Rudd On The Road
By Steve Rudd
Part Part Eleven: Going Barmy in Barra.
As I grew increasingly accustomed to the laid-back beach-life around which the tiny Pacific Coast town of Melaque revolves, I realised it was going to be no easy task to pull myself away from this area of Jalisco, Mexico.
The pace of life which afflicts Melaque is a world away from the hustle and bustle that comes as part and parcel of larger towns and cities in the country.
There's no wonder then that small communities of this calibre are so popular with visitors who aspire to de-stress and get away from the madding crowds.
As beguiling as Melaque is, I persuaded Karl Bushby (the British explorer who has set himself the mind-blowing challenge of walking all the way back to England from the tip of South America) into giving me a guided tour of Barra de Navidad, yet another small community whose economy relies on a mixture of fishing, farming and tourism, with the influence of the latter element blatantly apparent at all times.
Barra de Navidad means 'Christmas Sandbar' - something of a bizarre translation if ever there was one. However, things become clearer upon arrival in the town, for its main tourist drag is indeed strung out along the sandbar, behind which a lagoon asserts its picturesque presence.
Standing loud and proud right at the end of the sandbar is the Grand Bay Hotel, an eye-catching edifice of palatial proportions which is regularly voted as one of the best hotel complexes in the land. Given its status and enviable location, prices to stay there understandably don't come cheap, forcing those on tight budgets to dream of the types of luxuries that could possibly lay within its secure walls.
To be honest though, I'd probably hate kicking back in such luxury. I much prefer to live within simpler means and humbler surroundings. Thus, I turned my back on the hotel in order to absorb the view of the attractively sweeping bay in the direction of Melaque, north of which a rocky and heavily vegetated headland spectacularly extends into the ocean.
While both Melaque and Barra are towns which teem with Americans and Canadians escaping the harsh winters that their countries regularly inflict, this stretch of the Pacific Coast is equally as popular with water sports enthusiasts from elsewhere in the world.
Surfing is one such sport that can be enjoyed in the vicinity.
The thrill of water sports aside, a smattering of tour companies are also being set up in the area.
Coincidentally, Karl has forged friendships with two fellow Brits who have left England in order to focus on a tour company of their own. Run by Ruth Hazlewood, originally from Hartlepool, and Daniel Patman, who hails from Hampshire, their Experience Mex-ECO tour company is going from strength to strength, due in no small part to the fact that they are keen to promote conservation and preservation issues in all that they do, regardless of whether they are running tours to see sea turtles, or helping to co-ordinate community projects.
Their tour company also arranges fishing, diving and sailing trips, amongst other must-have Mexican experiences. Running with their reassuring tag-line, 'Giving nature a helping hand', the Experience Mex-ECO office can be found on Gomez Farias in the centre of Melaque, a block back from the beach.
After strolling to the tip of Barra's sandbar, Karl and I joined a Canadian guy for a drink on the terrace of one of Barra's tallest hotels in order to savour the sunset. It was just a shame that the sun was smothered by a bank of clouds before it got chance to sink below the horizon and treat all those assembled to a show of nature at its most breathtaking.
The Canadian guy kindly offered to give us a lift back to Melaque where he joined us for another 'Pacifico' beer at a restaurant down by the water. As The Blonde Gypsies played up a musical storm of fast rhythms and wistful vocals behind us, Karl and I chatted some more about his hopes and fears for the next part of his hugely demanding trek into the Russian interior.
Some of Karl's friends later joined us to eat and drink. While Karl chatted to Lupita, a friend who
was due to leave Melaque the following morning to go and work with her mother further up the coast
in the more commercial environs of Puerta Vallarta, I got to know another of his friends,
a surfing-obsessed guy called Arturo who had 'fled' Mexico City in favour of living 'the easy life'
and making a living through giving surfing lessons and doing bar-work on the coast.
An engaged couple called Kyla and Antonio also swung by our table around midnight, having finished their shifts working at the restaurant.
