Views in Michoacan

More Than We Imagined: Mezcal, Michoacan + Guerrero

In México, North America by Dane + PennyLeave a Comment

If you do a quick google of Mexican states Michoacan or Guerrero you’re more likely to read about drug cartels, missing women and murder than anything to do with tourism. But, soon after crossing the border into Michoacan we were taken away by its beauty, albeit still studying our rear view a little more carefully than usual. But, after a couple nights on the coast and a little mezcal on our lips, our apprehension subsided.

We can’t explain it really, especially since the surf was a little big for us, but we really loved it here and we stayed for several days. There was just something about it.

In search of a little less swell, and knowing very well we shouldn’t stay too long in one place, we continued down the coast towards Nexpa, another well-known surf town in Michoacan. But, on our way there we were wowed by two little towns we stopped at along the way. First it was beachside brunch at El Faro de Bucerias, a town with brightly coloured wooden homes and flowers in bloom in front of nearly every building. A long beach with fishing boats pulled up onto the white sand, nets all jumbled, and no one about. The rocky points on either side of the bay would have made for a great snorkel but we had a lot of ground to cover. I nearly dug my toes into the sand and begged to stay.

Not many kilometres later we pulled off the highway to find a little sandy bay surrounded by tall rock faces and the tiny town of Mazunte. At mid-afternoon it was the perfect time for a cool down and play time with Wyatt. He was slowly getting more comfortable with the sound of those heavy crashing Pacific waves.

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Nexpa. Cabanas were dotted all the way along the beach with a couple restaurants. We set up camp next to our big wooden palapa, pulled out the hammock, some cold ones, and our books, and relaxed as the sun set over the sea. Just before the sun slipped below the horizon we walked along the beach until we came upon the last open restaurant. What to have? Well, mezcal, of course.

“Mexicans love tequila. But, they are in love with mezcal!”

We were lucky enough to be the only ones in the restaurant so we could chat with our server. She shared her journey from the capital to the coast, real truths about Michoacan and how to drink mezcal like a Mexican.

“You will see old ladies, they could be grandmothers, out together at a restaurant. Before dinner, they order a mezcal. But, you don’t shoot mezcal. They sip it. You let it linger on your lips… ”

This divine spirit is usually served with slices of orange, sprinkled with red picantes (usually cayenne) and salt. Sip the mezcal. Pull a taste of the sweet + spicy orange. Repeat.

We could go on and on about the vast varieties of mezcals, the artisanal way it’s made (I’m talking horse drawn, stone crushed), but the bottom line is just try it!

When we got our bushy tails out of bed the next morning to watch a few sets roll in, we knew it would still be out of our comfort zone just by seeing the short boards the surfers were carrying down to the break. We left our boards locked on the roof rack and headed for La Saladita, a long-borders paradise known as “the mile long right” in the “grizzly” state of Guerrero.

We set up camp just outside of town with a slice of beach we only had to share with one other traveller and a few street dogs which Wyatt (and us) couldn’t help but befriend. The surf wasn’t too big and it wasn’t too small. Jackpot. When we weren’t surfing, we were studying photography, reading or cooking.

Or, lounging in the hammock. Damn we’re glad we brought it!

Our days here slipped by quickly. Before we knew it, it was time to explore the city of Zihuatanejo. It was touristy, but we really liked it. It felt like Sayulita for a slightly older generation. We walked the boardwalk next to the bay, passing by the fishing boats pulled up on shore. People gathered around to take a gander at the big catches as they came in.

There were lots of shops to explore, nice restaurants, beautiful places to stay and happy locals going about their business. We stayed at the South end of the beach at an RV park run by a couple of French Canadians, walking distance to the busy beach with laughing children, kite surfers and sandy-bottomed beach bums.

The stretch between Zihua and Acapulco was longer than we wanted to tackle in one drive so we decided to overnight it at an overland site run by a couple of Canadians in the small beach town of La Barrita. But, with a bad GPS point we ended up cruising up and down the highway several times and nearly giving up before finally finding the place, only to find out the Canadians weren’t home! Lucky for us, the house sitter was. She welcomed us to stay and even gave us access to the banos (nice ones too!). After we pulled up, as close as we could to the beach, the neighboring family came over to say hello and make sure we had everything we needed. Alex was the caretaker of the property and he and his wife, Briseida, were good friends of the owners. We all became quick friends talking about fishing through broken Spanish and English while their two little kids and our pups played. Before they turned in for the night they invited us for breakfast at their restaurant next door and the guys had a tentative time to have their hooks in the water the next morning.

We put back some hot coffees, watching the sun rise and the pelicans feed, before the guys cast their hooks into the waves.

On the way back we noticed a couple of dead sea turtles. Alex told us these were only two out of about 300 that had washed up on the shore after some shrimp boats had been fishing near their bay for two weeks. We were glad to hear they were since banned from ever coming back to that area but were left mortified thinking of how often this must happen elsewhere. Needless to say, shrimp is off our menu.

Everyone in their family was so kind and welcoming to us, we were blown away. The grandmother even took the time to show me how to fry up empanadas from scratch! Delicious.

We stayed longer than we’d anticipated. Dane even got some maintenance work done on the van. The morning we left the melancholy was thick in the air. Us, wishing we could stay a little longer and them asking when we might be back. We’ll definitely return here one day.

When we made it down to Acapulco it was nearly lunch. We pulled down a residential road, surely with impressive homes that sat on the cliffside overlooking the ocean, but we couldn’t see them behind the tall walls that shielded them. With the sliding door open we began making some quick sandwiches when the gate of the house next to us opened. A man came out, surely to ask us to leave, but instead he asked where we were from, offered us a refreshment and insisted we come eat at a table at his house. We were so taken aback we didn’t know what to say (or think!). Could he really be asking out of the kindness of his heart?! …We hesitantly agreed.

His name was Xavier and he had been building a house next to the old, existing one. When we rounded the corner we could see a gazebo with a view of the bluff where a few of the construction workers were busy setting up a table and chairs for us. Xavier sat with us, sharing stories and asking us about our journey. We walked down to the bluff with him which he was eager and proud to show us. It was beautiful and his kindness overwhelmed us. His response was simple.

“I wouldn’t want you to come to my country and not feel welcomed.”

We felt so very welcomed.

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