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Dodging stingrays in Melaque

sunny 30 °C

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The pool at our hotel

We were in Melaque for just three days and four nights - in part to visit our friend Jennifer, who has been coming to Melaque for many years - and in part to check out other beach communities in Mexico. We had been here four years ago, but I was so sick then and spent almost the entire time in our room, so this time around was like a brand new visit for both of us. We stayed at a small hotel called Posada Pablo de Tarso - one of many similar hotels lining the beach - two-storey u-shaped buildings, with a mix of rooms and suites, and a pool and common area overlooking the ocean. Jennifer met us at our hotel just as we were checking in. She had only arrived the day before, and still had a lot of settling in to do. We made plans to meet up the next morning at 9:00 am for our inaugural swim.

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Jennifer on her refurbished bike - brought from home, and freshly equipped with basket

Bicycles are one of the main and most convenient means of transportation here - for both Mexicans and gringos alike. Melaque is the Mexican version of the Netherlands - flat and super easy to get around ( excluding the road construction, potholes, cobblestones and topes). Everyone zips along, with their baskets billed with groceries, laundry and even kids.

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LIttle girls on their bikes

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Parents hauling their kids

The ocean in Melaque is so alive. And, apparently, stingrays live here, ranging from saucers to dinner plates in size. Once Jennifer assured us that sightings (or stingings) are rare, and explained how to enter the water, we took the plunge. Or rather, the shuffle. To avoid stepping on stingrays that may have burrowed into the sand, you shuffle into the water, pushing the sand with your feet - the marine version of clapping or whistling to warn bears you are on the path.

The water here is quite calm - ideal for swimming, and strangely, there are not that many people in the ocean. Possibly it is because most hotels have pools, possibly because it is a very active fishing area, and there are pelicans and gulls diving nearby. No matter - we found the swimming to be a highlight of our stay. Jennifer swims every morning for 40 minutes, which is a lot longer than it sounds. She is an epic swimmer - just shuffles in, and goes for it. We are less epic - more floaters and dawdlers. The feel of the water is luscious - like being on a gigantic water bed - slightly buffeted and rocked, while at the same time being ever so slightly pulled. The water feels mildly electric; befitting of sharing the same space with stingrays and who knows what else. There is nothing passive about being in deep ocean water like this - it is slightly unnerving and very therapeutic. There is no surfing here, but In the afternoon the waves kick in, and the kids turn up with their skimboards.

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The town of Melaque is really three small towns - San Patricio, Melaque and Obregon, with Barra de Navidad at the southern end of the beach. The town is just four hours south of Sayulita, but it feels a bit more tropical. More humid. Different bugs and critters. It feels very Mexican and while there are plenty of gringos, they have not taken over. Many of the tourists here are from Canada, and a lot of them are long-term stays, as opposed to folks flying in for one or two week vacations. This is a more modest and laid-back area, and more quiet.

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Every Wednesday, there is a massive market, or tianguis (much of it under tents) that stretches for a few blocks. As well as the usual plastic household goods, used clothing and cheap electonics, there were a number of stands selling handcrafts and jewellery. The Huichol people are indigenous to some areas of Mexico, and they specialize in beautiful beaded artwork and jewellery. Masks, papier-mache, and puppets made from coconuts are also common in this area. And hammocks - hand-knotted and gorgeous - we're just trying to figure out where to put one back home.
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We've really enjoyed the food here - lots of table sharing at taco stands. The night we arrived, we were a bit jangled and tired from the 4-hour drive that became a 6-hour drive and from the fact that I banged through a number of potholes, then hit a tope at 70 km. , briefly became airborne, and actually did nothing bad to our car, or its tires, or us. So, a bowl of pozole (fragrant chicken and corn soup) and a beer was exactly what we needed. We shared our dinner with a Mexican gentleman who spoke perfect English, and due to the fact that he was already well in his cups, regaled us with many repetitions of the same stories for the duration of our meal. We'll never know if he really did accompany Henry Kissinger at the airport in Mexico City 20 years ago.

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Pozole soup - corn, chicken, cilantro, spices, and other variations of good old chicken soup

Street taco stands can be a bit off-putting for the uninitiated, but the trick is to check out the clientele - a good proportion of Mexican diners is key.

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tortillas, made to order and hot sauce with cilantro, scooped out of this pot for each order

On our second night here, we had dinner with Jennifer at Pappa Gallo - a fancier place overlooking the ocean. Food was delicious - Jen and I had shrimp fajitas, flamed in tequila at the table, and Stephen had, for some strange reason, lemon chicken. He was overtaken by one of those gringo moments when you long for anything but Mexican, I guess. We were well entertained by the over-the-top emoting of the guitarist, and the sunset.

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Today we drove to La Manzanilla, a small beach town about 20 minutes from here. It is quite lovely, with a stunning beach and a number of restaurants and shops, and has a good number of luxurious homes and hotels. We roamed the beach, and visited the crocodiles in the lagoon, one of whom was resting by a big gap in the chain link fence - we weren't clear about what was motivating him to stay put.

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Adios, Jennifer! Thanks for showing us such a good time in Melaque and sharing your town with us.

We're leaving the beach for a few weeks and heading into the mountains. Tomorrow night we'll be in Mazamitla - we'll check in again in a few days.

Posted by millerburr 19:44 Archived in Mexico

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Comments

Now I am not sure if I want to swim first or go for the soup? Decisions, decisions! Thanks for sharing with us, we feel a little like we are travelling with you both!
L&D

by Laurence

I love seeing your pics, and so nice that you got to meet up with miss Nash! seeing your posts have totally got me thinking that I need to start saving for a family trip down south!

by Nina

We borrowed a friend's home in Cuestacomate, between Malalque and La Manzanilla a couple of winters ago. It was fabulous. Some day, I hope to spend the winter in La Manzanilla. It seemed to have the best combo of beach and village. I also recall climbing that big hill by La Manzanilla when we rode our bikes down that coast line. I want a taco.

by Nicola Ross

We are having a huge chuckle at the description of you getting airborne off the tope. Knowing that you (and car) are okay, it's fine to laugh, right? Never a dull moment driving with the Miller-Burrs!

by Alex

Hi guys, that pool looked so familiar, I checked the hotel out on Google, looks like the place we stayed in twenty odd years ago. Happy travels.

by Joy

Hey you two! Looks like you are having a great time. Thanks for sharing your adventures, wish I was still in the mexican sunshine. Get some for me please. Happy Trails.

by Sue

Hola Amigos,
Fun to read, we miss you in Sayulita. Piotr

by Piotr

I shall miss the beach and beautiful sunsets of the last few weeks but look forward to your new adventures in the mountains. Safe travels you two!

by Heather

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