Barra de Navidad, Melaque, and Nuevo Vallarta

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March 14th 2010
Published: March 19th 2010
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We arrived in Barra de Navidad with no reservations and with about three hotel possibilities from the travel guide, but because of our bad experience in Colima with their recommendation, we were prepared to be a little more discriminating. However, when you are tired, and it is the end of the day, and you arrive in a strange place with no idea of where you are or where to find things, and you are carrying a large pack on your back - well, you aren’t really so discriminating. We found one place, but it looked expensive, so we moved on. We found another, and asked to see a room. It was a little run down, but clean and basic, and right on the beach which we hadn’t had before, so we took it. Unfortunately, it was so windy the 2 days we were there, it was quite cold to be outside by the beach. And, the promised Wi-Fi didn’t work, so we had to find a restaurant with an internet café to use the computer to book our last couple of nights - we wanted to be near the airport so we could get there easily and quickly.

Barra has a dark brown sand beach, but due to the steep drop-off and probably the high winds the days we were there, the beach was almost deserted. A neighboring town, San Patricio Melaque is at the other end of the beach, and we headed down there to check it out. The buses that run between the 2 towns are the most run down rattle-trap buses we have found on our entire trip. The beach in Melaque is a bit more swimmer-friendly, but at that end of the bay, the fishing boats moor right off shore, and fishermen stand in waist-deep water throwing their nets, so swimming is a little trickier and not the main activity there. They both are your typical small Mexican coast town, similar to Bucerias - Barra is a bit more geared to the tourists with paved streets and lots of restaurants and hotels, but fewer little food stands and local grocery stores, and we found the prices of everything from food to trinkets to be quite a bit higher here than they were in Bucerias. Melaque was definitely the poor cousin, with the dirt roads, small shacks, and of course, the street chickens that we left behind in the poorest parts of Bucerias. But Melaque did have a street with shops and restaurants, so a visitor there could still find souvenirs and something to eat. I am told that lots of Canadians really like Melaque, but neither Steve nor I found it to hold any charm for us. There was a little spit of land at one end of Barra that was kind of pretty, and we spent some time watching the pelicans dive for their supper there. It was also the same place that was an inlet for boats coming into the protected harbor there. There were a couple of islands there, one of which was where the rich and famous parked their big boats and stayed at a huge resort - we heard that the rooms could be a thousand dollars a night. Yike!

After we left Barra, we decided to treat ourselves and booked into Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta - where the well-to-do stay. I found a good deal on the internet, and as long as we could avoid the time-share people, we could enjoy the beach that we couldn’t even get a glimpse of when we just took a bus there to check it out from Bucerias. Well, it turns out that we aren’t high-end type people. The resort is nice all right, but we found the people staying there to be somewhat snooty, and even the waiters at the beach bar were not friendly, and we were never thanked for a tip! Everywhere else, it didn’t matter how much you gave, you were always thanked for a tip. The beach is certainly the best spot on the entire Bay of Banderas. You can walk for miles, and the sand is smooth and packed and golden… you walk from resort to resort. And multi-story condos too. Everyone wore the best name-brand golf shirts or dresses - we felt underdressed - even on the beach. Since we didn’t have the all-inclusive package - that would have been an additional $95 each per day!! - we were quite aware of the price of food and drinks there, and wow, were they overpriced. But I suppose, not any more than any fancy resort anywhere else, it is just that we aren’t used to that.

Anyway, the room was nice, and the food was OK, but bland and predictable. We took a couple of boogie boards and decided to enjoy the ocean for a while. Steve caught the first wave perfectly, riding it in a long ways - then he stepped down and felt a pain on his foot, like something had bit him. He looked down and saw blood streaming out of the top of his foot, and started heading for shore. When I caught up with him, he was bleeding a lot from the top of his foot, and it was hurting quite a bit. We rushed him to the doctor which, luckily (due to being a fancy resort) was just down the street. The doctor said it was a sting from a stingray. When they rest on the sand, and someone steps on them, their stinger comes up and punctures the top of the foot. They have a toxin that causes intense pain, but because Steve bled so much, he wasn’t in too much pain as most of the toxin had bled out. They treat it with an anti-inflammatory that Steve is already taking due to his arthritis, so there was nothing else to do. He had to soak it in hot salty water to encourage it to bleed, and then to keep it up for a while to keep the swelling down. The doctor told us that this was the fifth stingray sting in 2 days at the same beach - our resort and the one next to it - but nobody had said anything about this possibility at the resort. And in fact, after we went back and told them about it, they weren’t interested. So needless to say, we were not impressed at all with the hotels of the rich and famous. He is OK now. His toes turned black for a couple of days, but by the next day the swelling was gone and he wasn't in any pain.

That is the end of our trip to Mexico. From here, we head to Hawaii.

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5th April 2010

Love Bucerias
I love Bucerias (, but I will have to visit Melaque.

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