Mexico was under the dominion of the Spanish crown for about 300 years, during which time its laws were followed and a process of dominance, exploitation and acculturation of indigenous peoples was carried out. In 1810 the Independence of our country in the state of Guanajuato began, the priest Miguel Hidalgo was in charge of orchestrating the early morning of September 16 with the famous cry of Dolores and the tinkling of the bell in the parish of the town.

After 11 years of fervent battle, where tireless insurgents fought to make our Mexico a country where justice would rule, on September 27, 1821 it is considered the consummation of the struggle for independence.

On September 15 of this year, the 209 anniversary of the independence of Mexico was celebrated, and with it the traditional parade was held in La Peñita de Jaltemba, where high school and high school students simulated the struggle that gave us freedom.

This parade started at approximately 9:15 p.m. Along the main avenue that culminates in the town square, where there was typical Mexican food, desserts, drinks and live music, awards were granted by local authorities to local talents, who with their effort and discipline have Put our bay on top. With the money raised from the sale of food, the almost 70 palm trees of the avenue and plaza will begin to be maintained, the remainder will be used for the payment of the cleaning staff of the same town.



We thank our friend for sharing his great adventure, without any doubt he has obtained incredible images of our nature, if you have something that you want to share, do not hesitate to send it.


The remodeling project of the main avenue of La Peñita de Jaltemba, is still underway, is already passable for cars, something that has been of great help to avoid road chaos.

Now, the new objective is to obtain a more uniform appearance in the established businesses around the avenue, since they have been asked to install pillars where an apparent stone will be placed, and it is very likely that a “Teja” roof will be placed. In this remodeling, the installation of sidewalks began in the style of “concrete stamping”, previously the underground services were established, in the next months the removal of the concrete posts began and, therefore, sidewalks were released for the pedestrian traffic.

Story and photos by David Thompson

Here are some of the latest photos of the progress on the Avenida.


As you can see, the sidewalks are one of the last parts of this project to be completed.


And there is nothing like a pinkish orange sidewalk, filled with puppy prints. Look close!


Even a few of our resident sidewalk superintendents are watching as construction continues.



We are getting there folks. Progress abounds.


Streets of the Peñita

On December 13 of this year, the emptying of cement took place in some streets of La Peñita, we are aware that it is not the best way to repair some streets but the intention is to reduce potholes caused by daily wear and rain .

Here we provide the images.










 ***  New additions  ***



If you look closely at this photo, this man is draining the water from the street using a cut-out
plastic water jug, transferring it to a 20 liter pail and lugging it off. Manual labor at its finest!



Patience is a virtue!




Upon close examination of these two photos, you should be able to see that the backhoe is holding up the power pole. Oops!



Sidewalks are treacherous.


Undaunted by the construction, El Pollito (Martin), dug in to the dirt to level some spaces for his sidewalk tables.





It appears that there is but one concrete block cutter. Every brick bordering on the curbs or decorative concrete spacers, needs to cut to size using this saw. Electric saw with an electric generator. To their credit, they are saving all available pieces to avoid special cutting if necessary.


When completed, this should be a work of art, albeit a very expensive one. Right now, it is very disruptive to all the businesses, whether adjacent to the Avenue or not. Crossing the avenue from the sides streets is limited, with most vehicles heading to the malecon street or the highway to get to the other side. Walking is quite dangerous because if they were to tape-off all the work areas, there would no access for anyone. Completion time guesses range from mid January to the end of March.

CAFÉ PEÑITA DE OCCIDENTE are our local coffee roasters. This not going to be a history of roasting nor a history of the family involved. This is a casual observation from this afternoon.

Upon driving by a couple days ago, I noticed a lot of smoke coming from their rooftop coffee cup.(see photo without smoke.)

Today, I got lucky, as the owner was just beginning to roast a batch of coffee beans for sale in their modest storefront.   He had a specific roasting schedule that he follows. I sure do love munching on those fresh roasted beans. I have attached a few photos I took today, mostly in the dark and without any sunshine.

I also had a chance to chat with his wife, who was minding the store. She was pretty much surrounded by 20 kilo plastic bags of partially roasted, coarsely ground Capomo. Capomo is a bean that looks and tastes very similar to the coffee bean but grows in much taller trees in the same area as the coffee beans. The big difference is that Capomo contains no caffeine, but still tastes similar to regular coffee.

There were 50 – 20 kilo bags (1000 kilos) of Capomo ready and waiting for a special truck sent by Starbucks to do the transport of the Capomo to Seattle. In Seattle, it will be mixed with coffee beans to produce a coffee with a combined less amount of caffeine.





Fresh roasted beans falling into a plastic bucket

Just in case you didn’t get my innuendo, the title of this is the title of a song.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, there have been some disparaging remarks, on the forum, made about the prices of cerveza around here. In the past, we have enjoyed some rather inexpensive prices on our adult beverages provided by Corona and Co. These prices have ratcheted up pretty fast lately. I certainly do not appreciate the steep increases, any more than the next guy. BUT, if you look here at what your hard earned pesos are going for, you will understand. They just could not stack it any higher, so they had to raise roof.

I’ll just bet that you all have been wondering about this. Well, maybe not, but one of our ‘forever’ landmarks, Ferreteria Peña has changed its name.





Under the classification of “What, not why” The changes to main street are proceeding. It is almost ready for the pavers. Key word here is ‘almost’.





I had to slip this one in. See those two pollo near the left end? Those are two there for Taco and I. You can just barely see them for the smoke, and that is a good thing. Nummy! Pollo Asado.




I know that there are a few of you who will miss the Castillo Gentlemen’s Club on the highway between the towns. Well it’s gone, but not forgotten. It has been remodeled with a name change, Tapanko. The logo gives it all away though. Look close!

BTW, my car was only there so I could take a photo on the outside.


Here is a photo of the newly dredged rio near the Transito station. East side of the highway. I have been patiently waiting for a heavy rain to show you what happens then.

Sorry folks, the real heavy rains came after dark, so no photo. The rains were pretty darned heavy as they flooded streets just about everywhere and caused this little creek to overflow its banks.


I have included a report on the new highway. There are many optimistic guessers of when it will be open to PV, but sometime in 2020 seems to be as good as any.

This years Fiesta de la Peñita, features parades and celebrations from all 9 Colonias. One by one for 9 days, the parades and celebrations continue.

By police escort, the parades start in the colonias and finish at the plaza and church in La Peñita. They are timed to arrive in time for a church service, during which everyone is welcome and most people pack themselves inside, musical instruments and all.

After the service ends, the crowd spills out into the plaza for fireworks, kiddie rides, usually a concert featuring local talent, games of chance and miscellaneous food vendors.

This goes on for 9 nights and will finish on the 20th of May.


Fireworks are setup and fired from in front of the church, including this gigantic thing that spins and showers all kinds of sparks and noises, right next to the church!

On behalf of GEMA, the Project For Abused and Abandoned Women and Children in our community, we would like to thank everyone for their support this season.  It is because of your caring and generosity that we are pleased to announce we are able to start construction of one of the bedrooms for a much needed shelter, and eventually realize a dream.

There are so many to thank…

*David Thompson, at Explore Nayarit for continuing to include the publicity for our Bingo, as well as information about GEMA.  We appreciate your interest and support of our program.  You helped to make our endeavors so much more successful!

*All the people that came out to support our Bingo, especially the loyal ones who came out week after week and helped with set-up clean up as well.  Many thanks to those that purchased the Quilt Raffle tickets. Thanks to Gail Lowe who donated her 1st prize quilt back for the new shelter.  Congrats to Arlene Pratt, 2nd prize winner.  To all the volunteers who helped make it possible.  I couldn’t have done it without you. We plan to start again next season – November 13th/18 and continue every Tues afternoon 2:00-4:30 at the Seniors Center.  Please spread the word!

*Mary, Bob, Andrea and Nathan for their Fund Raiser Birthday Party and matching all the donations.

*The 2018 Fashion Show Committee for their very generous donation.

*Trudy, Margie and the “Old Bitches Club” for their support.

*Thanks to all those who came out to support the 50/50 Draws

*Bungalows Marlenne – Socorro, Cesar, Margie, Trudy and the band – Canuck Country.  To John for all your support and getting everything started.  Thanks so much for the donation of a Lap Top Computer as well.  Special Thanks to Lana Caulfield for donating ALL of her winnings back to GEMA.

* The great band of Noble, Cole & Company who not only played especially to help GEMA, but also donated all of their tips back as well!  Thanks to Julio at Tonitas 111 for hosting us.  Special Thanks to Vell Cole, who donated her entire winnings back to GEMA TWICE!

* Sam & Anna and the Street Rockers at Ultima Parada

All of this required many hours from dedicated Volunteers, for which we are very grateful!  Forgive me if I have missed anyone.

*Thanks to all who donated clothing, toiletries and many other items to GEMA.

Many have asked what is needed in the season to come.  Certainly clothing for Women, Children and Babies, towels and linens, toiletries, bunk beds, other bedroom furniture and lamps for the  shelter; as well as Laptop computers to teach the women basic skills.  All of this would be very much appreciated! If you bring down a humanitarian bag on your flight, please try to put it in a suitcase or backpack that can be donated as well.  When these rescued women and children leave the shelter to go to a safe place with family or friends, they need something to hold the clothing, toiletries and supplies that they are given through your generous donations.

*Last, but certainly not least, thanks to all those who just simply donated money and gave from their hearts, be it spontaneously, their Bingo winnings or something that they had planned to do.

Every one of you is making a difference for these Women and Children and giving them hope for a better life.

Without all the wonderful people that live in our community, the start of a dream for a local Women and Children’s Shelter would not be possible.

Your kindness, caring and thoughtfulness are appreciated more than you could know.


Kat on behalf of GEMA

Just about every Christmas, for the past dozen years or so, my family and I have spent a fortnight in Barra de Navidad, a small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico, four or five hours south of Puerto Vallarta. Two weeks in the sun when Vancouver Island was getting wind and rain, maybe even snow, was just what the doctor ordered. We’d stay in a small family-run hotel two blocks from the beach, spend most days playing in the waves, go out for supper most nights and partake of potentially lethal margaritas concocted by our good friend Wayne (aka Dr Death). In other words we did what tens of thousands of Canadians do in Mexico every winter: overindulge and have a blast.

I don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time, but every year I would leave Mexico with just one tiny regret: I never got to play golf. Just across the bay from Barra was a five star hotel called Grand Bay. It was the sort of place where, if you had to ask how much it cost to stay there, you clearly couldn’t afford it. It had its own five star golf course, Isla de Navidad, that was absolutely gorgeous. It also happened to cost $220 U.S. for eighteen holes. Admittedly this included a cart and a caddie, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fork out that much cash for a single round of golf. Hey, I’ve played St Andrew’s and it cost barely half that! So every year I would pay 10 pesos to take the panga (a little passenger boat) across the lagoon and over to the golf course, where I would have breakfast and then wander around like a lovesick teenager, gazing at the beautful fairways and greens, glaring at the lucky bastards who were playing the course (all six of them – I said it was exclusive), and pick up the odd brand new Titleist Pro V lying in the rough. And every year I would promise myself that next year I would suck it up and pay the King’s ransom. And I never did.

This year Scottish Wife and I are in Mexico again, still on the Pacific coast, but this time in a small town called Guayabitos, an hour or so north of Puerto Vallarta. It’s similar to Barra in many ways, family oriented with a great beach and lots of lovely restaurants. We have a couple of good friends staying with us in the same hotel and two more couples staying in hotels just down the road. Last week, over a mid-morning beer (very important to avoid dehydration in hot climates) one of the guys, Dan, asked if we were interested in playing golf in El Monteon, about a ten minute drive away. I declined, telling them my story of unrequited love at Isla de Navidad, and said I really couldn’t afford it. Then Dan explained that 18 holes of golf there, club rental and pull cart included, would cost less than $30. Throw in my share of the taxi fare and a bit more for lunch and a couple of beers and it would still be less than $40. Now that’s the sort of deal to get a retired teacher really excited! To be fair, Dan did explain that this was not the sort of golf course that they’d be playing the Abierta de Mexico (Mexican Open) on any time soon.

I would have to say that Dan’s assessment was fair. On first glimpsing the course from the highway, the phrases ‘cow pasture’ and ‘donkey paddock’ sprang to mind. The rental clubs were whatever you chose from a long table lined with some of the rustiest putters, 2 irons, 7 woods and left handed drivers that have ever been assembled in one place at the same time, outside of a 1902 garage sale of outmoded golfing paraphernalia. Bags came free with the clubs, but it was a little disconcerting when the rental lady insisted on checking my bright yellow golf bag before I picked it up ‘en caso de escorpiones’ (‘in case of scorpions’!) Not surprisingly, my first tee shot was not my finest… My playing partners were Dan (a semi retired meteorologist whose job clearly hadn’t left him enough time to find the perfect golf swing), Dave S. (who hit the ball Babe Ruthian distances but unfortunately often along the third base line) and Stu (who putted like Tiger Woods for nine holes, but made up for it on the back nine by wielding his other clubs like Elin Woods in a domestic argument). Birdies were made, along with quadruple bogies; six balls were lost on a single hole (the horrendous 325 yard island green 6th hole, which had iguanas sunning themselves on the banks of the pond, fish and turtles splooshing through the murky green water and – I swear it – vultures circling overhead); and a good time was had by all. If I had to enter my score on the computer back home I’d probably be a 24 handicap by now, but the post round cervezas induced the sort of warm glow that renders keeping scorecards unnecessary.

And the name of the course? ‘El campo de ensueños’ – the field of dreams! The story of how our taxi driver took a detour on the way home, including a stop at a village corner store where he bought a flat of two dozen ‘chicas’ (small beers) and said we weren’t going home until they’d all been drunk, and then took us on a tour of an absentee American billionaire’s property right on the cliffs above the Pacific coastline…well, that story will have to wait for another day. For the moment, I’m just happy that I’ve had the chance to enjoy one of my little dreams – experiencing el golf de Mexico!

Dave loves his visits to Mexico, but he usually blogs about golf – as a rules official, former caddie or member of Glacier Greens Golf Club in the Comox Valley. You can check out his blog here.

They Volkswagens weren’t here for long but they certainly were here. A fine group of folks that simply love their cars.  And their beer, I might add.

They also know how to party as testified by the remains from their evening.

Here are a few photos taken by numerous folks that also love volks:

As you can see by that photo, there was a lot of beer ready for these folks.



This past Friday night, an electrical fire completely destroyed all the belongings of Maria de los Angeles Sanchez Cortez and her daughter, along with sever damage to her casa in La Colonia.

Her and her 14 year old daughter are completely devastated by the fire that started in a switch box.  Fortunately, there were no injuries.

If anyone can find it in their hearts to assist in any way possible, they would be very grateful.

They have no furniture, no clothes, no appliances and no food. The casa is in need of a lot of repairs from all the heat and smoke. Even the vigas(steel I-beams) in the ceiling are sagging from the intense heat.

Please donate what ever you can afford in cash or in household goods. It will all be appreciated. Many of the neighbors chipped in to purchase some cement for repairs to the walls and ceilings.

You may call Maria at this cellular number: 327 110 5817 to donate or you can contact me and I will pass on whatever money I collect. I immediately donated $500 pesos to her so she could have some food.

Here are a few photos. I apologize for their quality, but there was almost no light.

The Journey of a Cancer de Mama Prosthetic  begins when I receive an email from the owner of a lingerie store.  She tells me she has several large boxes of prosthetics that she’d like to donate to our next Cancer de Mama Clinic. I’m thrilled to get this news, but it means a two hour drive to pick up the donation!  I’m more than happy to do the driving though, because I know the really signi?cant value of this donation.  I know how many lives it will change.

The next morning, home again from my journey, I begin to unpack the boxes.  As expected, each prosthetic is still well protected in its own individual case. But I know it can’t remain like that – much too bulky for the long journey to Mexico.  So I remove each prosthetic from its safe and cushioned spot, laying it on my king size bed. By morning’s end, the bed is full and the ?oor is covered with empty cases. These are valuable too, so they’re gathered up –  next week they’ll be dropped off at our local school.

Now I begin to layer the prosthetics in sturdy boxes. These are some of the most special moments for me as a volunteer with the Cancer de Mama Clinic.  It’s almost a sacred time. I handle each prosthetic gently, respectfully.  If I think it’s been used before, I wonder about who the donor was? Where is she now and why was her prosthetic returned to the lingerie store? I say a quick prayer for her, wherever she is. With each prosthetic, my thoughts turn to the Mexican woman who will one day receive it. Where is she today? What has been her breast cancer story?  Does she even know right now that she has breast cancer, that she will soon lose her breast? Or was her breast removed many years ago and she has only just now learned about the Cancer de Mama Clinic? Is she wondering how she will ever even get to the Clinic? How old are her children? My questions seem endless …

My box ?lls slowly, but I don’t rush the process. I know that once these prosthetics get unpacked at the Clinic, it will be a really busy time, so I value these quiet moments with them.  I often  cry. It’s the prosthetics that lie at the heart of the Clinic and I’m so grateful that I can see and touch so many of them.

Once my tears are over and the boxes ?lled to the brim,  it’s time to get these treasures on their way. There are 150 of them this time! Not many people from my part of the country drive an RV all the way to Mexico, but I’ve found a generous couple who’ll be driving to La Penita in a few weeks and I’m so happy to soon be meeting them!  Not long ago, I posted the need for transportation on our CdeMC FaceBook page, and they let me know that they’d be happy to add a few extra boxes to their rig! They live about four hours away from us, but we’ll be traveling near their home in a few days when we head off to visit cottage friends.

My husband squeezes the boxes into the car between our two golden retrievers and we’re on our way!   A few hours later we unload the boxes at the home of our newest friends. We watch as they ?t the boxes into various nooks and crannies in their beautiful RV. i can see that they handle the boxes with the same respect that we did and it feels good  – i know this precious cargo will be well cared for on its long journey.

A few busy months pass, Christmas is over and it’s Clinic week now.  Someone has told me that the boxes arrived safely and have now been unpacked. Other gentle hands have sorted the prosthetics according to size and I take a peek to see them all waiting in bins for our ?rst Clinic Day.

Many of the Mexican women have left their homes in the dark of night to travel long miles by bus in order to get to arrive at the Clinic by early morning. The excitement in the air is palpable as they line up outside, bunched together in little groups, waiting for our doors to open. Eventually registration begins. Each woman is greeted in Spanish and given a small piece of paper with her name on it. She will cling to that ticket for hours as she waits her turn, wondering what this day will hold for her? Finally, her name is called and she is welcomed by a smiling volunteer who with a gentle arm, guides her into a ?tting room. It’s in this tiny space that the magic begins …

In a way that feels similar way to the sense of sacredness that I experienced when packing up the prosthetics in my bedroom at home – I experience a feeling of sanctity in this space too. The ?oors are just basic grey cement and the walls as such are simple pink curtains, hanging from ceiling railings to serve as dividers. Great care has been taken so that each woman can have a secure experience of privacy.

All of the women who come to the Clinic have suffered. All are brave. Sometimes, after their very long wait, in the privacy of this safe space, their smiles turn to tears and the search to ?nd a good prosthetic is put on hold. Mujeres a mujeres, woman to woman. In this moment, comfort is far more important than ef?ciency.

After the woman’s measurements have been taken, a volunteer heads off to ?nd a few prosthetics for her to try out. Sometimes a good ?t is found immediately and at other times, several tries are needed. But slowly the magic is happening. The right prosthetic suddenly ?ts.  It has been slipped into a new bra and has begun its transition. Before long it will become almost a part of this woman’s body. It will meld into her ?esh every day. It will allow her to be proud of her shape once again. It will give her con?dence. It will give her new hope that life can go on after a mastectomy.   The prosthetic that was once an expensive blob of gel, has now become priceless joy. It has found its forever home. It has found new life.

This story is by Liana Gallant.

Over the next year, many more breast prosthetics will happily be making their own journeys to La Penita – in time for the 2019 Cancer de Mama Clinic on February 1st, 2nd and 3rd!

This year, almost 450 women attended the CdeM Clinic at the La Penita Senior Centre. Support and care was provided to them over three days by over 100 volunteers, from Canada, the USA and Mexico. In the few days before the Clinic opened, heavy winds and rain blew through the Centre, badly damaging the frames that were in place to create spaces and small rooms within the Centre. Using the remnants of the frames which could be salvaged, volunteers pieced things back together and the Clinic was ready again! It was clear though that new frames and canvasses will be needed for next year in order to create safe and sturdy spaces.

     One of the newer elements of the Cancer de Mama Clinic has been the development of our Lymphedema Team. Under the very capable direction of  Caroline Maze, we have created and trained a team of volunteers who offer support to women who are suffering from lymphedema, a very painful complication which may occur at anytime post-mastectomy.  In Canada, about 10%-15% of women will develop lymphedema at some point in their life after a mastectomy.  However, at our CdeMC, about 45% of the women we see show moderate to severe signs of this painful and often debilitating condition.  The good news is that our team of skilled volunteers are able to identify these women and to teach them how to wear a lymphedema sleeve and how to bandage their arms throughout the night.  This can be a rather complex undertaking, but the relief offered by a lymphedema sleeve is almost immediate and clearly evident.

However, our significant challenge is that the supplies needed to provide this level of care have tripled the costs of running the Cancer de Mama Clinic! In the high humidity of the Mexican climate, sleeves and bandages will last only for a year, so need to be replenished annually. Obviously, this has put a strain on our financial resources.  As a result, we’ve decided that the time has come for the Cancer de Mama Clinic to hold a fundraiser!

We hope that the La Penita and Guayabitos community will happily join us as we try to raise funds for our Lymphedema Team!  Further information will be available in the months ahead. In the meantime, if you think you might like to help us out at this event, we’d love to hear from you!
Just send us an email, and we’ll be back in touch with you sometime this Fall.


A Mexican  OCTOBERFEST in January!
Saturday January 19, 2019 
Noon to 3:00 p.m.
Zapata Club, 32 Avenida, La Penita
200 pesos per person
Beer, bratwurst, sauerkraut, music, prizes and fun!
Plan to bring your friends out for a fun afternoon  
in support of the Cancer de Mama Clinic
If you come dressed in German attire, some lederhosen 
or even a Tyrollean hat, you might even win a prize! 

Another joint clinic with the JBAR association and the MEXI-CAN Vet Project is completed.

During the past almost 15 year tenure of JBAR, there have been 27 spay and neuter clinics. There have been 7,375 animals neutered. Can you even imagine how many stray animals we would be dealing in our area if JBAR and other clinics were not in operation? Thank you Linda Chimes and everyone connected with JBAR for those years of dedication.

This recent Clinic finished on March 24th! There were 283 total intakes with 263 animals sterilized. Numerous surgeries including dental extractions, 1 leg amputation, tumors removed, embedded coiled tail operation, drainage of an infected eye, treatment of a cat with infected mammary gland and treatment for(severe mastitis) and inflamed gum treatment were among the 20 extra-ordinary consultations. 

There were 10 adoptions. And be sure to scroll down to see some more photos from this wonderful clinic.

Many thanks to all of you who made it happen! All our incredible volunteers, donors, those who offered hospitality, food for the clinic volunteers, and of course our wonderful hosts, Marielena and Salvador who have offered their lovely home again for our fall clinic.  Also many thanks to our medical teams from both Mexico (Pets for Life) and Canada (Mexi-Can Vet Project).

Over 70 volunteers arrived along with three Canadian Veterinary Clinics from Mexi-Can Vet Project, they also brought many of the necessary supplies. They are listed here:  South Burnaby Veterinary Hospital:  Dr. Carolyn Buxton, Madeline Palmer, Vet assistant, Kim Morrison, Vet assistant

Glenview Veterinary Hospital:  Dr. Chris Collis,  Sara McGeachy, Technical Assistant, Megan Walters,Technical  Assistant.

McKenzie Veterinary Services:  Dra. Jaclyn Hockley, Elly Blake, Vet Tech assistant and Karin Roslee, AH Tech, Michael Ring, Tech assistant.

Dr. Malcolm Macartney and Margaret Purdy are the founders of Mex-Can Vet Project.

In addition, we had our Mexican veterinarian team:

‘Paws For Life’ team:  Dr. Anthony Garcia Carrillo, Dr. Poly Lopez, Dr. Jesus Pacheco Ponce and vet tech Leslie Caratachea.

As a result, we had seven operating tables working daily.

We also hosted 15 high school students from the Edmonton Rotary club along with their chaperones who took part in a wonderful day long learning experience helping in animal recovery.

Our next clinic is planned for November 14th to 17th, 2018 in La Colonia.

Many thanks are needed to all those who provided photos for this article. Muchas gracias a todos!

And we would be remiss if we didn’t thank all of you that provided food and beverages for the doctors, techs and other volunteers throughout the clinic. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Semana Santa 2018 was what seemed like a continuation of the Easter holidays of years past. Busy, Busy.

The southbound traffic on 200 went on for days as the seemingly endless numbers of cars and buses filled to the brim with impatient vacationers arrived at their destinations. As witnessed by myself on a drive into Bucerias, many vehicles exited in the Jaltemba Bay area but countless numbers continued south towards Puerto Vallarta as well. Patience was the virtue to be rewarded by actually arriving safely.

Here are some photos of the crowds. If you look close enough, you may see someone you know. You will have to look even harder to find a place to lie on the beach.

As with all fun times and parties, there is always the clean up after. The beaches were certainly full during the days and the streets turned into party-ville at night. The streets of Guayabitos were closed off at night to allow for the revelers to spread out and party-hardy. The aftermath was cleaned up by anyone that wanted to help. The streets of Guayabitos did get fairly messy.


All good things have to come to an end, and that means the drive back home. Bumper-to-bumper traffic was an understatement as seen from this aerial shot.



George and Loretta hosted another great Wednesday outing for the special needs children, this time, from Las Varas. Complete with a lunch made by Loretta and lots of time riding the rescue horses and playing with the other rescue animals (cats and dogs) at the refugio.

This has become a Wednesday tradition for these very appreciative young boys and girls. The children come from various schools from around the state, this time from Las Varas. They are not always children. The special needs participants range in age from 1 year to 30 years old. They come from various communities, including Las Varas, Zacualpan, Ixtapa, Chacala, El Capomo, La Peñita and El Monteon.

If you haven’t been up to the Refugio in a while, you owe it to yourself to pay them a visit to see what improvements have been done. Weekdays from 8-10 am and

A couple other big happenings… Lindsey Kato’s horse gave birth to a very spry young filly named “Lindsey” on Saturday morning early.  She is a beautiful filly.





And another rescue horse had it first birthday today. The whole group of children along with their chaperones, sang happy birthday to one year old “Junior”.

I am not sure of the official name to this fundraising group, but here are the fabulous results.

There were over 700 people that took part in the Walk this year. The Walk culminated again at Hinde and Jaimes Restaurant in La Peñita. Burgers on the grill for everyone, and probably the most beer served in a long time. Fun was had by all at the party.

The highlight was when Patty Hueso put her beautiful long shiny locks up for bid. Even Hinde got into the act with her scissors.

When all the donations were in for the haircut, Patty alone raised over $110,000 pesos for the cause. The numbers are not final yet, but there were over $220,000 pesos raised for the Prevention of Cancer for Mamas. This money goes to fund what the women cannot afford, principally Mammograms and preventative procedures.





Chris and Val won this butterfly creation for $5000.

Thanks to all for the great photos.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota (PR MediaRelease) February 6, 2018

South Dakota provides storyline of ancient norms to identify an evolving culture.

Electronics Aid Memory Loss

Can’t remember phone numbers like you used to? You are not alone. “Why are we losing our memory? Its impact on society” is one of several presentations by South Dakota author and traveler, Gary Wietgrefe.

“Since man first started writing he has less need to remember. Traditional learning relies on memory. The computer literate do not.” Wietgrefe claims, “World transition to electronic artificial memory may be the biggest setback in human history.”

Since taking early retirement, Wietgrefe and his wife, Patricia, have been traveling the world—
including eleven countries on three continents in 2016. His books identify a tech-savvy culture
paralleling ancient ways.

As a societal explorer comparing developed and undeveloped cultures, his intriguing new books–over 700 pages–punch holes in many accepted 21st century systems.

Wietgrefe’s New York distributor has plans for national and international distribution for his two
newest hardcover books, “Relating to Ancient Learning” (440 pages) and “Relating to Ancient
Culture” (320 pages).

His winter book release tour begins in his hometown of Ipswich, South Dakota and is highlighted on his 65th birthday in Sioux Falls February 26th.

As is common in the winter, his tour moves south where he will give eight presentations at the
nationally recognized Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus March 10-11. It
ends on the west coast of Mexico in La Penita de Jaltemba March 25. The public is welcome to attend his presentations at all locations.

The February 26 Sioux Falls signing event and kickoff will be at the Sioux Falls Holiday Inn City
Presentations include:
10:00 a.m. – Riddles of 21st Century Culture
12:15 –21st Century Technophobia & Busiphobia
2:45 –Why the School System Won’t Last
5:30 –Why are we losing our Memory? Its impact on Society

For more details, visit his website
His e-books and hardcovers are available worldwide anywhere fine books are sold, or locally at
Zandbroz Variety, 209 S. Phillips Ave., and Chad Phillips Photography, 1908 W. 42nd Street, Sioux
Local libraries and bookstores are encouraged to have copies on hand.

Walking  On Sunshine

It’s 5:45 am in Guayabitos and it’s dark outside.

I hear an aggressive rooster crowing in the distance as I quietly crawl out of bed not wanting to disturb my sleeping husband.

Making my way to the bathroom in the dark , I  quickly splash some water on my face, brush my teeth and arrange my hair into a decent braid. My clothes have been laid out the night before so I can get dressed easily and quietly.  My shorts, t-shirt, socks and running shoes are ready to go and in a few minutes, so am I! Another rooster crows, a dog barks, they are the regulars!

I grab my camera and quietly go out the door.

Now it’s 6 am and there is a hint of light coming from behind that big mountain in the distance as I make my way down the stairs and onto the street. Nobody in our building is stirring and the night watchman is fast asleep in the lobby. Another dog howls somewhere in the distance. Next door, several roosters are now crowing loudly and likely annoying those who are trying to sleep.

I run out onto the almost deserted street.

As I make my way to the beach, the Mexican taco cart owner is unloading his truck with his helpers. They speak in hushed voices. There are breakfast tacos to be prepared for the locals and they are busy setting up their street side diner. It’s pleasantly cool outside . The sun has not made an appearance yet so the locals are dressed warmly as they get the cart ready for their morning customers. I greet them with a cheery “buenos dias” and they quietly and sleepily answer back. They are what I call the regulars!

I get to the beach and jump into the soft sand and make a run for the shore where the sand is hard packed and smooth. There I can easily start walking fast or make a run for it.

The sea air smells fresh and feels damp on my skin.

It is no longer totally dark outside and the first morning light is making its’ appearance. Nobody else is walking the beach at this hour. I see the almost full moon above Los Ayala and it is slowly disappearing.

The headlights coming towards me on the beach are bright. The pickup truck stops up ahead, a boat is unhooked and positioned on the beach and the work begins. The fish vendors are setting up shop and displaying their catch.  Soon the first customers will make their way there to buy some fresh fish for an evening meal or perhaps a tasty breakfast or lunch. I wave and they wave back. They too are what I call the regulars.

I walk on and walk faster along the shore. The beach is perfect today! The tide is out. Sometimes if I feel energetic, I jog for a minute or two. But my passion is walking! Walking fast!! Today I chose to walk really fast!

I walk past some of the local restaurants along the beach. A few dogs bark and come out to have a look at me and then wag their tails as I call out to them, hola! hola! They  too are the regulars!

By now the birds are stirring in the trees. The chirping, squawking and the chattering is getting louder by the minute. None of them make a move to get up for breakfast just quite yet. They are enjoying their spot in the palm trees making a loud, and for some sleeping people, an unwelcome racket. I love the racket! They are what I call the regulars!

I see more of the morning light appear and the sky above me is on fire.  Shades of orange and pink fill the heavens. The clouds are moving wildly and they look like angry streaks smeared on a blank canvas. I quickly take out my camera, I must capture this spectacular light show now as it could change and be over at any moment!

There is an explosion of colour above my head and the drama in the sky changes within seconds. Sometimes the colours are so intense that I am left breathless.  I snap some more photos so I can capture this amazing spectacle. The reflections at my feet in the water mirror the sky and I am now seeing double as I continue my walk along the beach!  The colours fade but the show is not yet over, it’s only the beginning! It’s an unforgettable moment in time! Not one of the sunrises in Guayabitos is ever the same!  And on this morning , this one is especially beautiful!


The sandpipers and shorebirds are skedaddling along the shoreline digging their pointy little beaks into the sand picking up small morsels of food for their breakfast.  Their reflections in the pools of water on the beach enhance the beauty of this postcard like scene. They too are what I call the regulars.

