We celebrated an early birthday for Steven with a three week trip to Mexico, including La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, a dusty, cobblestone street fishing village where Sally, Jacob and Lety lived for a year.
We are grateful for family once again making their homes available to us in La Cruz and Guadalajara. Warm weather and tropical breezes, a beautiful pool and garden (above), with large green iguanas climbing up the vines, were welcome after spending the month of February in Seattle (that was one of the coldest and snowiest on record).
Staying a block from the Bay of Banderas meant the company of magnificent Frigate birds (above), that can stay aloft for two weeks at a time. Spanish Paella was fantastic due to that e large variety of fresh seafood available at the local fish market.
We took short jaunts to the local surf towns of Punta Mita and Sayulita, and one day in the Puerto Vallarta tourist zone. Sally got to hang out with her pals, Sunny and Marlene, from her year in La Cruz, and we had a wonderful night with our family in Guadalajara (the second biggest city in Mexico) with competing mariachi bands, and a night tour of the historic center, lit up with neon lights (featured image).
This was part of our one week road trip to visit some beautiful hill towns east of Guadalajara, and La Gruta (below), a gorgeous hot spring and garden. Through the white rock arch at the far end of the pool, we swam up a dark tunnel to the HOTTEST water, found in a dark rock grotto deep in the hillside.
San Miguel de Allende is a tribute to the birth place of one of the country’s leaders during the Mexican War of Independence, Allende’s birthplace, and the first municipality declared independent of Spanish rule. Although there are a lot of expats residing here, local traditions abound. The procession below was led by a pistolero with a huge sombrero, a donkey decorated with ribbons, followed by the newly affianced couple, a very tall paper mache bride and groom, and then a marching band, and celebrants dressed in white embroidered clothing, at the end.
It is now a foodie paradise due to the insurgence of artists, retired Canadians fleeing real Winter, and an international community. Classic Chile Rellenos are typically mild poblano chiles filled with cheese, battered with egg, and fried. So good! These San Miguel ones were filled with meat, nuts, raisins, and camino, and covered with a walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. Yumm!
We also loved Dolores Hidalgo (below), a small town north of San Miguel, where 50% of the town works in the world-famous Ceramics factories. The blooming Jacaranda trees waving beside the statue of Hidalgo in the town square reminded me of my favorite Mexican holiday, EL GRITO (“The Cry”) or Independence Day in September. Every cantina in Mexico pours free shots of Tequila so that everyone can listen to the Mexican President in D.F. (Distrito Federal/Mexico City) yell out at midnight, “VIVA HIDALGO! VIVA MEXICO!” …just like Hidalgo, calling for the start of the Revolution…and then the fireworks begin!
Our final hill town visit was to the World Heritage Site, Guanajuato (below). To preserve the historic downtown, there is a tortuous and narrow maze of roads cut out of rock under the city for a traffic bypass. That leaves the center city as a large pedestrian area filled with wedding parties, street-side cafes, strolling minstrels, and lots of relaxed people-watching from shady benches in the parks. We stayed near the top of a funicular tram rising from the center up to our hotel’s lofty view below.
Coming to Mexico almost yearly since I was five years old, I so love Mexico, and especially the warmth and generosity of her citizens. As expected, Steven fell in love with Mexico; we vow to return yearly to explore other regions like the Yucatan Peninsula with acres of Mayan ruins and fantastic scuba sites, Oaxaca and its hillside crafts oriented villages and nearby beaches, Baja del Sur and the Sea of Cortez, and San Cristobal de las Casas, with a dominant indiginous population and culture. Every part of Mexico offers colorful markets with beautiful produce, fabulous meals, kind people, and incredible geography and cultural artifacts. Mexico has more World Heritage Sites than any country in the world other than China, which is five times its’ size. Me encanto!