Rincón de Guayabitos is a small colorful beach resort tucked up in a corner (rincón) of Jaltemba Bay, a stretch of the Pacific Coast of Mexico known for it’s wide sandy beach and waves that lap more often than they lunge. Everyone heads for the water in Guayabitos with no fear of being pummeled or drug out to sea. They romp around with giant inflatable dinosaurs and lobsters, eat barbeque shrimp on a stick, bury each other in sand piles flourished with anatomically enhanced body parts, and generally enjoy being with family in a tropical paradise free from city pressures.
It never fails. If I start making conversation with a cab driver in Guadalajara or a shopkeeper in Mexico City and mention where I live, I always get a similar response.
“Aaaay. Guaya-beeeee-tos” A smile. Then a faraway look in the eyes, unmistakable, even in a rearview mirror. An explanation usually follows:
“Conocí a mi esposa en Guayabitos. Alli en la playa.” I met my wife in Guayabitos – right there on the beach.
“Ay! Pasamos la luna de miel en Guayabitos.” We spent our honeymoon in Guayabitos.
“Muy tranquilo, Guayabitos.” Yes. Guayabitos IS muy tranquilo. Very quiet indeed.
Except after ten o’clock on weekends and any time during holidays, like Semana Santa, the raucous anything-but-reverent “Holy Week” that precedes Easter. Or from December 11 to January 6, which starts with the Virgin of Guadalupe and ends up with the Three Kings. Or the first two weeks in May when locals celebrate mothers, children, the Virgin of Talpa, carpenters and victory over the French, with varying degrees of fireworks, flags and trumpets. Or the motorcycle extravaganza in June. Or the Volkswagen convergence that seems to pop up as erratically as bugs are wont to do. And there’s always July and August when most Mexicans take a summer vacation and head for the beach.
Perhaps it is a function of climate that outdoor concerts begin promptly at the moment most gringos are moving into that profoundly deep sleep that comes after a long day of sun-soaked recreation and a heavier evening meal than any Mexican would ever consider. It’s usually just before midnight that the frenzied, dissonant strains (in every sense of the word) crash up and out into the tropical night, usually punctuated by a prolonged and exuberant aaaaaaayeeeeeeee! Lie back and enjoy it, or get some earplugs.
After all, by three o’clock usually everything quiets down. By six o’clock, depending on the season, the sunrise, and the tide, you can be out with the rest of the world taking a morning constitutional along the thoroughfare of hard sand that stretches from the boat launch near Latitude 21 on the south northward to the banks of the stream that separates Guayabitos from the market town of La Peñita. That’s where the Virgin of Guadalupe keeps watch, her painted concrete image set up at the end of a short jetty which defines the entrance to the river. If, by chance, you live next to that river entrance (as I do), and if by chance you finally fell asleep by three o’clock when the banda music stopped, you just might be awakened by the fishing boats that usually leave at that early hour. You’ll recognize the sound of revving engines, building up the speed to make it over the sand bar, accompanied by shouts of victory when the task is accomplished. The inscription on the base of the Virgin’s statue blesses all the “nabegantes” (a phonetic rendering of navegantes) who set to sea from the river mouth. I’m grateful her blessing on them is constant. Some times mine isn’t.
But a sunrise walk on the beach, or through the cobblestone streets of the Zona Residential or out along the smooth brick surface of Avenida Sol Nuevo will usually dissipate any early morning grumpiness. In Mexico, some tree is always making a spectacle of itself, whether it’s the delicate pale pink of rosa morada, the bright lemon yellow of the primavera, the deep purple of jacaranda, or the fiery passionate orange of the tabachine. All of them parade their colors against a many-hued green background of palms, vines, figs and towering huanacaxtle trees.
The Municipal Ecological Park stretches along one side of Sol Nuevo. It’s a popular place to walk, run or jog in the morning. There you can greet neighbors and vacationing visitors, as well as professionals from La Peñita, usually clad in stylish running suits, ear buds firmly in place,. You can tell when the temperature drops below 70 F/20 C. The locals don gloves, breathe into their palms to warm their faces, and pull up their hoodies. Smile and say buenos dias. It is as expected as the sunrise, even with wires in your ears.
Not everyone on Sol Nuevo is there for recreation. The Bridge of Life was constructed by residents of the Zona Residential as a response to the large number of accidents resulting in injuries and deaths experienced by the people in La Peñita who go each day to jobs in Guayabitos. Before the Bridge of Life, the only way to get from one town to the other was by the highway. Now every day maids, gardeners, kitchen help, construction workers, maintenance crews and vendors cross the wood-planked suspension bridge anchored on each shore of the river that runs between the two towns. La Peñita and Guayabitos are one symbiotic economic unit; each needs the other, and the Bridge of Life is the pedestrian artery that holds them together.
The artery works for tourists, as well. Visitors to Guayabitos often need services offered only in La Peñita. That’s where you can get keys made, buy hardware, find clothing that isn’t beachwear, go to the dentist. Go to the market! No trip to Guayabitos would be complete without a visit to the Thursday morning tianguis in the main square of the market town across the river. Crossing the Bridge of Life, Avenida Sol Nuevo becomes Bahia Banderas in La Peñita. Following it will eventually lead you to the main avenue of the market town. Turn left and head toward the ocean. Another left at the head of the Avenida (in front of the restaurant of the same name) will take you right into the action.
The Bridge of Life is NOT supported by any governmental agency. While its construction was a gift to the community, its maintenance is a community effort. So on Thursday mornings during high season as you cross the bridge, put some coins – or bills – into the cup held out by a volunteer. Better yet, if you’re staying for a few months, or even a few weeks, find out how you can volunteer in some way. There are myriad ways to become part of the community. It will only make you appreciate the beauties of Guaya-beee-tos even more.
About the Author: Susan J. Cobb has toured extensively throughout the United States and Mexico, speaking on practical spirituality and the role of women in religion. Also a well-known author of inspirational articles, Cobb makes her first foray into books with Virgin Territory. She lives with her husband in Mexico.
Susan J. Cobb is the author of “Virgin Territory: How I Found My Inner Guadalupe” and founder of “Writers Who Love Mexico“. Click here for more information and/or to purchase Virgin Territory: How I Found My Inner Guadalupe.
This article was originally published July 1, 2010 on Magical Los Ayala under “Jaltemba Bay Articles of Interest.” Photos by Christina Stobbs.
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