travel

Green Flash or Hot Flash?

Barra de NavidadWhoa, now that’s what I call a beach!

Every paragraph I’ve tried to write about the splendors of Barra de Navidad comes across as the most dreadful porn, but I can’t help it. It is hot, so hot, steamy wet and hot, and God, do I love it there.

Who cares about the Atlantic seaboard with it’s dumb boardwalks and pedal jitneys and imitation gay ninieties photos? Are you kidding? Barra is the beach, baby, coconut shells and mysterious pieces of wood washing up on the shore and the mighty Pacific crashing and rolling and stoned surfers passed out in hammocks tied to palm trees.

Actually it wasn’t just the surfers. There was a taxi stand across from our hotel. I assume the drivers were busy with fares every night, because during the day they would be sprawled limply in hammocks of their own, sleeping in a manner that suggested paralysis or nerve gas, rocking gently between “No Parking” signs.

Pah! In Ocean City we picked daintily at blue crab and complained about the flies while we watched the class of ’20XX traipse up and down the boardwalk,celebrating their high school graduations by getting their fake I.D.’s confiscated.

In Barra we wrestled with 2 kilo langostas drowning in melted butter and kicked iguanas away with our huraches and left the restaurant exhausted and full to watch a parade of …oh, who knows? Toothless old war criminals, con artists, Endless Summer types, pot smugglers, and ruthless Mexican peddlars who make their livings by selling shell jewelry and whatever else they can get their hands on.

The Grand Bay HotelAnd hovering over all of it like Cinderella’s Castle is The Grand Bay Hotel. The Grand Bay Isla Navidad is an elegant Wyndham resort that adds a touch of bling to the otherwise seductively shoddy tropical atmosphere. Separated from the rest of Barra by a moat, I mean, lagoon, it’s like a 4 carat diamond in a crackerjack box.

One of the co-eds and I took a water taxi over to the hotel for Sunday brunch when we were visiting Barra in January. On that occasion she and I idled on the verandah nibbling croissants and pretending to be Eurotrash countesses, but except for rare occasions like that, it just provides a magnificent backdrop.

I am telling you, I love it. I don’t think Bruno Barra de Navidadknows how much I love it, but I could live there, and finally, now that I’m middle aged, realize the fantasies I’ve been nursing for 40 years to be Gidget, spending my mornings surfing a longboard and my sunsets mixing drinks in coconut shells for a draft dodging beat poet named Kahuna.

Oh, except that I can’t surf. And I’m a recovering alcoholic.

And except for the fact that there is an instant in the morning when the heat suddenly ignites, and in that moment it goes from being just ordinarily hot to the place where water becomes steam, and if you didn’t roll into a pool that minute, you’d risk being scalded by the air. And for the rest of the day you have no choice but to stay in the pool or join the taxi drivers in their stunned torpor.

So I keep my beach fantasies to myself. On the way home, only a 4 hour drive, the excellent toll roads wind up and over the mountains. As you approach Lake Chapala, the temperature drops and the air feels fresher and cleaner by the mile. Kilometer, I mean. It’s a different world, and actually one that’s probably a little better suited to real life. For Bruno, anyway.

I’ll tell you where you can go to get a good feel for this place that I love so much. Check out Sparks Mexico page. He has some pictures that make me feel like I’m still there. Actually, there’s very little about Mexico you can’t find out while drifting around on his web page, so have at it.

Elliott Joachim pulled the plug on life in Metro D.C. and headed South of the Border. In her blog, Lifestyle Refugee (honey, what the hell are we doing in Mexico), she regales you with how a middle range baby boomer builds a new life in Ajijic.

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