Published: February 12th 2012February 11th 2012
Super Bowl Sunday, we moved about 140 miles southeast of Puerto Vallarta to San Patricio – Melaque where we checked into Laguna del Tule Trailer Park. We lucked out. There was just one open space on the beach side. The pounding surf rocks our camper. Some of the waves sound like shotgun blasts.
There are quite a few Americans here: Rigs with license plates from Maine, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Colorado (2) and Montana. (Actually the couple with Montana plates said they had escaped from Colorado when Fort Collins became too crowded.) Ray & I and our travel buddies Ed & Michelle represent the “left coast” but we Americans are still well outnumbered by Canadians.
Hail, hail the gangs all here: Our amigos Paul and Terry had already settled in for the winter. In fact, Terry had flown home to British Columbia to bring her granddaughter down. Abigail, age 4, is attending preschool here in Melaque and just loves it.
The official name given to this village San Patricio – Melaque is in honor of Irish and other American immigrants who joined the Mexican army in its fight against the U.S during the Mexican American War of 1846-48. This
group was called Saint Patrick's Battalion. For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick's_Battalion
- The village goes all out on St. Patrick’s Day celebrating in much the same way we do in the U.S.
Monday, 6 February, we walked the town and visited Melaque’s city campground. Walking along the main drag, we met Danny and Deborah from Ventura, Ca who have been living aboard an Australian built 1960’s vintage 48 foot wooden sailboat for 17 years. Most of the time their boat is moored at Ventura’s marina but now that they have attained the age to receive Social Security, they sailed south to Melaque. Kids and grands want to explore Mexico’s south coast with them later this month then they will head back north. They love the lifestyle.
We spent three days at Melaque then continued south to Maruata where we camped next to a beach side papapa restaurant. Ed and Michelle have decided to accompany us on our exploration of Mexico’s colonial interior. We’ll only follow the coast as far south as Ziahuatanejo before heading north.
Until entering the state of Michoacan, we have seen very minimal police/military presence on the highway. Where guards were present, we were just
Most of us had Ada’s Tuesday special BBQ ribs.
Ada’s is owned by Ada, a Mexican lady and her husband, a Canadian who suffered a terrible accident while working for a Canadian electrical power company causing him to lose both arms.
waved thru. However, entering Michoacan, we were pulled over at an army checkpoint, inspected and asked from where we were coming and where we were going. The inspection was thorough but polite. Though, not on the current U.S. state department avoid list, Michaocan and the neighboring state of Guerrero, which we will enter next, have had their share of drug troubles.
At Marauta, we renewed our acquaintance with Ken and Chris, the full-time truck camper couple we met at Roca Azul and met their friends, Jerry and Paula from Nova Scotia, also truck campers. They told us that the beach here has changed considerably since their last visit due to a hurricane that swept through this area this past June. All of the palapas along the beach were destroyed and had since been rebuilt.
Maruata is known for its turtle nesting grounds and sanctuaries. Our first night there, we had a full moon but Michelle and I went to bed fairly early. Shortly thereafter, Ray and Ed watched three huge trash can lid size mama turtles come ashore to lay their eggs but for some reason the turtles decided to return to sea. The next night, it was
very cloudy and pitch dark. Never the less, we all walked the beach but could only make out the presence of three turtles.
A light rain had begun during the night but Michelle and I got up at 5:00 as planned to walk the beach as soon as it became light. In no time, we were soaked. There had undoubtedly been much turtle activity during the night as there were numerous fresh turtle tracks in the sand and many crater like depressions where mama turtles dig deeply to bury their eggs.
Turtle eggs have numerous predators including Mexican men who consider consuming the eggs with lime to be an aphrodisiac.
We were told that a turtle will lay between 50 – 120 eggs at a time and that only 2% of hatched eggs survive. Turtles tagged here have been found as far away as the Caribbean. Turtles in this area are of the Negra (black)species. I have not been able to find much web information on these turtles or their mating and hatching habits as most google searches result in Spanish language sites.
We watched four little guys make their way to the sea.
the rain showed no sign of letting up and our prospects of observing any significant turtle activity diminished, we said adios to our hosts and continued on our way.
We were told that the inhabitants of Maruata (an Indian word pronounced Mar-wah-tah rather than a Spanish pronunciation in which each vowel is pronounced) are Aztec descendants who came down from the mountains and settled here. Our host family seemed to include three generations with about six children living in what we would consider unacceptable conditions. Like most homes in this village, their walls are bare unpainted wood. The home has dirt floors and is covered with a thatch roof which even in this rain, does seem to keep the place completely dry.
Our hosts do have electricity but this family does not seem to have TV. Many other homes in the village sprout satellite dishes. Ray observed one home with a flat screen that would be the envy of many Americans including us.
Other than their minimalistic living conditions, this family seemed otherwise very normal. Our landlady prepared us a wonderful spicy shrimp dinner so we know that this lady is an excellent cook. The oldest daughter
was obviously doing her homework at the large outside table which seemed to be the center of the family’s activity. The younger children were clean, well mannered and played happily in the sand at waters edge with a few toy soldiers and trucks.
In many ways, southern Mexico reminds us of how pre-1940 rural Hawaii has been described.
Maybe, because we had given the little kids colored Sharpie pens, all family members shook hands with us to say good-bye. We wished that we could have given the kids more toys but the little town had no shops selling anything other than food. In hindsight, we should have given our landlady a lot more money than she charged us to park. If we make it back here next year we’ll bring the family a bunch of stuff.
The rain followed us to village of Playa Azul where we returned to the Hotel Playa Azul where we had camped three years ago. In 2009, the weather here was beautiful and as there was a national soccer game taking place somewhere in Mexico, the hotel was full of cheering fans watching the lobby TV. The pool full of happy children.
This year it is rainy, overcast and glum.
We visited with our campground neighbors, Jean Peirre (J.P.) and Hannie from The Netherlands (Holland) who since June 2010 have been touring the U.S. and Canada. They are traveling in an extreme custom made camping vehicle special ordered from a company in Missouri. In their forties, they quit their jobs and sold their business and hit the road. Now, they are touring Mexico with plans to visit Central and South America, with a detour to Cuba. After the Americas, they will ship their rig to Australia, then on to Asia and Europe. They have already toured Africa with tours and by arranging guided tours. Europeans are so much more adventurous than we Americans!
There are more photos below