The sun is still hiding behind the mountain as I make my way to the rocks and the cross. I walk faster, run a bit and breathe in the fresh morning salty air. I whisper a silent prayer and thank God for this amazing moment and for having the opportunity to take this all in! I am so blessed!

I walk to the rocks until they are in front of me. I choose a special rock for today and touch it gently with a purpose. This is part of the morning ritual, touching one of the rocks at the end of the beach.  I am here, I am alive! These rocks are what I consider the regulars!

Now it is time to leave the rocks behind and make my way back down the beach. I see a few familiar faces. I recognize some other walkers by their walk. I pass some holidaying Mexicans who are strolling along with their large families. Their children are frolicking in the ocean  with their clothes on and screeching with glee. Their parents are laughing with them. Perhaps they have never seen the ocean before! Grandmothers and grandfathers search for bits of shells and stones as they wander along slowly at a relaxed and easy going pace. Some are bundled up in heavy coats and layers of warm clothing. Many of the Mexican tourists have come a long way by overnight buses to experience the beauty of this beach. We greet each other with a friendly buenos dias and early morning smiles.

I meet up with a couple of  friendly ladies who are picking up the trash left on the beach. They are there with their pooches and the dogs greet me with excited barks. We stop for a moment to chitchat and catch up on bits of the gossipy news in town. They too are the regulars!

Another boat  has set up with some  fresh fish for sale . Someone is selling muffins, turnovers and  pastries. Another is making juice and smoothies. One young man is selling coffee. Tamales are being sold by another local vendor. They too are the regulars!

I keep on walking ,often waving at familiar faces!

The sky is getting much lighter now but the sun has not yet come over the mountain. There are more walkers now. One man is busily searching the sand with a metal detector looking for buried treasures. Another is fishing and sitting on a chair. I have seen him before but I have never seen him catch a thing! I think he does it for the fun of it! He is a what I call a regular!

Up ahead there is a bit of a commotion! The pelicans and seagulls are squawking and arguing  as they line up near the  parked boats  on the beach. They are selling more fish. The birds are waiting for a few handouts and scraps that might be thrown their way. The vendors are selling an interesting variety of fish, shrimp and ocean delights today. One is grinding up some fish for ceviche. A senorita is calling out ….cameron!…cameron!….shrimp !…..shrimp!…come buy your shrimp!  There are lots of people here ! Mexican tourists and others like me, stop to see what is for sale today, some are just looking, others are buying.  There is red snapper, dorado,   sole or other local fish that has been caught recently. I watch as the  vendors  sharpen their knives and get ready for the next order! Their filleting skills are admirable! I cannot resist snapping a few more photos even though I have done so many times before! The scene is interesting, lively and entertaining!

One of the fishermen that I have known for many years is calling out to me!  He waves furiously and laughs and smiles as I wave back…sometimes I whistle to get his attention.  He is counting my laps as I walk on the beach. He is one of the regulars!

The bread roll vendor has the loudest voice of all…

B-O-L-I-L-L-O he calls out…his mini baguettes are delicious, crusty on the outside and soft in the inside! We all know him!

Several food carts selling fresh BBQ fish are getting ready for their first hungry customers. The charcoal is burning, the grills are smoking and the vendors are preparing fish kebabs. I can smell the aroma of their special BBQ sauce! Pelicans are lined up beside the cart, their beady eyes watching in anticipation for an easy meal ! They are the regulars!

I pass all of the little beachfront restaurants and not much is happening at this early hour. A few lazy dogs are camped out in the sand and barely open an eye as I pass by. Some locals are sweeping and raking the sand and  getting  ready for the day. We exchange morning greetings, they continue to work, the dogs continue to sleep, I continue to walk. They are the regulars.

I have to keep on moving, there is  so much to see and photograph…I am always  thrilled to see this morning entertainment!

As I near the end of the beach, there are several fishing boats  bobbing in the water. A few fishermen with big rubber boots are unloading their nighttime catch onto a waiting truck. Others are washing their boats out and straightening up their nets.  Some are getting ready to head out for a day of fishing or banana boating. Someone is sitting on the steps watching the action and is smoking a cigarette. They are the regulars.

I touch one of the rocks on the wall at the end of the beach, another ritual…I turn around and walk on!

The sun is just about ready to pop over the mountain top and I do not want to miss this special show! I stop briefly to watch what the sky is doing . It is now that the sun really shows her face and the golden sunbeams stream through the cracks in the clouds as she appears from behind the mountain. Today there are many clouds. That makes it an interesting and beautiful sunrise.  I am ready for this! I snap a few more photos, I want to remember this moment forever!

I quietly say another little prayer of gratitude! I thank God for this  moment, for this  special opportunity to be here in this place to see this glorious miracle in the making! A miracle I will never take for granted! The sun has come up again! Another breathtaking sunrise in Guayabitos!  The sun, she is a regular!

I continue walking and head down the beach to finish my first round …..round two coming up!

The regulars are happy.  I am happy.

We’re  all walking on sunshine!



Written by Jasmine Hohenstein

The 19th Annual, 11th Memorial, El Famoso Horseshoe Tourney will be on Saturday February 10th, 2018.

This is a Fundraiser for the Centro Cultural de Capacitacion de Bahia Jaltemba

If you want to participate you will need to sign up at Mateja’s on Thursday February 8th at 3:30 p.m.

Please see the flier for more info.

Delta and Aeromexico join Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Mexico

Thanks to Puerto Vallarta Daily News  November 7, 2017 

Last week, Delta and Aeromexico airline workers reached a more earthly but equally high-flying goal: to build the 250th house in Mexico in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which was delivered in the community of Chulavista, near Puerto Vallarta.

To date, through this collaboration, a total of 253 homes in 12 countries around the world have been built or rehabilitated.

This effort is possible thanks to the enthusiastic participation of employees of the airline based in Atlanta, who have volunteered their time and labor for this purpose.

In Chulavista, 12 houses have been built, work in which 135 volunteers participated in two days. The most recent consisted of 47 Delta employees, 16 Aeromexico employees and 7 SkyMile customers. Also, in 2017, 7 more houses have been built in the United States.

“It has been a monumental year for our partnership with Habitat for Humanity and we are delighted with all the employees and clients who have donated not only their time and talent, but a piece of their heart to help build 19 homes with families in need of affordable housing in 2017,” said Tad Hutcheson, general manager for Community Affairs at Delta.

Other countries in which Global Construction Workshops have been held are Argentina, Chile, China, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand.

Habitat for Humanity is an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing safe and decent housing for people of limited resources in various countries around the world.

The Cancer de Mama Clinic is an exciting and important event which happens each February in La Penita. Over 100 volunteers (primarily but not solely women), contribute their time, energy and financial support at our three-day Clinic, where Mexican breast cancer survivors are provided with free breast form prosthetics and bras following mastectomy. In addition, some of out trained volunteers provide very specific support and supplies to women who have developed lymphedema following their surgery. As supplies allow, we also offer wigs, summer hats and scarves to the over 500 women who visit the Clinic each year. While women wait for their private prosthetic fitting, we offer an exercise class and makeup application as well as a nutritious lunch.

The Cancer de Mama Clinic also funds a Survivor Program, assisting women in need with some of the added costs surrounding breast cancer treatment. We help these women pay for such things as transportation to and accommodation at treatment centres throughout the state where they receive their chemo and radiation therapies. Money is also available to help with drugs not covered by their government e.g. drugs for treatment side effects like nausea and/or pain.

For many years, the Clinic was run out of the La Penita RV Park. However, wanting to be more deeply embedded in the Mexican community, in 2016 the Clinic successfully transitioned into its new home at the La Penita Senior Centre.

Throughout the weekend, while the Clinic is taking place inside the Seniors Centre, outside we host a small Tiangus (street market).  Here we offer our ladies the opportunity to shop, at very rock-bottom prices!  We’re always in need of new and gently-used items to sell.  We count on donations of summer clothing, hats and scarves, jewelry, sandals and shawls (both lightweight and heavier for women who live at higher altitudes) – anything really that women everywhere might like to shop for! Like most of us, these women often shop for their families, so donations don’t need to before women only!  We accept children’s and men’s clothing as well. If you’re interested in donating some things to our little Tiangus, please send us an email for details!

Since its inception in 1996, the Clinic has been funded entirely on donations. Financial support is always needed and deeply appreciated by the hundreds of very grateful women who receive our services. For further information, please check out our website – Our email address is   we’d love to hear from you.

This article is presented here in its entirety, courtesy of Mexico News Daily.

Internet speeds are showing improvement

Netflix identifies Totalplay as fastest fixed broadband supplier; Telcel, AT&T in close race for mobile

Mexico is not generally known for breathtaking internet speeds, but indications are that the situation is improving.

Data gathered by the streaming media company Netflix not only indicates which fixed broadband internet providers are offering the best speeds, but shows an increase in speeds in the last year.

The company’s monthly index measures the download speeds of subscribers during a three-hour period when its audience numbers are highest.

 In Mexico, Totalplay led the pack of internet providers in September with a speed of 3.81 megabits per second, followed by Axtel Xtreme with 3.57 Mbps and Telmex Infinitum with 3.39.

In general, the numbers were up over September 2016. Axtel Xtremo, which had the highest speed last year, gained slightly but the other providers saw significant increases.

Totalplay and Telmex Infinitum both moved up from 2.81 Mpbs.

On the mobile side, speed and other factors are also improving, reports OpenSignal, a company that gathers data on wireless coverage.

It also says that AT&T, a relative newcomer to the Mexican market, is in a close race against Telcel for download speeds. Measurements obtained over the summer show the United States-based telecommunications giant has pulled into a tie for 4G speeds, although Telcel is in the lead for availability, giving users access to LTE connections 76.4% of the time, up from 69.4% six months ago.

OpenSignal’s October network report revealed Telcel’s average 4G download speed was 23.48 Mbps and AT&T’s was 22.76.

Third-place Movistar saw its network improve but it fell further behind AT&T and Telcel in the metrics tested by Open Signal.

One significant finding was that Mexico enjoys 4G speeds that are among the fastest in Latin America, and faster than the U.S. Mexico’s national average LTE download speed was 22.4 Mbps, faster than any other country in Latin America apart from Ecuador, and well over the typical 15 Mbps experienced by consumers in the U.S.

For 3G download speeds in Mexico, AT&T led with 4.39 Mbps, well ahead of Telcel’s 2.96, and its overall speed of 14.28 Mbps was much higher than the 9.23 recorded by Telcel users.

OpenSignal collects its data from smartphone users who have download the company’s mobile application. For the October report, it collected data from 111,584 users in June, July and August.

Mexican Hand Gestures

Here is something I have been meaning to do for a vary long time and I hope you all find it amusing, interesting and of some value as you stroll the streets of Mexico. While Mexican hand gestures can be strange and intimidating, they are also very utilitarian.I will start out with this very familiar one to folks from both sides of the border. It of course indicates that something is okay. But be careful how you use it and especially your presentation.

If you display the back of the hand while showing this sign, you are indicating that something is too expensive.If, when showing this sign but are making the hole too small, you are signaling someone is an a**hole. Usually done with the palm facing down.

I will create a blog post to store all of the hand gestures for future reference here. I have about 15 or 20 to share and I am sure that some of you have some to share too. Send them to me here.


Here is one more while we are at it…. We are used to rubbing our thumb and forefinger together to get the attention of our restaurant server to signal that we are ready for the check or the signal for money. Here this is a gesture to tell someone to get moving.
I have been guilty of this. The restaurant is relatively quiet and I just want to signal the server to bring us our check, without hollering out “la cuenta, por favor”. So I used the signal for money by rubbing those 2 fingers together. Now I know that is down-right rude.

Thank to Ken & Bea Rauch for this series of photos of the seahorses from the  past to the present. Please click on this link to see all their photos plus comments on the possible angels that made this possible.  Click heredownload full movie The Lego Batman Movie

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOUR  (Tongue in Cheek)

The beautiful SWEAT BEE or as I prefer to call them: SWEET BEE

I’d wager you’ve seen them around you or others, thought perhaps they were a colourful fly. While reports claim they are “shy” I find my personal Sweet bee to be quite social. In fact she will hover in front of my face while I talk sweet nothings to her, telling her how beautiful she is.

Her intention of course is not to hear my voice but to find one of the holes in our wrought iron outside chairs to deposit her pollen. I would never try and dissuade her.

The Sweat Bees are known as Agapostemon, and are native to North and South America. Not as cute a name as Sweet Bee, but you call them whatever you’d like. Loving flowers, such as daisies and dandelions are their favourites. Most species are solitary ground-dwellers. In some species several females will share a common tunnel entrance and post a single guard outside, but inside the burrow, each female builds and maintains her own nest. It is said that when they have their one baby, and if it’s a female it will remain with the momma bee for 3 years. The males, however, fly off to find a partner.

The next time you see one of these magnificent creatures take a moment to gaze at them in amazement. I do. I have had, I believe, (who could really know) the same one for 4 years. She knows me, and where to go to deposit her pollen and so far I haven’t seen any evidence of an off-spring. I shall keep looking however. One of the magics of Mexico.

Ellaine Spivak

We are very proud to announce that the beaches of Rincon de Guayabitos have been awarded the Certification of Clean Beaches by the State of Nayarit. Certification was presented on March 7, 2017 at the Costa Canuva celebration by Governor Roberto Sandoval.

This was indeed a great day for not only Rincon de Guayabitos, La Peñita and the Bay of Jaltemba, but also for the entire state of Nayarit. The Governor proudly announced that the new development, Costa Canuva, is the single largest tourism development in the country. The Portuguese consortium, Mota-Engil has committed to invest $1.8 billion dollars to develop this project.

Artist depiction of Puente Vasco de Gama

The governor arrived by helicopter to announce the Costa Canuva project, to make the presentations to the Hotel Association, plus others and to place the first corner-stone as the beginning of the Costa Canuva Urbanization project. The Governor also noted that Costa Canuva as an eco-participatory community, will support the development of local communities. It was a great day for Nayarit and for our communities.

Some of the officials on hand were:
Governor Roberto Sandoval
Lic.Miguel Alonso Reyes, General Director of FONATUR
Eng. Rafael Lang, General Manager Mota-Engil Turismo
Ing. Francisco Mendez, Director Costa Canuva
C. Alcicia Monroy Lizola, Municiple President of Compostela
Lic. Norma Fernandez, Secretary of Tourism, State of Nayarit
Mr. Franco Carreño, Director of Development of FONATUR
Plus many others…
A very Proud Dr. Alejandro Chavez accepts the award:

I had the pleasure of interviewing Elaine Smith and Janet Wortendyke, who shared stories and the old photos featured here. They said, “Children and dogs ran all over the town. Everyone got along famously, and everyone was happy. Albeit this south sea paradise had a lot more ants, at that time. It was truly the good old days!”

Top photo: Bungalows Los Ayala at the corner of Madre Perla and Avenida Coral. The bungalows and the grocery store are still in business today.

Los Ayala Beach

In the early 1980s, the property lines on Los Ayala beach were defined by the row of palm trees that lined the beach and a fence made of rocks and chicken wire. Hurricane Gilma (1994) knocked down many of the palm trees along Los Ayala beach when it passed the coast of Jaltemba Bay. Hurricane Kenna (2002) also destroyed many of the palm trees that lined our beach.

South end of Los Ayala beach.

View of the north end of the beach.

Central Los Ayala beach.

The First Homes on Los Ayala Beach (early 1980s)

The first homes built along the beach in Los Ayala were located on the south end. The construction consisted of bricks, wooden shutters and roofs made of tejas.

One of the first houses on the beach, built in 1955. Photo from the early 1970s.

Old Timer House with a palapa roof on the south end of Los Ayala beach. The walls were built of sticks, which was common in Los Ayala during the early years.

Home of Julian Ponce. It is located at the end of Avenida del Estero, right beside the mountainous hillside which marks the south end of Los Ayala. The first house on the south end of Los Ayala Beach. (There is no photo of the second house on the beach.)

Home of Old Doc Flanigan. Doc Flanigan discovered Los Ayala beach in the early 1980s as he used to fly the mail from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta. He talked everyone into coming to Los Ayala and arranged for the first property owners on the south end of Los Ayala beach to purchase their properties. Doc Flanigan is now living in Coos Bay, Oregon, and is 95 years of age (January 2012). He delivered several of the babies in Los Ayala, including the Vasquez boys. They say he tied the navel cord of the new born babies with a shoe string, which was all that was available at the time. Dr. McDonald owns this property now.

The third house on Los Ayala beach was bought by Jack Wortendyke. Today, it is the home of Janette (Jack Wortendyke’s widow) who has since remarried. The house today is “exactly” as it was when it was first built in 1980s.

Originally the home of Merv Smith and Joe Kaiser, this home was purchased by Lin Chimes and Jim Stewart and today is known as Casa Contenta. The original home has been renovated and enlarged, but the living room of Casa Contenta today reflects the original house construction retaining its full character and beauty.

Home of Elaine and Morris Smith, founders of the Los Ayala’s Learning Center. They purchased the home (which was renovated and enlarged in 1987 by the previous owners) in 1995. This home’s original construction was also retained during the renovations.

Home of Juan Vasquez and his wife Antonia. Juan was the caretaker of all of these properties for about 30 years. Juan lived in a traditional stick house with a palapa roof until Dr. Flanigan built a brick home for Juan and his family. The house was torn down, but was located where John Cole’s house is now. Juan’s wife, Antonio, is still alive and living in La Peñita.

Local Folks

Huichol child at the market in La Peñita de Jaltemba (left). Rosario, a beautiful Los Ayala local (right).

The teacher of Los Ayala’s Elementary School serving breakfast or possibly preparing for a party circa 1998 (left). Huichol mother at the market in La Peñita de Jaltemba (right).

A local gathering coconuts, which is still a common sight in Los Ayala today (left). Jack Wortendyke, one of the first home owners on Los Ayala beach, who has since passed (right).

Los Ayala’s Learning Center

Fabian, one of the Learning Center’s first students, walking in downtown Los Ayala.

The photos below feature children at the Learning Center from 1996-1997…

Los Ayala’s Elementary School

In the 1980s, the students of Los Ayala’s elementary school received only the very basic education in reading, and math. The students of today’s generation are completely different. They read and write, and their math skills are strong. They also have a good knowledge of their country and background, and many speak some English. The older generation interviewed for this page, say that it has been extremely gratifying to see it all happen.

Los Ayala’s original elementary school from approximately 1995. The male teacher lived with the Mayor and stayed and worked with the children in the afternoons. The female teacher rode the bus home every day to Tepic. They were a very devoted group of teachers.

A building located on the Los Ayala’s Elementary school property where the children were served a daily breakfast consisting of tacos and milk. In the early 1980s, the school was an 8 x 10 concrete block with a chicken wire fence and nine handmade desks.

Students of Los Ayala’s Elementary school in class.

Julian Ponce, Elaine Smith, Maggie Ponce, Jack Wortendyke (deceased), Lindy Worten Dyke (deceased).

Points to Ponder about Life in Los Ayala in the Early Years

  • The beach homes described were purchased in 1980 and it took the owners 16 years to obtain title.
  • The homeowners of these properties today describe Los Ayala as a south sea paradise. They subsisted on fish, vegetables and fresh fruit, and enjoyed plenty of potable water from gravity fed spring located on the hillside on the south end of Los Ayala.
  • The only road into Los Ayala at that time was a make shift road carved through the jungle coming over the mountain on the south side of Los Ayala.
  • There was only one small grocery store in Jaltemba Bay which was located in Rincón de Guayabitos, so property owners stocked up on convenience groceries in Tepic.
  • The only telephone in the Jaltemba Bay area was located in Rincón de Guayabitos.
  • Children and dogs ran all over the town. Everyone got along famously, and everyone was happy. Albeit this south sea paradise had a lot more ants at that time.
  • Supplies were delivered by boat, including the bricks that were used to build the homes. The mortar was made from beach sand which was washed to remove the salt.
  • Local folks enjoyed a simple life and fondly remember the days when they did not have to pay federal or state property tax, or a bank trust.

Photos courtesy of Elaine Smith, founder of Los Ayala’s Learning Center. Beach and home photos courtesy of Janette Wortendyke.

This article was originally published in March 2012 on Magical Los Ayala.

La Penita Flooding 8

The Jaltemba Bay area has experienced very heavy rains this week, which caused flooding as well as damage to homes and roads in several colonias in La Peñita. The flooding occurred without warning on Monday night.

This morning, Sergio Galicia and I visited with people living near the police station in La Colonia, as well as homeowners near the transito station on the east side of the highway in La Peñita. Many of them had up to 1 meter (3 feet) of water in their homes. Some lost everything including kitchen appliances, furniture, mattresses and clothes, all of which were ruined due to the flooding. One man even claimed that his car was swept away by the rushing water. When we asked how we could help, they said they needed “things” not “money.” The main request was for food and a dry mattress to sleep on.

Octaviano Figueroa, Juez (Judge) of Rincón de Guayabitos and Chairman of the Rotary Club projects, said the worst hit colonias are “Las Cabras, Las Rosas, Isla del Verano, El Campesino, Miramar, Palmar and Cedros.”

There are ways we can help, says Octaviano. “The municipal delegate is in charge of distributing food and other benefits. Carlos Rendón (past president and current treasurer of the Rotary Club) is in charge of money, and donations can be deposited into the Rotary bank account. In-kind donations can also be made to Viky Robelo Rodriguez at the Centro Comunitario Cultural (CCC) in La Peñita. Much is needed and greatly appreciated by the victims of the storm.”

According to the Jaltemba Bay weather station, we received 82.1 mm (3.23 inches) of rain between Sunday, September 15 and Tuesday, September 17. So far this month, we’ve already received 304.5 mm (11.99 inches). And as I type, I can hear lightening in the distance which indicates that even more rain is probably coming our way.

The following photos and captions were provided by Octaviano Figueroa.

La Penita Flooding 2

The strong water undermined the foundations of three houses. They need to be reinforced with stone, gravel, cement and sand to avoid collapsing.

La Penita Flooding 10
La Penita Flooding 1

The people affected do not have the resources and need the support of our community to help repair their homes.

La Penita Flooding 5

Clean up along the river near the transito station continued throughout the day today.

La Penita Flooding 4

The river at this location is about 3 meters wider than usual.

La Penita Flooding 7
La Penita Flooding 6

There was also a major cleanup effort along the river and bridge near the CCC.

La Penita Flooding 9
La Penita Flooding 12

The whole community is being asked to donate the following items: cement, mattresses, blankets and clothes in good condition, canned food and water. Please donate them directly to those affected or bring items to the Centro Comunitario Cultural (CCC), which is located at Rubén Jaramillo no. 9 in La Peñita.

Thank you for your support.

by Allyson Williams

What a Difference a Year Makes!

The author of our newsletter joined J.E.E.P. one year ago. Valerie notes how “simply amazing it has been to watch the transition this project has undergone during this time. Much credit has to go to George and Loretta Leavitt for their donations and persistence. Generous ongoing donations can be credited as well. Thanks all around to everyone who has participated in this important community-wide project. The construction is first class, and the Hilltop Refugio is a “Cadillac” stable, and dog and cat refuge.”

Last year at this time, the Hilltop Refugio had the following:

  • 10-horse stable with a roof
  • Uncovered arena and small area for staging the equine therapy
  • Bathroom, tack room and food storage area

Since then, J.E.E.P. has added:

  • Both covered and sand arenas
  • Covered and enlarged equine therapy area
  • Sink and prep area for the kids’ activities
  • Three dog areas with multiple kennels
  • Gates for access to the back area for the horses
  • Large water tank
  • Concrete fencing around the entire front area with lovely bougainvilleas
  • Wood for each stall to keep horses from fighting and playing!

And now… currently under construction:

  • Covered staging area for the vets to spay and neuter, and dog washing clinics
  • Large covered and enclosed area for rescue cats
  • Enclosed dog play area for dog boarding
  • Two new bathrooms
  • Equipment shed
  • Hen house for laying hens (project of the Junior Trainers), with plans for 20 laying hens
  • The old bathrooms will become a J.E.E.P. store

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(top feature photo) New bathrooms on the left, storage shed in the middle, boarding kennels and vet area on the end. (above) Beginning of the cat house and dog run.

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Gates for access to the hill for the horses


J.E.E.P. Store: The new J.E.E.P. store will open this next season with custom t-shirts with fun new designs, bags of foods to feed the horses, dogs and cats, Hilltop Refugio and J.E.E.P. calendars, and framed pictures of some of the animals.

Are you sometimes bored during the season? We will be sponsoring Bingo this upcoming season, complete with cash bar. It will be fun for all. Put bingo on your entertainment calendar.

Mama Sedona is looking pregnant already. Her belly is expanding!

New Volunteer Activities for next season: We will be offering multiple new volunteer activities for the upcoming season, something for everyone: Bingo night, bartenders, dog walking, dog/cat kennel cleaning (our kennels are built for easy cleaning), fundraisers, dog bathing, our new store and of course all the current activities for the equine therapy and horse/stable care. Get active in the Nayarit community. The rewards are amazing!

January Fundraiser: Our ongoing annual fundraiser will include amazing food prepared by Loretta, a show facilitated by the Junior Trainers, equine girls in full riding regalia among other fun things. We will be announcing the date soon!

Fashion Show: We plan to sponsor a Contemporary Western Fashion Show featuring local teens strutting their stuff in southwest-inspired outfits! And yes, this event would not be complete without a good ole’ western BBQ prepared by Loretta. This will be a “fancy and fun” evening for all and will be held pool-side at Los Compadres Resort. Some of the parents and caregivers of the children participating in equine therapy will be speaking about their life-changing experiences with the project. The fashion show will raise funds specifically for our therapeutic horseback riding program.

Hilltop Refugio Updates

Horse Rescue and Education

Last year, J.E.E.P. sponsored shots and medicine for 33 area horses. The intent was to educate horse owners about the need for regular shots and medicine to maintain the health of their horses. This year, 18 owners returned on their own for shots and medicine. This is real progress that we are proud of.

The Junior Trainers and their Board have developed the “hen house” project. They are building a hen house to accommodate 20 laying hens. Fresh eggs will be available daily at the refugio for J.E.E.P. members at a reasonable price. The leadership skills being taught to the Junior Trainers will serve them well in the future, preparing them for jobs, while simultaneously being role models in the community for the care and treatment of animals. Kudos to the Junior Trainers!

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Christian, one of our Junior Trainers, hard at work

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The Junior Trainers found 20 of these (which were donated) which will be used by the laying hens in the hen house.

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Morning dog and cat romp. The dogs are let out for exercise every day, and the cats are free to roam.

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Early morning siesta

Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Our therapeutic horseback riding program has been suspended for the season, but we have exciting plans for next season. All participants will receive new t-shirts among other fun things already listed in the past and current newsletters.

Dog and Cat Rescue/Fostering & Adoption

We are excited about the upcoming “cat house.” It will be a state-of-the art area for our rescue cats. With the addition of the dog play yard and grooming area, we will also be ready to begin dog boarding next season. This strategy will help defray some of the ongoing costs which are increasing significantly as the project grows. The dog boarding kennels will accommodate 8 dogs. Boarding fees will be reasonable and we encourage all local dog owners to board at the refugio in support of J.E.E.P., remembering that we also rescue and care for local dogs, cats, chickens and roosters. Right now, the Junior Trainers are caring for a hurt chicken.

Please remember that we still have many dogs and cats up for adoption and looking for their forever home. Think about adoption when you come down next season. These animals need the love of a “family.” Click here to view some of the J.E.E.P. rescues up for adoption.

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Morning dog greeting


Monetary Donations:

George and Loretta Leavitt:

  • Construction: $3,000 USD
  • Personnel: $450 USD
  • Boarding Income: 1 horse = $100 USD

Other Monetary:

  • Greg and Madeline Bennett Family Foundation: $200 USD
  • Donna Brownfield: $25 USD
  • Gary and Patty Wietgrefe: $1,000 pesos

Donations of Equipment and Other Items:

We didn’t have any equipment donations this month. Please start thinking about equipment you can bring down next season!

by Valerie Bennett-Naquin

About Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.): Jaltemba Equine Education Project was established in December 2012 by George & Loretta Leavitt to help large animals like horses, donkeys and mules who are ill, malnourished or being mistreated in Jaltemba Bay, Nayarit, Mexico. We’ve added dogs and cats to our cause as well. To learn more or to make a one-time gift or recurring donation, visit Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.) on the Jaltemba Bay Life website.

Your donations will help J.E.E.P. buy food, shelter, medication and the equipment necessary to care for the rescue horses and other animals, as well as complete the Hilltop Refugio. Remember, donations of tack and gear, both new and used are always needed and much appreciated.

What a season for KinderAide! My intentions were to build two shade structures at Jardin de Niños: Luis Pasteur and La Patria (above) as promised, and to continue distributing donated school supplies. I thought perhaps that KinderAide had come to a natural closing state and that I would remain open to whatever the future held.

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New shade structure at Jardin de Niños: Luis Pasteur

However in November, when I was showing Freddie Ruiz Sanchez, my dear family friend and contractor, the above mentioned schools, he asked if he could show me another school in need. That was when I discovered the “Driveway School” and it so touched my heart, that I knew KinderAide and it’s loyal donators would help. In fact, the school was named after KinderAide’s two long term, generous donators: Laurie Higginson from Calgary and Sharon Schmidt from Grande Prairie. I combined their names to come up with the name “Lauron’s.”

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The teeny tiny original make-shift school set up at the very back of a driveway in La Colonia

Lauron's Kinder Inauguration 1
The new and improved Jardin de Niños: Lauron’s

Freddie’s brother, Roberto, donated the land, the water and the electricity for Lauron’s. With his generous donation, KinderAide’s cash donations, and under Freddie’s guidance, the school was built in a month! The inauguration was fun with local officials attending, and the teacher had taught each tiny student to say “Thank you Jane.” I cried like a baby.

So… KinderAide was basically out of money and it seemed a good time to call it a day. My friend, Lynn Innes was co-ordinating volunteer teachers and had agreed to take over the bookkeeping from Karen Decker. However, Freddie heard of another school needing help so we visited there, but the school was fine. We asked the teacher there if she knew of a school needing help. She suggested we seek out the school in Piedra Bola, behind Las Rosas in La Peñita.

I didn’t even know the area existed, but with Freddie asking a few questions along the way, we found the school. I was appalled. We promised to return the next day with school supplies and asked the parents to gather for a meeting, to discover who owned this land and what the future plans were. The meeting was well attended. There was an existing town plan for the area, and there was an existing lot for a school. This would be more of a challenge for Freddie and his crew as the land needed to be cleared and water brought in. It was also a challenge for KinderAide as our donations had been depleted with building Jardin de Niños: Lauron’s.

KinderAide Piedra Bola hinge
School door hinge made from a huarache sole and branches

KinderAide Piedra Bola bathroom
Existing bathroom

With the help of our Facebook page (Friends of La Peñita KinderAide), I spread the word about the need in Piedra Bola. Pictures always saying a thousand words. Again, friends, neighbours and complete strangers showed their generous hearts… the money flowed in. To my surprise, the Margarita Challenge representatives called and wanted their last donation of $20,000 pesos to go to KinderAide. This gave us the boost we needed!

kinderaide margarita challenge
Jim Williams (Margarita Challenge organizer), Jane Miller (Fellows) and Esteban Valdivia (owner Piña Colada Restaurant)

Donations continued and three events were arranged where my talented, musical, friends donated their time and together brought in donations of $4,000 pesos, and a good time was had by all at Alicia’s Restaurant on the beach in Rincón de Guayabitos.

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Dean, Hudd, John and Doug. The other band’s name is No Requests, a fabulous blues band.

Slowly, the donations came in, sometimes in the knick of time to pay the workers. But again, together, we made it happen! The children and teachers, the whole community is extremely happy with their new school Jardin de Niños: Marcelo.

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Jardin de Niños: Marcelo complete with tile floors

So here we are in May 2015. KinderAide’s funds are depleted again, but we do have some school supplies for next season. We always need:

  • Blunt nosed scissors;
  • Tiny pencil sharpeners;
  • Plastic pencil cases;
  • 24-pack Crayola crayons;
  • Paper of any kind, and
  • Dollar store stuffed animals for Christmas presents.

KinderAide provides basic school supplies for approximately 300 children throughout each season, and at Christmas our volunteer Santa, Chris Shrowe, visits our schools with donated, wrapped gifts. Next season/winter, Las Tres Amigas, have offered to share their donated school supplies from their School Drive event to KinderAide. We are happy to work together!

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Christmas party

Next season, it is my hope to receive cash donations to enable KinderAide to build a cement apron and shade structure at Marcelo and one at Lauron’s as well. These three projects would cost approximately $65,000 pesos. The state representative from Compostela, Baltazar Urzua, has promised to help these two new schools as well.

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Baltazar Uzura, Jane Fellows (Miller) and Freddy Ruiz Sanchez

Thank you all for your generousity. I have met some wonderful people along the way and made new friends, too. There are far too many people to thank so I won’t even try, but a special thanks to Jaltemba Bay Life and my friends Ally and David for your support of KinderAide and me.

