The next day I awoke after the hike to the waterfall and struggled to get out of bed. Everything was very stiff, and climbing out of the pop top presented an issue. We wanted to on the move fairly early, as we knew we needed to do a fair drive today to keep moving south. After the delays of the engine, we didn’t have many months left on our Mexican visa. We were heading for Sayulita, supposedly a nice town with good surf a few hours away.
On arrival in Sayulita, it all felt a little bit too much like Todos Santos. It was clearly a tourist town, and while that’s ok, we were happy to avoid them for a bit. Anywhere that advertises ‘gluten free pizza’ in English, is not aimed at the locals. We parked up and walked down the beach to inspect the waves, after all that’s what we came for. A ten minute or so walk down the beach revealed some very small waves across the bay. Here, twenty or more long boarders fought for the chance to catch their foot high wave and ride a few metres across the bay. There was no way any of our boards were any good here, even if we were inclined to go and fight for a place in the line up. The overnight stop was just a side road by the beach, not unpleasant, but not nice. We decided to head further on.
The next spot for surfing was La Lancha, only and hours drive north of Puerto Vallarta. I had ordered us a replacement clutch online, that would be delivered to Puerto Vallarta in a few days. We hoped the surf at La Lancha was good so we had something good to kill the time with.
As is apparently common in some parts of Mexico, the beach access is not easy. Beaches here are federal land and anyone can access them. This is the sticking point however, while the beach is federal, the access is not. Many hotels build big complexes on the beach removing the precious access without supplying a new one. This is the case for La Lancha, but there is a new access point as big guards sit on the hotels walled entrance further down. The access is a ten minute walk which requires you to negotiate a small path through the trees. At some points it’s clearly very boggy, there are several abandoned shoes half submerged in dried mud. At one point you have to cross a DIY log bridge. You know when you’re getting close as the traffic of the main road fades into the back ground and you can now hear waves. We had parked our campers in the large parking lot for Pemex and some shops on the highway.
“We’re getting there!” Lee shouts from the front.
We met several surfers coming the other way, negotiating their longboards around low tree branches.
“You have to pace yourself”, one told us.
“There is no way I’m carrying my surfboard through here, this is ridiculous” said Kikki.
And then we emerge onto a bright sandy beach. There’s not many people, but a few surfers in the water. The waves look pretty good, calm and regular, not too big. Maybe we will carry our boards here after all. Now is a bit late though, and we don’t know where to stop so we decided to head back and find somewhere for the night.
I enquire at the surf shop and get told that a new surf leash is $35, yeah right. That’s not happening when I’ve already got some free string. So we drove into Punta Mita. Here is the town where you can get trips to the famous Marietas Islands, something Lee was very keen on. It sounds pretty cool, a hidden beach in the centre of the island. And sure enough, if it sounds cool in a touristy spot then you have to pay for it. Tours for this cost around $200 for two people, a little out of our budget.
We decided to do something more in our price range, the laundry. When we found that the business didn’t actually exist, we gave up and headed to Litibu. This was supposed to be a nice spot. We dropped off our laundry in the town, and then drove out on the dirt roads to the beach, crossing a ford on the way. After the last puddle incident we were a little cautious, but the clear rock bedded stream only served to clean off some of the mud from the last time.
At first we thought we might not be in luck as a few no camping signs were around, but the spot marked was not an issue. The only problem here was the access, over the rainy season a river had flowed down the small parking lot and was a significant trench in the bottom of it. With our nice new sump intact, I’d rather not have a repeat of before. After some slightly precarious angles though, we made it without incident, in time for sunset on the beach. This time, it was blessedly free from bugs.
Over the next three days, we spent our afternoons surfing in La Lancha. We drove out in the morning and navigated the surfboard obstacle course to get to the beach.
Then in the evening, we headed back to our parking spot. The police did turn up once, but they were only interested in asking what kind of vehicle Bruno was and had no reservations about us staying. The locals seemed a friendly bunch.
The new clutch was due to arrive in Puerto Vallarta on Friday, but I was a little apprehensive at it was still stuck in customs, something that is hard to predict. Hoping for the best, we left surfing in La Lancha on a Thursday afternoon and headed a little way around the large bay into the town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. After negotiating another very lumpy dirt road, we made it to a little beach side parking spot on a dead end road that was in fact added by Mike that we had met in Baja.
