The first stop out of the Mazatlán area was Sayulita. We have been on the road for two months and are a little amazed that we haven’t made it further. Oh well, timeline, shmimeline. The landscape changed dramatically about 45 minutes into our drive south. Everything became more green and lush with fields of sugar cane and blue agave. Once we turned west towards the coast, we swear it looked like rolling Italian hillside.
The connection from our Baja Ferry ride friend for camping in Sayulita was a little vague. However, an awesome hand drawn map and Eric’s directional ability got us there. We arrived in town and squeezed Pedro along cobblestone streets packed with people, cars and golf carts. The town circles around the main square and we eventually reached a huge hill to climb; here, more maneuvering. At the top we had to let a group of men pass on a golf cart on the small one lane road, a word we will use loosely. Eric had the feeling that we needed to talk to them and it turns out they were the guests staying at the house we were looking for. They gave us directions to the place and were kind enough to let us park. Those type of travel feelings and connections are not to be ignored!
Sayulita itself was a funky little town, with a surfer, artsy vibe. It was full of foreign visitors but also a large amount of Mexican vacationers as well. The place was pretty expensive due to the tourism but we found a super affordable and delicious taco stand we ate at both nights. We spent the days on the beach and met some great people. Jason and Stephanie graciously opened up their little apartment in town to us after meeting us for a short while on the beach. The men staying in the house where we were parked invited us in the use their pool, drink some beers and shower the last day. The hospitality of the people we run into never ceases to amaze us. We bumped into two women who we had quickly met on the ferry from La Paz. They are traveling under www.wetravel2help.org and we hope to meet up again and give them a ride as we get further south.
Our drive out of Sayulita was overcast with the type of dense fog that causes the valley below to disappear. The Mexico most people think of is much less characteristic of the landscape we saw that morning. The town of Tequila was only a 20 minute detour off of our route so we stopped for a tequila purchase, of course. The town was quaint with small streets and pretty squares. We passed Guadalajara on the outskirts, not wanting to brave the larger city and headed straight to Lake Chapala and our destination of Ajijic.
The experience of Ajijic was wonderful and challenging. Gabby and Matt, our friends in Colorado, were kind enough to ask her family if we could stay as we passed through the area. When we arrived the Ramos family opened up their home to us and treated us like old friends. We had amazing meals cooked by her mother, Rosa, her brother Hualit showed us around the town, and we got to meet several family members. The only reason why I say the visit was a challenge was the language barrier of very limited English and our Spanish level. However, even though we were nervous in the beginning it turned out to be such a great visit and opportunity for us to practice, practice, practice. After two days we felt as if our brains would explode, but again, that’s a good thing as we continue to push to learn the language better every day. The town was colorful and lively and we would love to go back someday.
While we haven’t used Lonely Planet guides for travel advice or locations, we enjoy reading the quick histories of the places we visit if they are available in the book. Pátzcuaro was our last stop before heading for Mexico City. The small town has a colonial feel, as if we found the place in the mountains of Spain. We wandered around the two main squares in town, explored the large market and caught up on the blog a bit at a peaceful camp spot on the edge of town. When you can enjoy eight delicious street tacos and leave a generous tip for a total of $2 it’s hard not to fall in love with a place. The buildings in the center of town were all painted white with red accents and the area is widely known for different artisanal skills, with goods to purchase from all of the surrounding towns. The difference of culture and climate that comes with travelling inland and increasing elevation was interesting. We truly enjoyed the more traditional and historic feel to the area and thought it was a great contrast to the coastal experience.
Mexico City is up next on our radar. What better than a ’82 chinook to drive through a city of 20 million people.