Life in Paradise

15 Oct

Life in paradise has been good lately. Like anyone else, even though I live in paradise, I get caught up in a daily routine and don’t take full advantage of where I live. That changed when my Canadian friend Cheri and her daughter came to visit for almost three weeks. Cheri lived in Vallarta for eleven years, but hasn’t been back here for ten years. We started as soon as she arrived with a drive downtown and found a regional fair in the Parque Hidalgo. There were at least 50 booths with products from all over our state of Jalisco. We tasted various tequilas and flavored tequila liqueurs, as well as cheese, cookies and delicious refried beans and we bought organic coffee and a flavorful passion fruit liqueur. Other booths offered artwork, jewelry, woven items and really creative crafts. We also stopped at a Huichol Indian exhibition in Plaza Caracol Mall where the displays included all the lovely, intricate beaded work that the Huicholes are famous for.

My favorite part of their visit was our trip to Yelapa, a small village at the southern tip of the bay that can only be accessed by boat. Yelapa is a very special place with its own magic and makes me think of the south seas. We took a water taxi from the pier downtown byOlas Altas street. A round trip ticket costs 220 pesos per person or just a bit over $20. The taxis run at 10:30am, 11:00 and 11:30 with a return at 3:30pm. The ride is quite different than many years ago when the taxi was a small ponga with no roof. Now the boat is larger, covered and carries about 30 people, providing life preservers for all. The ride is about 45 minutes with the stunning coastline whizzing by and sea breezes in your hair.

What never ceases to amaze me is the agility and capability of the boatmen who help everyone on and off the boat no matter what ocean conditions are, or what size the passenger is. They lift everyone on and off as if they are as light as a feather, and at the same time they are loading beach bags, suitcases or other parcels. We were heavily laden with overnight things, snacks, drinks and reading material. We stayed at the Lagunita Hotel  www.hotel-lagunita.com, a kind of Swiss Family Robinson place, or at least that is what runs wild in my imagination.

Small thatched roof huts hug the northeast side of the rocky cove, with winding walkways through the vegetation.  The beds are hard and the frills minimal, but there is nothing in the world like waking up to sounds of the surf in the morning and opening the thatched shutters to the cove of Yelapa spread in front of you like a South Pacific painting – the sun glistening on the palm trees on the mountain.  Some rooms have their shower built right into the rock of the mountain, while others have inlaid stones in their shower. For me the best part is the freshwater swimming pool built right into rocks and boulders. The Yelapa beach drops off quickly and is a bit rough at certain times of the day, so it is perfect to laze in the pool while overlooking the bay.

We picked up some ice – as well as some passion flower brownies – at the tiny grocery down the beach and made some tropical drinks for the pool. Massages are available at the hotel and there is a yoga center down the beach. In fact, there are several yoga and retreat groups that come down to the hotel throughout the year.  We ate lunch, dinner and the next morning’s breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant and the food was great with Mexican, pasta and seafood on the menu. All along the beach there are places that have really good food, drinks and beach chairs if you want to venture away from the hotel. If you are up for a hike into the town ofYelapa, there’s an internet café with an interesting menu right in front of the water taxi pier. If you look around, there are lots of places that rent rooms in the town.  Yelapa has only recently gotten electricity and I remember spending the weekend there several years ago. We walked into town with flashlights, ate in a candlelit restaurant and on the way back saw saddled horses tied up in front of a small grocery store by jungle residents in town for Saturday night, just like the Old West.

There’s a waterfall up the mountain from the beach that’s great for a hike. The water is cold coming down the mountain, but refreshing after the hike. Walking down the beach there’s a small gallery with some great art. You can even paraglide in Yelapa. I have a friend staying there for the winter and she took her first glide just the other day. It’s a tandem glide with the instructor and she said it took 45 minutes to glide down from the mountaintop – one of the most awesome things she has done in her life. Don’t miss the famous Yelapa pies, sold by ladies on the beach. One enterprising señora started making the pies and selling them at least 20 years ago and the legend was born. They have pecan pie, cheese pie, coconut pie, chocolate pie and a lime pie with four inch meringue – and they are all to die for. And look for the man with the huge green iguana that in exchange for some pesos, will be happy to adorn you with the iguana for a photo op.

Yes, life in paradise is good.

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