San Blas and Isla Isabel

Not sure if I mentioned this or not but I really envy the Environment Group here in Mexico.  They really get more of the Peace Corps experience by living in campos and really having to learn Spanish since most people in small towns don´t speak English.  There are a few volunteers who are extremely lucky in my opinion because they lived in a small beach town on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. 

San Blas is a teeny tiny city right on the beach.  According to Wikipedia its about 100miles north of Puerto Vallerta.  At one time they thought it would be the next tourist trap but unfortunately the sand is full of sand fleas and what the locals call no-see-ums.  I can contest to the fact that there were a lot of bugs but after spraying myself with bug spray and sun block they didn´t really bother me.  This tiny town still seems to attract a lot of Americans and Mexican tourists.  There are lots of small hotels near the plaza but none really right on the beach…not that its a long walk to the beach. 

I certainly loved just sitting on the beach listening to the waves and getting some sun until its time to eat. What´s amazing is that the restaurants on the beach are so accommodating.  I have seen this in other smaller beaches.  They can become your base camp.  Plenty of food and drinks while the kids are swimming etc.  The Surf and Smoke shack (I think that was the name of it) offers great food, fantastic Micheladas, surf boards and lessons, showers and little bungalows on the beach you can rent and sleep in.  I went with a group of other volunteers and a few of them took turns learning to surf.  One guy was a surfer in CA and Hawaii so he was teaching the others.  I think everyone was able to stand up which I heard is the hardest part and therefore pretty awesome.  There weren´t really big waves but they were constant.

One of my favorite spots besides the beach was the Social Club.  Its a small bar right on the corner across from the plaza that is owned by an american guy from Brooklyn who stepped out of the Rat Pack Era.  Jazz and blues fill the air, the walls are covered with album covers of Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis etc… Great atmosphere!  I am bummed I didn´t get a picture of it…I guess that means I will have to go back :)

I didn´t get to take many pictures of the town because my battery died after taking a gizzilion pictures on Isla Isabel.  Isla Isabel is about 2.5 hours by boat from San Blas and was one of the most remarkable places I have ever been.  Christian our wonderful host had described it as like walking into Jurassic Park but instead of dinosaurs there are birds.  He was totally right!  Its pretty much just an island in the middle of no where with over 60,000 birds!  The different parts of the islands have different types of birds…ones where when the males are mating their throats swell into huge red balloons, others that have BLUE FEET!!!  Can you believe that?  Blue feet??  Crazy!  The other type of bird lived on top of the mountain and they looked like aliens.  Besides birds the only other things that lived there were iguanas and snakes.  Oh and a gizzilion mosquitos too.  That part I didn´t enjoy so much…they seemed to be mutants and bug spray didn´t really affect them.

It was an amazing day trip seeing the different birds, hiking through the jungle to the other side of the island where there were two huge rock formations that they called Monos (Monkeys in spanish), snorkeling (the boys not me) in crystal blue water, and climbing the mountain to get a 360 view of the island.  On the way back to San Blas we even saw a whale shark!  The boys estimated it to be about 30meters long.  It didn´t jump out of the water but it did come really close to the boat several times and it swam close to the surface so we could see its body.

I love trips like this!  I love going places that few people get to see and experience.  Among the many things I have learned about Mexico, its to get off the beaten track.  Go places that you haven´t even dreamed of!

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