Muchas Gracias Amigos!

by Jane Fellows (Miller)

Kinderaide LogoAbout KinderAide: KinderAide was established in January of 2011 by Jane Fellows (Miller). It is an independent, non-profit group of volunteers whose primary goal is to help children attending kinder schools in La Peñita in their quest to learn English, with the assistance of volunteer teachers and donated school supplies. To learn more or to make a donation, visit the KinderAide community website.

While driving through the residential zone in Rincón de Guayabitos on May 13th, I was surprised to see a Shaving Brush Tree tree prominently displaying these large cotton-like puffs. The bright pink flowers had already bloomed and fallen off, and the puffs seemed to have taken their place.


Upon closer inspection, the cotton fiber appears to start out tightly packed before opening into the fluffy cotton-like puffs.

I had never seen a Shaving Brush Tree do this before; and because I couldn’t find any information or photos online, I reached out to a few local plant specialists. Oddly enough, no one else had seen this tree produce these puffs either.

And so my research began…

I remembered that while on the hike from Los Ayala to El Monteón two years ago, our group walked by the Shaving Brush Tree with bright pink plumes shown below. I had never seen one of these trees up close before and was fascinated with its structure. At the time, the tree was completely leafless (the leaves come in after the flowers bloom), allowing passers-by to view the numerous maroon-colored buds and incredible wispy flowers.

I decided to drive back to El Monteón, and I was thrilled to discover that this tree not only had several cotton puffs, but it was also still in bloom, as shown below.

The restaurant owner (who’s name I forgot) told me that the flowers are edible. People with cancer, diabetes and other ailments eat them in hopes that it will cure them.

He pointed out that the new leaves start out red, but they quickly turn green (as shown below).

Since I was so enthusiastic, he walked around the tree and picked up what was left of a seedpod. He explained that after the flowers die, the tree starts to produce large hard pods. The cotton fibers grow inside, and the seedpods break open and fall to the ground. Once the cotton-like puffs open, the seeds are carried away by the natural breezes and produce new trees.

There is an unopened seedpod shown near the top center in the photo above.

Pseudobombax ellipticum, commonly known as “Shaving Brush Tree,” is a species of plant in the Malvaceae family, subfamily Bombacoideae. They are native to southern Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and they typically bloom late winter or early spring. These deciduous trees can reach 18 meters (60 feet) in height.

For anyone interested, you can view this tree in front of the restaurant on the north side of the street near the entrance to El Monteón.panduan android

by Allyson Williams

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. Join in and share your stories and photos about how you explore Nayarit, Mexico. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately!

I just had the opportunity to visit “Cocodrilos del Nayar” near Las Varas. This is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for something else to do in Jaltemba Bay.

The cocodrilario is located at km 77.5 just north of the El Capomo cut-off, and south of Las Varas. Watch for the Cocodrillos signs on a blind curve.

crocodile tour rob erickson 1

Vicente, Kathryn and their staff will give you a 45-minute tour with information on the rescue of their cocodrilos, as well as interesting facts on their habits, feeding and almost everything about the lives of their residents. You can even pet a baby cocodrilo.

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At $30 pesos for two people, this is a great deal. School groups are welcome to visit the site for free.

by Rob Erickson

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Over 100 volunteers from the Rotary Clubs from Jaltemba La Peñita, Mexico and Berkeley, California, USA along with 25 participating North American Rotary Clubs have arrived in Nayarit to begin a month-long project to remodel La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre in Las Varas, Mexico. Upgrades will include three new laboratories: chemistry, computer, and culinary arts. Volunteers will work shoulder-to-shoulder with parents, teachers and students.

Planning began two years ago, as all parties concerned came together to address the actual needs of the students and community. As a result, a viable cultural exchange developed that has bridged continents and built a great deal of goodwill. The completed project will provide educational opportunities for both students and adults in the community who can make use of all three new laboratories to improve their skills, thus increasing job growth and economic development.

Pancho & Salamanca

The Planning Team from North America met on Friday, April 18, 2015 with the teachers at La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre to hear a presentation given by Yolanda Rodriguez Arellano, Development Manager of UNETE, a professional teacher development organization from Mexico City. UNETE (Union of Entrepreneurs for Technology in Education) has been working to improve the quality and equity of education in Mexico for the past fifteen years with the objective of closing the competitiveness gap between Mexico and more developed countries. UNETE believes that this challenge cannot be solely the responsibility of government. When business reaches out to help students achieve a better education, society benefits in the long-term.

Arellano’s presentation covered the scope of the professional development program that UNETE can implement at La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre. She began by engaging all the teachers in the room to introduce themselves and state their field of expertise. Arellano then illustrated how UNETE could build a collaborative approach to develop a broader base of knowledge from the teachers’ varied fields to create practical applications for learning through a greater use of technology.

UNETE supports a variety of courses and works with leading technological educators such as the Khan Academy to ensure a top quality program. They also maintain relationships with educators on an international level to share best practices, such as the successful school system in Finland.

Response from the teachers at La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre was positive as shown by their thoughtful questions afterward and the time spent with Arellano at the computer as she demonstrated how UNETE can work with La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre.

Rotary International brings together leaders from all continents, cultures, and occupations who step forward to create positive change at home and abroad.

by Susana Connors

A dream long cherished by thousands of residents and visitors to the region started becoming a reality back on January 29th, when the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) gave its approval for the construction of the Las Varas-Puerto Vallarta Highway.

This past Thursday, the Reforma website announced that this project grew out of a unsolicited proposal presented by Desarrollo y Empleo en América Latina (IDEAL), owned by Carlos Slim. The highway will be four lanes, will stretch 90.5 km and will be the first highway project of this administration built through a public-private partnerships scheme.

The new highway from Jala to Compostela will be completed in the summer of 2015.Watch movie online Rings (2017)

The projected completion dates for the Compostela-Las Varas and the Las Varas-Puerto Vallarta stretches were not mentioned.

Original article published in Spanish on

I have always been enamored by the native Huichol Indian artwork sold here in Nayarit, Mexico – from the intricately beaded jewelry and masks, to the colorful yawn paintings. I have purchased several pieces over the years and display them throughout our home.

Many years ago, I met a lovely old Huichol woman who was selling handmade purses, dolls, beaded jewelry, carved maracas and some beaded gourd bowls (both shown below). When I’m out and about, I continue to watch for her as her work is much more detailed and creative than other artists.

Huichol Gourd Bowls

The blue bowl (shown on the right) was my very first purchase from her. Since then, several of the beads have fallen off from use*.

*Editor’s Notes: For anyone who has purchased Huichol beaded artwork, it is worthwhile to know that the beads are attached with beeswax; so if they come loose or fall off, it is easy to gently push them back into place.

A few of the Huichol Indian vendors who sell their wares at the Tianguis in La Peñita have mentioned that the beaded gourd bowls are used as “prayer bowls” to bless the children.

Huichol Carved Maracas
Carved maracas

About two years ago, I ran into the same woman and noticed that she had the most amazing beaded maracas on display. I bought the three she had, and asked if she would be willing to make more. She returned about a month later with 12 new maracas. Because of her willingness to accommodate my request and travel the long distance, I splurged and bought all of them in the hopes of selling them to friends.

Huichol Maracas  copy

They are all unique and use color combinations and symbols I have not seen before.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Editor’s Note: I still have a few maracas left if anyone is interested in purchasing them. They range from $55-65 USD depending on their size. I have posted photos on my personal Facebook page.

You can see the detailed beadwork below.

Huichol Maraca 2
Huichol Maraca 4

Fast forward.

Last weekend, my husband David and I decided to take an impromptu drive north along the coast to visit an area we hadn’t been for awhile. Along the way, my camera’s memory card quit working, so I pulled out my iPhone and took some random shots to document our trip. The quality of the photos are not the best, but as I often say here, es como es (it is what it is).

As we were nearing the end of our day trip, I saw a tree with large round green fruit, approximately the size of a grapefruit, that were growing directly from the branches. There was no one around except a man sleeping in a hammock nearby, but I didn’t want to disturb him. Later that night, I started my online research; and the following day, I asked my maid if she could confirm the identity of the tree (I always ask the locals to find out what things are called here in our region). She informed me that her neighbor had a similar tree growing in her yard, and that she would ask her and bring me some fruit next time she worked.

Cuastecomate Tree 1
Cuastecomate Tree 2

Much to my surprise, I learned that the fruit from this tree is used to make my prized Huichol beaded maracas. The woody gourd-like fruit can be drilled and/or carved during the the “softer” green stage, and the dried seeds inside the hollowed fruit are what produce the sound.

Let me divert for a moment, and express that I don’t believe in coincidences. Life here in Mexico never ceases to amaze me… and the adventures never end. Gracias a Dios!

In a past issue of the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens leaflet, it says that “The beautiful tree (Crescentia cujete) is known in Mexico as Jícaro or Cuastecomate. Its fruits are often dried for use as canteens and musical instruments, most notably maracas.”

It is also commonly known as the Calabash tree. The hard-shelled fruit, which can grow 10 to 30 cm (4-12 inches), is not intended to eat, but rather is used for medicinal purposes. When it turns brown and falls off the tree, the top of the fruit is cut off or a hole is drilled, and alcohol is poured inside. After sitting a few weeks (or up to a few years), the liquid ferments and is supposed to be good for asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Here are a few more photos from the day’s adventure…

Ally Day Trip 4
Taking a wrong turn into a banana field

Ally Day Trip 5
Outdoor bathroom in the middle of nowhere

Ally Day Trip 6
Charming little blue house

Ally Day Trip 7
Clavelina (Shaving Brush Tree) in bloom

Ally Day Trip 8
Close up of blossoms

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There must have been close to a hundred blossoms laying on the ground below

Ally Day Trip 10

Ally Day Trip 11
Proof that mango season isn’t far away

by Allyson Williams

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to


On February 18th, Jane Fellows (Miller) had the pleasure of meeting with the government official from Compostela, the mayor of La Peñita and the head of the local school district. These three gentlemen were invited and attended the inauguration of KinderAide’s first school to be built from the ground up. It is located on Calle Michocan, in the Reserva de Palmar area of La Colonia, in La Peñita.

Lauron's Kinder Inauguration 1

A few short weeks after the inauguration at Jardin de Niños: Lauron’s, Freddy Ruiz Sanchez, friend and contractor to KinderAide, and I found a school in Piedra Bola (behind Los Rosas) in La Peñita, that was in appalling condition. So terrible, we wouldn’t know where to begin to rebuild it. We promised to return the next day with donated school supplies and asked for the parents to come, so we could determine who owned this land. To our surprise, many adults were there (even grandparents of the students) and the town Mayor, as well as Pedro from the Ranchero de Geronimo, at the crest of the hill. Pedro had a town plan and signed over a proposed property for a new school. We all then walked the rutted road to the new site. Building began immediately with KinderAide cash donations. Fundraisers at Alicia’s Restaurant in Rincón de Guayabitos were quickly planned, with donated (awesome) music from two gringo bands (that are my friends). The hat was passed and much needed cash donations were received (thank you all). And the Margarita Challenge also donated a whopping $20,000 pesos, but it was still not enough to build the school.

I asked Freddy to see if he could contact any of the officials that had attended Lauron’s inauguration and explain the situation. Freddy contacted Baltazar Uzura, the Compostela Representative, and called me at 7:30am one morning and said, “I’m coming right over with Baltazar.” After that ‘jump start’ to the day and a quick clean up, they arrived. We sat at our dining room table, and with Freddy’s translating skills, I communicated our need for government aide. Baltazar stated that some papers needed to be filed in Compostela, which he would look after. He agreed to help the two schools, by putting a 4-foot brick wall around Lauron’s to keep the children safe, and to provide funding to complete Marcelo’s in Piedra Bola.

Last Saturday, the parents and grandparents met to clear the brush from the site and to dig a 50-meter trench to bring the water to the school.

KinderAide Piedra Bola 1
The bathroom for Marcelo will be built near this corner. At the crest of the hill, is Pedro’s Ranchero for those adventurer’s that need a point of reference.


KinderAide Piedra Bola 2
Parging at Marcelo is almost complete, and painting will begin soon.

Learn more about the new kinder school being built at Piedra Bola.

KinderAide Baltazar Uzura 1
Freddy Ruiz Sanchez, Baltazar Uzura and Jane Fellows.

In addition, Baltazar informed me that KinderAide would be getting a government Award of Recognition for what we have accomplished together with YOUR generous donations to our 47 Meters Down 2017 download

Respectfully submitted by Jane Fellows (Miller)

Kinderaide LogoAbout KinderAide: KinderAide was established in January of 2011 by Jane Fellows (Miller). It is an independent, non-profit group of volunteers whose primary goal is to help children attending kinder schools in La Peñita in their quest to learn English, with the assistance of volunteer teachers and donated school supplies. To learn more or to make a donation, visit the KinderAide community website.

We took this photo of a cowboy with his burro and wood (love the chainsaw), on the way back from a quadding trip to San full Transformers: The Last Knight 2017 movie

by Donna Steensma

Click here to view more Photos of the Week

Now it’s your turn! Email us your photos (at least 500 pixels wide) to along with a photo title, the photographer’s name and a detailed description of what the photo is and/or where you took it. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately.

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Release : November 16, 2016
Country : United Kingdom, United States of America.
Production Company : Heyday films, Warner Bros..
Language : English.
Runtime : 133 min
Genre : Adventure, Family, Fantasy.

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Director : Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin.
Writer : Brian Lynch.
Producer : Christopher Meledandri, Janet Healy.
Release : June 17, 2015
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment.
Language : English.
Runtime : 91
Genre : Family, Animation, Adventure, Comedy.

‘Minions’ is a movie genre Family, was released in June 17, 2015. Kyle Balda was directed this movie and starring by Sandra Bullock. This movie tell story about Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

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Director : Dan Gilroy.
Writer : Dan Gilroy.
Producer : Jake Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak.
Release : October 23, 2014
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Bold Films, Sierra / Affinity.
Language : English.
Runtime : 117
Genre : Crime, Drama, Thriller.

Movie ‘Nightcrawler’ was released in October 23, 2014 in genre Crime. Dan Gilroy was directed this movie and starring by Jake Gyllenhaal. This movie tell story about When Lou Bloom, desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

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Poster Movie Passengers 2016

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Director : Morten Tyldum.
Writer : Jon Spaihts.
Producer : Stephen Hamel, Michael Maher, Ori Marmur, Neal H. Moritz.
Release : December 21, 2016
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Columbia Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Original Film, Company Films, Start Motion Pictures, LStar Capital, Wanda Pictures.
Language : English.
Runtime : 116
Genre : Adventure, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction.

‘Passengers’ is a movie genre Adventure, was released in December 21, 2016. Morten Tyldum was directed this movie and starring by Jennifer Lawrence. This movie tell story about A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.

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The Jungle Book (2016) HD

Director : Jon Favreau.
Producer : Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor.
Release : April 7, 2016
Country : United Kingdom, United States of America.
Production Company : Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Fairview Entertainment, Moving Picture Company (MPC).
Language : English.
Runtime : 106 min
Genre : Family, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy.

‘The Jungle Book’ is a movie genre Family, was released in April 7, 2016. Jon Favreau was directed this movie and starring by Neel Sethi. This movie tell story about A man-cub named Mowgli fostered by wolves. After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan, Mowgli is forced to flee the jungle, by which he embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of the panther, Bagheera and the free-spirited bear, Baloo.

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Director : Makoto Shinkai.
Writer : Makoto Shinkai.
Producer : Genki Kawamura, Katsuhiro Takei, Kouichirou Itou.
Release : August 26, 2016
Country : Japan.
Production Company : CoMix Wave Films.
Language : 日本語.
Runtime : 106 min
Genre : Romance, Animation, Drama.

‘Your Name.’ is a movie genre Romance, was released in August 26, 2016. Makoto Shinkai was directed this movie and starring by Ryunosuke Kamiki. This movie tell story about High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other.

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Black Mirror: White Christmas (2014) HD

Director : Carl Tibbetts.
Writer : Charlie Brooker.
Release : December 16, 2014
Language : English.
Runtime : 74 min
Genre : Drama, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller, TV Movie.

‘Black Mirror: White Christmas’ is a movie genre Drama, was released in December 16, 2014. Carl Tibbetts was directed this movie and starring by Jon Hamm. This movie tell story about This feature-length special consists of three interwoven stories. In a mysterious and remote snowy outpost, Matt and Potter share a Christmas meal, swapping creepy tales of their earlier lives in the outside world. Matt is a charismatic American trying to bring the reserved, secretive Potter out of his shell. But are both men who they appear to be? A woman gets thrust into a nightmarish world of ‘smart’ gadgetry. Plus a look at what would happen if you could ‘block’ people in real life.

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December 20th was a special day for the residents of the small town of Lima de Abajo, north of La Peñita. They patiently lined up in anticipation of a delivery of clothes brought by a small group of Canadian volunteers.


Suitcases were unloaded and wheeled into the town building and the clothes were quickly organized in sizes from tots to teens to adults. It was also a special time for the volunteers who had been preparing for months for this exciting day. Locals pitched in to help men, women and babes in arms shop for clothes and Christmas presents for their families.

This year’s volunteers: James Hanley (far left), Alexis Hanley, Allyson Williams, organizers George & Donna Steensma, John Eckfeldt and Rosalva Flores Rodriguez. Not shown: Allyson Sofía and Linda Wolfe, who was behind the camera.

While the parents were inside shopping, the day was made even more merrier in the plaza with games for the children lead by volunteers. The Bean Bag toss was such a big hit, that kids lined up several times in hopes of winning a prize. Smiles abounded and new friends were made. 

Volunteers Rosalva, James and John organizing the games.

P1170964 P1170963
Volunteer Allyson Sofia was a big help with the games.

Later, a basketball got tossed around and a gathering of children, although shy at first, joined in singing Feliz Navidad.


For the sixth year, these suitcases of lovely donated clothes have travelled from Canada to this small village via George and Donna Steensma, friends and other volunteers.

“It’s the smiles on their faces that is the reward,” says James, a volunteer. “You just have to experience it.”


“Seeing familiar faces from the year before and holding the babies to help mothers’ shop” is worth every minute of preparation,” says Donna.

And If this wasn’t enough excitement, there was more to come. There was talk of Santa arriving. Just when the clothes were distributed and the games finished… and more anticipation of Santa… music could be heard coming up the road… Mariachi music. But this wasn’t Santa… it was another surprise celebration.


Just as the sun was setting in this small village an unanticipated event happened… a traditional Mexican wedding parading up the street to the plaza church. It was such a delight to witness the fully adorned wedding party winding their way up the cobblestone main street accompanied by bridesmaids, sweet young flower petal throwers and the Mariachis.

You can view more photos of the Christmas Wedding in Lima de Abajo

But where is Santa? Patience, patience… Santa is coming and indeed the Santas did… traveling on quads and other vehicles. Not your traditional Santa, though eight vehicles were decked out with Christmas lights and even a reindeer. They didn’t travel from the North Pole, but rather from La Peñita, cautiously on the highway loaded with lots of presents for girls and boys.

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With the clothes distributed, the children’s games completed… the bride and groom married… and Santas appearing on the horizon, one could only wonder about the magical timing of these events all centered about this little village plaza and church on Dec 20th…

Wonder, love, togetherness, laughter and smiles… so-o-o magical, all in one day.

Happy moments to remember for a lifetime.

Thank you, thank you… to all those who contributed!

The children were enamored with Volunteer Linda Wolfe’s necklace made of ojo beads and shells.

More photos of this special day…

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P1170988 P1170935 P1170936 P1180090 P1180094

by Linda Wolfe 

This story was submitted by one of our readers. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

For the past two years, I have been invited by George and Donna Steensma to join them on their annual clothing giveaway in the small town of Lima de Abajo, Nayarit, Mexico. For me, it is one of the highlights of the entire year.

The giveaway ended around 5:15pm on Saturday, December 20 (see link below for full story), and our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We finished loading the truck with tables and empty suitcases just in time to watch this wedding party walk towards the church across the street. Love is certainly in the air this holiday season.

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!

DSC00946 DSC00948 DSC00952
No Mexican wedding is complete without a Mariachi band (and their shadows courtesy of my camera)

DSC00964 DSC00967

You can also read Christmas Magic Comes to Lima de Abajo by Linda Wolfe

by Allyson Williams

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

If success can be measured by the number of children sitting quietly and reading books, then El Centro de La Gente, Lo de Marco’s new library, is on its way to becoming a best-seller.

Eager young readers waited patiently for El Centro de La Gente to officially open its doors at 9am on Saturday, November 1 – and founders, staff and volunteers could not have been more excited to greet them and show off their newly renovated space.

The transformation of this once vacant building over the last 4½ months is pretty incredible. The walls now have a fresh coat of colorful paint, the reading rooms are furnished with wooden shelves neatly stacked with donated books on literature, arts, music, architecture, history, encyclopedias and children’s books… all in Spanish.

And if that’s not exciting enough, here are a few statistics from opening day:

  • 200 people came through the doors
  • 100 library cards were issued
  • 20 books were checked out
  • and nearly every chair was occupied throughout the day.

A sincere congratulations to Mitch, Vicki and everyone involved in this amazing new community project!

To learn how the project began, read: Announcing “El Centro de La Gente” Library and Community Center in Lo de Marcos (June 13, 2014)


About El Centro de La Gente: El Centro de La Gente is a new community center that will offer a variety of activities and services to the children and adults of Lo de Marcos, including a lending library, computer lab, designated reading space, book exchange and more. Volunteers and donations are still needed, including Spanish language books for children, teenagers and adults, as well as new or gently used desktop and laptop computers for the computer lab, bookshelves for the library and other furniture to furnish El Centro. To learn more or to make a one-time gift or recurring donation, visit El Centro de La Gente.

Snowbirds, high season is just around the corner. Many Mexican seniors (Tercera Edad) are very needy and would greatly appreciate your donations of gently used clothing, shoes, pots and pans, bedding, pillows, toiletries, walking canes, wheel chairs, walkers, materials, craft supplies, etc. If you are coming to Jaltemba Bay, please consider bringing what you can.

Tercera Edad 2
Tercera Edad 1

WestJet will allow up to 50 pounds free for humanitarian purposes. Details are on their website. Monetary donations are also appreciated. If anyone has any folding tables they are no longer using, we would really appreciate them.

For more information, contact George Aceves: (322) 100-4909 (cell), or drop the items off at Condos Paraiso Tropical (old Hotel California) in La Peñita.

Thank you for your support!

by George Aceves

This story was submitted by one of our readers. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

The VW bug made this composition just jump at me. I was coming back from the Tianguis market in La Peñita, and there it was staring me in the face saying PLEASE take my picture!

Fortunately I had a camera with me. As someone reminded me the other day, the best camera you have is the one you have with you, so I tend to carry my camera everywhere. You never know when a PHOTO will jump out to you!

by Conrad Stenton, Midland Ontario Canada

Click here to view more Photos of the Week

Now it’s your turn! Email us your photos (at least 500 pixels wide) to along with a photo title, the photographer’s name and a detailed description of what the photo is and/or where you took it. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately.
























It was a late summer morning while sitting at our Powell Lake cabin sipping my morning coffee staring out the window watching the rain pelting off the front deck’s surface and listening to the gentle lake waves lapping against the shoreline that my thought reflected upon our two night March excursion to Amatlan de Cañas in Mexico. There was a bit of guilt included with my reflections as we’d planned to document our Mexican trip as soon as we arrived home in early April. However, it wasn’t long before we were absorbed with our spring gardening tasks, our struggling to obtain a permit to construct a workshop in our backyard and our rushing up the lake to energize our cabin for summer usage. Needless to say we were busy and focused on local activities and the writing and sharing of our late season Mexican trip slipped in a rather rapid manner to the “back burner!” Our wonderful spring and summer season was upon us and either we are getting slower at task completion or we include too many. We’d like to think it’s the latter! As April and May slipped away it wasn’t long before July was in the rear view mirror and the grandkids, bless their souls, chewed up August. September slumber was quickly upon us and the lake boat traffic stilled to a slow ebb. Now was the final opportunity to either write and submit this article or chuck the story idea and move on to next season’s Mexican trips. As the old cliché goes, “Better late than never!” So here is the reporting of our last season’s travel experience completed just before packing and departing for our home away from home – Los Ayala, Nayarit, Mexico.


An early departure saw us tossing our bags into the Xterra’s rear compartment, and as usual our first stop was the nearest Pemex station to top up the gas tank. On the road again it wasn’t long before we pulled into Las Varas for our second stop at Angelina’s Restaurant, one of our favourite, to enjoy a hearty breakfast consisting of huevos rancheros and a Mexican omelette complete with hot cups of coffee. Finally, with both fuel tanks topped up, the vehicles and ours, I anticipated driving directly to our final destination- Amatlan de Cañas. But, as we reached the outskirts of Mesillas, Doreen suggested we stop to visit our young friends, Mario and Elizabeth, at their roadside coffee shop. They’re a young family we met years ago to visit their coffee plantation and to scramble over rocks to view stone carved cliff petroglyphs. We usually visit once or twice a year sharing pie and coffee, and purchasing a couple of bags of their scrumptious coffee. After a warm visit and another cup of coffee we were back on Highway 200 heading towards Compostela. Today the highway was not busy, making the twisting turning drive to the Compostela junction pleasant not having to deal with impatient drivers passing blindly or being stuck behind a slow truck.

You can view “Compostela: The Overlooked City” published May 14, 2014 on Jaltemba Bay


At the intersection near Compostela, we drifted to the right and took the cuota highway 68D toward Guadalajara then switched to the libre road stopping at Ahuacatlan for lunch. We wandered the town’s picturesque plaza stretching our legs and taking pictures while checking out the street taco stands for our lunch. We employed one of our golden travel rules and selected the busiest stand to enjoy chicken tacos and juice. All the people eating there can’t be wrong!

After our lunch we drove through Ahuacatlan picking up Highway 4 proceeding towards Amatlan de Cañas. While the highway is a secondary road it was in good condition climbing over the mountain range. Although one must be alert watching for loose rock on the road or on-coming vehicles cutting corners on the curvy road.

John Berg Amatlan de Cañas P1160693

We arrived at our destination mid-afternoon providing for an early hotel check in, or one would think, but I’d forgotten our road atlas and hotel information on our bungalow table in Los Ayala. At this point I wasn’t a popular individual! Thus it was with a bit of luck that we found our hotel. Following a one-way street in the wrong direction we passed a hotel entrance and Doreen recalled the posted name as our destination hotel. Fortunately, this let me off the hook!


Being mid-week and after a holiday weekend, Bungalows Los Pavos Reales (the peacocks) was empty. The owner, Alfonso Ron, gave us an opportunity to select the room of our choice. We settled on a comfortable second story room providing a splendid view of the hotel’s beautifully manicured and appointed lawn and pool area. Alfonso was extremely helpful lending us a cooler for our food and beverages plus advising on the best local restaurant for dining. While relaxing on the balcony playing cards, four peacocks joined us for an extensive photo opportunity which brought closure to our day. We certainly did not realize that these relatively large birds could fly as well as they demonstrated, safely soaring from our balcony to the lawn.

As dusk descended we took Alfonso’s advice and walked to the nearby Toucan Restaurant. The restaurant was a local favourite for special occasions featuring a fish and steak menu. Since we often purchase fresh locally caught fish on the coast, we opted for hamburgers and fries. Our meal was adequate but certainly not inspiring. We’re spoiled with our varied excellent restaurants located in the coastal towns of La Peñita and Rincón de Guayabitos.


Early next morning found us in the town’s plaza desperately searching for our morning coffee! We must remember on our next trip to include a coffee percolator to enjoy our early coffees in the comfort of our room! At busy Sandorval Restaurant, we enjoyed huevos rancheros and a Mexican omelette washed down with, you guessed it, more hot coffee. Next, we wandered the plaza visiting Templo de Jesús de Nazereno and the Templo de Roasario. We unsuccessfully searched for a museum, but were eventually led to a small room containing local photographs.


Returning to our hotel, we collected our swim gear and headed for the hot pools. The drive was a short distance to the Balnearias Aguas Termales (hot waters). We paid our $50 peso fee and set about soaking in a few pools and swam in the larger pool before settling on a smaller comfortable pool with a favourable temperature. Just like Goldilocks, “Not too hot, not too cool, just right!”


Balnearios Agua Termales is a vast concrete structure complete with numerous levels with many pools of varying sizes and temperatures. There are numerous table and bench combinations where family groups would arrive and stake out their area unloading coolers of food and drink to spend the day soaking and socializing. I don’t think one would desire to be there on a busy weekend with the sea of people that apparently arrive during holiday periods. Or if you enjoy crowds it might be a huge amount of fun interacting and observing the Mexican families at play.


After our soak, we returned to our room and relaxed before preparing to again dine at the Toucan Restaurant. Having had our “burger” experience we both selected a fish dish from the menu and enjoyed our respective meals, retiring early to our bungalow.


Amatlan de Cañas, surrounded by La Sierra de Pajaritos and Sierra Madre de Sur mountain ranges, is a pleasant prosperous town depending on agriculture and ranching plus serving the small surrounding towns. The pace appeared rather casual with local produce being sold in the plaza from pickup truck beds, resident farmers attending to business and others occupying the park benches.

After a breakfast in the plaza we left Amatlan de Cañas to return to Los Ayala, our home away from home. We retraced our path following Highway 4 back to Ahuacatlan passing the turnoff to El Manto Water Park. Another man’s dream of constructing a recreational complex to visit and swim in one of the many cooling pools. If you haven’t visited this amazing canyon water park, do so and it’s guaranteed you’ll marvel at the amount of construction and excavating done to carve a small canyon stream into a beautiful attraction ( This time we continued past the El Manto turnoff not stopping for a brief swim.

On the way home we stopped at Santa Isabel to browse a couple of the many roadside pottery shops. Great place to purchase family gifts. We were searching for the number “1” to complete our lakeshore cabin address, but had no luck. Surprise, surprise, not all was lost! Doreen discovered a set of three beautifully painted butterflies. Now at our cabin, these gorgeous butterflies adorn the wall above our front door. You can’t miss them as they further enhance our cabin’s Mexican theme.

After paying the $35 peso toll on the cuota road (toll road) we again joined Highway 200 at the Compostela intersection. We drove directly to Las Varas, which became our lunch stop. For a change of restaurant venue, we stopped at Rosita Restaurant located beside the highway and close to the town’s northern entrance. We enjoyed a fantastic meal consisting of carne asada with papas fritas on the side, plus a decadent dessert, helado de nuez (walnut ice cream).

We arrived at our bungalow mid-afternoon to a rather quiet courtyard as most Canadians by now had returned to Canada while the locals were busy preparing for the upcoming Semana Santa celebration.


We experienced a successful excursion to enjoy the area’s interior and gain a brief glimpse and flavour of the true Mexican pulse. For us, our trips are a way to escape the more touristy tone of the coastal towns and experience in a small way another aspect of Mexican culture.

In just a few short weeks we’ll be returning to the Riviera Nayarit area again to bask on the beach, renew friendships and check out the changes. Life is good!

Author’s Note: One might alter the return route driving to Ixtlan del Rio to visit Los Toriles Archaelogical site. Visit our article “The Golden Age Backpackers: Los Toriles Archaelogical Site” dated February 20, 2013. Well worth a half day visit as the temple of Quetzalcoatl is considered top notch in architectural circles.

by John and Doreen Berg

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

This past Saturday, October 25, marked the 12th Anniversary of Hurricane Kenna crashing into Mexico’s Pacific coast. Back in 2002, the storm hit land near the fishing and tourist town of San Blas, just 2 hours north of Jaltemba Bay. Sustained winds, which reached 160mph, dropped to 140mph before the storm hit the coast destroying houses and cutting roads in fishing towns while burying hotel swimming pools throughout the entire area. The following article was a first hand account written by Bob Howell…

(top photo) Playa Los Cocos was almost recovered from the tropical storm of 1986, but now it has suffered a lot of damage again. Kenna’s aftermath.

24 Oct – I happened to be talking to a neighbor and he mentioned that a hurricane was headed in our direction. This really didn’t sink home because a couple of times every year, one or the other hits Baja California or somewhere. No one in my area can remember one hitting here. Here are the communities of Rincón de Guayabitos, La Peñita de Jaltemba and Los Ayala, Nayarit, México, located about an hours drive North of Puerto Vallarta.

Later, while browsing the internet I noticed quite of bit of traffic talk about this one which was called Kenna. Then I noticed a posting telling how to get the weather satellite. I never pay much attention to the weather, the news or read a newspaper, but for curiosity I check it out. Sure enough, a hurricane is heading in our direction. It even shows the approximate time it will hit. Tomorrow afternoon at 5 P.M.

