December 2009  Las Barras de Piaxtla, Mexico    Back to Mexico!  Our Christmas destination was Las Barras de Piaxtla, a small, rural fishing village north of Mazatlan.  We drove there from Los Altos with Toby, our dog, and our son, Armand.  Isabelle was flying in from Washington, D.C. and we were going to pick her up at the Mazatlan airport after we settled in.  It took us two days to arrive.  We crossed the border at Nogales.  It was a very cold morning, and we arrived early thinking we would avoid the crowd.  However, everyone else had the same idea in mind.  The line was long and it was so cold that morning standing outdoors.  It took us several hours to finally manage to get all the paper work done and luckily we got the green light to proceed.  We were our way to La Rosa de Barras, a small b&b we had reserved in Las Barras de Piaxtla.  This town is off the beaten track and we had to drive a few miles on a dirt road.  We liked it the moment we saw it.  It was small - you could walk the town in 10 minutes, yet lively with people out and about and kids playing soccer.  We were the only non-Mexicans in town (besides the owner of the b&b). The b&b was owned by an American woman from Washington State, and she had also lived in the same town as Armand (Arcata, CA) where she did organic farming.  She was the only "crazy gringa lady" (as she called herself) in town.  She bought a home on the beach, and eventually converted it into a b&b with several palapas for rent.  It was perfect for us.  The fishermen came by daily selling fish, shrimp and of course, lobster!  Armand prepared a delicious ceviche.  A neighbor delivered fresh tamales.  Needless to say, we had a great feast on the beach for Christmas.  Our days were spent walking the beach, surfing, bike riding, kayaking, eating at the local restaurants, reading and playing games in the evening.  What a great place!







We spent only a day in Mazatlan, as we preferred to stay in our quiet seaside village.  Isabelle left us after Christmas to tour Mexico on her own.  She took the bus to Mexico City, and continued to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende.  She couch surfed her way and had a great time!  From Las Barras de Piaxtla,  Pat, Susan, Armand and Toby drove north to Alamos.  This was a very interesting small, and very attractive colonial town.  We were especially looking forward to our stay at El Pedregal Nature Lodge and Retreat, which we had read about.  We were not disappointed.  The lodge is owned by Jennifer and Dave Mackay, who settled here many years ago and raised their two daughters here.  It's too bad that business has declined for them due to the drug related problems in nearby Juarez.  Dave also leads bird tours thorughout Mexico to supplement their income.  El Pedregal is sheer heaven. It is close to town, yet secluded and wonderfully private. The grounds are breathtaking and the casitas a wonderful testimony to that fact that green building and conservation go hand-in-hand with architectural beauty and comfort.  Alamos is a small town yet has good amenities, beautiful hotels and great restaurants.  The big event in Alamos is the annual Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado which features international opera and classical music.  It draws a large international crowd and is quite renown. 



We headed home after New Year's and dropped Armand off at Joshua Tree National Park, located 140 miles east of Los Angeles.  He was meeting Maddie, his girlfriend, for some hiking and camping.   What a wonderful holiday!


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