San Blas Getaway
It was week two of summer vacation, and I was sitting in my bedroom with my son, watching Super Johnny Smart Mouth (or whatever) on Cartoon Network, huddled around the most powerful fan in the house. He asked me, without turning his head, for a glass of “that drink I usually drink at home”. He was referring to water. Just as I was about to unplug the TV to rescue my son from his catatonia, my daughter began to howl from the studio where she was playing a computer game. I ran in, expecting to find her in some sort of imminent physical peril, only to find that she had misplaced her Puffle on Club Penguin.
Change of scenery, take one. I decided it was time to revisit a favorite of my husband’s and mine, the tiny fishing village of San Blas, Nayarit. Nestled on the coast about 2 and a half hours north of Vallarta, it’s a getaway without being too “away”.
The kids and I were into the idea of jungle boat tours, a visit to a real old fort with cannons, and swimming in various bodies of water. As for my husband, all he wanted was an air conditioned bungalow where he could sit and enjoy a bowl of hot soup. I know. I pretty much won the lottery with a man whose happiness bar is set this low. I’m the light of his life when I melt the cheese on his tuna sandwich.
The drive to San Blas is really, very beautiful. At this time of year, everything is so green and lush. The scent of maturing fruit follows you the entire way, and the landscape is dotted with orchards. Everywhere you look are trees, some dripping with jewel-red mangos, the frilly ones with their stacks of green bananas, and others with their impossibly thin branches doubled over with the heavy yaka fruit.
For any of you who are interested in the San Blas adventure with your family, I recommend the spacious, clean rooms of Casa Roxanna. For 800 pesos a night, we got a huge bungalow with three beds, a small, equipped kitchen, cable TV, A/C, and a screened-in porch (but even with the screens you MUST bring mosquito spray to San Blas. Just take my word for it, amigo). There’s a shared pool outside. We were able to walk downtown in about 10 minutes (with kids), and it is located a few blocks from the beach.
I also recommend La Tovara Jungle River Tour, where you will see crocs in their natural habitat, birds, lizards, and perhaps even a wild boar on a 3 hour (round-trip) boat tour. You can walk directly down to the river and contract a boat for between 440 and 560 pesos, depending on whether you want to go to the crocodile sanctuary and/or swimming area. It’s best first thing in the morning. And hey, the upside to travelling with kids is that “first thing in the morning” means having a leisurely breakfast and swim before you head down to the dock at 8am.
Definitely take a beach day at San Blas’ Playa El Borrego and let your kids enjoy the gentle waves and long beach break. The beach itself stretches out for miles.
Oh, and of course, take a jaunt up to the old hillside ‘fort,’ or Contaduria, that was built in 1770 as accounting offices for the town’s extensive sea trade with the Orient at the time. There are cannons outside the old stone building that, while they may no longer fire, brought a wide, if not unsettling smile to my 8-year-old son’s face.
Go on, take the wind-y road less traveled to this charming, mellow Mexican pueblito. And since you’re there anyway, bring me back a loaf of some signature San Blas homemade banana bread.