Melaque and Barra de Navidad

When we booked our second week's accommodations few weeks before we arrived, it was hard to decide where we wanted to stay. Taking a chance, we chose Melaque (aka San Patricio), mainly because it was slightly larger than La Manzanilla or other coastal villages. And it was perfect. La Manzanilla had been wonderful for its smallness — by the end of our week there we knew many of the people from town, both gringos and Mexicans alike. Melaque was about twice the size of La Manzanilla, and it provided much new entertainment for us as well. There was a good sized street market, several blocks of shops and grocery stores, and many restaurants to choose from when we wanted a break from cooking.

We were excited to buy our own groceries (and practice using our Spanish while we shopped), to try cooking with local ingredients. We enjoyed trying various vegetables, exploring different types of local cheeses, and eating in little fondas — kitchens counter restaurants like Marta's. (No, we did not buy any meat from that truck, below!)

Melaque - Grocery Store Melaque - Grocery Store Melaque - Restaurant - Breakfast Melaque - Restaurant - Breakfast Melaque - Dead Cow in Truck

We also just enjoyed exploring the area, walking the beach and hiking in the hills. Our apartment was near the school, so we saw the local kids celebrate the coming of the Christmas holiday with songs and piñatas.

Melaque (panorama) Melaque - House on Rock Punta Melaque - Sunset (panorama) Punta Melaque Punta Melaque Melaque - Laura Running on the Beach Melaque - RV Campground at the North End of Town Melaque - RV Campground at the North End of Town Melaque - Children at School - Piñatas for Christmas

We rented an apartment at Bungalows Mallorca. "Bungalow" is the local generic term for a hotel room (or apartment or rental house) with a kitchen. Our place was on the beach, and perhaps a 10 minute walk from the central part of town. We enjoyed cooking our own food, making guacamole, and eating fresh local vegetables!!!

Melaque - Apartment - Bungalows Mallorca - Beach Melaque - Apartment - Bungalows Mallorca - Pool Melaque - Apartment - Bungalows Mallorca (panorama) Melaque - Apartment - Bungalows Mallorca - Kitchen Melaque - Apartment - Bungalows Mallorca - Fruit and Veggies Melaque - Apartment - Bungalows Mallorca - Making Fruit Drinks Melaque - Apartment - Bungalows Mallorca - Salad Melaque - Guacamole Melaque - Fruit Melaque - Jamaica Melaque - Dinner

Melaque at Night

We loved exploring Melaque at night, since everyone came out after the heat of the day to shop, eat, and play. We found many local shops closed shortly after lunch, only to open again at 5 PM after the siesta time, and then stayed open until about 10 PM. It was a wonderful time for us to poke in and out of shops, buy things for our apartment, and see what the locals were up to. We enjoyed the interactive experience of shopping, especially for flan and other fresh deserts sold by individuals with roadside stands.

Melaque - Square at Night (panorama) Melaque - Square at Night - This woman sold unpainted plaster figures to kids, who could paint them right there. Melaque - Flan and Desserts on Street Melaque - Fresh Churros Melaque - Fresh Churros Melaque - Night Desserts Melaque - Street at Night

We spent several of our days just enjoying the town, sitting near the beach and eating our favorite seafood dishes.

Melaque - Beach - Bungalows Mallorca Melaque - Beach - Waves Melaque - Beach - Restaurant Melaque - Beach - Restaurant Melaque - Beach - Sunset - Boogie Boarders Melaque - Sunset Melaque - Tortilleria Melaque - Chicken Crossing Road Melaque - Tiny Gecko

One of the days there was an "indigenous market", where we found all kinds of stuff for sale — from crafts to DVDs, to plastic ware and clothes. Whatever you wanted for cheap, you could find it there. Blocks upon blocks of tarp-covered booths, sold by people who traveled from town to town, arriving in Melaque on Wednesdays.

Melaque - Wednesday Market Melaque - Wednesday Market - Necklaces

When we arrived in Melaque on the very first day, we noticed a building way up on the hill (Punta Melaque). One day we took the challenge of finding a way up there, and were rewarded with panoramic views of both the sea and the town.

Melaque Melaque Melaque - Beach Melaque - Beach Melaque - Beach Melaque - Beach Melaque - Beach Melaque (panorama) Melaque (panorama) Melaque Melaque - Thorny Tree

Another one of our favorite food experiences were the popsicles. Unlike in the US, these popsicles were only slightly sweetened and, we found, actually were made from real fruit! Geoff had a guayaba (guava) popsicle that contained seeds and everything! Laura had a jamaica (hibiscus flowers) popsicle. For some reason, the jamaica melted especially quickly, dripping blood red juice everywhere! We also tried tamarind and coconut.

Melaque - Paleteria y Neveria - Popsicles Melaque - Paleteria y Neveria - Popsicles Melaque - Popsicles - Guayaba - Jamaica Melaque - Popsicles - Guayaba Melaque - Popsicles - Jamaica Melaque - Paleteria y Neveria - Popsicles - Tamarind

Barra de Navidad

One day we trekked over to the next town, Barra de Navidad , at the other end of the beach. Barra shares the same bay (Bahía de Navidad) with Melaque, but the two towns are separated by a lagoon. We took a local bus to Barra de Navidad, and wandered around the town. We found Barra to be significantly more touristy than Melaque, with its central commercial area filled with tourist shops and where we were constantly being asked to purchase trinkets from wandering vendors. We did find some yummy beachside restaurants, and tried our first local oysters, which were amazing. The Barra area is also known for its sea turtles. There was a little sea turtle nesting ground right in the middle of the tourist beach, surrounded by mesh fence to keep out intruders. On a whim, we happened to go into the tourist center to ask about kayak rentals, and inside we saw a bin of tiny freshly hatched turtles right there in the office! At the end of our long day, we walked home along the beach from Barra back to Melaque, stopping to check out the lagoon along the way.

Barra de Navidad - Beach (panorama) Barra de Navidad - Restaurant Barra de Navidad - Restaurant - Oysters Barra de Navidad - Restrooms, Marked with Only a Moon and Sun Barra de Navidad - Bin of Just Hatched Baby Sea Turtles Barra de Navidad - Beach Walking to Melaque - Lagoon

At the end of our last week on the beach, we were off on a flight inland to Michoacán. You can see Melaque (on the left) and Barra de Navidad (on the right) in this view from the air.

Melaque - View From Airplane - Barra de Navidad