Eager for me to sample the night-life in Barra, Arturo soon managed to persuade me to jump in
a taxi with him, bound for the main nightclub in town. Although the place was worryingly quiet,
our spirits were high enough for us to have a decent enough night nonetheless.
We caught a bus back to Melaque at five.
Boarding the bus, I couldn't believe my woefully bloodshot eyes. It was literally packed to the rafters with schoolchildren. I didn't realise that many schools in Mexico begin lessons as early as seven in the morning, and learning as much was an education in itself.
For more information about 'Experience Mex-ECO,' please visit Ruth and Dan's website ...
For more information about Steve's travels, and to view photos from his trips past
and present, he can be contacted via Facebook by typing in his
e-mail address: email@example.com into the Search box in the top right-hand
corner of the homepage.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Ten: Sun, Sand, Sea ... and a Man on a Mission. By Steve Rudd
In terms of beaches, visitors to Mexico genuinely are spoilt for choice. World-class stretches of sand are to be found on both The Pacific Coast and The Gulf of Mexico, with old favourites in the ridiculously commercialised forms of Acapulco and Cancun still managing to draw in huge crowds with ease.
However, some of the country's lesser-known beaches are
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Nine: A Perfect Demonstration of How to Protest. By Steve Rudd
Fans of folk who like to voice their opinions can't go wrong in Mexico. I mean, barely a day goes by without some demonstration or protest taking to the streets, and those in its favour tend to come out in such force that it's only a matter of time before the 'rally' passes you by.
You certainly don't need to make the effort to seek out such rallies
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Eight: All Aboard 'The Nerve-Shredder' to Puebla! By Steve Rudd
I really couldn't blame the lady at the ticket counter for giving me such a puzzled look. After all, I had just asked for a ticket counter instead of a ticket.
I was at the main bus station in Oaxaca City, Mexico, intent on buying a ticket north to Puebla. Having clocked numerous signs emblazoned with the world Taquiller, I wrongly assumed that such a word was the Spanish for Tickets. In truth,
Places to Visit - Cusco, Peru - La Ultima Cena Con Cuy By Ruth
The flight from Puerto Maldonado was uneventful. The flight attendant served coca tea, Inca Cola, and Cusqueno beer to interested passengers. The city of Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, sits in the Andes Mountains. The elevation is roughly 11,000 feet. The updrafts buffeted the plane a bit during landing.
At the airport, old women peddling bags of coca leaves crowded towards the passengers.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road - Catching up with Steve Rudd as he hits America in style ... Part 1 By Steve Rudd
The flight from London to LA was a long haul to say the least, yet it was made more tolerable by the company. I'd barely got settled when the guy beside me introduced himself as Jim Becket, a film director and documentary producer who lived in a place called Ojai, a little north of Los Angeles. He'd just returned from working in Athens where he'd sold the rights of his latest documentary to
Places to Visit - Playing Chicken In Turkey Part 1 By Steve Rudd
It wasn't the best welcome to Turkey. It was the dead of night, we'd just crossed the border, yet there I was, beside a Mancunian called Liam, being frog marched back to the tiny hut that issued visas. Upon crossing the border, us English lads had been issued the correct visa, but the official had inexplicably neglected to stamp the visas with our entry date.
Places to Visit - Roaming Around Romania By Steve Rudd
I was worried. It was four a.m., I was on a train bound for Bucharest, and somebody was tugging at my bed sheets from below. Coming around from a bout of deep sleep, I urged my weary eyes to focus. They were having none of it though, refusing point blank to reveal the person before me.
'Is there a problem?' I asked, hoping that a response might bowl my way in English.
Places to Visit - Gibraltar and La Linea, Spain By Mo
Recently I went on a week long trip to Gibraltar and La LÍnea, Spain staying with my mum and dad in their La Linea flat. My twin sister and her boyfriend were also at the flat on holiday for a week and had rented a small car booked online for only 60 quid for the week. I think that included car insurance too so a pretty good deal.
