The author and Vicky Flores, who is a nurse at a local hospital and also his partner in the small bed and breakfast, “Mi Casa es Su Casa,” and Jeep trips to the BACK ROADS OF NAYARIT, are going on another discovery trip.

Today we found a true gem. Many years ago a Guadalajara family purchased a parcel of land that included a beach (and what a beach). At that time the family was not so small. There were the grandparents and eight children. No road existed, only a small trail through several miles of jungle. Now a road (rough in spots) goes to the property and there is a sign that prohibits entry. After talking to one of the owners (the family and in-laws now number over 100, although most rarely visit) we were given permission to come in and stay for the day and we could come back any time with a few guests but we had to promise not to disclose the directions on the internet.

So, off we go. It is 10 a.m. and the day is bright and sunny. Our vehicle is a 1985 jeep CJ7. It has only got a little over 18,000 miles on it. I was lucky enough to buy it from a neighbor who seldom used it. One thing I like about it is that there are no computers. If it ever breaks down in a remote area, my mechanic will go there and repair it. Try that with a new jeep.

Editor’s Note: “Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. This series details his day trips and adventures between 2001-2007. We are sharing his stories in an effort to preserve Bob’s memory – and to help Bob’s partner and traveling companion, Vicky Flores Ramirez, who still lives in La Peñita and quietly carries on the work that she and Bob so loved. You can learn more below.

Leaving Rincón de Guayabitos, we go along the coastal highway, passing by the many mango groves, planted fields of pineapple, bananas, tobacco, beans, papayas, etc. We pass several villages and finally come to a turn off that we had been meaning to try for several years. The road is dirt and some gravel. It goes through a large canyon, almost a valley. The forest is light at first and then gives way to groves of mangoes, papayas and bananas.

01 - We turn on to a dirt road
We turn on to a dirt road: We had been meaning to check out this road for years and now that Vicky is on vacation, we decide it is time.

We pass a few scattered homes. These are simply coconut palm slab siding with palapa roofs. It is a poor area. We have food and clothing for them aboard and we will stop on the way out and give out what we have. We see a neat little palapa hut to our right. No siding (this probable means few mosquitoes). A man is asleep in a hammock. What a life. Do we really need our fast pace. Payments, a permanent job, responsibilities, a proper place in society. Maybe we are not so smart. Maybe this fellow is way ahead of us. A couple of hectares. No house payments. He doesn’t need a car. His little garden produces year around. There is always tropical fruit and the sea is near for seafood. Wow! Now I have gotten myself off track. I picture a small jungle hut, a bottle of tequila. The beach nearby. Roberto, what are you doing in front of this computer!

We travel on, passing through hilly country and the green country side. How lucky we are to be doing what we want to do. Soon we top a rise and there in front of us is the blue Pacific. Now we descend through the jungle. The road is getting rougher and very steep. What a place for brake failure. There is much evidence of the hurricane. Many trees are down, yet it is still a jungle.

02 - There is the blue pacific
There is the blue pacific: We travel through groves of mangoes, bananas other tropical fruits. We climb hills and go through valleys. At last we see the blue Pacific.

Overhanging palms, the foliage almost closes around us; it is almost like a tunnel. We pass a very small settlement of raised palapas and a few goats.

03 - Sometimes the road is like a tunnel
Sometimes the road is like a tunnel: The foliage is very green and sometimes shades the whole road.

04 - Down through the jungle
Down through the jungle: Not too many tourists travel this road. We see better and worse on our back road trips, but our tourists are never disappointed.

05 - A palapa in the jungle
A palapa in the jungle: Here and there we see a small house in the jungle with a palapa (a palm leaf) roof and palm tree slabs for siding. They are cool and can be made comfortable. They all have dirt floors and the occupants have to watch for scorpions and other critters.

There is a well that is giving off water and a road junction going somewhere.

Soon we reach the bottom. What a place. A white beach with many coconut palms. There is a little cove off to the right. It is an old lava flow. It must be loaded with shell fish.

06 - There is the beach
There is the beach?? We have asked a couple of people we saw along the road. They all said the road led to a beach. We can just see it through the palms.

There are a few buildings below the coconut trees. Some have well manicured lawns. There is a sign that says private property and no entry without authorization. We park and talk to a lady who is a family member. Vicky chats with her for awhile and she tells us that we can come back for daily visits whenever we want; even bring a few guests but we must promise not to put the location on the internet. A few people o.k., but not a lot. We walk down along the beach and talk to a caretaker. He tells us the swimming is safe and the fishing is good. Returning to the jeep and vowing to return for the day and a picnic, we set off to see what is down that road junction near the well. It is almost noontime.

