Travel Blog 26: Driving the Pacific Coast
After covering hundreds of miles on the Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca, time had expired. I had 800 miles ahead of me to reach my sister’s family in Nuevo Vallarta for their spring break trip. Giving myself 4 weeks, I would embark on the most nerve-wracking stretch of the entire journey.
Warnings were given about driving in Guerrero, Michoacán, Colima, and Jalisco before reaching Nayarit. These states haven’t had great reputations for driving safety. I had to make the trek though. It was the only route that made sense. I drove during the day and slept at a beach spot on night one in Guerrero. I found a veggie shop in a small coastal town and parked on a lonely little field for the perfect sunset over the crashing waves. On morning two, I reversed Blaze on the main road when I saw a sign that read “Coco’s Fríos: 10 pesos.” Ten pesos for a cold coconut, yes please. That turned into them feeding me some incredible food I had not tasted yet. It was a sort of tortilla with cream and egg mixed in on top. It was beyond delicious. The owner, a man that lived in Chicago for several years, and his wife were so generous to me; they even offered their children’s nanny and kitchen cook to me as a wife. Thanks! “She likes to travel too,” they said to me.
Up the road came the fear-wrenching Acapulco. Wow, that’s a beautiful city!! I loved driving the road stretching along the entire shoreline, but it was difficult to turn around. The coastline is flooded with hotels, but I somehow landed a 14th floor lookout over the entire cove with a view of the sunset for 1,000 pesos ($50) with gated and guarded parking. I’m still unsure how that worked out. Thank you.
Up the road, I camped a night before reaching Zihuatanejo where another phenomenal deal entered my life. Strolling the beach, I asked a woman if she had a hotel. She shockingly said yes, walking me across the beach and up some stairs. This is where I was introduced to Sylvia. She’s magical! She showed me a room, in which I learned it was a complete villa. One in particular had a large room with a full kitchen, dining table, king bed, air con, fans, and a large terrace overlooking the beach and ocean. Offering me an incredibly low rate, Sylvia welcomed me in with smiles and conversations about art.
Then came the very desolate state of Michoacán. For a few stretches, there was nothing but curving roads through high thick brush. Mountains laid to my right while even the coast to my left had vanished. The sun beat down and every curve had a concern of a car blocking the road. All I could do was put on happy music to make me feel good and continue driving up the road. Everything else was out of my control. I kept my eyes on the road and my mind clear of potential possibilities. Stay positive.
Reaching communities felt sort of like a trap. It was like I’m safe from the road, but now I’m showing myself for the next big long stretch that is around the corner. A gringo with long hair driving a vehicle with U.S. plates is a slightly intimidating reality in these towns that do not appreciate the mindset of a traveler. Luckily for me, I reached camp and felt safe. Then crossed the next border to Colima to find a hotel in the city of Manzanillo. This is a solid discovery as a city many people don’t know. For the golf community, there is a course right in the center of town with a sports bar nearby with very tasty nachos. After the exhausting drives of the few days previous, a glass of tequila helped calm the bones. The women at the table next to me said, “You did not just drive through Michoacán. It’s so dangerous right now.” Well, I’m glad I’m done with Michoacán. Thanks for no problems.
A few more camps led me to the hidden gem of Maito, the small town with nothing more than a cafe for tortas, a shop for beer and snacks, and free parking at the empty soft sand beach. The only guys on the beach were the father/son/grandson trio looking after the “tortuga” (turtle) sanctuary. They were very informative and welcoming to me parking beside the lagoon near the ocean.
My journey along the Pacific Coast culminated when I reached Nuevo Vallarta to spend a rewarding week off the road with my sister and family.
I couldn’t be happier!