After Mazatlan, I was hoping for some remote beach camping. We headed south down the pacific coast of Mexico, with a plan to try to arrive in Puerto Vallarta by Christmas (this would give us about 5 days).
When driving in Mexico, it seems that most drives takes us about twice as long as we think they should. That was certainly the case driving south that first day out of Mazatlan. We planned on visiting San Blas in the early afternoon, and then finding a campsite further south.
We had heard horror stories about the sand flies in San Blas, called “jejenes” in Spanish. Our Lonely Planet guide said that if you spend a night and you don’t find the sand flies annoying, you should consider yourself lucky! Bloggers on the pan-am mentioned leaving in the middle of night and recovering in hotels. Travelers we ran into told us that their dogs slept in the beach surf that night because the sand flies were biting them so much! The worst part is the bites get progressively worse after a few days, so you don’t realize how uncomfortable things are going to get until you are frantically scratching your legs every few minutes.
Unfortunately, as 4:00 pm rolled around, we had just reached the outskirts of San Blas. Rather than visiting the city, we decided to find a spot to camp before it got dark. About 4 kilometers south of San Blas, we saw a little restaurant on the beach with some palapas. After a short discussion with the owner, Erica had organized beach camping for the night.
While we were well outside San Blas, we hadn’t escaped the sand flies completely. As it grew darker, bugs swarmed around the lights inside the XPCamper. Many of these flies were small enough that they went right through our mosquito net screens. Hundreds got inside. We had to close all the windows, which turned the XPCamper into a sauna; it was over 90 degrees inside. Needless to say, it was a pretty rough night.
Cranky and tired, we rolled out early the next morning in search of a beautiful beach without the flies. On a whim, we cut off the main highway towards a small beach village named Chacala. Shortly after arriving, we were hooked. The beach had beautiful golden sand, the sun was beating down, and the vibe was Baja-esque.
We spent the day relaxing on the beach soaking up the sun, swimming in the warm waters, and reading. Often times while we’ve been on the road we’ve experienced extremes like this–going from the bug-infested spot outside of San Blas to the amazing beach at Chacala. You just have to persevere and keep a good sense of humor through the tough times, knowing that something better is right around the corner.
Leaving Chacala was a tough decision. I wanted to spend another night, but Erica was ready to leave (there were still a few sand flies buzzing around, and all those sand fly bites from San Blas were turning into itchy rashes–we were ready for some easy camping.) I hated to say goodbye, but it was made easier as the sky became overcast with storm clouds.