Markets are down and
money's tight so why not look to where you can stretch your dollar? Go south
Our travels took us
through 5 States in Mexico: Oaxaca, Michoacan, Guerrero, Colima and Jalisco.
With the Peso trading
at 13 to one Dollar, Mexico has plenty of bargains for savvy travelers. We
recently journeyed 29 days, first flying from Guadalajara to Oaxaca where we
spent two weeks. Busing south to Puerto Escondido with one week of body
surfing, we then continued 600 miles up the coast by bus to Zihuatanejo for 3 nights, 2
in Caleta de Campo, and finally 2 nights in Melaque before returning to
Our daily cost of this
entire trip was less than $50 US Dollars per day. That included all buses,
1st class, 2nd class and minivans, meals, hotels and a bottle of champagne
for a farewell dinner. (Not including the one way flight to Oaxaca which was $135 US
Dollars each.) Because there are so few travelers here, now is the time you
can bargain for everything including your hotel rooms. During this adventure we had
three rooms with ocean views either on the beach or bluffs, one in the
center of the city of Oaxaca (a fantastic location!) with the most 'expensive' one setting us back $ 23 US Dollars
Oaxaca, the Capital
city of the State with the same name, is the Paris of Mexico. Eating is a
favorite activity and there are countless restaurants, cafes and food stalls.
A beautiful colonial
city, Oaxaca is home to a university, many art galleries, orchestras and
music culture and many sidewalk cafes.
The Zocalo, or the
city’s main plaza, is majestic with its huge shade trees and potted flowers.
For Christmas the flower beds were changed and filled with thousands of
brilliant red nochas buenas - or as we call them, poinsettias. A remarkable site!
From Oaxaca we headed
high into the mountains on a hair raising 5 hour drive via a comfortable
mini van to visit the town of
Huautla de Jimenez.
Music legends such as
Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Peter Townsend and Bob Dylan came to “trip out “
on the local magical mushrooms in the 1970s. This is a mural on the town
school walls celebrating the indigenous culture of taking mushrooms for a
direct experience of God.
Oaxaca where we sampled their celebrated cuisine including the mole negro (made with chocolate)
and then we visited the famous
Monte Alban ruins less than an hour away by
These ruins are in
great shape and are very extensive. We spent hours there climbing up and down
hundreds of stairs. From this viewpoint, one can see the inhabited towns
weeks in Oaxaca, we were ready to hit the beach. We took another minivan south 7 hours to the popular surfing destination of
Here, our minivan broke
down and we had to wait for the next one coming down the road! Fortunately
we travel with food so used this time to eat lunch under a big shade tree.
We are not board
surfers, but as body surfers we were not disappointed. The wave breaks were
constant which gave us the opportunity for some long rides. The beach
extends to left for quite a long walk, and most body surfers
choose this location to ride the waves.
Daily on the
beach we ate our lunches of fresh fish sandwiches, fish tacos and icy cold beers.
made the days drift by charmingly.
A special grilled fish
dinner prepared by Cipriano's Restaurant with mounds of salad. Here we are
toasting friendship, food and fun with our champagne!
It is was here that we
split up with our traveling buddies as we had plans to meet other friends,
Captain Ray and Gloria, 600 miles up the coast. Dennis and Martha (who
purchased our book, are newly retired and tracked us down in Chapala) needed
to head south, and Doug (an international businessman and traveler, sitting
between Dennis and Martha) was on
his way to San Cristobal.
Our next stop was
town made famous by the 1994 movie Shawshank Redemption with Tim Robbins and
Morgan Freeman. The city has built up since the days of the movie...!
Zihuatanenjo is a
fishing town and there was plenty of fish to be eaten!
Here at the local fish
market the morning catch is being sliced up for customers walking by, ready
This was sopa de pescado
(fish soup), about $2.70 US Dollars and it was outrageously good!
it was a 5 hour spectacular
bus journey north with views of pacific coast beaches. The coastline looked
like California's coast, with some turns appearing to be exactly like Big
Sur, the next was just like Half Moon Bay, Monterey or Davenport.. Our
Campo, a sleepy one-road town with not only a great beach for body
surfing but also fabulous sun rises and sets.
our ocean view $15 US
Dollar per night room and it proved to be a great find. From here we had 180 degree
views while falling asleep to the sounds of the surf crashing on the rocks
The unspoiled beach was
a perfect place for lunch under a palapa after catching a few waves. That
little dot in the center of the photo is Billy with his arms outstretched.
The beach was huge and we were the only ones on it!
We walked around the
rocky point separating this 'inhabited' beach from the previous natural one,
and sat down for a little computer work and a plate of fresh shrimp in
This is sunset from our
room in Campo.
Captain Ray Gaines
dancing with Gloria
Three bus rides and
another 6 hours took us to
Melaque which is where we were to meet up with
our friends, Captain Ray and Gloria. They found us wandering the streets
after dinner and immediately took us to a beach RV party with live music.
These RV’ers know how to put on a party and we were not disappointed.
playing the 'gut bucket base' made with a box, some heavy string
and a broom handle. It added remarkable musical dimension to the
live guitar and singing that Rod Snow provided. Yeehaw!
The next day was spent
checking out beaches we had previously visited and reconnecting with people
we had met on those earlier trips. The shrimp quesadillas at Playa la
Manzanillo were the best ever, only to be topped by the view. One last dinner in Melaque
that evening and we were good to leave in the morning back to Chapala.
This one month trip was worth every peso we spent. The people we met, the
friends we made and the sights we saw were worth far more than what we paid. So
if you’re looking for a destination away from the cold that will not cost
you an arm and a leg ….. Come to Mexico!
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.