La Cruz… a thumbnail sketch
I have been hearing about La Cruz for a while now. North of Puerto Vallarta , (city of cruise ships, all-inclusives, pasty
pale gringos clutching cameras and sporting I- heart –PV teeshirts…and small children offering tiny
packages of chicklets or paper flowers for a handful of pesos…) La Cruz promised a laid back, more authentic
feel made familiar by the long-term expats who call this once-tiny fishing village their home. Old friends and
acquaintances have made this town their home and their life, either buying into condominions or renting, or
even buying and opening a rather wonderful and very popular bed and breakfast right by the marina on the
water (Villa D’amor de Mar…look it up! It is special!)
This is a nice little town, for sure – still very Mexican, with a lot of Canadians and Americans who came for the
sun many years ago and stayed for the music..and maybe the cervesas.
Our favourite pastime has become sitting in palapas on the streets and listening to the conversations around
Everyone knows everyone – and if they don’t know you, for the most part, they still smile and say hola…
gringos or Mexicans alike. It is a very friendly place!
People looking for pristine streets, Walmart, and quaint pretty gingerbread buildings will be disappointed. One needs to pay attention to one’s feet at all times ( no texting and walking).. disaster awaits in the form of uneven cobblestones,
broken glass, pieces of palm trees, or what dogs leave when they don’t have an owner following them around with baggies.
But walking the streets gives you such an insight into the town .. behind painted fading doors or rusting ornate iron
gates are shops full of hot just-made tortillas, fresh vegetables, local cheese, meat, eggs – there are no
aggressive hawkers in brightly lit stores selling garish shoes and fancy jeans, tacky tourist hats or generic
Every meal we have had has been good, no matter the state of the building or the chairs we sit on. People are
friendly and helpful and there is none of the calling out and shoving menus in your face as you walk by. Eat
here, don’t eat here? We know you’ll come back!
In the morning I walk. There is not a long Malecon such as the ones in PV or La Paz… there is a decent
walkway around the marina, that extends around to where the fish boats offload their catch and sell to the
public. In the morning before it gets too warm, there are all manner of walkers and runners, as well as buses
and vans disgorging today’s group of happy party boaters destined for one of the handful of large cat boats
docked behind us. The cheerful staff are there before the sun is up, readying the yachts and themselves for
that day’s charter. People arrive, and the jolly times have begun – music, happy laughter, general hilarity and
well being as each vessel departs for the day’s activity.
I walk towards the main building and the washrooms…then around past the outdoor amphitheater ( music and movies once a week).. and the end of that arm of the breakwater. There are thick bushes of jasmine along the walk and in the
cooler morning the air sings with their sweet scent. The local feral cats are getting fed by the
kind hearted long-timers who have made it their mission to see these animals neutered and fed and perhaps
The local bottle-collector moves slowly through the marina, towing a buggy and searching the bins-
she has been here forever and is a colourful, cheerful, and well-respected part of the community.
The air is also full of birdsong. In the morning it’s a veritable cacophony! Coconut trees rattle their fronds
above me and I wonder about the lovely bunches of coconuts clinging to each tree… will one fall? Could be a
good thing…could be a painful thing…no one seems to ‘nut’ or ‘denut’ the trees. I take my chance and walk
under them anyway.
Around the other side, smells take on a whole new life. Something akin to open sewer (it isn’t) melds with the miasma
of the fish market. It’s a heady aroma! But the fresh fish, just offloaded from the pangas to the buckets to the piles of
ice – they shine and gleam, and watching the men behind the knives reduce massive bodies of
tuna and dorado into manageable glistening chunks.. it’s mesmerizing. I note on my walk this morning that
someone got lucky and bagged a tuna – we have had tuna for two nights, fresh from the market Sunday… it
On Sundays the area around the market is full of vendors selling all manner of wonderful things. Food, jewelry, art,
ornaments, clothing. We enjoyed our first market but only bought what we needed for dinner that night. I
am planning my next foray with a little more forethought…there were things that although I don’t necessarily
neeeeeeed I may find out later that I wannnnnnt.
I had no idea what staying here for a few weeks would be like. It’s an experiment, to experience another small town on a more long term basis. It is causing me to think about what I get out of cruising. So far our trips
have been mostly about anchoring in new places, where we can jump in the water or the dinghy or the kayak,
snorkeling or swimming or just cooling off. Some destinations give us an opportunity to take long walks and
discover exciting things, mostly natural, but sometimes they are in the form of tiny fishing villages in the middle of no
where…no condos, golf courses, or five start restaurants within miles.
Just tiendas and palapas on the beach that offer up freshly grilled fish tacos made with hand crafted tortillas
and a cold cervesa for a handful of pesos.
So hanging out here has been .. different. We talk to people who call it home, even if it’s only for half the year. We
eavesdrop on conversations about who has moved where, who is still around and who has gone, and
where the best band was last night. Music is indeed a huge part of this little town.. a passion for classic rock
and roll seems to be one of the prerequisites for moving here. We actually have only listened from the outside, not
having ventured out later at night to enjoy the festivities. I love music – and from what I hear it’s all good
and a lot of fun is had. The other half – well we will get out there eventually. Although we have partaken in
some of the local activities… Tuesday trivia… helping out in the English school … spanish lessons…
I do draw the line at pickle ball which has a very dedicated band of followers here – from what I see they are
VERY competitive! Out of my league! But it looks like a lot of fun.
But my daily addiction is walking. And more than any town so far this small little village provides us with ample
opportunity to meander, to stride, to amble, to stop and smell the tacos… to meet and greet and introduce ourselves to complete strangers and their dogs..
We took a taxi to visit friends at the marina at Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta … from the huge modern ( and
apparently wonderful) hospital, to the acres and acres of condos and hotels and stores and restaurants…to the “adults only “ pool surrounded by deck chairs and smiling waiters, I could only ask myself where am I? LA,
Palm Springs, Vegas? . A country and western buffet, tables groaning with food and a mechanical bull front
and centre… we enjoyed our foray into how they do it down in PV…and were very happy to get back in our cab and
come home to La Cruz.
But I know that my reason for cruising isn’t about spending all my time in cities, towns, or even villages. I am
enjoying every minute here, but I look forward to the passage north, where we may stop and explore a few
towns or villages or, and this is my choice…another couple of long days and nights, reprovision in La Paz, and then
head north as far and as fast as we can. The silent aqua waters and empty endless pink beaches are
But I think this town of La Cruz will always hold a special place in my heart.