About four years ago, we spent a few weeks in Mexico where we flew into Manzanillo and took buses through to Zihuatanejo, along the Michoacán coast. From our seats high up on the bus, we slowly wound through jungle-covered hills with views of some of the most spectacular coastline of Mexico. With its pristine beaches, palapa restaurants, small villages, and great waves, we vowed then to come back and spend more time in Michoacán.
Michoacán is… well, Michoacán. This Mexican state of Michoacán is often referred to as the wild west of Mexico and it still holds up to its reputation. We don’t even pretend to be naïve to the major problems that Mexico is facing with the drug cartels and crime, very serious stuff. And Michoacán has its fair share of problems. But we try to stay informed and talk to as many people as possible to know what is happening and how things feel. So far, so good.
Upon leaving the built up area around Puerto Vallarta, we drove for two days and arrived in La Ticla, infamous for its surf as well as it’s sordid past. In the past, Ticla has had a reputation for being rough and tumble and every few years there would be issues with crime and chaos in the area. To put it this way, one of our surf guidebooks says, “This is a seedy area to spend time in.” (Add in the Fox News element of “PANIC and FEAR”, and you can quickly get worked up about all of it.) We had been keeping in touch with a couple we met in Baja – Dave and Joan from California – and hoped that we would see them in Mainland. They have spent a fair amount of time in Michoacán and it would be great to camp with them. After a few email exchanges we were happy to hear that they were heading to Ticla at about the same time we would be there.
Ticla is… incredible. We’ll just say we like it here. A lot. The surfer vibe is very positive and very international – many Europeans, Mexicans, Aussies and of course, the ubiquitous Canadians (Is there anyone left in Canada? They all seem to be following us in Mexico.) The local crime has subsided, largely due to village appointed “vigilantes” (in other words, security). Rumor has it that the “bad people” that were causing problems, are gone, and gone for good. Real good. You get the picture. Because remote areas in Mexico such as this are largely ignored by federal or state police, villages often take matters into their own hands because their livelihood is often dependent on tourists, even if it’s a just a bunch of dirtbag surfers like us. Remember, it’s like the Wild West.
We are camped on the beach overlooking the surf, on property owned by Apolinar, a friendly man with a huge smile. The freshwater river runs into the ocean nearby, hosting a multitude of birds. The village has everything we need – two small stores, a couple of restaurants, an Internet place and tons of kids and dogs. A truck with fresh produce comes through the camping area once a week, as does the aqua purificada truck. On Saturdays and Sundays a taco stand sets up in the zocolo and we feast on plates of tacos for $2.
Needless to say, the surfing here is incredible, and the consistent surf here is allowing us to really enjoy progressing on our short boards. Ticla is technically a very broad point break, but most days it has been much like a very good beach break, with many good waves. This allows us to seek out waves that suit our abilities/moods/energy for that day. We have been surfing twice a day for most days, as much as our bodies can hold up so far! Morning off-shore winds set up for more hollow waves. Mid-day consists of a nap in the hammock, yoga, or a walk to the river. Afternoons glass off for beautiful sunset surf sessions. Dinner consists of shoving as much food into us so we can surf early the next day.
We feel so fortunate to be able to experience places like this at the right time. And it is helping us get even more stoked about our next adventure in SE Asia! Yesterday morning, as I was sitting on my board waiting for waves, I wondered how I’m ever going to survive not being in the ocean every day. So, waves or no waves, I’m thankful every day that get to walk out into the Big Blue and be in the water!
Hasta luego! Hay olas buenas ahorita!