The Glittering Multitudes

Adam had spent the last day in San Pancho monkeying around in the engine and internet-researching the litany of possible problems for the no-hot-start issue…  It was time to see a mechanic.  With many-a-locals recommendation we found the mechanico.  His teen assistants said he would be back in an hour, and were pleased when he returned in 20 minutes.  Let’s call him “Juan.”   Juan spoke great English; he and Adam conversed about the Subaru motor and all the things he has tried.  Juan said he was at capacity since high season was starting, so he could not help us, and asked us how far we were going.  When we said Argentina, the look on his face changed, and he came back to the motor.  He had diagnosed a few issues and had the van running in 30 minutes.  But that is not why we mention Juan.  His tale is.
Juan worked as a truck driver and mechanic and had lived in Houston, Michigan and Miami, but mentioned he could not go back to the US.  Emily casually asked why, kicking herself the moment the words left her mouth- he mentioned he had some problems with the police.  In the uncomfortable silence, Emily said, “Oh well, we aren’t too fond of most police either,” envoking a sense of camaraderie.

“I was never deported” he said “but my record says I am not allowed back.”  It seemed he would leave it a mystery.  A few minutes more tinkering around and Juan says “I mean, I went to fight for your country and have earned my citizenship, so it’s not right.”

“You fought for the USA?”

“Yes, I was arrested and sentenced for 3 years, but agreed to a plea bargain where I served 6 months, then went to fight in the Middle East.  I was trained well, paid in advance & sent to Miami where I spent my money thinking I would return in a box.”

“So you were arrested for being a coyote?” asked Adam, tying to fill in the many blanks of his mysterious story.

“Yeah, I lived in Nogales and worked as a mechanic.  The local drug-lord kept asking for me to help them, then demanding more and more.  I didn’t want to help anymore, and one night they came for me… but I had a shotgun & the boys the boss sent didn’t have the cojones to fire.  So they left without me.”

“So, you left town the next day?”

“No, I didn’t stay there at night and my friends had many weapons on them guarding me.  I left about a week later, taking only my tools and leaving my house and shop behind.”

The tale wound around, and we tried to piece it together.  He insisted we not pay him for his help with the car and that we join him for lunch.  So we did, enjoying quesadilla plate with rice and salad, and albondigas soup for Adam.

With the problem seemingly fixed, we rolled into Sayulita feeling fine.  We had heard mixed reviews- #1 that it was a magic little nook filled with a pleasant mix of international ex-pats and natives hosting a lively culinary scene and laid back beach community and #2 that it was an over-run gringo-laden nook with unwelcoming surf locals and a druggy party vibe.   The first was our experience, thankfully.

We spotted another GoWesty ride!
We camped right next to this fancy pants resort- it looked pretty nice, perhaps next time.


It was Friday, and the local farmers market was packed with every delight.  We went a little crazy stocking up on quiche with mushrooms/ ham, smoked marlin/ vegi eggrolls with insanely amazing sauces, organic fruits and veggies for the week, sampling every salsa/pickle/juice and getting come great coffee from Capulin.

We took an afternoon detour in Puerto Vallarta to hunt for a Mexico guide-book written in English and look for a higher amperage alternator at a yonke (junkyard).  We failed at both.
Mexico has a way of stealing the hours, and it was late before we arrived in our mountain destination of San Sebastian Del Oeste.
The crisp mountain air was a refreshing change from the humid jungle vibes we had just been in, and quickly layered up with sweaters for an evening stroll.  The 500+ year-old town is beautifully preserved and filled with narrow winding cobblestone streets begging to be wandered.
So wander we did. Colette awoke halfway into the walk, and beamed her fantastic smile when she felt the thin mountain air on her cheeks.  We were adopted by a friendly pup, that we first called Leroy, but then a local gentleman told us her name was Rio.  She was our proud guide around town, sprinting ahead into dark corners, then jaunting back with an approving glance.

There were a surprising numbers of businesses open, and we sampled the local rompope, spiked eggnog, that comes in various flavors like strawberry, pistachio, almond, and coffee.
When we awoke with the sun, we hoped there was a café to grab coffee from as we set out to explore the town again, but found that San Sebastian Del Oeste likes to sleep in.

Faithfully Rio appeared and Colette roughed her up lovingly, repeating “Reee-yoooo! Reee-yooo! Reee-yooo puppy!”
A few hours later we left town, saying adios to our little buddy.
Maurelia is another beautifully preserved Colonial-era town, and we arrived on a bustling Saturday night.  The spires of the cathedral were lit up, and the streets were alive.  We weaved our way to catch the tail end of a fireworks show above the main square filled with families, vendors selling balloons and charming street musicians.  A large carnival was going on, and we sampled from the many street vendors until we were too stuffed to continue- hot churros filled with freshly made caramel, crispy fried quesadillas with orange habanero salsa, just-plucked chicken enchiladas in red sauce, potato sopes, oaxacan cheese and rajas filled quesadillas, coconut horchata (why is this not insanely popular at home? it is amazing!) and gigantic cocadas– mexican coconut macaroons.

Our next day was spent on tiny back roads winding our way to the butterfly sanctuaries.  Arriving at 4pm, it was too late to enter the park, so we camped on the edge of Sierra Chincua preserve, enjoying a huge fire stoked by our guia (guide), Nicolas.  The fir tree branches he used to stoke the enormous log perfumed the air with a holiday scent and we gathered close to gaze at the caveman’s television.

A litter of 7 wiggly puppies provided endless entertainment for Colette.

We set off on horseback in the early morning, before the frost on the grass had yet melted, in hopes of greeting the swarms of Monarch butterflies as they rested still.

We arrived perfectly, and the air was still cold, the rays of light just cresting the tallest peak where the regal insects clustered on the boughs. 

A few early risers floated gracefully thru the bright aqua sky; a pop-art contrast of bold strokes in orange, black, green and blue.  Patiently we sat for hours, the only visitors in this magic realm, watching the long-traveled tribe of Monarchas awaken, taking flight, swarms of them, their multitudes just blowing our minds.

Draped heavily like an Indian bride preparing to meet her groom, the branches glittered as the thousands of wings danced upon the gently swaying bough.

In awe of the magic we just witnessed, we depart happy and peaceful.