Monday, October 26, 2015

Thoughts of Yelapa

When I heard Friday that the mega bitch Hurricane Patricia would be making landfall somewhere between Manzanilla and Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, my mind immediately focused on Yelapa, a magical little village with cobblestone paths and no roads (no cars) we visited back in December 2010.

How could locals survive a Category 5 when many live in the proverbial palapas in Yelapa so exposed to the elements?  I did a quick search and read many people had been evacuated by boats early Friday morning.  By early Saturday, I read on Facebook the village had dodged the big bullet with virtually no wind.  Just rough seas.  The hurricane made landfall to the southwest and then dissipated in the mountains.  Note -- while Puerta Vallarta and Yelapa escaped the fury, villages on the coast southwest of Yelapa did suffer extensive damage.

I'm not sure when we'll return to Yelapa, but it's a destination I consider to be one of our most memorable vacations.  Despite the fact that the village has been partially populated by Americans, Canadians, and other foreigners for many years, the rusticity and inaccessibility have kept the village more unique than other popular tourist locations. 

We boarded a small water taxi in a fishing village south of Vallarta for the rough 45 minute thrill ride to Yelapa.  People who know me were amazed because I avoid boats due to motion sickness. 

You do what ya gotta do to get to the destination! At the end of the ride, we cruised into this small exotic bay where the mountains and tropical jungle meet the sea. 


Two men who spoke no English grabbed our bags at the pier as the boat tenders lifted me under the armpits and pulled me up onto the concrete dock.  I repeated the name of the casa where we were renting several times and the two men took off in a rush up a dirt path with us in close pursuit.  In the center of the village, the men checked with the only man in sight sitting on a bench in front of a little tienda to ascertain they knew the location of the house.  The rental was about half a small town block from the town pier and our new friends dropped the bags inside the door and quickly departed with their tip. We discovered the next morning after a cold shower that they were not the guys sent by the property manager who were supposed to give us the keys to the house, light the propane water heater on the roof, and receive the $20 US tip.  LOL  No wonder those guys ran out the door with shocked gratitude on their faces!

Arrival bench at the pier.

Huichol Native Mexicans.  They were often in the village selling their fabulous beadwork. 

Craig standing on the town bridge.  Yelapa has no roads -- just cobblestone paths.  A visitor hears no trucks or cars in the village -- just the clip clop of little ponies like the one below.  When we were there, we did see a four wheeler several times on the path up river from the village, but ponies were the main mode of transportation and hauling.

This pony waited for his owner outside the village hardware store.  Looks like she's carrying some plumbing wares.

The town church.

Despite the small size of the village, it was easy to get lost.  A small boy with no ulterior motives quickly became our guide and would appear out of nowhere and ask where we were headed.  Then he'd run ahead on the path to show us the way.

Most evenings when the sun set, quiet descended on Yelapa.  Boat traffic stops at dusk, and the few people walking the paths use flashlights or headlamps to find their way.

Vendors use clotheslines along the main village paths to sell their wares to visitors.

Yelapa's a great nature/hiking destination.  Above, vultures swarm the rocks along the bay path. 
Lily pads on a pond up river.
View from our open air living room along the main village path.  I'll admit to sleeping with one eye open the entire five nights.  With no glass windows, anything could crawl in.  If we ever return, I'll stay in a rental with the luxury of windows. 
I'm so glad this area was spared from this mega hurricane.  There's a magic to Yelapa I hope is preserved forever!

I'll be posting infrequently until our next tropical trip in mid-December.  I'm hoping the apartment we've rented in Roatan will have a great internet connection so I can keep in touch and post photos.  See ya when I see ya!