Mexican Hideouts

The road less Gringoed: in search of an authentic slice of paradise

Dec 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Bienvenidos a Mexico: Parras de la Fuente's home crowd

SOUTH OF THE BORDER is where you're bound. Mexico: desert too hot for the mind to think, ocean too blue and beautiful for the body not to fall right in.
We do it every year—my wife, Sue, whose father is from Guadalajara, and our two young daughters. We did it a month ago: decided at dinner, bought $300 tickets online that night, pulled the kids out of school in the morning. We arrived in Acapulco at midnight, rented a battered VW bug, and drove off into the sultry blackness.
This time, we went in search of what we thought might be lost: the classic gringo-free village on the beach. The place where fishermen still creak out in painted rowboats before dawn. Where there are burros wandering around in the dunes. Where a squat woman walks along the sand selling slices of homemade chocolate cake.

Several times we pulled off on rough roads, only to find that they dead-ended at tin shacks. And then we found it—down a long dirt track that wasn't on the map, leading to a village that had changed its name. The main street of cobblestone and sand sloped straight into the ocean. The few other streets wandered pleasantly past whitewashed buildings, the door frames painted blue or green or purple or red. The clean scent of an empty sea wafted through slim palm trees.
This was the place. We knew it instantly. After driving along the coast for two days, with hot air blasting in the car while Sue tried to keep our two sweating girls occupied by teaching them nursery rhymes in Spanish, we had slipped back into enchanted Mexico.
We found a pink hotel on the edge of the village, just above the sea. We had our own tiled balcony. Downstairs was a café serving tortillas de maíz and frijoles for breakfast and whatever the fishermen brought in for dinner. The beach was immaculate, and we buried one another in powder-fine sand. Every day we boogie-boarded till the sun sank into the ocean and the mœsica Mexicana began drifting down from the café.
There are plenty of out-of-the-way villages and dead-end roads to discover in Mexico. In the pages that follow, you'll read about six more hideaways—from the highs of the Sierra Madre to the heart of Maya country, and beyond. Bike, hike, surf, fish, and explore by day, then find a place to tune in to the setting sun. Whichever backdrop you choose, the Mexico of your dreams is still there. Go find it.
Todos Santos
San Sebastián
Parras de la Fuente
Barra del Tordo

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