I really don’t get too excited. When I was in the Marines I encountered several in the Marianas, Philippines, Southeast Asia and one at sea (although this one did shake me up). I do know what to do. Make sure we have food, water, extra batteries for the flashlights, fuel up the vehicles, and crank up the generator, tape the windows, etc.

I participate in a forum called Jaltemba Bay Folk, it is a community advisory as well as a chat posting on the internet. This was starting to heat up. A number of seasonal folk were concerned about their places and others of us full timers began chatting about the future.

I noticed the highway full of cars, most coming from Puerto Vallarta and heading inland. Escapees. The gas station was lined up. I was thankful I had filled earlier. The streets were emptying.

I started getting regular reports of the hurricanes progress and reporting them. Then came the police through the neighborhood with loud speakers. “Everybody out” they said. Vicky, my friend, and I decided to stay. Her son and friends came by to get us and get out. Only after promising to follow shortly did they continue on their way.

NOAA Hurrican Kenna Graphic
NOAA Hurricane Kenna 2

The 10 O’clock report said it was accelerating in speed and power. Later it was upgraded to a force 5 – the strongest. I continue my reports on the internet. At 2 a.m. it is obvious that we are in for it. It seems as though it will hit us direct. We make a decision. Get some sleep and first thing in the morning we will head for Vicky’s house in Xalisco. Near Tepic.

I get up at 5 a.m. and check again. It now is going to hit us at mid day.

o.k. a little more sleep. Up early, do a few last minute chores and decide we will go into the village, get some more tape for the windows, get more money from the ATM, return, do some windows and be on our way.

We are on the way back from La Peñita and we notice the wind picking up.

We decide to check out some Canadian friends. By the time we get to their place it is really windy. Trees are starting to fall. We decide to change our plans. It will be too dangerous to travel with all the falling trees. My house is near the ocean and might get flooded. Our friends will come with us, we will stop at our place, pickup some food and the dog and go to Vicky’s house on the hillside.

After doing the necessary at my place, we start for Vicky’s. Our friends, Bobby and Bryan are following. Now the wind is blowing hard, trees are falling all around. One large tree blocks our path. We can’t get around. But wait. Maybe I can just squeeze by near the curb. Branches and limbs are flying. Electric lines are swaying. Are they hot? We manage to get by the tree. We speed down the avenida, hoping we will be ahead of any falling trees or objects. Finally we reach the highway. Very little traffic.  The few that we see are fleeing for their lives. On to La Peñita, the trees are falling over the bridge, we race through. On down the highway to Vicky’s street, almost to her house. Noooo! A tree has fallen and blocked the road. Reverse, turn around. “Faster,” Vicky says, off down a few blocks. We will try the back way. Up the hill. Trees falling and more downed electric wires. Some almost hitting the car and we run over many more. End of pavement, we will follow the dirt road to the back of her place. The wind is reaching very high speeds. Up the dirt road. There are several cars and pickups ahead. A tree has fallen and blocked the road. What to do. Try and run for it to Vicky’s or ? Some men in the first vehicle are attacking the tree with a machete. Soon we all pass. We reach a point above Vicky’s. Out of the car. Grab armloads of food and clothing. Run for the house. We climb through many downed trees. The rain is coming down in sheets. We reach the house and enter. Almost exhausted.

We find we have left many important things in the vehicles. Out we go. It is hard too walk against the wind. I can hardly see. We manage to get to the car. Out with the dog. Vicky and I grab a heavy box with food and things. The rain is driving. Now my eyes are full of water. Vicky pulls the chest and I push. It slides along the mud. I feel that I am standing under a waterfall and the water and wind are trying to push me down. Through the downed trees pulling and pushing, the wind howling and the noise of things breaking and flying. Finally we are inside. We have food, water, booze and some almost dry clothes. We are safe for the moment.

After the storm, little by little people start emerging. Finally, anxiety over my house overcomes me and I make my way back to the car, make many detours, drive around many fallen trees and wires and arrive at my place. I just knew every window would have been broken, I had visions of waves battering down the walls and, worst of all, the possible loss of my supply of tequila.

Stepping through the gate I note all the windows intact, the walls are still there, and upon entering I note the absence of water on the floor. Seeing the telephone nearby, I pick it up and put it to my ear. I don’t know why because with the dozens of telephone lines that are down in the area how can it work – but it does!

There is no electric, so I start up the generator and in minutes I am connected to Jaltemba Bay Folk. WE SURVIVED I say. Sure wouldn’t want to make a weekly habit of this, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. For us.

10-Damage was heavy to the old counting house
Much of the old counting house was rebuilt in recent years, but much of that has now been destroyed by the hurricane.

15-This was a home on the beach
I was a guest in this home a few years ago. Not much left now.

by Bob Howell
Originally published October 24, 2002 on Jaltemba Bay Folk

Editor’s Note: “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.

Encouraged by the rising price of Tequila, and because I haven’t been there for a few years, my traveling partner and I decided to visit, (you guessed right) the pueblo of Tequila.

This time instead of the jeep we decided to go first class and in air conditioning. I loaded my little Nissan with an ice chest of goodies, a sample of the Tequila I wanted to buy and the usual things for a night on the road. I picked up Vicky at the hospital as she came off duty and we made a pit stop in Tepic (a little out of the way) and then hit the Autopista in the direction of Guadalajara. The road is first class. Lots of emergency call boxes and casas de cobres (toll booths). There are two ways to go by car from our starting point, which is Rincón de Guayabitos. Free road or libre to just the other side of Compostela (toll booth), free road into Tequila or cut over to the toll road.

01 - Ready_for_the_road
Vicky and I are ready to hit the road. Our vehicle is our 2002 Nissan Platina, made in Mexico. Photo taken in front of our Bed and Breakfast in Rincón de Guayabitos, Mexico. We have aboard a thermos of fresh roasted Mexican Arabica coffee and a thermos (of Bob’s favorite tequila?).

(above photo) In the patio of the Sauza plant. No photos were permitted in the plant itself. We took a guided tour and were shown how tequila was processed. The cost was $35 pesos each. We have taken other tours and there are many distilleries, but each one is unique.

We opted for the toll road, but after considering the cost of about $200 pesos each way, decided we would take the free road back. Anyway, sometime in the afternoon, and after a ride through beautiful green valleys, lava flows and mountains, we arrived in Tequila.

06 - Agave grows in high dry country
We pass by Compostela and start to climb into the high arid mountains were blue agave is found. World demand for Tequila is fast outstripping the supply of blue agave, the fermented, distilled juice of which is used in making true tequila.

Editor’s Note: “Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. 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.

I will not go into many details about Tequila, because so much has been written. Only that the Spanish arrived about 1530 and either convinced or forced the natives to accept their way of life. The word Tequila, according to many, was the Spanish translation for Teo Chin Chan (the name of the present pueblo of Tequila) and a dialect of the Nahuatl language, a rough translation of which is “The place of a strong God.” Most tourist guide books lead one to believe that beyond a visit to the distilleries, the plaza and church, Tequila has little to offer. I read a recent account of Tequila in which the author said “you wouldn’t want to spend the night there.” Bad advice.

Of course Vicky and I like to go to places that don’t necessarily have a Hilton hotel, and for me after calling a foxhole home during a couple of wars, anything with a roof is o.k. But in Tequila, there are three places to stay that I know of, and I have tried them all. We planned on staying one night but enjoyed ourselves so much that we made it two.

19 - Narrow streets and adobe buildings
Narrow streets and adobe buildings. The first Spanish arrived in 1530. The name Tequila was derived from the words Teo Chin Chan, a dialect of the Nahuatl language. Meaning, “The place of the strong god.”

Arriving in town we first found a place to stay. Hotel Abasolo on the street by that name. Crosses the Avenida (which runs directly to the main plaza and church). Turn right a couple of blocks to No. 80. Tel. 374 201-95. Not the Ritz, but rooms are clean. A fan, cable TV, hot water and secure parking. Price $150 pesos! Because we arrived in late afternoon and the time difference of one hour, by the time we cleaned up and had a siesta, most restaurants were closed (and there are many real nice places to eat). So we wandered down to the main plaza and strolled about. A really neat little town with some winding streets and an adventure to see the old places.

17 - The church in Tequila
The church in Tequila is located on the one of the central plazas. This plaza is where the singles meet. There is a plaza across the street for couples.

I have been to so many great little places that I have trouble remembering all of them, but most have one thing in common. The plaza is not only a place for events, but where young folks meet and court. The norm is that they stroll about the plaza. Sometimes the boys or men in one direction and the girls or women in the other. After becoming a couple they walk together. Here we encountered something different. There are two plazas. One on the Avenida, and in which is located the church. The other is just across the street from the church. In the plaza where the church is located, the females would sit in groups, and across the street and in the arcade were the males. In the plaza across from the church, and on many benches or other places to sit were the couples. No singles! Anyway, I thought that was interesting. Somehow they must meet.

14 - DSCF0155
Plaza in Tequila

One thing I forgot to mention. We passed many shops selling both tequila in store-bought type bottles and offering it in unmarked plastic containers. I was previously warned that you had to be careful because the product they were selling was not necessarily what they said it was. You have to be careful of where and what you buy. Fortunately we had a couple of recommendations. Also, it is unclear to me what the Mexican law is on purchasing of Tequila without government seals, etc.

After walking around awhile, we dropped in to a little place that sold tacos. It had one of those barbecue like things with lots of layers of meat that was giving off juices and this wonderful smell. We both gorged and I paid the bill of only 20 pesos. We called it a nite and returned to the hotel.

Our primary mission the next morning was to buy enough quality tequila to provide us and our guests with margaritas for the next year. However, the smells of a passing vendor of tamales overcame us and we bought a couple. Our stomachs, after being primed with a delicious tamale de elote (corn tamale), demanded more. Vicky suggested our favorite place to eat. The native market. You know, it is interesting to note (why do I always say this in my stories?) that I rarely see gringos eating in a native market. Yet here is where the best and REAL Mexican food is served and at prices to fit every budget. We walked beyond the first market stalls and into the very center. Here stood one building by itself. After entering there was a group of large cloth covered tables. Completely surrounding us was stall after stall, all beautifully tiled, and each containing different dishes. There was even a stall with Japanese and Chinese food. All was very clean. We wandered around and decided what we wanted, sat at a table and all was delivered and from different stalls. We ate our fill and paid the bill of only 50 pesos.

15 - A great place to eat  in Tequila
A great place to eat is the central plaza in Tequila. There are pretty tiled stalls all around serving different foods. You can sit down in the center and give the waitress your order from any stall that you see. You can even order Chinese or Japanese food.

At this point we decided we were having such a good time that we would stay another night. Having noticed a hotel on the Avenida, we decided to check it out. A really cute little place on the main street and only a couple of blocks from the plaza. Newly redecorated in very Mexican colors. Two stories, very neat. Cable TV, hot water, ceiling fan and clean. Only minus was street parking but they have a night watchman to keep an eye out. Single bed 180 pesos. Double 250. Worth it. Hotel Posada del Agave. Sixto Gorjon (the main street) #83,  Tel. 374 74 20774.

Now, down to business (almost). We wandered through the next plaza and stopped at a kiosk that was advertising tours to the distilleries. We booked a tour (30 pesos each) for a little later, and continued onward. Walking down a couple of blocks and after a couple of false information leads we arrived at the right numbered house. We knocked three times, said “Joe sent us”, showed our secret pass and were allowed to enter. (do you really believe this). Well the entering part was o.k. There was a sign on the street that said tequila was for sale. We did introduce ourselves as being friends of a friend, who has been a patron for years. We tested various tequilas but my favorite was still the sample that I carried. The price was up somewhat, which was expected and we bought enough to last us (hopefully) for the next year. I also bought a 20 liter oak barrel to give some of it a little more “reposado” for our B&B guests. I returned with the car which, after being loaded up, groaned with the added weight.

After leaving our car and booty in front of the hotel we returned to the plaza in time to board the van, which was loaded with a lively, but older crowd, from Mexico City. Off we went, our goal being the Distilleria Cofradia. Out of town, down a number of unmarked and very marginal roads, we finally drive through a guarded portal and park in the Cofradia lot. The driver, also our guide started us with viewing the blue agave plant, then the ovens, the fermenting vats, the huge distillation containers (it was distilled up to 3 times, depending on the grade), and finally the store where we were allowed to sample, to our hearts content, all of their products. A lot of the crowd overindulged, but keeping to my normal high standards I limited myself to a dozen or so. Fortunately, Vicky was there to keep me in line.

We had a nice night walking around, more shopping and seeing the sights and a light dinner. We left early the next day for our other paradise, Rincón de Guayabitos after another great time on the BACK ROADS OF NAYARIT (& JALISCO TOO).

Note:  The other place to stay is on the free road on the edge of town. I stayed there several years ago. An o.k. motel at that time.

26 - Tequila from Tequila
Tequila from Tequila — We have just purchased 76,5 liters of quality tequila. 100% agave and anejo (aged for one year in an oak cask). It took me a long time to find out this source. Now we have enough to last us for our Bed and Breakfast for the coming season and some for our friends.

by Bob Howell
Originally published August 25, 2002 on La Peñita Folk

Editor’s Note: “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.

More Photos Taken Along the Way

02 - Lava flow from Volcan Ceboruco
Lava flow from Volcán Ceboruco — The violent irruption in the late 1800’s killed many people and covered several villages. It is still steaming, waiting for another day.

03 - Helping the poor in La Noriega
After passing through the small coffee village of Mesillas, we come to the settlement of La Noriega. Only three families live there now. It is just off the highway but there is a dangerous pull over at the curve. We leave some rice, beans, sugar and candy for the children.

04 - La Noriega
Not much here in La Noriega. A small creek, real basic homes, a small garden, a few chickens and those struggling to live. The adults, including the older children, work in the coffee, which doesn’t pay much. The nearest school is a long ways away.

05 - Blue Agave
There are a number of different kinds of agave, but Tequila is made from blue agave. It takes 10 to 12 years for the plants to reach optimum growth but the demand is so great that some are harvest as early a six years.

11 - The country is very dry in most areas near Tequila
We passed through mountains and jungle earlier, but the country near Tequila is high and dry.

07 - Restaurant Vera Cruz  08 - The church at Iztlan del Rio
(left) Restaurant Vera Cruz is located on Calle Vera Cruz. A short distance north of the plaza. You can see it from the main street. It is located in an old home and has many photos of the old days, back to the revolution. Meals are good and you will like the prices. (right) The church at Ixtlán del Río was the first church was erected in 1626. The present decor appears to be of 1800’s vintage.

09 - The plaza at Iztlan del Rio
A pretty plaza at Ixtlán del Río. Nearby are government buildings, the church and the main street and highway. It has a couple of acceptable hotels and I have stayed in both. However, if you don’t bring earplugs the constant all night traffic, especially the trucks, will probably keep you awake.

10 - The government building at Iztlan del Rio
The government building at Ixtlán del Río. Located just off the main street, which is the highway also, and next to the plaza.

12 - The church at Magdalena
The church at Magdalena. An old village dating back to the days of the Spanish. The church architecture is neoclassic and dates back to the 1800’s. Magdelena is known for opals and has many mines. Vicky sees an opal shop nearby, which we visited and bought a couple of things.

13 - The central plaza at Magdalena
The central plaza at Magdalena is located just off the main highway, it is a little noisy at times.

20 - The tasting room
The tasting room in part of the old Sauza family mansion. They tried to serve me tequila with fresca but I declined. Then they produced the good stuff. Not as good as the tequila I buy, but quite drinkable. Here in this photo is Vicky and 3 French girls that were touring.

21 - The beautiful gardens in the old Sauza mansion
The beautiful gardens in the old Sauza mansion. After a few “copitas” we walk around the grounds.

22 - An interior patio in the mansion
An interior patio in the mansion. The Sauza family started making Tequila back in the 1800’s.

23 - The Sauza Mansion
The Sauza Mansion is very large. Sauza is one of the leading producers of Tequila. Tequila, by law, can only be made in one small area of Mexico.

24 - The grounds are very large
The grounds are very large. Many trees and flowers make this a paradise in the middle of a desert.

25 - Vicky relaxes
Vicky relaxes after experiencing a copita of tequila. Most folks do not know what good tequila is. Good is at a minimum reposado (aged in an oak cask for 6 months) and 100 percent agave. If it does not say this on the bottle then it is not pure tequila.

Jim Lewis of Santa Monica is a pioneer in insurance services for tourists to Mexico. His concern for consumer affairs was fueled by a 1980 internship with Ralph Nader, and this experience led to a revamping of consumer pricing for Mexico auto insurance policies.

“When I began my insurance career with Hart and Lewis in 1981, coverage and rates in Mexico were government regulated,” he recalls. “But by forming travel clubs, we were able
lewis-and-lewis-and-qualitas-in-tijuanato create group rates, which resulted in dramatic savings for the tourist. Today, our tourist liability rates are the lowest you’ll find from the strong underwriters with whom we work.”

Mexico is a natural for this California native.

“Just as it is here, not all policies are created equal. Although your driver’s license is valid, your US automobile policy does not cover you in Mexico. Unfortunately, should you have an accident, you don’t want to worry about all the details, so we do that for you. Mexico’s laws are different. That’s why our policies include legal aid to cover attorneys, bail, etc. I cannot recommend this more highly.

“Back in 1981, uninsured drivers were a real problem. Today, most states require auto insurance but in all states as well as the Distrito Federal, liability is required under civil law with a limit of 5,000 days of the local minimum wage for a negligent fatality. Make certain you have enough coverage! It can be close to $300,000 needed just for the death of one person.

“The limits you carry in Mexico need to be as much as those you carry on your US or Canadian auto liability policy, as claims for Death Liability in Mexico will now be similar to the damages that are often imposed by courts in the US and Canada in similar cases.”

Here is a summary of why people need $500,000 CSL liability limits now that include coverage for Civil and Criminal.

3 Examples of Financial Responsibility for Vehicular Manslaughter
All amounts in U.S. dollars based on a $12.60 exchange rate. Amounts shown are per person liability in case of death and do not include funeral expenses.

State                          Criminal Penalty                 Civil Penalty
Baja California Sur                    $51,397                       $296,397
Jalisco                                     $120,179                       $120,179
Yucatán                                   $280,508                       $280,508

In addition, all our auto policies include an International and Domestic Air Ambulance at no additional cost for greater peace of mind. It covers you in the event of injury in an automobile accident as well as for life threatening illness, and can transport you to San Diego, Houston or Vancouver, BC, Canada.

There’s much more in our basic policy as well as optional add-on services to meet your own personal needs.

Driving in Mexico is a wonderful way to experience the country up close. Just make sure you’re covered for the unexpected. At Lewis and Lewis Insurance Agency, Inc., we’re happy to help.

by Jim Lewis

Lewis and Lewis Insurance Agency, Inc. Lewis and Lewis Insurance Agency has been providing great insurance products at great prices since 1983. We have insurance products for your auto, SUV, motorhome, Mexican home, even medical insurance. And all our insurance products are backed by great customer service! Learn more or get an online quote here: Lewis and Lewis Insurance Agency, Inc.
Lewis and Lewis black logo

In Part One, we had just arrived in our jeep at the Pueblo of El Llano, where we were going to look for a guide to take us to the lower waterfalls at El Cora. We, consists of the author, Vicky Flores, my partner in our business adventures of a Bed and Breakfast and Back Road tours, and our guests, Jeff and Jane Hill.

We pull in to El Llano and it is 10 a.m. The odometer reads 0035 kilometers.

There is a pretty little church with a nice plaza and it is right on the main highway. The town is spread out. Not just built around the plaza, it just kind of stretches.

10 - Vicky and the Comisario of El Llano
Vicky and the Comisario of El Llano: Vicky asks the Comisaria, (mayor) where we can find a guide to the waterfalls.

We have never been to the lower waterfalls before, although Vicky has been to the upper falls. We have been told that a local guide would be needed. A visit to the Comisario (town mayor?) and the local cantina produced a guide. Beto Montez. Beto boards the jeep with his guitar and we are on the road again. We back track down the highway and take a side road.

11 - Vicky talks to our Guide
Vicky talks to our Guide: Beto Montez and Vicky talk in front of Beto’s home. He is a singing guide and brings his guitar.

The road is dirt and gravel, not bad at this point. Beto says we need to go about six kilometers to our jumping off place. We pass a little settlement and a neat little rancho. It is a small trailer park. Beto says it belongs to some gringos. Now we go down into a little valley. There is a jungle canopy overhead. The road divides and we go to the right. There is a banana field to our right. Now water is running down the center of the road. Beto tells us that many artifacts are to be found. Ceramics, some petroglyphs, etc. The road starts to get rough. I put it in 4 wheel drive. We are passing through a mango grove and planted areas.

Beto tells us an interesting story. Germans came to this area in 1906 and started a hacienda. It extended all the way into the mountains where they planted coffee and down to the coast. They built roads, a hacienda and settlements for their workers. Produce was shipped out by wagons and mules. Of course the revolution of 1910 to 1914 put an end to the haciendas. Soon we come to a tunnel that goes through the mountain. Beto says the Germans built it, but I found out different later. We pass through. It is very narrow and Vicky gets a little nervous. This is not helped by the darkness and the many bats flying around. I make mention that this place looks a little shaky and could collapse at any moment. I realize this mistake too late when a near panic starts in the jeep. Soon we come to the end and come out in another valley.

Note on the tunnel: There are two tunnels in the area. We did not locate the other. A railroad was planned from Tepic to San Blas but never completed. Limited records made note that two tunnels were completed in this area. I could not find dates or other data.

Editor’s Note: “Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. 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.

We enter a small forest of what appears to be miniature bamboo but the guide has a different name for it, and I can’t remember what. Now we come to some red flowers which are called mala mujeres, or bad women (what did they do?). Now we see some red looking trees with what looks like paper hanging from them. The guide says if you make tea from them it will increase your appetite. I glance at my stomach and decide I don’t need to know more. It is 11:09 and we are at kilometer 0047. We are passing through a different kind of country here. The road is up and down, the soil is red and there is only a tree here and there. We go sharply down hill and come to a little creek and enter a real bamboo grove. Large, round and very tall. Just beyond we come to a second creek. There is an entry through the fence and we follow the creek up some distance. There is a near solid bamboo grove. The road narrows and we park. The guide insists that we take the ice chest and guitar. Who am I to argue. I like food and music. A note here. There is no way you can enter this road without a 4 wheel drive. The entrance is rough and steep. We follow along the stream and pass through a couple of cattle gates.

12 - A petroglyph on a rock
A petroglyph on a rock: After driving through mountains and jungle, we park the jeep and start hiking. We soon come across this petroglyph along the trail.

13 - The stream we are following
The stream we are following
: This stream empties into the river below the falls.

We continue along this bubbling stream, which has many pools quite big enough for swimming. It is forested on both sides. Soon we pass a small banana patch, then a field of corn, both are irrigated. There must be a spring above. We find a rock that has petroglyphs and I snap a picture. There are a lot of boulders above. I bet if we checked them out we would find more petroglyphs. This is interesting country. We are in the middle of a rainforest. The ground is fertile. Water abounds. There sure would be worse places in the world to settle. The trail is getting a little rough. We cross the creek several times. Jeff, the guide, and even Vicky (she insists and there is no arguing with this little lady) switch off carrying the ice chest. They won’t let me. They must think I am old or something. The stream is getting bigger as we go. Up through another bamboo grove. The water is getting louder. Vicky falls into the stream for a second time. Now we leave the river. We are up the mountain through many oak trees. The trail forks. We go left. Now descending on a trail that has been worn over centuries. The stream is down below. It looks like a swimming stream. The water is azure blue. There is the cascada! (waterfall). It is beautiful here. The water is falling down a rock face. There is a very large deep pool. Like a small lake. As I write this I am listening to the tape and the music of the falling water. I wish I was still there. It took us an hour and 8 minutes of hiking. Well worth the effort to be in this little Eden. We lounge around. Vicky goes for a swim.

14 - A waterfall at el Cora
A waterfall at El Cora: We soon come to the lower waterfall. There is a beautiful pool to swim in.

15 - One of three waterfalls
One of three waterfalls: The falls are located on an old hacienda that was settled by German immigrants in 1906. The revolution of 1910-1914 broke up the haciendas.

17 - Vicky paddles around
A great swimming hole: The water was icy cold but very refreshing. The pool was deep. We never did find out how deep. We pick a shady spot next to the pool and have a picnic lunch. Sandwiches, beer and goodies.

18 - A tropical paradise in the middle of the jungle
A tropical paradise in the middle of the jungle
: The first waterfall has easy access. The second involves a brisk climb up the rocks. The upper falls must be reached from another access from above, which is a dangerous climb.

19 - Steep rocky cliffs surround the pool
Steep rocky cliffs surround the pool
: The stream can be crossed a short distance below the pool and brief, but heavy, climb will take you to the middle pool and falls.

20 - Vicky kicks back
Vicky kicks back
: A tired hiker. Vicky, Jeff and the guide took turns carrying the ice chest. It was hard work.

21 - Beto sings and plays
Beto sings and plays: Beto has a nice voice and plays well. Although poor by northern standards, he is richer in life than most. He farms 2 hectares (4.4 acres) brings in a little money now and then as a guide, looks ten years younger than his 62 years and has the energy of a mountain goat. He will outlive most of us and he is a very happy man.

Jeff and the guide climb up to the middle fall and pool. That is as far as one can go safely. We break out the lunch – Turkey ham and cheese sandwiches, pickles, goodies, potato chips, beer, soda, coffee, etc. Beto picks up his guitar. He plays and sings. Here we are sitting in another beautiful world. It is hard to imagine the hardship and crisis now going on in war torn Iraq. This is a moment when you might weaken and just say goodbye real world and live here in paradise.

It is 1:30 and we pack up and leave paradise. The weather has warmed and we take a couple of breaks on the way back. We arrive an hour and nine minutes later at the jeep.

22 - Jeff crosses the stream with the ice chest
Jeff crosses the stream with the ice chest: We cross the stream many times. Vicky fell in twice.

23 - Jeff clowns on the bamboo
Jeff clowns on the bamboo: There is a small forest of bamboo along the stream.

24 - We are surrounded by mountains and tropical rain forest
We are surrounded by mountains and tropical rain forest: The tropical rain forest is fast disappearing throughout the world. It is estimated that in 50 years there will be no more in Mexico.

25 - We meet a vaquero along the road
We meet a vaquero along the road: This is cattle country. There are few fences. This is ejido land. The revolution divided the haciendas into ejidos, where all members share in the use of the land.

26 - The countryside changes along this road
The countryside changes along this road: This road served the old German settlement many years ago. They planted coffee up in the mountains, and varied crops down below. This was an old horse drawn wagon road at one time.

27 - Entering the village of El Cora
Entering the village of El Cora: A surprisingly large pueblo in the mountains. Now served by a good road, it was very hard to get to, especially during the rainy season.

28 - The church in El Cora
The church in El Cora: This village is rather poor and there is no plaza by the church.

29 - The new road down the mountain
The new road down the mountain: A new paved highway goes down the mountain to the village of Tecuitata and the main highway between Tepic and Santa Cruz on the coast.

30 - The village super market
The village super market: It is a long ways to a real super market. Shopping is limited and prices are high. A hardship for those who can least afford it.

31 - A basic home in tecuitata
A basic home in Tecuitata: Home is where the heart is. This one is pretty basic. The walls are naturally air conditioned but let in the critters.

We continue on toward the Pueblo of El Cora arriving about 15 minutes later. A larger village than I thought. We pause to take a couple of photos and pass through. The road is very good and soon changes from dirt to pavement. Although a little narrow, the pavement is good and there are many places to pull out. We pass through more tropical fruit groves and come to the village of Tecuitata, a neat place sitting on the hillside, and then the main road from Tepic to Santa Cruz on the coast. The kilometers are 059. We have beautiful views and a nice trip home.

We arrive home at 5:39 and the kilometers are 0133. For a total of 58 on this trip. We left at 8:20 so time was a little over 9 hours.

32 - The adventurers
The adventurers: Left to right we have Jeff and Jane Hill, Bob Howell (the author), Vicky Flores and guide, Beto Montez.

by Bob Howell
Originally published March 23, 2003 on La Peñita Folk

Editor’s Note: “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.

Our first house sitting assignment in La Peñita is drawing to a close. It’s been a truly great experience and we have enjoyed almost every minute. While the humidity of the Mexican summer has certainly challenged us, it is starting to cool down and we are making the most of the fresh mornings and comfortable evenings.

It’s been interesting to witness the sunset gradually move across the horizon and the days become shorter. We’ve loved watching the storms roll in over the mountains and the magnificent lightning over the water.

We’ve enjoyed living in a local town we would otherwise never had the opportunity to see and have become used to waking up to 180 degree views of the Pacific ocean, punctuated by a little blip of an island called el coral.


When my sister came to stay for the weekend we caught a boat to the island and snorkeled around the mound of earth we’d been staring at for two months. It turns out that isla el coral is indeed a tiny chunk of paradise.


We’ve enjoyed great food, friendly locals and interesting ex-pats; balmy evenings spent watching families stroll along the malecon and some lovely drives to explore the towns and beaches of the ‘Riviera Nayarit.’

But despite all these wonderful things, the biggest problem with this house sitting business is that we have to leave Chica and Matu, the two cats we have come to love as our own.


I really didn’t see this coming (the loving, not the leaving. That, I knew about.) I mean, I like animals and adored my adopted stray cat as a kid, but didn’t expect to fall in love with these two balls of fur like I have.


I got it bad.

It’s not just me, either. If anything, Tyrhone has an even stronger bond with them as they have warmed to him more than me. Watching Chica canoodle with him as he scratches her belly is just hilarious, particularly as she wouldn’t let us near her when we arrived.

Our sweet, anxious tom cat Matu is still a rather unpredictable soul. He will occasionally relax long enough for a belly rub but for the most part seems to be suffering some post traumatic stress from his days as a stray kitty in the jungle. Poor Matu. We love him so much.

So much, that even when he eats geckos and vomits them up in the kitchen or brings in dead birds to devour, leaving bloody internal organs for us to discover, we can’t get mad at him. Such is the nature of unconditional love.

We are happy that soon they will be reunited with their dads, who have been missing them during their time away in Canada. But I am already worried about who will be looking after them next summer and am thinking of asking the owners of El Panorama if I can be part of the vetting process to ensure our babies get the best possible care.

I’m kidding (kinda).

I know that when we leave, we will miss them more than they miss us.

Which is why Tyrhone made us this video to watch whenever we are feeling cat sick for Chica and Matu, who have without a doubt been the best (and the worst) part of our house sitting experience.

You’re welcome.

by Sarah Chamberlain

Editor’s Note: Sarah is an Australian traveller, writer and dreamer who happens to be house-sitting at the beautiful El Panorama Villa Hotel B&B in La Peñita this summer. Thanks to Sarah for allowing us to share her article, originally published on her blog Sarah Somewhere.

If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

We met some people at a local thrift store today who were looking at clothing and other items to donate during their first trip south, planned later this fall. Here are some ideas and comments from fellow Snowbirds who winter in Jaltemba Bay and other Mexican locations, who also donate time and resources while in Mexico.

First, lets look at clothing. It might be a nice gesture to present your Mexican friends with clothing, but keep in mind your tastes in clothing may differ compared to, say, younger locals in Mexico. There seems to be Ropa Segunda or second-hand clothing tables on many street corners and in front of many homes. There really doesn’t seem to be any shortage of these new business ventures, and frankly for those packing the family RV, clothing can take up a lot of space and add excess weight to the trip. These bales of clothing are brought south by visiting family members and sometimes by Snowbirds. Lets be clear that all items you bring into Mexico are supposed to be for personal use. Used and items of no commercial value (not for resale) tend to be ignored. I’m certainly not encouraging foreigners to import commercial lots of anything. If in doubt, confirm your intentions with Mexican Customs.

On a related topic to clothing, many women bring bras for donation to the Cancer de Mama Clinic held every spring in Jaltemba Bay. This 3-4 day clinic provides care for Mexican women suffering from breast cancer. Popular donations include breast prosthesis, bras, wigs and other items needed during breast cancer treatment. One comment often heard is under-wire bras are inappropriate for cancer patients. Another rule of thumb is if the bra is considered garbage up north and you would never consider passing it along as a gift to anyone, then don’t bother bringing it south. Appreciated items include nice sweaters, scarves, skirts, dresses – Mexican ladies like to look nice. Some airlines, such as Westjet, used to allow “humanitarian” supplies to be checked for free. With the latest change in baggage fees, confirm this with your airline before gathering goods.

