We arrived in Sinaloa, one of Mexico’s most dangerous states, after an extremely delayed Baja Ferries crossing of the Sea of Cortez. With an hour and a half to spare before sunset, we set off in convoy with our new buddy, Ben. We weaved through crazed Mazatlan rush hour traffic, windows up through the plumes of diesel fumes, destined for a sandy strip of palm tree plantations we had spotted from the ship while it docked. With direction from a few locals, we took a dusty dirt road which, as it grew narrower, passed through clusters of humble homes with smiling locals, children playing and chickens clucking all about.
At the very end of the point stood a weathered pizzeria with Coca Cola patio furniture strewn about. We parked out front on the sandy beach and went in to meet the owner while chickens searched for pizza crusts and lazy kittens lay on the steps. We ordered several large pizzas to fill the hunger from our meager meals on the ferry and sat up on the second floor of this crumbling concrete structure. With hammocks strung all about and little furniture, other than the old plastic table we sat at, it was a rather post apocalyptic-looking setting. But, with our rigs parked below in the sand and the rusty red scorched sky as a backdrop, we feasted on one of the most delicious pizzas that had ever graced our lips: Hawaiian pizza made remarkable with banana. Trust us on this one. After all the anxiety and hunger the delayed sailing caused us, this was a very warm welcome to mainland Mexico!
As the sun rose the next morning we quickly made tailgate breakfast burritos and poured some hot coffee in our travel mugs. The Northern area of this state had some serious unrest and violence issues over the past few years with narco kingpin ‘El Chapo’ in reign, and, the recent murder of two Aussies heading South in their van had us keen to exit early. So, our plan was simple: stay together in convoy and get the hell outta there!
Within a shamefully small amount of time we were lost, entering a bustling town we hadn’t passed through the evening before, as children in uniform quickly walked to school. A young local, while ripping past on his ATV, spotted us gringos and knew immediately we were lost (it really wasn’t hard to tell). He waved us to follow and took lead back down the dusty road. We turned around to quickly follow, with Ben behind, through trash littered dirt alleyways as chickens squawked in fear fleeing into the narrow strips between houses and shanties. Surprised and thankful for his goodwill, we were back on the correct non-descript dusty dirty road that would lead us back to the highway. After some time driving the cuota (toll) highway, we finally saw the banner ‘Feliz Viaje!’ quickly followed by the ‘Bienvenidos a Nayarit!’ sign. Honking with delight and sweet relief, our little convoy kept trucking to our first mainland surf destination.
San Blas, a quiet little surfing town with little to no tourism, probably due to their insane infestation of sand fleas! It’s bitter sweet as this town is beautiful, it has great waves, friendly locals, the best damn taco shop, and an unrivaled community night life in their little zocalo (town square). We’re not talking discotecs or bars, this town came alive every night of the week with families out visiting, eating and enjoying live music while the kids played wooden arcade games. We joined in, too, after eating our fill of tacos, playing games with the kids and enjoying the busy square. On our way back, with a pack a street dogs eagerly following behind, we couldn’t help but stop in one more time for those tasty tacos. Locals were kind and welcoming and didn’t treat us like tourists. It was something special and we imagine it’s stayed this way partly due to the sand fleas keeping the gringos at bay!
While the sun beat down during the hot afternoons, one little black and white “perra de la calle” (street dog) made a habit of finding shade under our campervan. Ben had been wanting a pup to join his adventure and we could see he had a soft spot growing for this one. She and her mom began to join us on our trips to the taco shop indulging in the occasional carne de res. After only two nights there, we were covered head to toe with bug bites and while we fought off the pests again the next morning, arms and legs flailing while attempting to cook breakfast, we all agreed we’d had enough and it was time to leave. Like just about every other gringo before us, we piled into our vehicles except this time, Ben had a new partner riding shotgun: Chica!
Before leaving we each said our goodbyes to Chica’s mom and somehow it felt like she understood what was happening. We drove away and glanced in the rear view to find she had walked into the road to watch us leave. We couldn’t help but be moved by it.
We mobbed into the sun, stopping for fruit, fuel and to take a look at a few crocodiles at an estuary.
In search of a good surf break, we pulled off the highway a few times before finding Lo De Marcos: a quiet little town with a clean, consistent point break and one really great restaurant! We stopped in to catch some waves and loved it so much we stayed for days. Over the afternoons spent relaxing here we got to know a couple friendly locals including super passionate chef Alejandro, surf instructor Oliver and several friendly snowbirds enjoying their annual slice of paradise. They all loved Chica and she was doing great adjusting to her new life, gaining more energy and confidence every day.
Before parting ways with Ben, we wild camped together at one last beach before he continued South chasing the swell. Having visited the area the year before, we knew of a secluded beach just North of Sayulita which we were pretty sure we could find vehicle access for. We did some recon in the afternoon and found the trail in, deciding to make our way down the steep, narrow path at dusk in an effort to go un-noticed. Here we camped on the sand under the stars, sharing stories and plans for the rest of the trip around our beach fire. The next morning we said our goodbyes and looked on as Ben and Chica put it in 4wd. As they climbed back up to the main road, we took our coffees and a map closer to the shore and began planning our next few days.