Guadalajara - Melaque - Vallarta

We left Lake Chapala early next morning for Guadalajara. On the way in, while crossing the broad desert plain, we ran into a roadblock. The federales were stopping everyone searching for guns. We learned after a harrowing few minutes that there was an uprising going on the surrounding hills and that our British Columbia lisence plates had been mistaken for those of the country Columbia and that we were assumed to be potential troublemakers instead of tourists. Fortunately, while we sat at gunpoint, an officer came along who spoke english and knew where BC was. After a quick search we were on our way but it took hours to come down off the adrenaline.

Guadalajara is a beautiful city, colonial buildings and huge Diego Rivera murals caught our attention first but the best part by far was the huge central mercado. It is the best in all of Mexico. Anyone wanting to see-feel-learn about the artisans, foods, crafts or magic potions from any of Mexico's regions or cultures has only to visit Guadalajara's mercado to sample them all.

Late in afternoon we headed back to the lake via the same route we'd taken in that morning. As we topped the hill and looked out over the desert there were the same gaggle of army buses setting up to search the afternoon traffic leaving the city. Within seconds Barry and i got another lesson in Mexican culture. As the federales began stopping traffic everyone, cars, trucks, farmers, everyone, just drove off the highway and headed out into the desert. Of course we went with the flow, 6-8-10 vechiles wide, the dust flew, tourists in Winnebagos were in the melee. about a quarter mile past the roadblock the stampede turned back onto the highway and drove on. The federales just stood there alone on the highway while afternoon's commute home bypassed them. We laughed and tried to imagine such a scene up north but couldn't. More than all the trees a BC driver would have to avoid there'd be the years of conditionng to accept authority that'd have to be jettisoned all in an instant. Mexicans have far fewer trees and way less conditioning. Viva 'ol Mexico.

We left Lake Chapala early again the next day and headed south through the mountains for the west coast and ended up in the Barra-Melaque-San Patrico area. We camped in the clearing at the near end of the beach in the picure above. It turned out the next day was St. Patrick's day and like every town in Mexico on the day of their patron saint there was a huge holiday festival. Of course everyday is a Saints day somewhere so...We had a great time at the festivities and ended up staying there for a week. During the days we hiked the beach, bodysurfed and toured the local loncherias. Of course Barry was our ticket to meeting everyone tourist and local alike. As the sun started to set each day would turn into a happy hour and song fest. The guitars would be passed around with everyone singing their songs. Language mattered far less than feelings, songs sung with mucho gusto in any language feel the same.

We'd probably still be there except that our pesos were running low with barely enough for the essentials: gasolina-frijoles-heuvos-tortillas-cervesa-boleos [the finest hard crusted soft centered rolls on earth made fresh every morning in every panaderia in 'ol Mexico]. We made a beeline north, long days on the road through polluted tourist traps like Puerto Vallarta where the untreated sewage from the highrise hotels floats in the once pacific little bay immortalized by Burton and Taylor in 'The Sandpipers'.

Their were little villages too and more surprises ahead, but they'll have to wait 'til manana.