They all met me at Gibraltar airport and we walked across the border with Spain
Places to Visit - The London, Bath and Bristol Chronicles By Steve Rudd
I knew I should have taken the train. Being stuck behind a combine harvester is never fun in a car. In a coach, it's murder. The battalion of towering power-line supports that stoically marched across the dead level Lincolnshire landscape didn't help. From their indifferent vantage point, they simply taunted.
'Technology is overtaking everything,' said the woman in front, Read more...
Places to Visit - Kate Langan's Travel Journal - Thailand
Tonight we ate at a Thai Taverna, there was a baby elephant going by so Becky took my photo. We are staying in Phuket also as we have found a really nice basic room that's really cheap. It's clean and got 4 stone walls - not like the wood hut! I loved the wood hut but was bitten to death by the mozzies. No mozzies here - yey! And I'm not a huge fan of the cockroaches!
Places to Visit - The Three Peaks Of Yorkshire Challenge 10th June 2006 By Steve Rudd
'Good morning gentlemen - rise and shine!' As I slowly came to my senses I couldn't
help but glance at my watch. I'd been warned the previous night that we would be
woken up at 4:15am sharp, and barely a second later.
Unfortunately, that really was the case, and as exhausted as I was, there
was a mammoth 25 mile walk ahead...
It's a shame that I'd only managed
Places to Visit - A Weekend in Amsterdam By Dave F
Amsterdam is a city of freedom which instantly appeals on a lot of levels.
What's the point of a holiday if you don't have the freedom to go and do what you want, when you want?
If, like me, you want to wander aimlessly from coffee shop to coffee shop getting as
stoned as humanly possible whilst ogling half-naked women through dirty windows
and snacking heavily along the way,
Places to Visit - Christmas in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka By Dave F
I hate Christmas for too many reasons to mention and the chance to get away from it
all this year it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Knowing someone with a
house in Sri Lanka which stands empty for 9 months every year definitely has its benefits.
I'm travelling with a mate and his daughter who've been here several times before
so I get some insight
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part Two By Steve Rudd
Giant Christmas trees loomed as far as the eye could see below, as I marvelled
at the extraordinary engineering it must take to make a gondola a reality.
After the thirty-minute ride to the top we were immediately greeted by a
stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside which was beautiful beyond words.
So pristine and so serene.
Well, serene if you can discount the
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part One By Steve Rudd
I could have thought of worst places to be, seeing in the New Year, as the last
second of 2005 ticked over into 2006. Happy New Year indeed.
For the best part of the past ten years myself and my friends have contented
ourselves with heading into the town centre of Driffield every December 31st
for one of the few nights of the year when it genuinely hustles and bustles.
Places to Visit - Walking The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path - Part One By Steve Rudd
Get out of the city and into the country, sooner rather than later.
A great many people genuinely have no idea how scenically diverse and breathtaking some
swathes of countryside are in the UK, and such a fact is a great shame,
because while they might be spending all their spare time in dirty and cramped
urban environments, there's often fresh air and inspirational
Places to Visit - Thailand By Rich Mills
Expressing the experience of being here in Thailand is difficult to put into words.
The sensorial experience is so mind blowing that you begin to feel overloaded.
However it is the smallest of things that grab your attention, and stick in the mind.
We are waiting for a taxi to take us down to the ferry, so that we can go
over to the small island of Koh Maak.
This is where we will get the full
Places to Visit - Ostend Weekend By John Allbones
I needed a break. Well, you just do sometimes don't you?
The constant day to day drudge of the nine to five erodes your spirit until a
change of scene is all you crave. Nothing fancy, just a few days will do.
Preferably abroad, it just seems more of a break when you're on foreign soil.
I managed to grab a late deal on a long weekend in Ostend.
So desperate was I to get away,
Places to Visit - Eight Feet and Two Weeks On Crete Part 2 by Steve Rudd
One of the best ways of exploring the huge island of Crete is by car: in your own time, at
your own speed and in your own style.
Without the stress and cost of embarking on guided tours.
Head into any of Crete's major cities such as
Hania, Rethymno or Iraklion and you'll be bombarded by rent-a-vehicle establishments, all
of which are fiercely trying to