Cats and dogs “graduating” from our Spay Neuter Clinics (offered by Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue (JBAR) tend to go home with a small bag of food, a new collar or leash and a one-month dose of flea and tick treatment. Mexican Customs now limits these tick and flea treatments coming into Mexico, however, on your next trip past the thrift store, check for any used collars and leashes. In the months following our Spay Neuter Clinics, we quite often see dogs on the street sporting a collar, and we know these animals have been sterilized. This makes the job easier for volunteers who collect street dogs for the next clinic. Talk to your local vet or doctor’s office to see if there are any outdated supplies they can part with to donate to these clinics, such as saline, gauze and sutures. Monocryl sutures are best. Airline-style kennels tend to get heavy use at the clinics and we always need to replace a few every year. Simply load them with other items you are packing or detach the two halves and pack them similar to a plastic tote. We use towels or similar items as OR table drapes. Heavy towels take a lot of energy to launder each night. Instead, bring polar fleece in the form of old blankets or sweaters, that can be cut to various sizes for various sized animals. They wash and dry very quickly in the sun on a breezy day.

One of our newer groups is the Jaltemba Equine Education Project (J.E.E.P.). Roughly 1½ years ago, a group of horses were rescued and are now being used to provide therapeutic riding to local handicapped children. The group can always use bridles, halters and other tack.

School and art supplies are always appreciated. At this time of year, check the clearance tables at your local retailer as they will likely be clearing out excess back-to-school supplies of pens, pencils, erasers, crayons and note books. Again, keep in mind that packs of refill paper can be very heavy. Local schools tend to receive most of these donations, however many expats take these supplies to smaller outlying villages that tend to be forgotten or overlooked.

I tend to bring a few bike helmets south every year, as locals really haven’t caught on to this safety idea yet. They are very inexpensive at thrift stores up north, and might be a good reward for a young rider you encounter. Every year, you see a few more local riders wearing a helmet. Helmets are ultra expensive in Mexico.

Nurse Vicky continues to travel to the outlying villages to distribute clothing and medication (through Nurse Vicky’s Dispensary). She always appreciates donations of Tylenol, Ibuprofen and other items to distribute to villagers suffering from dengue fever and other medical issues. Similarly, Dra. Lidia also distributes medications to old people in need.

by Rob Erickson

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

For a long time we had been thinking of the trip to the waterfalls near El Cora. From the top near the village – a dangerous undertaking. From the bottom – unknown trails and roads. There are three falls. Vicky, my traveling companion and licensed tour guide, had been to the top pool and falls, but not the middle or the bottom. We heard that there was a guide in the village of El Llano. With that in mind, we decided, since we only had two guests at our bed and breakfast, and since they were willing to go on an adventure, this was the time. Here is our story.

It is 8:20 in the morning and another beautiful day in Paradise. We are heading out on another adventure into the unknown. Our vehicle is a 1985 CJ7. Our driver is the author of this story. Our tour guide is Vicky Flores. Our passengers are our B&B guests Jeff and Jane Hill from Juneau, Alaska. Our goal for today is the waterfalls at Cora. And away we go.

Editor’s Note: “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. You can learn more below.

As we leave Mi Casa es Su Casa in Rincón de Guayabitos, Vicky announces the usual. Saying “I hope so we go back from this trip.”

We go out on the highway, which has more traffic than usual, and head North in the direction of Tepic. Our speedometer reads 975 kilometers.

We pass through the pretty green countryside. Many trees, tropical plants and small farms. There are mangoes, papayas, bananas, beans, fields of tobacco and many others. We pass by the village of Puerta de la Lima and make a stop at Balastre. The home of Peluda the burro. A previous story. This family needed some medicine, and Vicky, who is a nurse at the hospital at Las Varas, wants to drop some off. We make a pit stop and again we are off.

The kilometers are 992 and it is 8:38. The sky is beautiful and things are starting to grow back after the hurricane. Soon we are nearing the road leading to the beach community of Chacala, which was hard hit by the hurricane. We see lots of fruit stands. Here can be bought coconuts, coconut candy, bananas, pineapples, watermelons, sweet breads, honey, bananas, papayas and many other things, including yaca, the Mexican answer to viagra.

We enter the community of Las Varas and turn left at the traffic light and head in the direction of San Blas. Again we pass through planted fields, passing by the entrance to Boca de Chila, the pirate den where possibly lies buried treasure and where on a previous trip one of our guests actually found an old Spanish coin. An adventure for someone with a metal detector. On we go and soon enter the Pueblo of Zacualpan. We stop to top off the gas tank and decide that, while we are here, we will show them a small outdoor park that contains a lot of old stone artifacts.

It is 9:04 and we pull up in front of the park. A gardener is working and trimming the roses that abound within. We walk through and our guests snap a number of photos. These artifacts were found when the road was being built and other construction that required excavation. There are petroglyphs on some of the boulders, small flat round stones – how did they do such precision work with only obsidian tools. Metal was unknown to this generation. The first thing we see I better not discuss here, although I have a photo. We spend a while, give the gardener a small gratuity and are on the road again. You know, the thing about this outdoor museum is that very few people know about it and it is not easy to find. I have never met a gringo who has seen it. I guess you are going to have to just look at the photos or come with us on a trip to find out where it is.

01 - Petroglyphs on a rock at Zacualpan
Petroglyphs on a rock at Zacualpán: We stop at the outdoor museum on our way to the waterfalls at El Cora.

02 - More petroglyphs
More petroglyphs: Some of these date back over 4000 years. Most were found when the road was being constructed.

03 - A rock bowl used for grinding corn and nuts
A rock bowl used for grinding corn and nuts: This one is larger than most that we have found in the jungles.

04 - Are these ancient writings_
Are these ancient writings? We are reminded somewhat of the Aztec calender, which of course it is not. Actually the Aztec calendar was made in Yucatan by the Mayas.

05 - Of what use was this_
Of what use was this? Several of these perfectly rounded and curved rocks were present.

06 - Like a round ball cut in half.
Like a round ball cut in half: Like the writings and petroglyphs, we will never know of what use these were for. Historians have different opinions.

07 - What do you think this is_
What do you think this is? I cannot comment.

Again passing through more fields and small villages. We know where many of the roads go. Those to the right lead to the high mountains and coffee country – La Cumbre, the old German colony of El Malinal, El Italiano – where most men were killed during the revolution and where only three old ladies survive, and La Cofradia all of which have great Arabica coffee. Many others. We pass through San Ysidro, Ixtapa, a few ranches and continue on toward the coast. At kilometer 021 we pass the entrance to the turtle hatchery and Playa Custodio, a development and miles of pristine beaches, only a few kilometers distant. This is where turtle eggs are taken and permitted to hatch unmolested. Turtles nest during Jul-Oct and the hatchery releases Aug-Dec. A neat trip.

08 - The small fishing village of Platanitos
The small fishing village of Platanitos: A beautiful beach and estuary. There is a planned development here. An artist colony, marina and golf course. Better see it now.

Now we pass a large estuary and arrive at the intersection to Platanitos and we decide to swing down and stretch our legs. This is an age old fishing village and has remained almost unchanged except for the palapa restaurants with delicious fresh caught seafood. It is a cove with gentle waves. This place is being discovered. Hidden on the point, which is Punta El Custodio, is the new development of Costa Custodio. It is a must to see now because an artist colony, golf course and marina are planned for here. Progress that I could do without. While Vicky and our guests stroll the beach I break out coffee and cookies. This coffee is from the mountains near Mesillas and is Arabica Altura, which I shelled and cleaned with our hand grinder, roasted last night and ground fresh this morning. I will never tire of this aroma and full flavor. We have a leisure cup, a couple of cookies and reboard the jeep. The next stop will be El Llano, a small tropical village where we are going to find a guide.

Now we are traveling along jungle cliffs overlooking the sea. What a place to build a home. The road passes over mountains, jungle, streams, through villages. What scenery. At places we can see all along the coast to San Blas. Beautiful. Dotted with beaches, and small villages. Jungle forests, valleys, on the other side, coffee country. Wow! Sometimes I seriously ask myself what I ever did to deserve this life. One of my many regrets is that I didn’t decide to live like I do many years earlier. Somebody up there must like me. Although we are on a winding mountain road, it is well paved and maintained with pull outs here and there. There are several small beaches far below. Vicky and I are talking about exploring this entire area and soon. Now we are coming into the village of El Llano, where we will start looking for a guide.

09 - The church and plaza at El Llano
The church and plaza at El Llano: After leaving Platanitos we continue on through tropical forests and mountains to the town of El Llano, where we will find a guide to take us to the waterfalls of El Cora.

Watch for Part 2 in the next issue of our newsletter.

by Bob Howell
Originally published March 23, 2003 on La Peñita Folk

Editor’s Note: “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.

Sitting waiting for the sunset on a cloudy evening is a special time of day, and even more so when you are in paradise. My fascination of sunsets started very early in my photographic life. The final results never fails to amaze me. No two sunsets are the same, and they and their cousins sunrises are always worth the wait and… who knows what Mother Nature will design for us tomorrow.

Click to view the full 360-degree panorama below…

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by Conrad Stenton, Midland Ontario Canada

Click here to view more Photos of the Week

Now it’s your turn! Email us your photos (at least 500 pixels wide) to along with a photo title, the photographer’s name and a detailed description of what the photo is and/or where you took it. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately.

(Updated Nov. 24, 2014)  Fall is just around the corner, and local restauranteurs are starting to announce their hours and re-opening dates for the 2014-15 Season. We will continue to update this list as we receive additional information, so check back often.

dining guide button new

Casual Dining  |  Fine Dining  |  Cafes, Delis, Bakeries & Street Stands

Restaurant Owners: Please contact us with any changes. If you know your Fall re-opening dates and/or have new menu items, please let us know so we can add them to our list. Don’t forget to login to your account and edit your individual webpages to include your changes. If you own a cafe, bar or restaurant and would like to be added to the Jaltemba Bay Dining Guide, email


Re-Opening Dates

Clarita’s Backyard Cafe: Opening Saturday, December 6. More

El Gigio Italian Pizzeria: Opening Wednesday, November 26. More

NEW El Tiburón Restaurante: Opening Tuesday, December 9. More

Latitude 21: Opening Friday, November 28. More

Los Compadres Restaurant & Bar: Opening Monday, December 1. More

Luna Italian Restaurant: Opening date to be announced. More

Now Open for the Season

Backstreet Italian Restaurant: Opened November 21. More

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (at El Panorama B&B): Opened November 2. More

Chasite Coffee House: Opened October 23. More

Hinde y Jaime’s Bar & Restaurant & Bar: Opened October 1. More

NEW Don Porfirio Restaurant: Opened November 9. More

Teriyaki Alex: Opened October 4. Try their new Kung Pao Chicken. More

Wanda’s Burgers & Ribs: Opened October 1. More

Xaltemba Restaurant: Opened November 1. More

Open Year-Round

Anahi’s Restaurant: Open all year. More

Bistro Organico (at Hotel Cielo Rojo): Open all year. More

El Delfin Pizza & Coffee: Open all year. Serving our homemade pasta dishes starting December 4. More

El Pollito Restaurant: Open all year. More

Estancia San Carlos Restaurant & Bar: Open all year. More

George’s Cafe & Gym: Open all year. More

La Piña Loca Restaurante & Bar: Open all year. More

Las Fuentes Restaurant (formerly Salvador’s on the highway): Open all year. More

La Torta Movil: Open all year. More

Mr. Ribs Restaurant: Open all year. More

Toñita III (next to Decameron Los Cocos): Open all year. More

Vista Guayabitos Restaurant & Bar: Open all year. More

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.

So far removed from what we call “home” during the winter months, we often wonder what natural wonders you folks that live there in Mexico year round have the good fortune to enjoy during the rainy season. Surely someone must have some photographs to share!

This week here in Cobourg, Ontario, we photographed the Ebony Jewelwing. On our 45 minute circuit walk, we happened to see these fascinating insects, and at first we thought they were black butterflies. This was a new species for us, and we were just at the right place at the right time. The lighting was perfect. We identified them as Ebony Jewelwing Damselflies.

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Damselflies are closely related to dragonflies. The easiest way to tell dragonflies and damselflies apart is to look at the wings. Dragonfly wings stick out straight from the body when it is resting (see photo below taken last December in the courtyard in La Peñita, Mexico).

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Damselfly wings usually fold back against the body.

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The male Ebony damselfly is about two inches long. They are larger than the female and have a black head, an iridescent blue body and black wings. The females have a lighter coloured brownish body and have white spots on their wings.

The Ebony Jewelwings are found wherever there are shady forest streams. After mating, the female lays eggs inside the soft stems of water plants. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat aquatic insects. When they are fully grown, they crawl out of the water and moult, leaving their old skin behind. And the cycle of life continues.

To date, we have only seen one Monarch Butterfly in our garden in Cobourg which has lots of Purple Coneflowers and Milkweed. We did manage to photograph this Painted Lady today.

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That’s the picture from here – looking to see something from there.

by Bea Rauch

This article was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Click here to view more Photos of the Week

It’s hard to believe that the Malecón in La Peñita unofficially opened to the public one year ago.

During the past year, the new malecón has become a popular gathering place and well-used destination for both locals and tourists alike. Many events have already taken place here – including art shows, the staging area for a women’s beach volleyball tournament, weight lifting contests, a biathlon and even kite flying demonstrations – and many more events are on the drawing board.

Sunsets are a particularly busy time when you will find at least 100 folks enjoying our beautiful malecón.

La Peñita Malecón Timeline

While it may have felt like the malecón project took an eternity, it was actually only a few years from concept to completion. Like any community project of this magnitude, there were also political and social considerations that needed to be addressed before the first concrete footing could be poured.

Even though building anything in Mexico is far less complicated than almost anywhere NOTB, typical bureaucratic and environmental hoops still needed to be jumped through. Also, there were multiple resource centers that needed to be tapped into in order for this project to even get to the drawing board. Costs were ultimately shared by the federal and municipal governments, as well as tax money taken in by local hotels. As you can imagine, not an easy process.

Various related projects were necessary before construction could be started. These included the removal of numerous structures on the beach itself, creating accommodations for storm water runoff, installing new sewer water and fresh water lines and the underground routing of power lines.

The adjacent and adjoining streets were torn up to accommodate these utilities and were rebuilt using stamped concrete. All of this was done while accommodating vehicular and foot traffic to the nearby businesses.

Here is a brief overview…

September 2011 – Environmental studies, surveying and planning began.

August 2012 – The removal of beach structures began (below).

Malecon 1

November 2012 – Initial street demolition and reconstruction.

Malecon 8 Malecon 12

January-February 2013 – Digging and pouring of the malecón footings. This work was hampered by high tides.

Malecon 6 Malecon 2

April 2013 – Finish work on the streets was going fast, aided by a couple of local comedians (Tom doing the screeding and Tiki supervising).

Malecon 5

June to mid-July 2013 – Most of June and July was consumed by pouring walls, the concrete deck, the exposed aggregate top coat and installation of the stainless steel railings.

Malecon 4 malecon ojo de dios logo

The photo below shows how the power lines used to look (minus most of the pelicans and frigate birds).

End of July to August 2013 – The finishing touches were being completed… decorative street lamps, stainless steel railings, palm trees, beautiful park benches and finally colorful decals on the walls depicting the official colors of Nayarit.

Malecon La Penita 1403
Malecon La Penita 1397

Drawings of the project were initially circulated back in June 2012 and portrayed a longer boardwalk, one of 300 meters in length, as well as a fishing pier extending out into the ocean to allow for a promenade as well as some boat dockage. However, after the reconstruction of the streets and related costs were taken into account, the extended pier idea had to be scrapped. What we ended up with is a beautiful and user-friendly 217 meter long, palm tree lined boardwalk.

malecon 5

by David Thompson
Photos by Tom Plattenburger, Tiki and David – Muchimas Gracias!

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This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

It’s another beautiful day in paradise. That being Rincón de Guayabitos, in the state of Nayarit, Mexico. My traveling companion Vicky, and I, have decided to check out an area that is not all that far from Guayabitos. Although I have been there numerous times, I have never made a thorough exploration. This is also a place is known by only a few gringos. Vicky thinks that this is unfair because it is near and very beautiful. Sooo… here it is.

Editor’s Note: “Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. 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.

It is about 12 a.m. and we set out in our trusty jeep, a 1985 CJ7. Slightly modified to suit our needs, it will take us just about anywhere. We enter the highway at Guayabitos and head south. Today our goal is to check out the long sandy beach and rocky outcroppings of Punta Raza, including an estuary and an inland valley. The area is uninhabited except for two small ranchitos in the valley. We travel south for a few minutes and turn into the pueblo of El Monteón. This is basically a farm town. We pass a school and a football field on the left and enter the town proper. There are a few small stores, a poor church and one motel on the main street. Not too much here. They have a cock fight arena on the edge of town, which is used now and then. There used to be a few cantinas until the women got together and had them closed because the men were spending too much time and money. Now the men may be seen in small groups here and there nursing their cervezas or ?. The main street is cobblestone and there are a few for sale signs. We stop at one of the larger stores, not much bigger than a bedroom, and buy a couple of extra batteries for the camera and tape recorder and also to chat with the owner. Then off we go. Almost at the far end of town we turn right. We are now on a dirt road and soon cross a creek bed. Dry now but what happens when it rains? Although last night we had a lot of rain. Figure that one out. Where did the water go?

Punta Raza 4

Going up the other side we are in a pretty countryside. A few cows, a couple of farms and everything is green, almost a canopy overhead. There is the mountain that we have to go over and the road becomes steep. Lots of palms. It is a jungle on the hillside. What a view off to our left. The wide green valley. It looks like we could reach out and touch it. All of the little farms, a couple of villages, many pineapple fields and several mango groves. Nice! There are a lot of those old tall palms with the little coconuts on our hillside. Years ago these palms covered both the valleys and hills. They created a large part of the rain forest. Today there are not too many and it is hard to find medium size trees, but not here. Maybe nature is returning a little. This used to be a big industry that was developed by the Spanish. These little nuts come in very large clusters. They were used as cooking oil. They are very high in cholesterol and with the development of vegetable oil the industry took a dive. For the most part being replaced by coffee, although a limited amount is still used for cosmetics and suntan oils. Now the road is rougher and steeper, I drop into 2nd gear. It is really a jungle now. We can only glimpse the valley now and then. The mountain top is finally reached and we pause a few minutes to enjoy this wonderful view of the valley. I feel that I can almost touch the little village below. We are starting down. It is very steep and I drop to 1st gear. The jungle almost closes in on us. Strangler figs, choking off the tall palms. It’s interesting to note that these strangler figs normally start from seeds far up in the tree, left by the wind or birds, who knows. They work their way to the ground as vines and then become trees themselves, finally strangling and killing the palm and then die themselves. Self destruction. This jungle canopy must be all of 80 feet high.

We finally reach the bottom where is located a neat little outpost in the middle of nowhere. Here we have a couple of miles of uninhabited sandy beach, some rocky outcroppings and the blue Pacific. Just above there is a small restaurant and a few rustic rooms that can be rented. The owner lives in a small castle like structure and has a little restaurant that serves vegetarian dishes, quesadillas and fish. Sodas and beer to drink. You can sit and relax outside under a long palapa (a palapa is a palm thatched building or house) which has the greatest view. Sometimes I come here and just meditate. Often thinking what if I had done this or that in my past life instead of whatever. Or just thinking how lucky I am that I can sit and enjoy this beautiful place. There is a spring above that provides cool clear water. There is no electric, no telephone, and no traffic. The beach is normally deserted, as is this little paradise, except on holidays. Now and then I see swimmers below and oyster divers, so I guess it is safe to swim. Sometimes I see a couple or two on the weekends. I think if it was for sale I would be a buyer.

Punta Raza 1

Part 2 – We have just gone over the mountain from El Monteón, dropped down almost to the sea and are in front of a pretty little oasis in the middle of the jungle. A small settlement including a restaurant and room rentals with one of the most beautiful views on the coast.

For some reason the gate is closed and no one is about, so we continue on. One of the things that I like about Mexico is that if the owner of a business decides to take the day off – no problem. Just close the doors and who cares. Now we see a couple of swimmers down the beach, but nothing else. It is just beautiful. The road takes off into the jungle like forest. We come to a pretty little area with a couple of old buildings. We park and break out some refreshments, which naturally include the fresh roasted, fresh ground arabica coffee from our Nayarit mountains. Wandering around we find a lot of interesting old structures and many different kinds of fruit trees. Mangoes, avocado, citrus, etc. Later I learn that this was a government field experimental station which planted many types of fruit trees and then was abandoned. The mountain rises just behind and there are huge shade trees and tall palms. The beach is about a hundred yards away through the jungle.

After our break, we hop aboard and continue on our way. We find a fellow cutting palms for a palapa and we stop and chat. We get a little history of the area and off we go. We notice that the low mountain drops back, allowing a large half valley. There is a mango grove. Just beyond we enter a coconut grove. These are older trees and all are very tall. Leaving the grove we note a small palapa some distance to our right. We follow a short road to a gated fence near the palapa but no one is about. We return to the main road (if you want to call it that) and continue. Soon we enter a real jungle. The overhead is a pure canopy. The small palms and foliage brush both sides of the jeep. It is closing in on us. We continue only because I have been here before. I know that it will eventually come out on the beach at Punta Raza, and so it does. Before reaching the beach we note a number of almost wild pigs. All sizes.

Finally breaking out into the open, we find ourselves on a long sandy beach. There is a fresh water lake, actually an estuary, that comes nearly to the ocean. Just beyond are old lava flows entering into the sea. Waves are crashing onto the flow with some following up the cracks and creating small water spouts. We walk beyond the first lava flow and there is another beach, ending in another lava flow. Many tide pools. This repeats itself for a couple of more beaches. There are small fish and crabs in the pools. Many, many small things on the beach, washed up from who knows where. A beach combers paradise. Few people ever come here. I see a 5 gallon plastic fuel can which has the initials USMC. United States Marine Corps. Once a Marine always a Marine, and I visualize myself back at Camp Pendleton and on a landing exercise. Maybe this has washed down from there. Vicky and I promise each other that we will come back someday and hike as far as we can.

We walk back to the jeep and retrace our way through the jungle. We couldn’t see how far the lake went back, so we take a side trail and make our way through a wide cleared area to northern edge of the valley and finally arrive at the estuary, or lagoon. There are a lot of large trees and half in and out of the water is a ponga (small boat). It has a lot of water in it and there are several poles for pushing through the shallows. It looks unused. We look around, hoping to glimpse a crocodile or two, which we understand abound here, but we see none. Returning to the jeep, we head back, deciding to check out a small almost hidden road not far from the old nursery. We enter the road and soon we see a small palapa. There is an older man and a lot of kids. We chat awhile and he tells us that he is 68 years old and works this ranch for a family that lives in Puerto Vallarta. They are very poor and are so far from everything. Vicky gives them a few kilos of rice, beans and sugar. The old gentlemen tells us that their water supply comes from a spring up the mountain and wants to show us. Not wanting to pass up another adventure we accept. We start up a jungle valley following the small black plastic hose that brings the life giving water to these folks. The going is steep but El Señor is running and jumping like a small boy. There are a number of spring fed pools and we finally arrive at the main supply. Here there are pretty rock formations, tropical plants, trees, wow! We rest awhile and then head back down.

We finally reach the jeep and it is 3:15 p.m. Well, we have visited another place on the back roads, we have made new friends and we make a mental note to return another day with more food and some clothing. The weather is turning for the worse. It is starting to thunder and lightning a bit and we decide we had better get over the mountain before it starts raining too hard. We soon arrive at the little Pueblo of El Monteón, then the paved highway and in minutes we are back at my little paradise, Rincón de Guayabitos, after another great day on THE BACK ROADS OF NAYARIT.

by Bob Howell
Originally published in 2001 on La Peñita Folk
Photos by Allyson Williams

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.

Click here to read Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication entitled “In Memory of Bob Howell” which serves as an introduction to this series.

Ryan-CampbellRyan Alexander Campbell
May 25, 1942 – July 16, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia

Ryan Campbell, an engineer and builder, died on July 16th, 2014 with a million dollar view of Burrard Inlet. He was a great man with loving family and countless friends, taken down too young by dengue fever and some other complications more mysterious and unfathomably awful. For months he fought mightily against an infection in his spine; after surgery and many ups and downs he was well enough to come home to the Sunshine Coast and his favourite views over Pender Harbour. After only ten days though, the infection returned with a vengeance. He was declared the ‘sickest man in the Province’ by one curiously dramatic doctor and in the end, after a week in ICU, he decided he’d had enough of tubes and hospitals. Even the best of views of the North Shore mountains and the Inlet out of Vancouver General couldn’t compete with the sunshine and salt air up the coast. He passed as the sun set on a Wednesday night in July.

While he played volleyball as a young man and loved cross-country skiing he was known most for his enthusiasm of the thug’s game played by gentlemen: he encouraged his sons to endanger their lives playing rugby just as he had. Ryan joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1961. Through the tail end of the Cold War he chased Soviet subs in the Atlantic, though we gather he saw more Puerto Rican rum and Caribbean beaches than Vodka and Siberian Tundra. He spent twenty years in the Canadian Armed Forces and rose from the ranks of Ordinary Seaman to LT. Commander/Major before moving on to civilian life. Ryan loved adventuring and travelling, wondering at the magnificent world full of fascinating people who he never failed to engage in conversation, regardless of language competence. His children embraced this love of difference and have explored the world with his enthusiastic blessing. Ryan was genuinely interested in peoples’ stories then re-remembering them, invariably enlarged, embellished, or simply wrong. His eye for well crafted things was acute and deeply appreciative. For Ryan it was always skill and dedication over talent and luck. He crafted life through love and labour and left a world for us to live in. In his last adventures Ryan with Sue – his First Mate and wife of fifty years – built a marvelous beach house on Jaltemba Bay and, as always, laid the foundations for enduring friendships and lasting memories.

He is survived by friends and family and his memory lives on in their hearts and in the many projects he has initiated and generously supported. In his last years he found peace and solace in the Anglican Church. The promise of freedom from the burdens of life and the ultimate and lasting value of love reminded him to pause, to celebrate the sensuous warmth of the sun and the pique of the salt air.

A memorial service will be held at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church on August 9th at 2pm. In lieu of flowers please send donations to St. Mary’s Hospital, Sechelt or Vancouver General Hospital.

Written by Ryan’s son Craig Campbell

The construction of the Jala-Bahía de Banderas Highway has advanced 33%, however, it will not be finished until 2017, informed the delegate of the Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) in Jalisco, Bernardo Gutiérrez Navarro.

“The stretch from Jala to Bucerias is 166 kilometers and is 33% complete, including sections finished with four lanes. It will allow drivers to get from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta in two and a half hours because the total kilometers will be 266. It’s a road that has an estimated budget of 13 billion pesos, it involves the construction of about 50 structures, three tunnels, it is a stretch that is in its advanced stage; the section from Jala to the junction in Compostela is done. We are advancing to Las Varas, La Peñita de Jaltemba and finally Bucerías; those are the four parts where there will be junctions,” he explained in an interview.

This work is expected to reduce transferring from Guadalajara to Vallarta to only two hours and a half.

In due time, the road would connect with the macro-bypass project.

Translated by Edgar Castellon for Jaltemba Bay Life

Vía Corta PV-GDL Hasta 2017

by Carolina Gómez Aguiñaga
August 1, 2014

La construcción de la carretera Jala-Bahía de Banderas lleva un avance del 33 por ciento; no obstante no será terminada hasta 2017, adelantó el delegado de la Secretaría de Comunicación y Transportes (SCT) en Jalisco, Bernardo Gutiérrez Navarro.

Read the entire article in Spanish on

In Part 1, we departed from Rincón de Guayabitos with four of us in the jeep. We stopped at Zacualpán to help some poor Huicholes and then toured the outdoor museum. We then went to Turtle Beach and had a look around.

Reboarding the jeep, we leave Turtle Beach and return in the direction we had come. Noting a hand written sign that said “Crocodile 5 pesos,” we turn toward the estuary and finally come to a palapa and a few small pens containing crocodiles; or at least I thought they were. A man came out from the palapa and explained that they were caimans. For the life of me I cannot tell the difference. Although the difference between alligators, crocodiles and caimans has been explained to me many times I do not know the difference. I only know that where they swim I refuse.

Editor’s Note: “Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. 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. 

25 - Looking for a friend in the pond
A crocodile or caiman: This and others were held in caged areas with small ponds. They were captured in the estuary. A small handwritten sign that said “Crocodiles, 5 pesos” was nailed to a palm and there was an arrow pointing toward the estuary. The roads were not good and the place was hard to find. There was a palapa and a few pens on the edge of the estuary. The caretaker said they were hungry and had no food. I think few visitors come here.

24 - More crocs or caiman
More crocs or caiman: There is a large crocodile farm not far from San Blas where they are raising hundreds for release back into the estuaries. The species was endangered in these parts and it is illegal to kill them.

He further explained that there was a shortage of food for them and they were very hungry. I noticed that no one in our group volunteered to go in and comfort them. There was a pile of coconuts on the ground and he cut the end off of one for each of us. The cool coconut juice hit the spot because it was getting hot and we were thirsty. I am afraid that if he is depending on pesos from the odd tourist that happens on this spot to feed these creatures, the crocs are in for a hard time.

26 - Opened coconuts
Opened coconuts: He cut off the ends of the coconuts and we each drank the sweet cool juice. Then, you can see what we did with the inside in the next photo.

27 - Suprise!!
Surprise!! I snapped this of Vicky as she was enjoying the creamy sauce that lined the enterior of each coconut. Delicious.

We hop aboard again. We make another stop on this long beautiful beach. No one lives here for miles and it ends at the mouth of Boca de Chila, the old pirate cove (another story). Here is the only road that I know of that will bring you to the beach. We get out and snap a few photos. There are also miles of coconut groves and, according to a couple of hard to get maps that we have, more estuaries, sand bars and other interesting things. If only I had balloon tires on my jeep I would like to check out this long isolated stretch, just to see what is there. Our next stop will be the beach at Platanitos. We return on the rough road to the highway and turn left. Soon we arrive at an intersection where a side road joins and where you can see a beautiful little cove with palapas. This is Platanitos. At that intersection on the right can be seen a few buildings and a defensive position that is manned by Mexican Marines, from time to time to provide cover for a check point on the road below. What are they checking for? Going left and down, we pass the beach and palapas. Note: Last October this whole stretch of beach was wiped clean by Hurricane Kenna. It is nice to see that is has been largely rebuilt. A few fishing pangas are scattered here and there. You can always eat fresh catch here.

29 - My kind of beach
My kind of beach: A light surf and shallow beach. Good swimming here. Looking back toward Turtle Beach and Punta Custudio. It goes for miles and nobody lives there. You could play Robinson Crusoe here.

30 - A palm lined beach
A palm lined beach: Miles of coconuts and a long wide beach. There are worse places to spend your time. This is ejido land. They and buyers are waiting for government approval to develop this end of the beach, even though that still leaves miles of natural beach, I can’t help but wish that it doesn’t happen.

Leaving the beach we go left around the small mountain and soon come to the estuary. We can see Turtle Beach right across the way. There is a clearing below and I see cars parked. We could easily swim across or maybe wade. Who is afraid of the caiman. Me?? Continuing on we come to another small home development at Punta Custodio. We pass a short distance, find a shady spot and have lunch. The usual, turkey ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, small snacks, beer, soda and coffee.

32 - The mouth of the estuary
The mouth of the estuary: Between Punta Custodio and Platanitos. The developers want a bridge across here.

33 - More beautiful beach
More beautiful beach: Turtle Beach as seen from across the estuary at Punta Custodio.

After filling ourselves we drive on down the hill to Platanitos, park the jeep and have a look around.

I have heard that this place is scheduled for development as soon as the ecologists are dealt with. Hotels, a golf course, homes and of course a bridge across the estuary. Farewell to the little fishing village of Platanitos.

It is 2:04 in the afternoon and the kilometers are 361. Now we head home. Reaching Zacualpán, we stop at the old, semi roofless packing shed where the children of the workers are that we helped this morning and pass out all of the clothing we have aboard. The children tell us that the adults well be returning at about 6 p.m.

After exhausting our supply of candy and clothing (we handed out all of the food earlier) we tell them we will return in a couple of days with a little more help. Back to the jeep and we return home.

Note: We did a bit of shopping and returned when the adults were there with food and more clothes. It was after dark, so it was difficult to take photos. My digital does not do well unless the light is good.

by Bob Howell
Originally published April 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.

Click here to read Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication entitled “In Memory of Bob Howell” which serves as an introduction to this series.

The winter guests at Paraiso del Pescador RV Park and Bunglows in Rincón de Guayabitos had been talking about doing some community outreach in a school for a couple of years, but we really didn’t know where to start.

In early January 2014, three of our group got serious and meet with Jamie of El Marlin Restaurant as he had some connections in the Jaltemba Bay area’s school system. Jamie took them around to see some of the kindergardens and to check on what their needs were. It was easy to choose the kindergarden in Puerta de La Lima as their playground needed help. Soon after, a meeting was set up with Ken Snyder and Ryan Campbell from Los Amigos de Jaltemba, who quickly mentored our group and sold us a set of spare monkey bars.

