. So, the planning began. As always, finding the right weather window for the passage is key. Everything spider-webs off from that. Once we know when we are likely leaving, it’s time to re-provision food, water and fuel (which, as I’ve mentioned before, are no small tasks!). And after all of that, we said a bittersweet goodbye to our good friends on S/V Vellela (we weren’t sure we would see them again this season) and headed south for Bahia Chamela.