I hate the cold. With a passion. Which is why I flee from Canada’s winters at all costs! And as an information technology consultant, I work remotely and so can do my job anywhere, luckily for me. This year I chose to escape to the Mexican Riviera, a strip of land around Banderas Bay in the southern Mexican states of Nayarit and Jalisco/Xalisco.
The weather in this area is great and the cost of living can be pretty low depending on your lifestyle choices. I’ve been here for two months, so I’ve gotten a decent grip on the lay of the land. Originally I stayed with a friend in San Vicente (a very boring town indeed, unless you like extremely loud mariachi music festivals) while I scouted out where I wanted to live. I was originally thinking Puerto Vallarta, but I found it to be extremely crowded, dirty and noisy – not my idea of a good time. Sayulita, a high end surfing spot, was really nice but too isolated for my tastes. Bucerias, though, fit the bill perfectly.
Bucerias is gorgeous, and has beaches that are less crowded and just as beautiful as Vallarta’s. There is lots of really nifty Spanish colonial architecture, and new construction generally keeps to the original colonial style. My casa, which was recently built, shows this nicely:
You can’s beat the scenery, either – you can see the mountains reaching around to enclose both sides of the bay quite clearly, and the sunsets and clouds are often spectacular! Here’s a (bad) picture of me on the bridge by the beach on New Year’s eve, to give you an idea:
There’s tons of things to do in Bucerias , if you’re not looking for bright lights big city type night life. There’s hiking, swimming, just walking on the beach, horse back riding (they have real cowboys here!), boat fishing, boat tours, tons of festivals (last week they had the Chalk Artists Walk and the Fire Dancing Festival), live music, dining, dancing, jet skiing, para-sailing, speed boating, and more! I don’t see myself running out of things to do anytime soon.
The overall atmosphere is open and welcoming in that small town way, but with sophisticated sensibilities. In that it reminds me of surfer-town Paia on Maui, or Banff in the Canadian Rockies but without all the chain stores and heavy commercialization. Everyone I talked to, both local and ex-pat, have been outgoing, friendly and helpful. The mostly Canadian ex-pats have worked to integrate their community with the local culture and have succeeded quite admirably. There is a public recycling program, education centers, community activities, etc – all those things that don’t impact the tourists directly, but give the town a real sense of community and warmth.
The town has tons of little art galleries with both imported and local artists, and lots of nice cafes and restaurants ranging from “Mom’s Diner” to “Maison Snooty”. The businesses are run by a good mix of ex-pats and locals, so you don’t have to give up local cuisine and culture for a more cosmopolitan experience. For instance, my favourite place so far is a really nice French cafe, Bistrot O Delices – which is right next door to Juan’s Cocinero (Juan’s Kitchen). Yes, you can have it all!
The one thing they don’t have is chain stores and restaurants. No Subway, no WalMart, no McDonald’s, no Costco. For me, this is a huge bonus. Nearly every business is entrepreneurial, which brings a lot of variety and new experiences for me to try!
I would heartily recommend Bucerias to anyone looking to winter or retire in a beautiful place that has a warm small town community feel without giving up the finer things in life.