Then our group – Sveinn Helgason, Lorne DeGirolamo, Eli Pighin, Laura Saunders, Ross Driver, David & Joanne Killey, Ed Szeliga, Glen & Linda Sutley and family, Keith Jones, Art & Gerry Laforge and Annie Boldt – ventured out on our own with the assistance of Refugio ‘Cuco’ Avila Montes (interpreter and parent)Magaly Gonzoles Flores (Chair of the PTA) and Karla Conzolaz (kindergarden teacher) to come up with a plan to fix up the playgrounds.

Annie Boldt Project 2  Annie Boldt Project 1

First off, 24 mini school chairs in disrepair were brought back to the RV park where our volunteers made new seats and backs, and sanded and painted the chairs in bright kindergarden colors (shown above). When the chairs were delivered back to the school, excited children ran to the truck to carry them back into their classroom.

Annie Boldt Project 11
Annie Boldt Project 15

Next, the teacher’s badly damaged desk was brought back to the RV park and the top was replaced. Then a large, triangular multi-use wooden bench was fabricated.

Annie Boldt Project 13
Annie Boldt Project 10

A load of pea gravel was deposited in front of the school’s fence and Mom’s arrived with wheel barrows and buckets to move the gravel to the play area. It was spread under the swings, wooden benches and monkey bars.

Annie Boldt Project 8  Annie Boldt Project 7
Annie Boldt Project 14
Annie Boldt Project IMG_5514  Annie Boldt Project 9

Then a painting crew of park volunteers arrived to spiffy up the existing equipment while the children ran about  us.

Annie Boldt Project 16

By now it is getting close to the end of February and time for some of our Paraiso del Pescador snowbirds to fly or drive home, but not before we celebrated the end of the season with a hot dog lunch for the children and their Mothers.

We have come back to Canada with a ‘wish list’ of supplies from the teacher for school supplies for the next kindergarden class, 2014-2015.

It feels good to have a project in the Jaltemba Bay area that our winter friends at Paraiso del Pescador Bungalows and RV Park can support!

by Annie Boldt

This story was submitted by one of our readers. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

You may not automatically think of Jaltemba Bay Life when you think of pet travel, but perhaps you should. We have relationships with several government offices, pet rescue organizations and local vets – and we update our Pet Travel Tips & Regulations page on a regular basis.

Regardless of whether you cross the border by land, air or sea, you are required to follow the same basic guidelines when bringing pets into Mexico. Our Pet Travel Tips includes the current regulations for Mexico, the United States and Canada. We highly recommend that you read through the regulations for the country you are traveling to (and from) to make sure you comply with both. We also suggest that you contact your personal vet and your airline, as each state and airline can establish their own rules.

Our Pet Travel Tips page includes:

  • Important Air Travel Tips  (and list of Airlines that fly to/from Mexico)
  • Mexican Pet Travel Regulations
  • US Pet Travel Regulations
  • Canadian Pet Travel Regulations
  • Helpful Pet Travel Links
  • Adopting a Pet from Mexico

Check out our Pet Travel Tips before you plan your next trip with your pet!

by Allyson Williams

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Art is the most holistic way to accomplish the science of communication: it’s informative, entertaining and educational. In the Riviera Nayarit, art and environmental education are coming together as local entities reach out to children.

On June 28th, the El Naranjo Turtle Camp held its 2nd Marine Turtle Drawing Contest organized by the Nayarit Ecologists Group. The group secretary, Ricardo Villaseñor, commented they received 1,100 drawings this year, 200 more than last year. The El Naranjo Turtle Camp is located on the beach just north of La Peñita de Jaltemba.

Some 20 elementary schools participated this time, spanning from Tepic all the way through the Riviera Nayarit to Puerto Vallarta. They designated two categories: from 1st grade through 3rd was denominated “lower elementary,” and 4th through 6th “upper elementary.” There were 18 awards handed out in each category.

“Several people have asked me what do I gain by putting together these contests. The answer is always “environmental education.” It’s our most important work, because if a child does not know the marine turtle, he or she can’t protect it,” Villaseñor pointed out.

“I learned that we must care for and respect the turtles, that we mustn’t hunt them or poach the eggs. This is a great contest,” enthused the winner of the first place in the upper elementary category, Fernanda Narváez, an 11-year-old student at Puerto Vallarta’s Alfred Novel School.

Yael Peña Soltero, a 9-year-old student at Banderas Bay’s Benito Juárez School, was the winner in the lower elementary category. He said he “learned to draw the marine turtle. They’re endangered and that’s why we must care for them by not throwing trash in the sea and not stealing their eggs.”

This event marked the start of the marine turtle season, which will conclude on November 30th.

Call for Entries for the Illustration Contest

The Instituto Tecnológico de Bahía de Banderas (ITBB by its Spanish acronym), the Grupo de Investigación de Mamíferos Marinos (GRIMMA by its Spanish acronym) and Vaitiare began their call for entries for a contest to illustrate a storybook on environmental conservation aimed at children 6-10 years of age,

Mexican illustrators from all over the Republic are welcome to participate. The award ceremony will take place during National Conservation Week, celebrated from October 25-31 at the ITBB. The winner will take home $3,000 Mexican pesos. For rules and regulations visit

Originally published by Riviera Nayarit CVB

We were sitting around the front room having happy hour with our Bed and Breakfast guests, Dave and Lenore Boroughs, and talking about having an adventure. It was decided that we would drop over and see Turtle Beach, since neither of us had been there for a few years. Turned out we found a couple of new things, like a very needy group of Huicholes and a crocodile farm we didn’t know about. Here it is.

Editor’s Note: “Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. 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. 

It is another beautiful day in paradise. It is 8:45 a.m. The jeep is loaded with the four of us, lunches and food and clothing for the poor. We head out through La Peñita, where they are still working on the road; it has been two years now. This is supposed to go through to Tepic and I fully expect it to be finished during my grand children’s or maybe my great grandchildren’s life.

01 - The explorers in paradise
The explorers in paradise: Bob, Vicky, Lenore and Dave the adventurers on this trip. They encounter a remote beach community, a destroyed turtle hatchery, crocodiles, a needy group of Huichol Indians and more.

The countryside is green, the mangoes are getting larger, they should be starting to ripen in late May or early June. We see smoke back in the mountains. This means more rain forests going down the tube. If they keep this up, the day will be seen when there are no more in Nayarit. I read somewhere that at the current rate all will be gone in México within 50 years. During my 6 years here in Rincón de Guayabitos I keep seeing them going and going. Oh, well, civilization, I guess that is progress.

We pass Puerto de la Lima and I note the kilometers to read 295. The tobacco is starting to ripen and all the fields look good even though it is getting toward the dry season. We pass the cut off to Chacala and the many fruit stands. They sell so many nice things. A shame that few gringos stop. Mostly they don’t know what the little packages contain. Many types of fruit and coconut candies. Banana pastries. Honey, fruits and melons.

Arriving in Las Varas, we turn left at the traffic light and go in the direction of Zacualpán, our first stop where we will gas up and visit the outdoor museum. Kilometers are 306. We pass through many more pretty fields of sorgum, tobacco, beans, squash, watermelons, mangoes and other fruits.

We enter Zacualpán at 9:16 and the kilometers are 314.

As we enter we see a lot of very poor looking children under a shed so we pull over. There are about 18 young children, including several babies. There is one woman looking after them. There is a small wood fire and one small pot with some beans cooking. They are Huichol Indians. The older children and parents are out gathering chiles for a packing shed. They will not return until about dark. There is no food in sight except for the small pot of beans. The shed roof was partially blown off by the hurricane and they have tried to make small shelters with pieces of plastic. There is no water and they look hungry and dirty. It is obvious that this is day to day living for them. Vicky brings out the store of rice, beans and sugar that we have aboard. We pass out candy and promise to stop by on our return trip. We snap a few photos and we are on our way.

02 - A needy group of Huichol Indians
A needy group of Huichol Indians: We notice a group of young Huicholes with one woman in charge. They are living under an abandoned shed that had part of the roof missing.

03 - Vicky and her friends
Vicky and her friends: Little food was in sight and times are hard for these little one. Those nine and older were out picking chiles with the adults.

04 - This is home for 58 people
This is home for 58 people: 40 adults (all after age nine were considered adults and work in the field) and 18 children, including babies live here.

05 - Vicky gives a helping hand
Vicky gives a helping hand: Vicky packs something for everyone when we make these trips. Clothing, food, such as rice, beans and sugar, a few toys and candy. 

06 - Look at these smiling faces
Look at these smiling faces: The Huicholes are a proud people that live in remote mountain village, far from modern civilizations. They only come down now and then to sell their handicrafts and earn a little money before returning. These folks are contracted for 3 months to pick chiles.

07 - What is it, when she receives a piece of candy
What is it, when she receives a piece of candy: Basic needs are in short supply and luxuries, such as this, are rare.

Zacualpán is a busy little farm town and we pit stop for gas and make our way to the museum, passing by the large plaza and surrounding church and government buildings, which look neat and colonial. There are found a number of rocks and stones with symbols and carvings. Some elaborate some simple. Some date back over 4000 years ago. Dinosaurs were found in these parts and evidence of hunters. The Aztecs were fairly newcomers here. After looking through the little outdoor museum, made colorful by the many flowers and roses, we reboard the jeep and get on the road again.

08 - An outdoor petroglyph museum
An outdoor petroglyph museum: This museum is located in Zacualpán, Nayarit, México. A little hard to find. There are a number of writings and symbols. What do all of these symbols or drawings mean? Up to 4000 years old, many historians differ as to the use or meanings. We will never know.

10 - This looks similar to Aztec and Mayan work
This looks similar to Aztec and Mayan work: Yet the Mayans were far to the South and the Aztecs never did settle this part of the country. The nearest serious outpost being Aztlán del Río, a couple of hour’s drive from here.

11 - What were these used for.
What were these used for? There used to be a number of these here but people have hauled them off. They look like a round ball cut in half. They had no metal tools, only obsidian. How did they do this?

Entering in San Ysidro, we stop at a small fruit stand on the right. They have maps of the coast near Turtle Beach and the development which has been slowly going in during the past few years. On we go, passing through Ixtapa. It is kilometer 323. We see the high mountains off to our right, which is Le Cumbre and El Malinal. Places where our coffee comes from. As most of our readers know, we get a lot of our coffee directly from the plantations in the mountains. We roast the green beans and grind them fresh daily. Each of these little villages have topes (speed bumps) so watch out! The country is changing and it is dry scrub trees. Not very hospitable looking and the ground does not look fertile. This used to be beautiful rain forest.

Reaching the turnoff to Turtle Beach, we turn left. It is 10:18 and the kilometers are 329. There is a large sign here so you can’t miss this one.

We pass through many newly planted mango groves and planted fields. The road curves and there is a sign that says 6.5 kilometers to Playa Las Tortugas. It is kilometer 333 and the planted fields give way to scrub brush and coconut palms can be seen in the distance. We soon arrive in a coconut grove that stretches as far as the eye can see to the south and the point of Punta Custodio to the north.

12 - A long deserted beach
A long deserted beach: The beach runs for many miles between Punta Custodio and Boca de Chila, the old pirate lair.

13 - Coconut trees line much of the beach
Coconut trees line much of the beach: The beach is deserted for many miles. If I had balloon tires on my jeep I could drive all the way to the treasure cove at Boca de Chila. This is an area we hope to explore soon.

15 - An estuary behind the beach
An estuary behind the beach: This estuary separates the old turtle hatchery from Punta Custodio and the nearby highway. Ecologists have not permitted a bridge and easy access. Good for them.

We soon arrive at the development. About a half dozen very nice homes. Nicely landscaped, a couple very elaborate. Passing through the home area we come to the end of the road and park. The beach is in front of us and there is a large estuary on the right. The beach is long and beautiful. If I only had balloon tires on the jeep I think I could drive all of the way to Boca de Chila (I have a story about this place and the pirate treasure). There are a couple of wrecked buildings, downed power poles and much evidence of damage by Hurricane Kenna back in October of 2002. A turtle hatchery was here. Because the green turtle is, or was on the endangered list, eggs were gathered and brought here to escape poachers, who would gather and sell them, although illegal. Thousands were here and they, along with the buildings that housed them, were destroyed. Hopefully the program will be restarted before the summer season starts again.

16 - Beautiful homes at Turtle Beach
Beautiful homes at Turtle Beach: Six homes have been built during the last several years. The nearby turtle hatchery containing thousands of turtle eggs was destroyed by hurricane Kenna. It is a long hard drive over a rough road or a short boat ride from the fishing village at Platanitos, to get to Turtle Beach. This still leaves you a long way to the nearest town. Like solitud? This is it.

18 - Driving through the coconut groves
Driving through the coconut groves: Thousands of coconuts. Many lying on the ground. There is a popular drink called tuba. We used to make it out in the islands. Put a little fruit down the eyes and plug it. When the plug blows off instant booze.

19 - A nice pool almost on the beach
A nice pool almost on the beach: The home owners association pool. Complete with palapa and facilities. Watch the sunset while relaxing in the warm waters of this pool. Maybe have a margarita too.

We talk briefly with a home owner who tells us that a new phase of the development has started and more homes will be built. A nice place to get away from it all. It looks like something you would find in the south seas. An unspoiled paradise. Although just across the channel from Platanitos, and the highway, you must go all the way around because the ecologists will not permit the mouth of the estuary to be bridged. Hooray for them.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the next issue of our newsletter.

by Bob Howell
Originally published April 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.

Click here to read Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication entitled “In Memory of Bob Howell” which serves as an introduction to this series.

June 2014 was not only the hottest, but also the wettest June since 2011. How do we know? Because back on June 9, 2011, the Official Jaltemba Bay Weather station was installed and activated. The station continues to collect valuable and detailed weather data and uploads it every 10 minutes to provide up-to-the-minute weather conditions for the Jaltemba Bay area.

This June, we received between 9 and 15 more rain days which brought an additional 178-205 mm (7-8 inches) of accumulation as compared to past June totals from 2011-2013. And if you’ve been complaining about the heat and humidity, you have good reason. We also endured temps that were 1-3 degrees warmer (1-2°C / 1-3°F) than the last 3 years.

Here are the comparisons:

June 2014

  • High: 32°C (89°F)
  • Low: 23°C (73°F)
  • Rain Days: 25
  • Rainfall: 356.4 mm (14 inches)
  • Daily Max: 57.4 mm (2.3 inches)

June 2013

  • High: 30°C (86°F)
  • Low: 22°C (72°F)
  • Rain Days: 16
  • Rainfall: 151 mm (5.9 inches)
  • Daily Max: 55 mm (2.2 inches)

June 2012

  • High: 31°C (87°F)
  • Low: 22°C (72°F)
  • Rain Days: 15
  • Rainfall: 157 mm (6.2 inches)
  • Daily Max: 54 mm (2.1 inches)

June 2011

  • High: 31°C (88°F)
  • Low: 23°C (73°F)
  • Rain Days: 10
  • Rainfall: 178 mm (7 inches)
  • Daily Max: 71 mm (2.8 inches)

To view current weather conditions and additional archival data, view the Official Jaltemba Bay Weather page.

Bob-Howell-PhotoBob shared himself widely, with community, with family, old friends and new, strangers, and even strange people (an inside joke for you, Bob, on the remote chance that you are listening to me). Although Bob belonged to everyone, if you were lucky, Bob would give you a little piece of himself, an exclusive gift that was totally yours.

Bob was one of the early encouragers when I began my online bulletin board: La Peñita Folk (later, Jaltemba Bay Folk). Bob’s gift to me was his posts to my board, and sharing of his tales of adventure, exploring in Mexico. There is no doubt that Bob’s sharing had much to do with the early popularity of my board.

When Bob and his partner Vicky took to the back country in his Magic Jeep, along with their trusty thermos of coffee, they always loaded up with the donated clothing, food packages, and medicines for encounters with people in need. It would be hard to overstate the extent to which Bob influenced our community. The largest and most successful of today’s community service organizations, Los Amigos de Jaltemba, can trace its grass roots back to a fund raising party we once had to help support Bob and Vicky’s efforts in the wake of Hurricane Kenna.

Today, there are other groups continuing Bob’s good works here in Jaltemba Bay.

Planning for the future and knowing his time here was limited, Bob built a solid, two story structure on a piece of Vicky’s property. It has two income producing apartments upstairs. The ground level has a small office and a large storage area. It is known as the McKibben Foundation (McKibben was Bob’s mother’s name). Sometimes the bodega is packed full of donated clothing, food staples, school supplies, and medicines; sometimes it is bare. Vicky, now retired from her nursing career, quietly carries on a devotion to the work that she and Bob so loved.

Among about a zillion other things, Bob was a champion horseshoe player. What began as a yearly party with his family and friends has grown into a yearly, weekend party and fundraiser. Since his passing, it is known as the Bob Howell Memorial Horseshoe Tournament. Many people from far and wide, plan their winter vacations to be here for this event. Along with the support of many of Bob’s old friends, his sons Jimmy and David have carried the torch and have been able to pass on hundreds of thousands of pesos to local children for education, recreation, and good health.

When I met Bob, right off the bat, it was fun to know we shared a mutual enjoyment of going off exploring in our Jeeps. Bob was more gregarious than I am. Along with Vicky, he always packed in as many people as the Magic Jeep could fit. Selfishly, I almost always go off solo. But Bob showed me that later, when I return, I can still share the adventure through photos and writing about the adventure.

Bob believed in sharing, and I do too. Anyone liking these stories can make a donation to THEIR cause (see below).

…with the utmost respect, admiration, and love; Happy Trails, Bob.

by Tom Plattenberger

Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication serves as an introduction to a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. The series, entitled “Back Roads of Nayarit,” details Bob’s 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. 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.

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

A couple of years ago I read about a small coffee pueblo, high in the mountains, that overcame the great coffee depression that is very existent today. A man named James Kosalos in the state of Washington imported an expert from Brazil, trained the growers and introduced modern processing equipment. This resulted in the production of quality coffee and the entire crop is being exported at fair market prices. Coffee was first started in this area by German immigrants over a century ago. For those interested, go to search and punch in El Malinal.

This morning we are using Las Varas as our departure point. My traveling companion, Vicky, and I are in our jeep CJ7 and we have another vehicle joining us occupied by our new found friends from Arizona, Lee and Colleen Hunt. Lee and Colleen are now living in San Pancho and are readers of La Peñita Folk. It’s nice for Vicky and I to have company.

Editor’s Note: “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. You can learn more below.

It is 8:24 a.m. and we are just leaving Las Varas. Our goal today is to go to El Malinal the hard way. We plan to go through Zalcualpan and hit the back road at Ixtapan de la Concepción, which is in the direction of San Blas. Passing through Zalcualpan, we decide to stop at the little outdoor museum, which is located a few blocks from the main plaza. Hard to find if you don’t know where it is. The time is 8:37 and we park and enter the little park. There are no admission fees and the caretaker is not normally here. We are on our own. The place is filled with many large and small rocks with ancient drawings of some sort. Many experts have come up with many different interpretations and so we must say we are not sure of what they mean. I see many signs or drawings that are similar to those found near Alta Vista, one of the favorite trips of our Bed and Breakfast guests. Most of these were found during the construction of new roads, digging of wells and other excavations. It is interesting to note that many of the smaller stones and artifacts (most of these are in the museum in Las Varas or Tepic) were uncovered in tombs. These tombs were often dug to depths of 2 or more meters deep and consisted of two rooms. They were then covered so it was impossible to know the location.

A quick cup of mountain grown coffee, which was roasted this morning, and we are off. We are passing through fields of tobacco and corn. Everything is so green. Off to our right, and towering above all, are the high forbidding mountains that we will soon be entering. El Malinal is supposed to be about 4,000 feet and I see a peak that must be about that. Wow! We are really going to have to climb. They look so steep from here. Vicky talked to a gentlemen just outside the museum earlier and he said that the road to El Malinal was “muy fea” (very bad). I hope this is not the case. We pass through the little village of San Ysidro. There a few little palapa huts along the road selling bananas, honey, coconuts and that sort of thing. A couple of topes here. Passing through we encounter groves of mangos and guanabanas. Here comes a man riding on his horse and carrying a large bundle. It is really refreshing to see someone riding, not just for pleasure, but for transportation. Approaching the village of Ixtapan de la Concepción, we start looking for someone to tell us where the turnoff is to El Malinal. We stop and ask a couple of people who give us vague directions, and we turn right on a dirt road on the edge of town. Continuing on we encounter a gentlemen on a bicycle and he says yes, we are on the right road. The road is not really bad. We are poking along in 2nd gear. It is a beautiful little valley. There are a lot of different crops growing in the fields on either side and a few scattered palapas. We see a large field of corn with a stream running down the center. We see a fellow walking along the road and ask him if he would like a ride. He accepts and tells us he is going to a the small village of Los Guajalotes, which is not too far up the road. His name is Don Jose, he is 59 years old and has lived in Ixtapan for many years, but has never been to El Malinal, just a few kilometers ahead. A short distance further we see a fellow walking and offer him a ride, which he accepts. An interesting young man who is a teacher in the pueblito of Juan Escutia. He is 17 years old and is in the same program as Vicky’s daughter. Because there is a shortage of teachers in the small villages, bright young students, 15 years of age and above, can enter a teaching program and then be sent out to remote areas and teach in the lower grades. They are paid a small salary, boarded by the villagers and may serve one or more years. The salary continues after their period of service for a length of time that is determined by length of service. This helps them finish high school and even university if they wish.

We pass through the little village of Juan Escutia, drop off our passengers and stop on the edge of town for a coffee break. Of interest is that on one of our maps the town is named Los Guajalotes, but is now called Juan Escutia. I remember this name very well. The Marine Corps hymn starts “from the halls of Moctezuma…,” which describes the citadel that the marines assaulted in the Mexican war. The primary assault was made by the marines and were met by the most staunch defenders, the young officer cadets. Juan Escutia of Tepic was one of these young cadets, 15 or 16 years old (you can visit his former home in Tepic). The Mexicans refer to these young cadets as Los Niños Heroes. They were all killed as I understand. As a Marine, I can say that this is not one of the proudest moments in our history, but in defense it must be said that an armed young cadet can kill you just as easily as an older soldier.

We stop under some shade and break out coffee and sweet rolls. At this time we are approached by a gentlemen named Alfonso Anzaldo with his mule; he is 87 years old, appears to be in good health and vigorous. He is very talkative and we offer him refreshments, which he accepts. We talk of the pueblo and he tells us of some caves, which are located above the town, and in which gold is found. Another treasure story! Folks with metal detectors, where are you?

Leaving Juan Escutia, we start passing through an almost jungle area. We see lots of tall palms and many very large air plants with flowers that look like orchids. We are seeing more birds. Vicky just saw a Baltimore Oriole and a Mourning Dove. Now we come out of the jungle and enter open country with different kinds of palms. Now we pass a little settlement named El Palmar. Our next goal is San Antonio, a few kilometers more. We are entering a jungle area again and are climbing even more. Here we see coffee plants. We are in coffee country.

The road is narrow and we are overtaken by a truck. We pull over and he narrowly passes by. It is a vegetable truck with eggs and other things for sale to the villagers, and yes, he says we are not far from San Antonio. We soon arrive in said pueblo and the time is 11:01. We have been on the road for about 3 hours. It is a much larger village than I expected. The streets are cobblestone and we see several nice houses. We stop in front of the little church and talk to various townsfolk. As usual, we ask about things of interest, waterfalls, petroglyphs, etc.

One man tells us that about 3 kilometers back down the road we had just passed was an archaeology zone; that some months past a movie company came in and spent some time filming, and that the movie could be seen in Tepic. A good reason to return here someday? The day is moving on and we still have a long way to go, so we are off again. Next stop El Malinal, which we judge to be about 8 km. more and an expected arrival time of midday.

The cobblestones continue for some distance and we see a fork in the road. We bear to the right. We are really climbing now. We leave the coffee country, but just as the cobblestones end (about 3 km. down the road) we start the coffee country again. Now the cobblestones start again. The trees are very high. This is truly mountain, shade grown coffee. Vicky is happy and starts singing. This clear mountain air, the green tunnel of trees and coffee plants, I have a great traveling companion – what a way to spend a life! We start passing guanábano trees and Vicky sees smoke coming from across the valley. I think it is from a hot spring – there is no village near here. We soon pass a gentleman on a horse with a couple of dogs and he tells us we are about 10 minutes from El Malinal. We continue to climb under the shade and what a view we have. We encounter another man and he tells us we are only about 15 minutes from El Malinal. Would you believe that. We travel some distance and lose a few minutes, oh well. Soon we see a coffee processing plant. We must be arriving in El Malinal.

We have just arrived at a coffee processing plant on the edge of El Malinal. We are in the middle of Arabica coffee country. We see huge avocado trees with very large fruit. There are few of these on the American market. Don`t confuse them with the large almost tasteless ones from Florida. We picked up a couple and the oil content is high and they are delicious. Underneath, and well shaded are the coffee plants.

We walk over to the plant and notice a lot of new machinery with sheds and concrete outside drying areas. There are a couple of friendly workers who give us detailed descriptions of the equipment and processes. They bring in the beans, wash and dry them, remove the hard outer shells, and then the inside shell and membrane. We thank them and continue for a couple hundred yards into El Malinal.

A very unusual town. Cobblestone streets with houses on both sides but built completely around huge dark boulders. All is very rocky. We stop mid village. Not a plaza as such, but a huge paved area. There is a church and a tienda (store), and a group of men seated in front. I decide I will buy some coffee beans. I have been waiting a couple of years to try beans from here. We get out and chat with some of the village elders.

There are about 150 families in the pueblo. There are no green coffee beans for sale at this time. This years crop suffered insect damage and the marketable crop was reduced by two thirds (I got a lot more information on this later, but what makes it so sad is that it was preventable, and without chemicals). The marketable crop was bought up entirely by San Cristobal Importers, the Washington State based company.

Off again. After a couple of ‘s we come to a fork in the road and we stop for – you would never guess – a coffee break. After we take the road to the right. The road is now going through natural deposits of Cal (lime). Now the road is descending sharply. We are seeing lots of tropical plants, although we are still at a high elevation. Now we seem to be leaving coffee country. We come to a turn off in the road and note a few scattered buildings, corrals and cattle. Vicky walks over and says this is the pueblito of El Italiano. An interesting name and I have to see what the story is here.

We meet three elderly ladies and chat awhile. One is 98 and the youngest is in her 70s. They are all sisters and they are friendly and talkative. They invite us into the house, where they have been working in the kitchen. The stove is adobe and they are preparing the afternoon meal. Tortillas, chiles and beans are cooking. The older sister is working very hard. What energy at age 98! Two have never been married. We notice two men in the settlement. One is the husband of the younger sister. We now notice a lot of coffee plants and citrus trees. The rancho used to be a lot larger. It was settled by Italian immigrants over a century ago. My friend Lee talks to them in Italian, but they don’t understand. When the revolution of 1910 came, much of the settlement was destroyed and many people were lost. Now it is impossible to get help for the ranch. There is only themselves. They give us a tour of some of the ranch and fill our arms and caps with citrus along with some coffee beans. I would like to record the history here, but the day is getting late, I will just have to try and return some day.

This is really a pretty little ranch. Everything is here. We notice also chickens, pigs and goats. Nobody to bother you. We see water lines all over. It seems to be coming from springs higher in the mountain. I can see the Italian immigrants arriving at this mountain Eden. After the difficulties of land ownership and taxes in Italy at that time this must have really been something. Probably more land than they could walk around in a single day and free (maybe a small propina to the right place). They lived happily here until the revolution. How heartbreaking it must have been to lose loved ones and most of what they had worked so hard for.

On the road again. It is a little rough going, 1st and 2nd gear and a little dusty. Now a distance away from the little ranch, we are seeing signs of civilization. Vicky asks someone who tells us that this is La Cofradia. We continue on without stopping (we should have stopped because later I learned that this ejido produces fine coffee). We start to descend rapidly. The scenery is beautiful. We are overlooking a large valley. We meet a man on the road who tells us the main highway is only 15 minutes distant. Now we are starting to meet a few other vehicles. We pass over a lively little stream. We meet another man who says we have about a half hour to go to the main highway. Ah, yes. Situation normal. It is getting dusty now and we are getting into a lot of sugarcane fields. The map shows that the road is better. I think that is open for discussion. We come to a cobblestone road and then a fork; we go to the right. We come to another fork in the road. Walking along the road we see a young Indian woman with two children. They look so poor. Their clothing is in tatters. She is carrying a load of firewood and a little boy is carrying a baby which is almost as big as he is. She tells us which road to take. Stopping, we give her what food we have left, including all of the citrus she can carry from El Italiano.

We finally enter the highway and turn right toward Compostela. The dust is really flying as we pick up speed. I look closer at Vicky and she looks like a ghost.

This is almost the end of the tale – there is more. We continue and take the by-pass around Compostela and on the straight of way our traveling companions, Lee and Colleen Hunt, pass us and continue on. We pull over just after the intersection of the highway to Guadalajara and stretch our legs. I notice a plant across the highway and there is a sign that says something about coffee. If you read my recent article, “The Indians Won,” you know what happened. For those who didn’t, here goes. We entered and started talking to a fellow who turns out to be Jim Cosalos (of El Malinal fame). He is sorting coffee beans. I tell him of my interest and he shows me around and enlightens me on the grading and the making of good coffee. I have prided myself on making good coffee, but when I left I felt I didn’t know the first thing. Jim told me of the problems they had this year. That the beans had suffered a plague and a good crop was produced by only those growers that followed the correct guidelines, such as picking all of the fruit and cleaning up debris to prevent the insect nesting areas. He was not able to buy enough coffee from El Malinal. Much of the coffee he was processing came from La Cofradia, the village we bypassed. Jim said quality beans were hard to come by this year, but hopes the growers will do better in the future. He gave me a couple of kilos of great coffee beans. I then noticed that while all of this was going on Vicky was kicking back in a hammock and sipping – you guessed it, a cup of coffee. We thanked him and reboarded our jeep after another great day on the BACK ROADS OF NAYARIT.

by Bob Howell
Originally published April 2002 on La Peñita Folk

Editor’s Note: “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.

Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication entitled “In Memory of Bob Howell” serves as an introduction to this series.

One of the great enjoyments of my winters in the Jaltemba Bay area are the many species of hummingbirds that come to the feeders hanging in our yard in El Tonino. This little male Calliope Hummingbird (above) is just one of them. At only 3¼-inch long, it definitely falls into the “little” category!

Cinnamon and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds Tosia Archer
The Ruby-throated and Cinnamon Hummingbirds’s bright colour and larger size make them a desirable target for my camera.

My summers are spent in Ontario, Canada, where we only get one species of hummingbird, the Ruby-throated – and it always amazes me to see the same species feeding at my feeders in Mexico during the winter months. What a migration they do… down to Mexico in the fall and all the way back up to Canada in the spring!

by Tosia Archer

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This photo was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

I have been living in Mexico for a year and a half. In two short weeks we leave to make our way to the Marshall Islands to set up our next base camp. I have valuable insight. Life in Mexico can be amazing. If you approach it the right way. Here is a survival guide on how to make the most of living in Mexico, or at least… HOW TO SURVIVE.

Whatever the reason for you living in Mexico, or thinking about living in Mexico, this guide will work for you. Teenager, retiree, diver, surfer, mommy, twenty-something, hippy, construction worker, European, family of a deportee. If you follow these steps to make the most of your experience, it will be one of the most amazing things you ever did for yourself.

I am a cultural anthropologist. A writer. A world traveler. A mommy. A teacher. A professor. A dreamer. A happiness-finder and outdoor adventurer and respectful human being. And this is how I survived.

How I Survived Living in Mexico

1. I Abandoned my Materialistic Philosophy. Had to. Upon moving here, one of my goals was this exact thing. And the second my foot stepped off the plane, I made a vow to abandon this idea that things and people are judged by materialism and to try to erase it from my mind. This was the launch of a beginning to see the world in a whole new light and not clouded by a materialistic philosophy. Mexico will never provide the comforts and luxuries that we are used to in the US. And the beautiful thing is that it doesn’t claim to, or necessarily ever want to. So do yourself a favor and leave your materialism behind because it will get you nowhere here. And if it does happen to get you somewhere, that will not be a place of truth for really ‘living’ here.

2. I Kept an Open Mind. No judgment. Of anything. Even when required.There is lots of weird shit to see and do here. And it’s pretty easy to race to a judgment about how those things are crazy, unsafe, unsanitary, or stupid. But do yourself a favor and don’t. Because it’s not fair. And because for every unrefrigerated chicken, there is a life lesson to be learned. For every hot dog slice on a pizza and family on a moped, there is a lesson. Spend more time trying to figure out that life lesson than judging like an ignorant American. Keep an open mind.

Living in Mexico Crystal Blue 6

3. I Embraced Everything. I tried every food, talked to every person, and embraced the hell out of this opportunity. I never once took it for granted and said ‘I hate Mexico’, ‘if only they had…,’ no. If you wish it was different then go home. If you accept it for what it is and seek out the beauty and freedom and embrace these unique opportunities, then you will survive and thrive farther than you can even dream.

