Barra de Navidad
28 March 2016
View of Barra from 7th floor of Grand Bay Hotel
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - Tenacatita anchorage
It is the day after the rainstorm and the wind is still raging, as predicted. We left Barra almost a week ago and yet I haven't written a word about it. No journal entries. Nothing. After some distance and some thought, I am ready to describe our visit. There are certain ports/anchorages that are infamous in the cruisers' lore. One of them you hear repeated often is Barra de Navidad. Why?
It could be because it has a little bit of everything. There is a beautiful lagoon that is protected and free to anchor. Close by is a five-star hotel with all the amenities you could need. It sits nestled in a mountainside and hosts a golf course, tennis courts, spa and three swimming pools connected by water slides. There is a swim-up bar and restaurants with excellent food. The joy of this particular hotel is that there are no "Mexicans with microphones," calling out bingo or challenging swimmers to clap their hands and dance. It is peaceful here and they play good music over the speakers; an eclectic mix that includes jazz, not 1970's American disco. Alongside the hotel is the marina. It is well-cared for and also has a fuel dock. This is the first fuel dock you find after leaving Puerto Vallarta. And then there is the town of Barra de Navidad. It lies across the bay from the marina and lagoon. Water taxis run 24-hours a day, carting people back and forth for 30 pesos round trip per person.
How many times can I tell you about beautiful, white sandy beaches with palm trees? How many times can I tell you of the colorful buildings and cobblestone streets? Yes, Barra has all of these, plus. Barra has personality.
During the day, it is a sleepy town for it is very hot. Having spent three seasons (winter seasons at that) in Mexico, I understand now why siestas were created and are much needed. You might find some activity in the morning around breakfast, but mid-day many places shut down to escape the heat. It is the evening when this place comes alive.
It was our very first night in Barra and we heard there was going to be a flamenco guitarist playing in town. We decided to check him out. Little did we know, we would witness one of the finest guitar players we have ever heard.
It was a little hole in the wall called Popeye's. We climbed the narrow staircase to the second floor which overlooked the beach. No one was looking at the ocean. All eyes were on the guitarist. It was just him, a percussionist, and an IPAD running backing tracks. We found out later that he had also played and recorded all the accompanying tracks that we were listening to. He played everyting from flamenco to bottle-neck blues to Eric Clapton. He even played 1970's Abba and 1940's big band to appease the Norteamericanos.
During the break, Jay went up and spoke with him for awhile. He was very serious about his music and admittedly practiced until perfection. Though extremely talented, he was quite humble. Jay asked him for some Mexican music and he ripped into Santana's "Evil Ways." I asked him for one of my favorites, "Europa." I wasn't disappointed. We watched as he gave every tune he played 110%. His chin would drop as his face grimaced in concentration. His hands moved faster than anyone we have ever seen. Jay and I looked at each other. "What is he doing here, in this tiny bar playing for a bunch of expats?" We just never know what we are going to find.
One day while we were there, the town held their annual Festival Sabores y Soidos. This was an all-day affair held in the center square in town. In the morning there were cooking classes. In the afternoon there were booths set up representing all the various restaurants. We bought tickets for the tasting and then voted for the best. Later in the afternoon, the stage show began. It started out with Mexican dancers and then several local bands played a set.
We had many dinners in town. Each restaurant had its unique atmosphere. One was in a tree house. Another, on the beachfront. And yet another, on a second floor of a hotel with exquisite decor that led to a third-floor 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Others were casual cafes that opened out onto the street. And still others looked out onto the bay. Most had very good food at affordable prices.
I could go on and on about the food and the music, the beaches and the bay. But without sitting at a cafe in the streets on a moonlit night, without listening to the local bands while eating the scrumptious food and watching the people of all nationalities strolling by, I think it might be hard to imagine how exactly seductive Barra can be to us visitors. Yet, it is probably these reasons why so many of us yachtistas come back year after year.
Or, some say, it is because of the French Baker. There is absolutely nothing so wonderful as having fresh-baked goods delivered to your boat each morning, via panga. Maybe now, you can see the allure and romance of this place they call Barra de Navidad.
What I have shared, is just a tidbit of what lies here in this fabulous cruising destination. We stayed here only ten days and just scratched the surface. There is so much more to see and do. Because of this and because we fell in love with Barra, we plan on returning next year and staying longer.
One evening, before we began heading back north, we had a special treat from one of our fellow cruisers. His name is Neil on the sv/Liahona. Jim and Kathy introduced us and he invited us for dinner. Neil is a chef, has owned several restaurants and he enjoys cooking and sharing his culinary delights. As a farewell to our friends on Solar Flair, (who were leaving the following day to head south to Ziuatanajeo), Neil brought his boat over to a slip next to ours and cooked us up a feast. It was outstanding!
After desert, we moved over to our boat where Jay got out his keyboards. Jim brought his guitar, Neil his ukulele, and Kathy, along with Jim and Neil, added her lovely voice. It was a great jam session. A great way to end the night.
See Photo Gallery for more photos.