07 - Vicky and a family member
Vicky and a family member: The sign said it was prohibited to enter but this lady said we could, and that we could come back anytime with a couple of guests but she made us promise not to tell where it is on the internet.

08 - Nice beach
Nice beach: Mild surf and blue water. My kind of beach. A lava flow on either end. Shell fishing must be great.

09 - Vicky checks out the beach
Vicky checks out the beach: This is on the first beach we visited.

10 - A mild surf
A mild surf: There is a small cove at the end. A good place to swim.

We travel uphill and through the jungle. The road is narrow and dusty. Soon we top a rise and there is another beautiful cove below us. We park and walk down a steep path. The beach is about a third of a mile long. Easy swimming I would think. Lots of room to sunbath and it is clean. Lava flows on both sides. We snap a few photos and return to the jeep.

11 - The second beach
The second beach: We left the first beach and went up through the jungle and over a hill and came to another beach. Almost as nice as the first.

12 - Emerald green water
Emerald green water: Looking down between the beaches we see emerald green water and fish.

13 - Looking past beach number 2
Looking past beach number 2: You can just see the mountains on the other side of Puerto Vallarta.

On the way we notice a palapa on the hill above us. There is a path so, never ones to pass a new possible area to explore, up we go. On top of the hill, which is actually a cliff above the sea, sits this open sided palapa. There is a very friendly fellow. He has a couple of dogs and chickens. There are two hammocks, although he says he lives alone. What a view. The whole coast can be seen. The air is clear. We can see almost to San Blas in one direction and past Puerto Vallarta in the other. We visit awhile. He tells of his life here. Do I feel a little envious?

14 - A palapa overlooking both beaches
A palapa overlooking both beaches: This man lives along with his dogs and chickens. He has a view that money can’t buy.

Back to the jeep and we have a tail gate lunch. The usual: Turkey ham and cheese sandwiches with lettuce and tomato. Potato chips, home made pickles, chiles, wine coolers and topped off with our local mountain grown, fresh roasted and ground this morning – coffee. What a bore. Just think, if we were in the frozen north, we could be eating at McDonalds or ? (Are you kidding!)

Off we go. The road is steep going up the mountain and I have to put it in 4 wheel drive. No problem getting down with 2 wheel, but don’t plan on returning. We make stops at several very poor palapas, giving out food and clothing. At one palapa we found the mother had just given birth to twins. Beautiful babies. I take photos. I hope they come out because it is dark.

15 - Giving clothing and food to the poor
Giving clothing and food to the poor: This mother and her children receive some rice, beans, sugar, canned goods and clothing.

16 - Home is where the heart is
Home is where the heart is: This home is simple and clean. A family of five lives in one room.

17 - New twins
New twins: We had baby clothes aboard and this lady received those and some food. Six people lived in a two room palapa. / (top photo) They have electric but are still needy: The home still shows signs of the hurricane, but the single room houses the mother and two children.

19 - A boy and his horse
A boy and his horse: When I took this photo and then showed it to him you should have seen the surprise on his face.

20 - More help
More help: More smiling faces. We try and explain the English instructions on the cans of food and hope they are remembered.

Then back home we go. We find one other beach but it is not remarkable. A nice swimming hole but a lot of trash and a stopping place for too many people.

21 - Another beach
Another beach: The sea was beautiful but the beach had lots of trash. This beach will not be on our tourist route.

22 - A long uninhabited shoreline
A long uninhabited shoreline: No body lives here. There is a large estuary behind. Another kayak adventure?

23 - An old lava flow that ends in the sea
An old lava flow that ends in the sea: The lava flows are a haven for shell fish and have many tide pools. Neat.

24 - A small natural swimming hole
A small natural swimming hole: A very safe swimming hole right off of the beach. No wonder this is a popular spot for the locals.

25 - The estuary starts here
The estuary starts here: A good place to start off in a kayak. Many birds, animals and probably crocodiles live here.

We call it a day on the BACK ROADS OF NAYARIT and home we go.

by Bob Howell
Originally published April 29, 2003 on La Peñita Folk

Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. The series details his day trips and adventures between 2001-2007. We are sharing these stories in an effort to preserve Bob’s memory – and to help Bob’s partner and traveling companion, Vicky Flores Ramirez, who still lives in La Peñita and quietly carries on the work that she and Bob so loved. Sometimes her bodega is packed full of donated clothing, school supplies, toys and medicine; sometimes it is bare. If you enjoy reading these articles, please consider making a donation so the McKibben Foundation (Nurse Vicky’s Dispensary) can continue helping schools, seniors and needy families in the Jaltemba Bay area. And if you have copies of any of Bob’s old stories or photos, please contact us.

If you haven’t already done so, read Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication entitled “In Memory of Bob Howell,” which serves as an introduction to this series.