4. I Worked with Mexicans. I taught at a school as a full-time faculty member. Just like everyone else there. Except I was the only white person. With blonde hair. Sticking out like a sore thumb. But I did it. I challenged myself to learn, grow, adapt, and excel teaching at a spanish Mexican school. This is immersion to the fullest. I mingled everyday and had professional expectations, conferences, and was responsible for rearing future generation Mexicans. A heavy weight for a blonde American. And walking home from school everyday through town, I was stared into the ground by tourists not believing I was lucky enough to live here. I mean… who lives here? It’s for vacation. And same with the locals. Not believing that I lived and worked here. The uniform shirt was a dead giveaway and I think it gave me respectable status.

Living in Mexico Crystal Blue 2

5. I Adventured Everyday. Every damn day. My daughter and I got up at the crack to go conquer some new world, fulfill another dream, and live out another adventure. My adventure bag has been packed since we got here. It never gets a chance to get unpacked. I have it down to a science. Sunscreen, snorkels, masks, water shoes, water bottles, camera, sunglasses. Ready for anything. Climbing ancient ruins, jumping and swimming in new cenotes, free diving, snorkeling turtle pathways, kayaking, horseback riding, scuba diving, beach-combing, camping, boating, biking, dreamcatcher shopping, or just plain happy hour drinking. On the beach. While having a sandcastle contest with local policia who should be manning the taxi stand, but are instead loving life too much to be bothered and enjoy a face-off with a 6 year old in a mermaid sandcastle contest. Every day is an adventure. Everyday the sun is shining. And when it’s not, you are thankful for the clouds and rain. Everyday a new adventure awaits, a new country, new people, new places, new food, new random conditions and amazing paradise adventures await. Don’t sit around on wifi. Don’t lay around and get high all day or mope about missing McDonalds. Get off your ass and go adventure Mexico.

6. I Ate Street Tacos. I hear many people are scared of these things. What a shame. Because herein lies the heartbeat of Mexico. Like in America, it’s Chevy, a damn car. Heartbeat of America. Here, it’s the food. Tortillas, empanadas, burritos, enchiladas. It’s all the same thing. Tortillas in various form. All greasy and delicious. All local. And all better than the fancy steakhouses lit up brightly for the tourists too scared to venture onto the side-street. Do yourself a favor and eat the street tacos. To fulfill a physical need. But also a psychological one. Eating street tacos is the rite of passage to becoming a legit Mexican traveler and more open-minded human being. And they are an immense part of Mexican culture. Go ahead, see what they’re all about. I promise they won’t kill you.

7. I Made Mexican Friends. Yes. Mainly from work. And then all of my daughter’s friends. And my best friend here too. They showed us a different way of life. Different culture, activities, and perspective on the world. I got the inside scoop. If you don’t do this, you don’t really live in Mexico. Because the people are the life. Open your mind. Open your heart. Open your tortilla. And fill it all with some amazing Mexican friends who will turn your value system upside down and show you a different life that exists a country away.

8. I Took Advantage of the Freedom. Mexico offers a level of freedom that hardly even exists in the US, even behind the scenes. I wear flip flops and a bikini everyday. Never a bra. Never heels or makeup. I can walk down the street with a beer. I can ride public transportation barefoot. I can grocery shop in a bikini and I can even swim at the beach naked if I so choose. I could ride an ATV down the street with traffic, sleep on the side of the road, and bring drinks from the gas station into a restaurant with me. Everything is chill. Mexicans choose their battles. And does it really matter? It’s deeper than just rules. It’s the beauty of self-regulation. And right choices. The freedom to think, and believe, and do, and achieve, whatever you want, without being herded and molded and restricted, that is so liberating. DO yourself a favor and feel this freedom too. Lick it, love it. It empowers the mind, body, and soul. And you will never forget that time you lived actually how you wanted. Walking through town barefoot, with a beer, no bra, no makeup, and no one to tell you that you are wrong. But with everyone to tell you that you are beautiful.

Living in Mexico Crystal Blue 11

9. I Learned the Language. Not fluently. Not even great. Or perfect like my 6 year old daughter (jealous…)! But I was open to learning what I could and ended up being able to communicate with everyone. I didn’t hold up a wall to learning and adapting to the ways of life here. And when you understand the concepts of the local language, you thereby understand so much more about the culture. And you earn respect as well. Even if the product isn’t great. But for caring, respecting, and trying. If you’re living in Mexico, you need to speak Spanish.

10. I Stayed Positive. Through all the trials and tribulations, which there were. I always stayed positive. My horchata was always half full.

11. I Stayed Strong. Similar to #10 yet different. I not only stayed strong in Mexico, but I grew strong here. This place takes strong to a whole new level. And I survived. I sort of feel that I have stood the test of time with this one. Sometimes I was not sure I would make it out of the pen, but I always did. And as an offset, things in my life here have been more amazing than I ever could have imagined. It’s not all glory. Some guts. But looking back, I am proud of those guts I suffered to get to this Mexican glory. This is an amazing place that has the ability to humble you to the basement and watch how you crawl, all with the mastermind plan that the process will place gratitude and humility into your heart like never before, where it will stay for the rest of your life. The hard is hard, but the lessons and the good is far beyond excellent.

Living in Mexico Crystal Blue 3

12. I Sought Out Life Lessons. Everyday I made sure to live consciously in order to gain the necessary life lessons that I was supposed to learn that day. Every good, every bad. Every challenge, every palm leaf, bike-ride, bead of sweat, cockroach, magical cenote, beach cabana, coconut, sun ray, raindrop, grain of sand, sunrise, sunset, new friendship, and old memory. It all happened for a reason. Every day was a life lesson. Which I wrote about and shared. Thankful to be out on this road living this life having these lessons so that I can send them all home. And maybe change your home, or neighborhood, or town, or family too. Because life lessons aren’t just found in Mexico. Sometimes it takes Mexico to show us that lessons lie in everyday life. In the beauty of flowers and children and tears. But, even though they exist, most of us don’t tap into these lessons because we are too busy, or too tired, or just don’t care. Well this year and a half I cared. And I came to live these lessons and see for myself. And if you have been reading along with me, thank you, and I hope you have learned something alongside me.

So when I use the word ‘survive’ I actually mean ‘how did I survive before Mexico?’ Because living here for this year and a half has been the best gift I ever gave myself. I not only survived, but I thrived and thrived and thrived. If you follow all of these steps, I promise you will survive Mexico just fine too. It’s not that bad really. It’s amazing. And I will miss it terribly. Thank you, Mexico.

by Crystal Blue

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Crystal for allowing us to republish this article. Crystal traveled through Cozumel, Tulum and the Mayan Riviera. You can follow her next adventure to the Marshall Islands via her Facebook page: The Blonde Mexican Project.

If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

The official Jaltemba Bay Weather page was just updated to include all weather data collected through the month of May, and as you can see, summer temperatures are already upon us.

I am amazed at the detailed information our weather instrument records for all of us to ponder. Here are a few observations that I hope you will find interesting, too.

Rainfall – During the month of May, we had a total of 5 days with measurable amounts of rain, totaling 31.2 mm or about 1¼-inches. This can probably be attributed to the first hurricane of the season, Amanda, which was short lived and drifted westward out to sea without causing any damage.

Rain Measurements – Rainfall is measured five ways: rate, day, storm, month and year. The daily rainfall is measured from midnight to midnight each day. The storm amount is calculated from the time it begins to rain until 24-hours after the last drop has fallen. The rate, month and year amounts need no explanation. You can compare rainfall amounts on the Official Jaltemba Bay Weather page.

El Niño – We are currently experiencing an El Niño climate change, which is a general warming trend caused by warmer-than-normal sea-surface temperatures, changes in the surface pressures and a weakening of the trade winds. This usually causes drier weather in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean and wetter-than-normal weather in the Eastern Pacific. El Niños occur every 2-7 years and can last from 9 months to 2 years. For all you fishermen out there, warmer ocean temps caused by some El Niños may reduce the upwelling of the cold nutrient-rich waters, consequently negatively affecting local fishing.

An El Nino is the opposite of a La Niña, which produces slightly cooler water temperatures. La Niña conditions recur every few years and can persist for as long as two years. Both of these phenomena have huge effects on global weather. According to meteorologists, the southern US should get above average rainfall and fewer tornadoes as a result of this El Nino.

Santa Ana Winds – So far this year, we have experienced one Santa Ana wind. This occurred on January 15th. According to our weather station, we endured 37 km/23.5 mile per hour winds coming from the Sierra Madre mountains, which pushed our temps up just over 92 F (33.1 C) for a few hours. By definition, Santa Ana winds are strong, usually hot and extremely dry, down-slope winds that originate inland. Santa Ana winds blow mostly in the autumn and winter, but can occur at other times of the year also.

NEW Mean Temperature – We just added an indicator for monthly mean temperatures on the 2014 weather chart. This is shown as a light orange bar next to the dark orange high temperature bar. The mean temperature is the average of all lows and highs for that month.

Where Does this Data Come From – The Jaltemba Bay Weather station is located approximately 50 feet (15 meters) above street level next to the beach in Rincón de Guayabitos. The weather instrument, a Davis Vantage Pro2, is funded and maintained by the Jaltemba Bay Life team. Live data is automatically uploaded every 10 minutes from the device directly to the Official Jaltemba Bay Weather page on

It may also be of interest to note that the device is directly exposed to both the ocean and mountain breezes. Because of this all-around exposure, temperatures recorded are generally a few degrees cooler than those you experience on the streets and in town (3-5 degrees and sometimes more). Rainfall amounts and wind velocity can also vary considerably throughout the bay.

View the Official Jaltemba Bay Weather page for up-to-the-minute weather information… 24/7

by David Thompson

For a change of scenery, consider a day trip to some of the other towns and villages around this part of Jaltemba Bay. Our group of 6 friends makes a trip to Chacala every year we are here. It’s about 30 minutes north of La Peñita on the road to San Blas. Turn left on the road to Chalaca just before you get to Las Varas. It’s marked with signs, and all the taxi drivers know where it is.

The little village of Chacala is home to about 300 residents with a few tourists staying for all or part of the winter. It has a spectacular sandy beach and lots of places with food and accommodation. Great for a day trip from the Guayabitos area.

For our trip, we hired a local taxi van from La Peñita. We were a little surprised when the driver showed up with his 12-year-old son Alex. He had been raised in California and spoke perfect English. It was a delight to have him along as he acted as a self-appointed guide. He had such a great personality, taking the time to point out different crops, trees and interesting things growing along the way to Chacala.

When we arrived at the beach, we arranged to be picked up later that afternoon and headed for the sand and surf. Chacala is a picture postcard spot that will delight those looking for a more Mexican town without the over-development of larger cities. Dirt roads, palm frond palapas and colorful 2-story buildings make up the small village. This is not the spot for those craving jet skis, parasailing and a rocking night life. If you appreciate quiet walks along the sandy shore, reading a book in the shade of a palm tree or sipping a cool drink at one of the beach front restaurants, this is it. If you were any more relaxed than this, you might slip into a coma.

We walked along a short trail on the west side of the bay until we came to another small bay where the local fishing boats anchor and the Port Authority is located. There are some remains of an old building that date back to ancient times when the locals fished the area.

After a delightful stroll about town, delicious lunch and drinks on the beach, it was time to meet our taxi back to Guayabitos. After we headed out of town our guide Alex asked us “do you want to stop and see my uncles farm?” Absolutely we did. Any chance to experience interaction with a local is much appreciated and usually ends up being the best part of any trip. We were in awe when we pulled off the road to a little patch of land that had been manicured as beautifully as any downtown park. Even the earth had been packed down and swept as clean as pavement.

Alex introduced us to his uncle and began to show us what he had planted and harvested on his little farm. All kinds of fruits and nuts were growing and some drying in the warm sun. His uncle showed us the well he had dug by hand. It was amazing to see the perfectly round hole in the ground that was about 5 feet across and at least 30 feet deep. Two ladders were tied together to reach the bottom and a large pointed post was used to break up the soil on the bottom. The soil was loaded into a bucket and then the uncle climbed the ladder and proceeded to haul the soil to the surface with a rope. This was a mind-boggling chore to us and we hoped he would soon discover that all important liquid of life. We marveled at how hard this man had worked and what a simple lifestyle he lived. It made me think of the contrast of our life at home with granite counter tops, big screen TV, computers, cell phones, multiple bathrooms and many other luxuries we take for granted.

The highlight of the day was the unexpected stop at the little farm and generosity of the family of sharing their life and achievements. There was no expectation of a fee for the unplanned stop and I believe it was simply a young man proud of his uncle’s accomplishments and wanting to share them with us. Needless to say we thought it was appropriate to tip his father the taxi driver as we always do and of course added a generous tip for Alex, our self appointed guide. A trip to Chacala we will not soon forget.

by Brian Betts

View our Map of Chacala here, and for the exact location, view our Pacific Coast Nayarit Map

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Numbers don’t lie. Since the beginning of March, 28 local low-income women have received free diagnostic mammograms and more than 40 women have been taught how to do breast self exams. These numbers illustrate how seriously the Cancer Walk Committee is working to promote early cancer detection in order to positively impact the lives of the Jaltemba Bay area women. To all of the wonderful people that attend the annual Walk Against Cancer, know that your fun afternoon is having a lasting impact and that this initiative would not be possible without your financial donations!

In March, the Cancer Walk committee (CW) collaborated with the Los Amigos de Jaltemba group, and through them, welcomed six Mexican women to the CW committee. Not only do these women support the 2014 free mammogram initiatives, the new members had great suggestions on how to effectively accomplish those goals. Using the Community Cultural Center for the venue, the CW now provides a free monthly breast exam seminar. The dedicated volunteers took the CW signup to the main avenida in La Peñita with very positive results. In addition to the adults, eight Conalep students passed out literature and told shoppers about the upcoming workshop – great multi-national teamwork! It’s education brought to the citizens.

At the seminars, Blanca Venegas, a nurse from IMSS (the Mexican federal healthcare provider) and Dr. Urguijo (pictured below), from Chacala, explain how to do a breast self examination using a slide show. If the attendee has a specific medical concern, she is referred to a doctor or sent directly to get a diagnostic mammogram.

Cancer Walk Update 4  Cancer Walk Update 5

Another huge accomplishment for the non-profit Cancer Walk group is affiliating with Diagnostic Imaging group, a specialized laboratory that is experienced in women’s health issues. Diagnostic Imaging is part of the DIV medical consortium that offers an early detection program and provides diagnostic analysis using mammogram and ultrasound, besides working with five regional hospitals. We have arranged for prompt x-ray analysis to eliminate a return visit for the client to pick up the test results.

Recap of What Cancer Walk Does

The 2014 CW committee voted to bring immediate assistance to the low income, high need women in the Jaltemba Bay area.

The consensus of what was the most cost effective and manageable method to immediately assist women in the Jaltemba Bay area, was determined to be a voucher system to help pay for individual mammogram/ultrasound testing. Under this system, the physician completes the form and the bottom portion is returned to the committee, becoming the invoice that is paid after the mammogram is completed. Dra. Lidia Flores sets up the appointment and arranges transportation for the client. Thus far, the women clients have received caring, prompt and effective medical assistance.

You can view a copy of the Cancer Walk 2014 Voucher here.

It must be noted that the Cancer Walk committee – like most of the other non-profit helping groups in our little community – is comprised largely of seasonal residents. None of the committee is trained in any medical profession, and detecting breast cancer is a highly specific medical treatment. We decided to let trained physicians do the selection of patients and identify the need for testing. The funds generated at the once a year event are used to pay for mammograms and transportation to the testing facility. Another CW initiative is to educate the community about the importance of early detection. We are hosting monthly workshops and having volunteers go to area schools.

Cancer Walk Update 7  Cancer Walk Update 6

2015 Jaltemba Walk Against Cancer

Mark you calendars and join us for the 2015 Jaltemba Walk Against Cancer.

Date: Monday, February 16
Location: We’ll start at Mateja’s Bar & Grill on the beach in Rincón de Guayabitos and finish at Hinde y Jaime’s Bar & Restaurant in La Peñita for dancing, drinks and fun!

It is amazing how teamwork makes the difference!

For more information or to donate, email:
Yvonne Trottier:
Tara Spears:

For more information, visit Cancer de Mama.

by Cancer Walk Committee

As our departure date approaches, this question presents itself… Where will the next day trip take us? Like a thunderbolt, the answer flashes from the road atlas page. There centered in bold print is the destination – Compostela, a colonial city. We’ve driven past the Nayarit city on our way to the Mexican interior, but never paused to visit. Thus the present adventure was grasped.

Leaving Los Ayala early insured breakfast in Las Varas enjoying “Divorced Eggs” and “French Bread” at Angelita’s ever popular restaurant. As mentioned in an earlier article, the trip is not solely about the destination, but about the journey along the way. Conversations flowed uninterrupted until reaching Mesillas, stopping at Café Nayarit for a coffee and a brief visit with friends, Elizabeth and Mario. Over the seasons we’ve visited the family’s coffee plantation to film petroglyphs on a rock wall.

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A visit with our two young friends at Café Nayarit in Mesillas. Great fresh brewed coffee.

You can learn more about Café Nayarit and their coffee plantation in this previous article.

After saying our goodbyes, we drove across the highway to visit another good friend, Felipe Rodriguez, an elderly stone carver. As always, our visit is heartfelt and of course we purchased a small figurine while friends, Ted and Jan, scooped up stone carvings for family gifts. Visiting Felipe’s workshop is a worthwhile stop to gain a glimpse of a Mexican culture that is seldom experienced in coastal tourist towns. A must stop for any adventurous inquisitive individual. If his shop door is open, the welcome mat is out.

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Visiting with stone carver, Felipe Rodriguez. A must stop in the small town of Mesillas.

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A sample of the many stone carvings that can be found on Felipe’s dusty shelves.

Felipe, our Mexican friend- a Mesillas icon.
Felipe, our Mexican friend and Mesillas icon.

Continuing to follow the twisting turning highway through the Sierra Madre Mountain range our next brief stop is a green two-story roadside shrine where small candles were being lit by people who probably lost loved ones or pray for safety along this stretch of highway. Reaching Compostela’s center, we locate a nearby parking spot. A short walk returns us to the historic picture-perfect zócalo with the 16th century Cathedral (photo below), complete with its loud clanging bell announcing the hour. Something to recall if planning to stay overnight in a nearby hotel! In the center, the majestic bandstand holds the spotlight. In front of the Cathedral, a small fountain provides a drink for the pigeons while the flowering shrubs complete the picturesque setting. In the southern corner of the square, the compact Compostela Archeology and History Museum presents inherited evidence from the region’s past. Diagonally across from the museum is a popular restaurant, thus cementing the plaza’s tourist importance.

The majestic 16th Century Cathedral.
The majestic 16th Century Cathedral.

An excellent display of preclassical (400BC to 200AD) ceramic figures.
An excellent display of preclassical (400BC to 200AD) ceramic figures.

Most might consider the Cathedral and its ornate interior the community’s main attraction. For us the major impact were the spotless streets, the pedestrian walkways and the helpfulness and friendliness of the local people. One such example occurred when after purchasing watermelons, we managed to splatter one on the sidewalk. For the clean-up a plastic bag was required. The vendor didn’t have one, but seeing our plight a merchant rushed across the street with a large store bag. Compostela turned into a hidden gem, and it’s only a brief drive from Rincón de Guayabitos.

First things first a  chance to purchase Hwichol crafts.
First things first, a chance to purchase Huichol crafts.

While in Compostela we found an opportunity to purchase a western style belt.
While in Compostela, we found an opportunity to purchase a western style belt.

The intrepid tourists or so we think!
The intrepid tourists or so we think!

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This restaurant served delicious fresh meals and was the final highlight before heading home.

Driving Directions

From the Rincón de Guayabitos Pemex, the round trip is approximately 134 km (84 miles). Direct driving time one way is 45-60 minutes. During holiday periods, the highway can be congested.

Drive Highway 200 towards Tepic. Nearing Compostela continue towards Tepic, turn right onto Calzado Gral Flores Munoz, the first road past the Pemex station #2380. We never did spot the street name! Passing a stadium you’ll come to a white coloured roundabout, blend to the right onto Miguel Hidalgo. Follow this street directly to the square. Locate a parking spot nearby. Visit the square’s attractions, wander the city’s streets, possibly shopping and maybe rent a Mexican bike rickshaw complete with driver for an escorted city tour. Enjoy your Compostela visit.

by John and Doreen Berg

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Nopal cactus are members of the Opuntia genus from the Cactaceae family, and are commonly known as the Prickly Pear cactus. There are dozens of varieties and well over 200 species. They grow throughout Mexico and the southwestern United States and are known for their nutritional and medicinal properties. It is interesting to note that there are two fresh food crops – a vegetable and a fruit – harvested from the nopal cactus.

The ripe flat cactus pads, called nopales (pronounced noh-PAHL-leys), are commonly used in Mexican dishes. This tender vegetable is used in salads, eggs, stews and tacos and provides an excellent source of vitamin A and C, calcium, magnesium and dietary fiber. Nopales, or nopalitos, taste a little like green beans and have a slimy texture similar to okra when cooked. To prepare nopales, you need to remove the sharp spines (espinas) with a vegetable peeler or small pairing knife, wash them with cool water and trim off any blemished areas. Then cut them into strips or bite-sized pieces, depending on the dish you are preparing.

Nopal cactus also produce a sweet edible pear-shaped fruit called tuna, or prickly pear. The fruit grows on the edges of the pads, reaches 2-6 inches long (5-15 cm) and ranges in color from yellowish-green (less sweet) to orange or dark red (very sweet). They are often used in salads, jams, desserts and agua fresca. Tunas are covered with prickly hair-like splinters, called glochids, and should be handled and cleaned with care.

How Nopal Cacti Grow

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Nopal cactus begin flowering profusely in the late spring.

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They also produce several new buds, like the six shown on the mature dark green paddle on the right.

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The buds develop into pineapple-like sprouts, like the small one in the upper left corner and the two larger sprouts near the center of this photo.

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Those sprouts quickly grow into bright green pads, like the one in the bottom left quadrant. These fresh tender immature pads, called nopales, can be eaten raw or cooked.

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After several weeks, there were dozens of new pads on the nopal cactus in my garden (the ones shown are actually past the point of picking).

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While the mature dark green paddles may look spine-free, the entire cactus is covered with numerous almost-invisible blond splinters, called glochids, as well as with large spines on the trunk (shown above). If you touch one of the pads or flowers, you’ll discover this quickly… as the glochids are very irritating and hurt like-the-dickens.

Editor’s Note: It just so happens that I acquired the cactus in these photos exactly a year ago. I casually mentioned to my gardener that I wanted another nopal for my garden, and he delivered and planted this one for me for following week. When I asked him who “Javier y Chepi” were (you may have noticed their names engraved near the base), he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I looked at him and said, “well, I sure hope they don’t miss their cactus.” We still chuckle about it today!

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Nopal flowers, which form on the end of the pads, change from light yellow (shown above) to a beautiful watermelon-color.

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A few days later, a bright lime green pistil begins to emerge from the center.

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Over the next 2 days, the pistil elongates and the bright pink stamens begin to emerge.

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Within 24 hours, the flower is in full bloom, with its petals and pistil both slightly open.

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The flowers begin to dry up and die almost immediately after blooming, like the top left flower.

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After the flowers die, the green bases (I can’t find an official name) normally develop into pear-shaped edible fruit, called tuna.

Nopal Cactus DSC09159

After patiently and anxiously awaiting for the tunas to ripen, you can imagine my disappointment as I watched them shrivel up and die instead (above photo). After much research, I learned that this particular variety – known as Cochineal Nopal Cactus (Opuntia cochenillifera) and is common here in Rincón de Guayabitos, Nayarit, Mexico – does not produce fruit. The good news, however, is that it is one of the varieties that produce high quality nopales.


Photos of other nopal cacti varieties…

Nopal Bio 1
This nopal variety produces paddles, fruit and flowers on the same plant.

Tuna LaJornada
“Tunas blancas” (white prickly pear fruit) ready to be harvested.

Nopal Bio 2
Hand-picking and sorting tunas.

Nopal Bio 3
Mechanically cleaning and packaging tunas.

Nopal LaJornada
Nopals being packed for export.

 (The five photos above come from and

Click here to view more articles about what’s Flora & Fauna: Fruits & Vegetables

by Allyson Williams

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Having spent 6 months out of the year in Mexico and 6 months in Canada for the last few years, and I have to say, when we get back to Canada we suffer from a bit of culture shock when we first arrive.

As most people know, Mexico is known for the friendliness of their people. It is their custom to greet each other, and us as well, upon encounter. My husband and I cycle most mornings, and in Mexico virtually everybody we encounter greets us with a big smile and a “buenos dias.” What a wonderful way to start the day! That is not the norm in Canada (at least not where we reside). If we offer the greeting FIRST, a percentage of people will respond, but it is not unusual to be ignored. Kinda puts a damper on the happy greeting given, sometimes.

I’m sure everyone has seen that thing posted on Facebook about all the things we did growing up as kids in the 50s, 60s and 70s that didn’t harm us or kill us… like drinking out of the yard hose, sharing pop out of bottles with ALL our friends and riding our bicycles WITHOUT helmets. Who ever even HEARD of helmets in those years? Not me, that’s for sure.

My kids were born in the mid to late 70s and we cycled with them on the back of our bikes in the ‘kiddie seats’ that had JUST come onto the market. The first one we got was from Sears and it was kind of boxy-style allowing me to actually stuff 2 kids into it! YES, I REALLY did that and nobody gave me flack about it! No helmets on us or the kids… there weren’t any to buy and nobody thought about it back then.

Now we have all these rules and regulations (in BC, Canada anyway…) and it’s against the law to ride a bike without a helmet. Yes, they can FINE you if you’re not wearing your helmet. ARGH! I HATE wearing a helmet!

We ride our bicycles to enjoy the fresh air and feel the freedom of ‘riding in the wind with the breeze ripping through our hair.’ We don’t ride on the busy main streets or bother the people driving vehicles. We stick to the back streets and rural areas as much as we can. It absolutely amazes me how many people take it upon themselves to YELL at us that we should be wearing our helmets and that we COULD be fined.

What’s happening to people? Why are they so concerned about everybody else’s business? How does me riding MY bike without a helmet affect them in any way? Why should they concern themselves about it?

We have rules about wearing helmets when cycling, skiing, etc., next thing they’ll have rules about wearing helmets as pedestrians. You never know, you might get hit by a car or one of those cyclists not wearing HIS/HER helmet!

Without making this really lengthy, suffice it to say what we observe is that there are more rules and regulations regarding ‘safety’ here in Canada that gets to the point of being ridiculous. People are giving up their own autonomy for the sake of inflicting rules on everybody. In Mexico, people just do what they do and nobody bothers them about it. It’s a rare thing to see a Mexican wearing a helmet on a bicycle. It’s common place to see parents or older siblings ‘doubling’ the smaller children on a bicycle… sometimes 2 kids (one with feet perched on the back axle hanging onto the shoulders of the rider and one on the front handle bars to boot). They’re just enjoying their lives with the onus of responsibility for their injuries should they occur upon themselves.

I know some of you are shaking your heads thinking I’m nuts for not wearing a helmet most of the time while riding my bicycle, but here’s something to chew on. I see some of the people who DO wear their helmets speeding along the busy streets with the fast moving vehicles, and I think to myself that if they should have an accident there, it won’t matter that they are wearing a helmet. Their injuries will be severe regardless.

So for me, I choose to stick to the not so busy streets and try to enjoy my cycling like I did in the days of old! I don’t even mind cycling in the rain…  in Mexico! (But not so much at home in Canada.)

by Karen Nagy – Vernon, BC and La Peñita, Nayarit, Mexico

This story was submitted by one of our readers. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

After fostering numerous kittens this past winter at the J.E.E.P. Hilltop Refugio, I guess it was only natural that we were bound to become “foster failures.” A Foster Failure is someone who offers to Temporarily take care of an animal in their home, to socialize the animal for a smooth transition into life at a new home. With time, and as the Foster Parents and their pets get used to the new animal, quite often the foster home becomes the forever-home.

After sterilization and a Certificate of Vaccination, especially for rabies, the road-trip north went fairly smoothly. US Customs officers checked the certificates for both cats to confirm their rabies vaccinations. At the Canada Customs border crossing, the standard questions included the value of all goods entering Canada. You are traveling with two cats? Does this figure include the value of the cats? I confirm that both cats are street rescues from Mexico. The customs officer immediately replies BOTH cats have a value? She adds “Welcome back to Canada” and sends us on our way.

Oh, how does that effect your ego, Bug?

Trip North for Chintz Rob Erickson 2
Bug’s driving lesson

Trip North for Chintz Rob Erickson 3
Mayo’s couch potato lessons for kittens

by Rob Erickson

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Looking northwest over Punto Cocodrilo from a mountain elevation of 860 feet, from my casa located near El Tonino – what a glorious morning! A cool breeze and no haze with just a light smear of clouds. What had initially caught my eye though, was the intensely vivid orange coloured sky and the dark mountains below it as night slowly gave way to day.

I took these photos at 6:23am on December 15, 2012

by Tosia Archer

Click here to view more Photos of the Week

This photo was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to


Bistro Organico in San Pancho invites you to the 10th Annual Vallarta Lifestyles’ Restaurant Week from May 15-31. For these two weeks in May, Bistro Organico will feature a spectacular three-course menu (with three options each) discounted by up to 50%. In keeping with our philosophy, it will be based on an organic, sustainable and regional menu. The selected wines for each course will be paired with your food and will delight your palate and senses.

Make your reservation now and plan to come to this culinary feast!

Bistro Organico Restaurant Week 2014 Menu

$299 pesos per person – Tuesday-Sunday from 5-10pm

Roasted eggplant salad with goat cheese
Cactus, baked sweet potato, cilantro and arugula
Peruvian-style Ceviche (marinated fish and shrimp)

Main Courses
Grilled mahi-mahi, green beans, mushrooms and chutney
Housemade fettucini, kale, fennel, local provolone cheese, cherry tomatoes
Fish and zucchini skewers with black beans and farm salad

Upside down pineapple pie
Dark chocolate banana vegan cake
Yogurt passion fruit Panna Cotta

Live Music (7pm)
We will also be featuring live music:
May 15: Enjoy dinner with Tatewari, a flamenco fusion quartet,
guitars and cajón. May 27: The best duo in town “Rob & Nina,”
making a special performance

To learn more or to make a reservation, visit the Bistro Organico webpage.

About Bistro Organico

LOGO+CIELO+ROJOcurvas1 copiaIn the small courtyard hidden within the Cielo Rojo Hotel in San Pancho, you will find something truly unique – the restaurant Bistro Organico. A soothing sound of the garden waterfall, tasteful antique decoration and an open kitchen where the chef creates culinary wonders within view of the diners. These are just the beginning of this adventure full of flavour and pleasure.

The majority of the ingredients on the meticulously prepared menu are seasonal and from local farmers. The artisanal Tequila, wine list and beers are all carefully selected. Here imagination, exceptional flavour, quality and attention to details are reflected in delicious seasonal creations.

In addition to its fantastic menu options, Bistro Organico offers a wide array of products like freshly baked breads, vegan cookies, raw organic chocolates, berry pie and artisanal local goodies for sale in its small Gourmet Tiendita. Fair trade, local, organic ingredients and care of the environment are part of the philosophy of this wonderful and innovative restaurant that invites you to enjoy their pleasant atmosphere accompanied by unique dishes that will fascinate your palate.

View full menu, hours, location for Bistro Organico here.

About Vallarta Lifestyles’ Restaurant Week

Vallarta Lifestyles Publishing Group established Restaurant Week in 2005. This annual two-week festival takes place every year from May 15-31. Restaurant Week features many of Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit’s most coveted restaurants. Participating establishments offer innovative three-course menus, with three options available for each course. Since the prices are often discounted by up to 50%, dining out during Restaurant Week is not only more fun, but also much more affordable. In the upcoming, 10-year anniversary of Restaurant Week, participating restaurants can choose to offer their special, Restaurant Week menu at $199 or $299 pesos per person, tips and beverages not included.

Restaurant Week is eagerly anticipated by locals and gourmet aficionados from around the world, who plan an annual vacation in Puerto Vallarta specifically for this delicious festival. In addition to other important festivities that take place during the month of May, such as the anniversary of Puerto Vallarta’s foundation as a city and as a municipality, Restaurant Week has become an important event that encourages visitors to choose the month of May as an attractive time of year to explore Banderas Bay.

Learn more about Vallarta Lifestyle’s Restaurant Week here.