By this point, I was pretty pissed off our clutch wasn’t going to be there in time and with the new engine still not quite behaving I wasn’t in a good mood. The same can’t be said for Hanno. After a year and a half on the road, he had, for the first time, caught a fish. It was very small, I’m not really sure how much edible meat was on it, but it was caught and it was a fish. He was a very happy boy. Chico and Aimee too were enjoying the trees. That just left me to sit in mood watching the sea, before getting drenched by a rather large wave which did not help matters. At least the sunset was nice.
The following morning, we parted ways. Hanno and Kikki didn’t want to go into Puerto Vallarta, while Lee unsurprisingly had found a microbrewery. Our first stop was to DHL however, to see if we could find out what was going on the with clutch.
Arriving at DHL we explained what was going on. The woman behind the counter phoned up to see what was happening. She told me it was all fine, I didn’t believe her. Then I told her I wanted to change the delivery location as we were leaving the city later. She told me to phone up. We tried but the number didn’t work. Then we used someone else’s mobile. The person on the other end spoke a little English, he told me the parcel was stuck in customs and that they needed more information from me. He put me through to customs to find out what. We sat on hold in the office for at least half an hour before giving up. We hadn’t really achieved anything at all. Previously, I would have probably waited in the town for it. But after months of nothing but waiting, I was done. We would leave and sort it later, we headed on towards the brewery.
After finding some parking in the very busy downtown, we arrived at Monzon. We sat upstairs as the only guest and tried a flight, which we followed up with some snacks and a pint. It was very nice beer, we particularly liked the mango sour and decided to come back in the morning and fill up our growler.
Then we tried Los Muertos brewing company. Their beer was a little bland in comparison, but you couldn’t beat the price. We arrived in happy hour where a pint was 35mxp, or £1.30. Even better, you can get a huge slice of pizza, chips and a pint for £3. What’s not too like?
After a little wander around downtown, we headed back to the van. We wanted to find a parking spot before dark and had one in mind in the mountains. It was a strange contrast. We left the busy city buzz and countless gay bars of downtown and within ten minutes were driving on cobbled roads through a small rural village.
You wouldn’t have guessed we were so close to a major city. We found the parking spot by a river, but were a little disappointed to see that it was right on the road and a busy one at that.
We drove on a little further to the next spot, but couldn’t find it at all. Just as the light began to fade, we spotted a big lay-by on the side of the road, here the traffic was much quieter and we tucked ourselves away for the night. The rush of the river could be heard in the valley below as the birds fell silent, giving us a lovely peaceful night.
In the morning, it was time to head further south and we drove out of our nice little mountain spot back down through the forest towards the city.
We filled our growler at Monzon, where the person I happened to be standing next to at the bar was from Liverpool, it’s a small world. Then, we headed out of the town and down the winding coast road. We had been forewarned of the climb out of the city. The road climbs steeply with hairpins up the mountain, we chugged up it at 20mph, unable to get out of second gear. Every now and again letting the cars behind us overtake, it was a good forty minute climb. The radiator managed to hold the temperature, even though we think it probably still needed a good clean. At the top we were in the pine trees. It was not a quick road, but a nice one to drive at least. Hanno and Kikki were further south on a supposedly good turtle beach, but they hadn’t seen anything yet. We decided to keep driving, not fancying the detour to the coast for no reason, and went past them and onto Arroyo Seco. Lee wanted to go all the way to La Ticla, but I won this one and didn’t fancy another 5 hours of driving. So we stopped here en-route, supposedly another good surf spot, but haven’t we said that before?
We opted for the bigger beach out of the two that the town has to offer, and drove up and down looking for some good parking. We found a big palapa to park right next too what looked like a pretty good spot, I even got to have my hammock! Hanno and Kikki joined us a few hours later.
Maybe predictably, the surf was flat again and there were no turtles. Despite the fact that the surf app predicted some good 4ft waves. We started to think that if it was this generous with surf heights, then the 6.5ft waves at La Ticla might not be so bad after all. At night, it became one of those surprisingly loud spots. Despite that we were several miles down a dirt track dead end road, cars drove past at weird times of the night, with the waves still non-existent in the morning, we had no reason to stay. We decided we would now go straight to La Ticla. This has been mentioned to us several times, Lee read a book about it and surfers on Baja mentioned it also. It is supposed to be ver good reliable surf and after having a rather disappointing tour of the west coast with regards to this, we decided to head there. This would be our last costal stop before we headed inland towards Guadalajara.