Virtual Vallarta Restaurant Week 2014

Earlier this season, a group of us set out on a day trip to the secret beach at the Marieta Islands. We hired Salvador in Rincón de Guayabitos to take us. While en route to the islands, we did some whale watching until the captain spotted some splashing going on. We headed that way to explore and got a chance to see these manta rays jumping. I had only once seen this before in Punta Raza in 2013 when I led a hiking group down at the beach. Those were little ones – nothing like these mantas. Prior to that I didn’t realized they liked to jump and play.

Flying Manta Ray Lori Schneider Wood 1

by Lori Schneider-Wood

Click here to view more Photos of the Week

Now it’s your turn! Email your photos (at least 500 pixels wide) to Please include a photo title, a detailed description of what the photo is and/or where it was taken (the more information, the better), the photographer’s name, as well as the city and state/province where the photographer lives if not from the Jaltemba Bay area. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately.

11am, Good Friday, April 18 – The weather is great and the crowds have arrived for Semana Santa. In discussions with a few vendors and restaurant owners, they expect Friday night and Saturday to be the busiest days. It is quite a contrast to the quiet beach in Rincón de Guayabitos a few weeks ago.

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(below) Rincón de Guayabitos playa during the first week of April.

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by Rob Erickson

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

10am Wednesday, April 16 – The tents are arriving as vacationers stake out their space on the playa, and the banana boats are already giving rides.

There are a lot of out-of-town vendors setting up their wears along the street and in the intersections in front of other businesses on the main Avenida del Sol Nuevo in Rincón de Guayabitos. In many places, there is no room for people to stay on the sidewalk.

Overall, everything seems to be more orderly and less chaotic than past years, and the town is growing steadily with visitors.

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by Rob Erickson

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

As of 8:30am Tuesday morning, April 15, the crowds were already arriving in mass and many people were up early to stake out beach space, reserving their spot in paradise for Semana Santa.

Footnote for those setting their canopies at water’s edge: later this week, the tide will rise until mid-afternoon, so it might be hard to keep your towel or cooler dry all day.

This is an interesting time of year where the universal no-parking E sign means it is a great, reserved place to park or set up a food-van. Still more room for bus parking at the Los Ayala Hwy cut-off. Lets hope the local vendors have a great season after a rainy Christmas!

Semana Santa Rob Erickson 4 Semana Santa Rob Erickson 5

by Rob Erickson

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

As our Mexican holiday season slowly draws to a close, the desire to be on the road again beckons. Our destination was to visit the source of El Molote hot springs, a rustic spot to enjoy an amazing soak in a natural setting without the hustle and bustle of commercial enterprises. The hot springs are located in a picturesque fertile valley where huge cabbages and other garden crops flourish. On this day, contrasting cultivation methods were at work with a team of horses pulling a cultivator and a motorized rototiller breaking sod, in the same field! Since our journey is as important as the destination, time was taken to photograph such events along the way.

A team of horses tilling – a rare sight today. 

The 19th and 20th Century implements operating in the same field!

Gigantic cabbage patch visible from the roadside.

Following the road through the stream. 

The narrow gravel road meanders through the valley crisscrossing a shallow stream toward the hot springs source. Reaching an open barren area, a slight sulfur odour and faint steam vapour cloud floats above the boiling bubbling hot waters. The source is a somewhat barren rocky area with the boiling water bubbling from the earth’s crust. Employing long handled barbecue tongs, eggs were placed in the hot bubbly water. Voilá, in 5-10 minutes we had hard boiled eggs ready for the lunch salad! In addition, prawns or other foods might further enhance the cooking adventure. After briefly exploring the area and dipping our toes in the nearby cool flowing stream, we returned a short distance to a warm shallow pool. Shade trees overhang the natural tranquil pool. The comfortable water’s temperature is an opportunity to soak away all tensions and stress allowing them to flow downstream. Do the waters contain healing powers as well?

The El Molote Hot Springs.  Note the hot steam rising from the spring.
The source of El Molote Hot Springs. Note the hot steam rising from the spring.

Our tailgate lunch.

Soon the stomach rumbles pulled us from a warm soak to a tailgate party of two. Others enjoyed lunch immersed in the pool, while some ate creek side. In the back of the Xterra and without chairs, Doreen and I stood enjoying the scrumptious outdoor lunch and the area’s quiet remoteness. (Remember to bring chairs.)

Friends enjoying the rustic setting and a relaxing afternoon soak.

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Expect the unexpected! Sharing warm waters with locals, plus being interrupted by a cattle drive.

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Drive past the busy swimming hole. With sixteen parked cars, it was a family fun Sunday afternoon.

After a return to the pool for a brief soak we packed up and bid farewell to the warm stream waters. A fantastic day drew to a close as we departed for our bumpy return drive to the highway and home to Los Ayala.

Fantastic, we made it!

Watch for the sign to El Molote.

Driving Directions

Head north on Highway 200 towards Tepic. Stopping in Las Varas at Angelita’s Restaurant for breakfast is always enjoyable. Continue driving, watching for a green road sign listing three towns – “El Molote 6, El Salitre 7, Palos Maria 10.” The distance from the turnoff to El Molote hot springs is 8.29 km.

Turn left off Highway 200 following the gravel road to a junction. At 2.5 km, take the right branch which appears less travelled. Continue bumping past ranches and fields traversing through a wider stream bed with a low rock dam to your right. This is a favourite swimming spot for Mexican families to spend the day. Continue on, passing through the small town of El Molote. Drive through the town and take a right turn as you exit. An open field should be on your left and a basketball court on the right. Soon after, when crossing a creek, watch for a turn to the left. The turn is approximately 7.5 km from the highway. Going to the right or straight ahead will take you to Mesillas. The left turn road is rough gravel constituting a slow drive. A car with reasonable clearance should have little difficulty, although a 4×4 is best.

Very quickly, you’ll pass cultivated fields growing huge cabbages and other garden crops. Continue on following the road crisscrossing the flowing stream. When traversing the stream select a rocky route avoiding soft sandy areas. Watch for a shallow pool area on your right. Later, return to this spot for your soak. Coming to a barren open area look for the hot spring’s faint mists on the left and a stream on the right. Well done, you’ve arrived! Driving time from the highway will be 45-60 minutes. Use extreme caution if attempting to place food in the hot spring waters. Once you have explored this area return the short distance to the warm soaking pool to enjoy a relaxing immersion.

Fun to cook food in the boiling water, with caution!

by John and Doreen Berg

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

I was motivated to write this follow-up article after reading “The Almost Invisible Iguana” by Conrad Stenton from Midland Ontario in last week’s Jaltemba Bay Life newsletter.

Having observed the iguanas close up for a few years, we have learned a few interesting facts about them. Yes, they are almost invisible to the untrained eye, but knowing their morning routine high in the canopy and aided with a pair of binoculars you can get a good view.

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If you miss the descent to the lower trees, the first clue to its presence is the rustling and movement of the tree branches. They spend most of their lives in the canopy, descending only infrequently to mate, lay eggs or change trees. Having these resident iguanas near us, we were able to photograph their downward journey many times and study their habits.

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Primarily herbivores, iguanas are active during the day, feeding on leaves, flowers and fruit. They usually live near water and are excellent swimmers. Green iguanas can fall 40-50 feet to the ground without getting hurt. We can attest to that, as one year we had about 6-8 large iguanas living in the canopy of the palm tree directly in front of our casita rooftop. Every morning, we watched as they sought a sunny branch to warm up before descending the tree. One particular morning, their routine was interrupted as a coconut harvester climbed up their tree. Instead of their usual leisurely climb down the tree, they used plan B which was to jump, crashing through a not-so-kind Acacia tree before landing in the estuary and swimming away. They can also hold their breath under water.

It is not unusual to see small boats on the estuary hunting the green iguanas as they are good to eat and are referred to as “Bamboo Chicken.”

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The iguanas are very aggressive in mating season and will attack small animals. You will most likely start to see some orange or rusty red appearing. It may start on his head and neck, back and spread to the tops of the legs. There will also be an increase in head bobbing.

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One year, while I was photographing a flock of Black-bellied Whistling ducks that took up residence on a little island in the estuary, I was amazed at what else I saw later when I was editing the day’s photos. When I zoomed in, I saw no less than six iguanas that cohabited with the ducks.

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This tiny green iguana spent the night wrapped up in the table umbrella, and it took him a few minutes to raise his body temperature so was content to snuggle in the warmth of my hand.

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But what comes down must go up and the saga will be repeated day after day, whether we are there to see it or not.

by Bea Rauch

This article was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to


I was just checking a few of my regular websites, and a quick look provided some interesting ideas. I think everyone from up north has seen what can happen to northern industries that are no longer compatible with competitors around the globe, whether it be forest products, auto manufacturing and many other money sources.

The travel business is another example of an industry struggling with global competition. The first site I checked specializes in selling vacations to almost anywhere in the world. I saw a week all-inclusive at a hotel in Guayabitos including round-trip airfare from Vancouver and transfers to Riviera Nayarit for $289 USD a few weeks ago (plus a bunch of crazy taxes). Sure, this is shoulder season pricing, but it’s a good example.

While doing my regular check for British Columbia news, one article that jumped out at me noted that 20-25% of Canadians report a hurdle accessing a dentist due to financial constraints. A recent trip to a local Jaltemba Bay dentist provided some very different numbers. First, my dentist offers a cleaning special for the month of April for $300 pesos, and at times she sometimes offers 2 for 1 promotions; x-rays run approximately $200 pesos; a root-canal last year cost me about $2,000 pesos; and prep and a new porcelain crown cost me another $3,500 pesos, or just under $300 USD. I’ve had a number of northerners point out their co-pay, or what they personally must pay up-north before their insurance company pays the big portion, is over these prices. So it pays to shop around to see what procedures can cost before committing to any work.

Now lets look at eye care. Many people get an eye exam, then order their eye glasses from the shop. I had an eye exam and purchased a pair of prescription glasses with good frames and polarized, transition lenses for roughly $3,000 pesos. Again, some people pointed out the cost of similar glasses up north would be about double or triple that price.

We have heard claims from northerners that they financed their total trip by using a local dentist. I know this might not be what you had in mind while spending a week laying in the sun on the beach, though it might be worth it to rough-it for a few hours to save some money.

by Rob Erickson

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Have you ever wondered how many time zones there are in Mexico? Where Mexico’s historical sites are located? When the Mayan civilization collapsed? Or how long it takes a Monarch butterfly to migrate to Canada and back?

We just discovered a wonderful online tool that answers some of these questions, and we are excited to share it with our readers.

Back in January 2014, Esri shared a new online atlas of six “story maps” of Mexico. According to their blog, these “maps feature everything from population, landforms, climate, historical landmarks, caves, indigenous cultures, tourist attractions and more. Many features such as volcanoes and landmark buildings are accompanied by popups with photographs and descriptions. The maps can be accessed in many different ways, such as an ArcGIS Online presentation with a description here, as an iPad iBook, but most importantly, as a series of story maps. Each of these separate story maps contains 1-6 thematically related maps on the following topics:

You can use this resource of over 30 thematic maps to teach and learn about population, landforms, climate, historical landmarks, caves, indigenous cultures, tourist attractions, and more. Many features such as volcanoes and landmark buildings are accompanied by popups with photographs and descriptions.”

Read the original article in its entirety. And thank you to Geo-Mexico for making us aware of this resource.

by Allyson Williams

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Mexican, Canadian and American women working together – oh what we accomplished! Our 2014 La Peñita Cancer de Mama Clinic fitted 425 breast cancer survivors of all ages from all over the state of Nayarit with custom-made bras and prostheses. Many visited the wig and hat/scarf shop and the “look good-feel good” tent. We sewed bras, served everyone lunch, had fun with laughing yoga, played bingo and told stories through our scrap-booking. Smiles and hugs all around.

Our thanks to those north of the border who donated bras, prostheses and wigs, and to the snowbirds who transported these in RVs and even by plane. Thanks also to those from all three countries who donated funds and food for the clinic and to the more than 250 volunteers who came to help out. We learned a lot from each other.

Cancer de Mama 2014 4 Cancer de Mama 2014 3

We want to extend special congratulations to the second annual Guadalajara Clinic that served about 300 women at its March event. We provided start-up funds for this clinic last year and gave further funds again this year. The clinic is sponsored by the Instituto Anahuacalli, a private school and foundation in Guadalajara. The school has been actively fund-raising and has let us know that their clinic is unlikely to need funds from us in the future. What good news and what a success. Our combined efforts are reaching so many women!

The future for Cancer de Mama holds both challenges and opportunities. First, how can we reach even more women? Second, can we overcome the transport and import problems that have developed as more goods are needed and border requirements tighten? We think the answer to both questions is YES. We are now exploring sources for made in Mexico products, especially bras. And we are using the expertise of Mexican women to create “been-a-boobs.” These are lightweight prostheses that have found acceptance among many breast cancer survivors. Made of synthetic beads and fibrfeill contained in a soft fabric pocket, they are cooler and less prone to damage in the hot Mexican climate. They can be made locally.

Cancer de Mama 2014 2

We believe there is opportunity for a future of multiple clinics run by Mexican women and for home-grown product. You can help us move in this direction. We still need bras, prostheses and wigs; check our website for suggestions. Increasingly, however, we will need financial donations. Our coffers are healthy right now and we finished the year with over $230,000 pesos or roughly $20,000 USD. This will keep us going for a year or so, but as we change in response to the opportunity to reach more women, so will our needs. The website also gives information on how to make financial donations.

Thanks to all for your support and help… past, present, and future.

For more information, visit Cancer de Mama.

by Carole Thacker, Cancer de Mama Chair
Photos by Nadia Cuevas Aguilar


This photo was taken either in Los Ayala or Lo de Marcos (I can’t remember which). I like the action of the beautiful little girl and the dedicated look the dog is giving her… is it love or food?

by Robert Koch, Seattle, WA

Click here to view more Photos of the Week

Now it’s your turn! Email us your photos (at least 500 pixels wide) to along with a photo title, the photographer’s name and a description of what the photo is and/or where you took it. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately.

Some friends invited my dad and I to join them on a quad ride a few weeks ago. Their plan was to visit a coffee plantation near the town of El Capomo, Nayarit, Mexico. We packed a small cooler, lubed up with suntan lotion, grabbed our sunglasses and cameras and we were ready for our afternoon adventure. George and Donna Steensma arrived in their quads promptly at 9:30am. We buckled up and drove to the La Peñita Trailer Park to meet up with Bob and Shirley Lewis. Within a few minutes, we were all heading north on the highway.

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We pulled off at the entrance to El Tonino. From there, we left the smooth blacktop roads and cobblestone streets and endured winding trails and rugged terrain for the next 5 hours.

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We arrived at a small coffee roasting plant seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There were two separate drying areas; one for fresh picked fruit called coffee cherries (above) and another for hulled beans (below). I lost track of time, but if I had to guess, it took us about 2 hours to get here from La Peñita.

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Porfidio, the owner, explained the cleaning, hulling and drying process he uses. During the harvesting season, he hires 12-15 people to help him pick the cherries, and while he did sell a small bag of ground coffee to someone in our group, my understanding was that the majority of the coffee was grown for his own consumption (which is improbable unless he drinks 100 cups a day).

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He uses this mechanical huller/pulper machine to remove the husks from the cherries. Once dried, the beans are roasted.

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I did my best to translate all this information to the crew.

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The small adobe buildings dotting the property were charming.

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We thanked Porfidio, hopped back on the quads and away we went.

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Into the jungle…

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Through a babbling creek…

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And right by these little piggies’ makeshift home.

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The trails, vegetation and scenery changed in a blink of an eye.

About an hour later, Bob spotted some coffee plants lining the trail. We stopped to take a closer look and to eat lunch. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a pickup truck piled high with coffee bags drove by. A few minutes later, the driver returned and asked if we wanted to see his ranch. Of course we did; we were on an adventure!

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Enrique showed us his small processing plant where he and his family pick, hull, ferment, sun dry and bag their coffee. He takes his bagged beans to Tepic, where it is exported and sold in the United States.

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Enrique’s family didn’t seem to mind the fact that we interrupted their Sunday afternoon routine. I’m guessing they don’t get too many visitors here in this very remote ranch in the jungle.

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It was getting late, so we headed back home.

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Another friendly family along the way.

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Making the boys eat a little dust!

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We returned to Rincón de Guayabitos around 3pm, a few pounds heavier from all the sweat, dust and dirt we accumulated along the ride – and oh-so-ready for a long, hot shower and a cold beer. Thank you George, Donna, Bob and Shirley for letting us tag along.

P.S. A special thank you to George who enthusiastically agreed to attach my awesome newly-found steer head to the top of his quad (see photo #4) so it could hitch hike home!

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If you ever get an opportunity to go quadding, say yes! Just be prepared to get really, really dirty. My dad joked that he had never seen his daughter so dirty; and while that may be true, I am glad that we documented this memorable Mexican moment!

If you enjoy Nayarit coffee, you can learn more in an article entitled Tour of Coffee Plantation in Mesillas.

by Allyson Williams
photos by Roger Williams

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

When first arriving in the Riviera Nayarit, contentment is achieved by enjoying the sun’s warm rays and splashing in the sparkling Jaltemba Bay waters… while listening to the Zac Brown Band sing “I got my toes in the water, a_ _ in the sand. Not a worry… life is good.” After two or three months of sun and surf, it’s time to venture further afield to investigate the many nearby beautiful vistas and remarkable sites.

Our first day trip was planned nine months ago in June 2013, after reading Rob’s Ramblings article featured in Jaltemba Bay Life. A copy was made to become our road map to drive north toward San Blas to discover El Cora Cascades. Without fail, Rob’s explicit driving directions successfully directed us to the dry weather road leading to the waterfalls.

After parking the Xterra, we continued on the eroded roadway for a short 10 minute hike to the trail head. We climbed a short pathway to a rocky viewing platform which offered us the first glimpses of El Cora Cascades with its massive water flow plunging into the large lower pool. Upon descending to the pool one could hear the thunder and feel the rush of the river flowing over the upper lip to plummet into the lower pool. After our hike in the hot mid-afternoon sun a dip into the cool waters was a welcome relief. We enjoyed a poolside lunch and a final cooling dip before our climb to the top to return to Los Ayala.

El Cora Cascades is a lovely spot tucked away, but near enough and worth the effort to discover and enjoy the raw power and spectacular beauty of the cascading waters providing an impressive sight.


Along our drive to El Cora Cascades, we enjoyed a brief stop at Playa Platanitos to check out the restaurants and beach. Met a fisherman bringing in his catch of 65 kg of Sierra, a tasty fish. Easily found the small village of El Cora and followed the dry weather road as far as we could. Parked and hiked 15 minutes to the trailhead. Rough concrete steps made the descent to the fall’s base easier. After our hike in the hot afternoon sun, the cool swim was a welcome relief. Enjoyed our lunch poolside and had a second cooling dip before heading back to the jeep. Few stops on the way home to conclude a great adventurous day!

The “Shark” boat has been on Playa Platanitos for years.

Pay Day! Morning total catch of 68 kg. of Sierra.

Driving Directions:

You can refer to Rob’s Ramblings: Hike to El Cora Cascades as your map. We’ve added a shorter set of directions that should take you to the falls.

Round trip from Rincón de Guayabitos to El Cora Cascades and back is 298 km (185 miles).

Drive north to Las Varas and take the highway towards San Blas, and after Platanitos look for a Pemex station on the right. It is located at the intersection of Highway 76. Here turn right toward Tepic. When you reach the 37 km marker you’ll be at the entrance to Tecuitata. Turn right and drive 10 km to El Cora. Continue into El Cora turning right at the Zocalo, and after one block turn left. Now drive out of town passing a graveyard. Note the newly constructed sidewalk and the finely crushed gravel smoothing out the cobble stone road. A green sign “Cascades” points left. Continue a short distance reaching a dry weather road. The scenic road passes numerous jack fruit orchards. Watch for an obvious parking pull out. Park and walk the steeper eroded roadway passing an old palapa to the trail which goes uphill at first to a viewing spot where the corner posts of a palapa are still standing. From here the trail consists of numerous cement steps dropping steeply to the pool – about a 15 minute descent. At the bottom, enjoy the view and cool waters.

by John and Doreen Berg

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

Puerto Vallarta-based music enthusiast Paco Ojeda has accepted an invitation to present his very successful music appreciation lecture, “Ten Great Songs and Their Stories,” at EntreAmigos on Thursday, April 10, 6-8pm. The one-time event will be offered in English.

“This will be a different kind of journey,” commented Ojeda, who is known as Managing Editor for the Vallarta Lifestyles Publishing Group. “The number of truly remarkable songs out there is unimaginable. I’ve selected ten songs that I’ve come across that truly shine, because of the fascinating stories behind them, or the ones told by their lyrics. There are great composers and lyricists out there, and some of the choices will be familiar, while others will be brand-new discoveries for some.”

Ojeda is quick to admit he uses the word “lecture” with hesitation. “At home, my friends and I gather frequently to hang out, listen to music and talk about what we like about specific pieces,” he explains. “So the philosophy behind these musical encounters has more to do with sharing and inspiring, rather than with teaching.” Prior to this event, Ojeda has offered free introductory lectures to many of the operas broadcast live from New York’s Metropolitan Opera, presented at Teatro Vallarta. He has also been a guest lecturer at Puerto Vallarta’s Youth Orchestra Pitillal campus.

Some of the composers featured in “Ten Great Songs and Their Stories” include Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Joni Mitchell, and music theater composer/lyricist Adam Gwon, who has provided Ojeda with personal insights about his song chosen for the lecture. Hailed as “a promising newcomer to out talent-hungry musical theater” by The New York Times, Gwon has penned several musicals produced at the Roundabout Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and many other theaters around the globe, including in London’s West End. A song from his musical Ordinary Days will be showcased during the lecture.

The audience will learn about each song’s unique background through specially-produced videos with lyrics that will projected, providing distraction-free understanding of their meaning in each song.

“Ten Great Songs and Their Stories” will be presented at EntreAmigos on Thursday, April 10, at 6pm. Tickets are $100 pesos per person, available at EntreAmigos. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to EntreAmigos by the presenter. “This project has been dear to my heart for many years. It is a pleasure to find creative ways to contribute to it even more,” he commented.

Ten Great Songs and Their Stories

A 90-minute Entertaining Music Appreciation Lecture by Paco Ojeda

Date: Thursday, April 10
6-8 pm
Place: EntreAmigos, Avenida Tercer Mundo #12, San Pancho (website)
Price: $100 pesos per person

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Celebrate the unique talent of one-of-a-kind composers and lyricists through video performances of their songs.

Paco Ojeda is Managing Editor at Vallarta Lifestyles Publishing Group. He received a degree in Music Production and Engineering from Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA, and lectures about classical and popular music locally.

Praise for Paco Ojeda’s Music Appreciation Lectures

“I was extremely humbled, honored and more appreciative than I thought possible for your lecture on our Acústico CD.”

– Kim Kuzma, singer/songwriter

“A great musician and presenter. A brilliant idea and addition to the booming music and theater scene in Puerto Vallarta”

– Sharon Baughman, singer and vocal coach

“I love learning more about what we already love!”

– Julie Guerrero, owner, No Way José!

For more information, feel free to contact Paco Ojeda directly at

With your help, the Jaltemba Bay community has benefited in many ways: we will have playground equipment, a kiddy corner, nifty and needed school supplies, alternative prostheses for breast cancer survivors, and Community Cultural Center (CCC) programs for women and children.

The November Tapas and Sangria Party at El Panorama Hotel netted $5,053 pesos, which will help establish a ‘Kiddy Corner’ full of books, toys and equipment to provide a safe and fun environment for the little guys who accompany their moms to their classes at the CCC.

Our December Christmas Stocking Campaign brought in several bags full of school supplies which were distributed to mostly kindergartens in area schools by Gema Marquez, who runs the Books on Wheels project.

Also in December, the oh-so-popular Country Casual Pig Roast at El Rodeo raised $21,950 pesos – enough funds for the construction of two playgrounds, coordinated by the Recycling Committee of Los Amigos de Jaltemba; the El Tonino school will receive one of them. The recent refurbishing of play equipment at the Eco Park on the north side of La Peñita is a joint project with money from Las Tres Amigas and private donors as well as a lot of volunteer labour. The swings, teeter-totters, climbing bars and serpentines are going to provide a safe and entertaining playground for little guys.

January brought the Under Wraps Dinner and Mystery Auction at Xaltemba Restaurant & Galeria. The $13,760 pesos will provide scholarships for four students at CONALEP next school year.

Five more scholarships will be awarded by the Los Amigos Scholarship Committee with the $16,570 pesos that were raised at our Handbags and Hankies Tea Party at El Panorama Hotel in February.

And last but not least, proceeds from the International Women’s Day Luncheon on March 8 at Latitude 21 will match a private donation of $500 US so that Cancer de Mama can continue to develop a locally manufactured alternative prosthesis. The balance will provide safety and first aid equipment for the CCC and supplies for their after school program.

None of this could have been achieved without the support of many in the community:

Where would we be without our ticket sellers? Jeanie Mintzmyer (Hidden Paradise Real Estate), Rick Helberg (Re/Max Jaltemba Bay Realty) and Hala at Hamaca Maya who helped with every event, along with assistance from Xaltemba Restaurant, Cafe Dolores, El Rodeo, Latitude 21 and El Panorama Villa Hotel B&B, and the La Peñita RV Park office.

Raffle prizes and draw items were provided at our various events by Super Maxi Alvarado, Casita de Irma, each of the restaurants involved, Marena del Mar, Cafe Peñita de Occidente, Avanti Restaurant, Terapeutica Emilia Esperanza G., Carniceria La Nayarita, Joan Hagar, Joyce Vanderstaak, and Las Tres Amigas members.

Musicians, an artist and even an auctioneer volunteered their talents too: Mimi and John Flamang, Manuel and his friend Martin, Linda Fraser and Dave Stevens deserve a great deal of thanks.

Sydney Richmond, the Los Amigos tianguis booth, Armando’s Joyas and Cafe Dolores made the Christmas Stocking Campaign possible.

An extra special thanks goes out to all of you who attended the events. It goes without saying that without you, these results would never have been achieved.

We want to pass along our congratulations to Los Amigos de Jaltemba, Vicki Robelo and the folks who work so hard at the CCC volunteering and keeping the doors open, Gema for her labour of love with the Books on Wheels project and the Cancer de Mama committee – for seeing the projects from our 2012-2013 fundraising efforts through to fruition.


We’re going to whisk you away on an International Tour, starting with an Evening in Paris on Wednesday, November 19 at Xaltemba Restaurant & Galeria. With the assistance of chef Lurah Magee-Newgen, you can enjoy an evening of French cuisine on the Left Bank (well, not quite, but it is close to the Avenida). Let your inner Bohemian out!

We will then head on to Italy for a Cena de Natale at El Gigio Italian Pizzeria. He is going to serve up some of his family’s traditional Christmas dishes on Sunday, December 14. And what would Christmas be without bells? Bring a bell, wear a bell, ring a bell and we’ll see you there ‘with bells on’.

On Wednesday, January 14, we’re going to step back in time to Merry Olde England. Join us for a Mediaeval Feast at El Rodeo. Polish up your armour and shine up your crowns and jewels. You never know what royalty might drop in!

We’ll stay in Britain but bring you back to modern times with a Petals and Pearls Afternoon Tea Party at El Panorama Villa Hotel B&B on Wednesday, February 18. Pack your pearls! Go wild with flowers – in your hair, on your dress, maybe even your shoes!

The very deserving and community-based programs at the CCC and CONALEP scholarship students will benefit from these fundraisers.

We will also continue the Christmas Stocking Campaign starting in early December to collect items needed for the after-school program at the CCC. A list of desired supplies will be circulated later.

And there may be more! We’ll keep you advised. Between now and then, have a happy and healthy summer and we’ll see you again in the fall.

Thanks for the community’s support!

by Las Tres Amigas (Helma, Maxine and Nora)

If you have information about an upcoming event, community group, organization or project, email us the details along with any photos and we will include it in the next issue of our newsletter. Please also add it to our online community calendar.

While looking for the crocodile in the marshy area near the entrance to Rincón de Guayabitos, I was fascinated to find some very camouflaged iguanas. It was my first time seeing iguanas in the wild and I was amazed at how difficult they are to see with their camouflage outfits. Someone told me they are often on the top of palm trees sunning themselves, and be darned if they weren’t. I only managed to get one picture of a tree top dweller. I wonder how they get down? I tried but never did get a decent photo of the croc. Next year?

Conrad Stenton Iguana 2 Conrad Stenton Iguana 1 Conrad Stenton Iguana 4 Conrad Stenton Iguana 6

by Conrad Stenton, Midland Ontario, Canada

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Now it’s your turn! Email us your photos (at least 500 pixels wide) to along with a photo title, the photographer’s name and a detailed description of what the photo is and/or where you took it. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately.

Updated July 30, 2014 – Summer has arrived, and many of our local cafes and restaurants adjust their hours to accommodate the annual dwindling of expats throughout the summer months. We will continue to update this list as we receive additional information about restaurant hours and seasonal closings, so check back often.

*Restaurant Owners: Please contact us with any changes. If you know your Fall re-opening dates, please let us know so we can add them to our list. Don’t forget to login to your account and edit your individual webpages to include your changes. If you own a cafe, bar or restaurant and would like to be added to the Jaltemba Bay Dining Guide, email


Open All Summer

Anahi’s Restaurant: Open all year. Visit webpage

Beso del Sol Steak House: Open daily with same hours, same menu and same nightly specials. Last BBQ Rib special is Wednesday, April 9. Visit webpage

Bistro Organico (at Hotel Cielo Rojo): Open daily for breakfast and lunch (8am-2pm) and dinner (5-10pm). June-September: Open for breakfast/lunch daily and dinner (6-10pm Thursday-Saturday). Visit webpage

El Delfin Pizza & Coffee: Open daily serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (no pasta during the summer). Visit webpage

El Pollito Restaurant: Open all year. Visit webpage

Estancia San Carlos Restaurant & Bar: Open all year. Visit webpage

George’s Cafe & Gym: Open all year. Visit webpage

La Piña Loca Restaurante & Bar: Open all year. Visit webpage

Las Fuentes Restaurant (formerly Salvador’s on the highway): Open all year. Visit webpage

La Torta Movil: Open all year. Visit webpage

Mateja’s Bar & Grill: Open Thursday-Sunday from 11am-6pm. Music on Thursdays (Dubalin) and Saturdays (3 Amigos). Visit webpage

Mr. Ribs Restaurant: Open all year. Visit webpage

Salvador’s Restaurant: Open all year. Visit webpage

Toñita III (located next to Decameron Los Cocos): Open all year. Visit webpage

Vista Guayabitos Restaurant & Bar: Open all year. Visit webpage

Closed for the Summer

Backstreet Italian Restaurant: Closing for the season after dinner service on April 9. Visit webpage

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (at El Panorama Villa Hotel B&B): Open for brunch through April 20. Visit webpage

Chasite Coffee House: Closed until mid-October. Visit webpage

Clarita’s Backyard Cafe: Closed for the summer. Visit webpage

El Gigio Italian Pizzeria: Closing for Semana Santa and will reopen in November. Visit webpage

Hinde y Jaime’s Bar & Restaurant: Open daily with regular hours until June. Visit webpage

Los Compadres Restaurant & Bar: Closed for the summer. Visit webpage

Luna Italian Restaurant: Closed for the summer. Visit webpage

Teriyaki Alex: Closed until October. Visit webpage

*2014-15 Re-Opening Dates

Wanda’s Burgers & Ribs: Will reopen on October 1, 2014Visit webpage

Heather and I made a pact, as well as a promise to our friends at “Pets for Life,” that we would help out with their other local spay/neuter clinics as time allowed. Following this promise, we made the trip to San Blas, Nayarit last week to help with their second clinic this season held on March 19-22.

San Blas is a historic, seaside town located roughly one and a half hours north of Jaltemba Bay. Local historic sites include a fort and deep water access used by the Spanish in the 1700s for access to Mexico’s inland resources. As this town is quite close to Tepic (about 45 minutes), it is known as a great location for day trips to the beach. One noticeable change in San Blas is the lack of tagging/graffiti and lack of garbage on the town’s streets.

One infamous downside to San Blas is their notorious insect population. Late afternoon mosquitos were fairly easy to control with insect repellant. However, in the middle of the night, the no-see-um or jejene population realized they could easily get access to visiting blood though our fine mesh bug-screens.

For the full 4-day clinic, the Pets for Life team of Poli, Anthony and Paulina, along with roughly 6-8 helpers managed to sterilize 97 animals. Nearly half of the helpers were local Mexicans, complementing the expat helpers who funded the clinic.

On a personal note, we brought along one local rescue cat who needed sterilization prior to his flight north to Victoria, BC in early April.

Rob Erickson San Blas Clinic 1730
Rob Erickson San Blas Clinic 1734
Rob Erickson San Blas Clinic 1735

We will definitely help the spay/neuter team in other locations next season as well.

Learn more about Pets for Life group and/or make a donation so they can keep “spaying.”

Group photo by Lori and Charles, San Blas

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to