Before we left Puerto Vallarta, I e-mailed as many RV parks as I had addresses for along MEX200 between PV and Acapulco to see who was open, who had space available and what the rates were. I got very few replies. One was from Henry at Punta Perula Trailer Park and the other was from La Playa RV Park in San Patricio Melaque. When someone actually takes the effort (slight though it may be) to actually answer an e-mail, I tend to want to patronize their place. Consequently we stayed at the Punta Perula Trailer Park for a full week Had planned to stop at Melaque next but Boca Beach sounded like a good stop in between.
We were less than enamored of Boca so yesterday we set out for the big 20 km trip to Melaque. Somewhere along the way, as we entered town, I took a wrong turn but Dora steered me right anyway. We drove down several cobblestoned, narrow downtown streets. Towards the end of one, Dora informed us that “Your destination is ahead, on your right.” Um, I don’t think so, Dora. There’s nothing but storefronts on my right. But then, in between two storefronts, there was an opening and up on the wall a sign for La Playa RV Park. Sonofagun, Dora was right again. We turned in off the street only to find a tiny little RV park with a closed gate. Fortunately, there was enough room to get Flipper off the street but a big 30 footer would have probably stuck out in the street a bit. A gringo told us to just come through the walk-through gate which wasn’t locked. He had nothing to do with running the place but, since the manager was ill and her assistant spoke no English, he showed us which sites were available. He also told us that we could camp at the next place down the coast for about 1/3 of what this park cost. We were wanting to stay here because it was right in town, making exploration easy. However, the $340/night (about $23US which wouldn’t be bad in the US, but this isn’t the US) definitely put us off. The spaces were also really close together and, after Punta Perula, we were hoping for a little more room and thus, a little more privacy both for us and for our neighbors. We decided to move on.
As we drove through Melaque, it looked like a pretty neat little town to explore. We were surprised to note, however, that it was absolutely crawling with gringos. This is not a condemnation, just an observation. We always wonder just how truly Mexican a town with a large gringo influence has remained. No reason for us to believe that Melaque wasn’t the same town it had been before the gringo influx, but we just tend to wonder.
A note about some of the towns we’ve been in lately: I don’t know exactly why it happens, but a lot of times the turn off from the town’s main drag onto some of the cross streets can be a really high, steep ramp. We noticed this a little in Puerto Vallarta but noticed it big time in Melaque yesterday. We came to the end of the street and were ready to turn back onto the road out to the highway. The road we needed to turn on to must have been an easy 4′ above the side street, maybe 5′. And there was a very short ramp getting one up there. And the ramp started abruptly, no nice smooth transition. So, I waited for the traffic on top to clear so I’d have a place to stop when I got up there. Then I revved ol’ Flipper up, popped the clutch and up we went, dragging the trailer hitch all the way up. No harm done to Flipper. Didn’t go back to inspect the road although I’m sure it fared just fine.
So, we had to decide where we were going to go next. There were a couple more parks out of town along the beach but we decided to take another tack. I have gotten several comments on this blog as well as on my Facebook page from a place called Coconutz RV Park in Cuyutlán. Normally I wouldn’t give these much consideration, figuring they were just plugs, but these sounded like the writer was actually reading the blog. Due to the microscopic printing in the city index in the back of the Guia Roji road atlas, the only Cuyutlán I could find was on a side road off the main road between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. I mentioned this to the commenter and he sent me GPS coordinates and directions. I looked again and, sure enough, there was Cuyutlán, a little ways south of Manzanillo. Prior to leaving Boca, I had checked out the website for Coconutz and, when I realized there were only 5 sites, decided to make a reservation. We planned to stop there on Thursday after a 2-day stay in Melaque. However, we were ahead of schedule and figured we’d just give it a shot and hope there was room. After looking at the booking calendars, I was pretty sure there would be.
So, we made the big 76 mile trip (total, including running around in Manzanillo looking for a Banamex and a supermercado) from Boca to Cuyutlán. I had intended to drive Mex200 Libre instead of the cuota (toll road) even though this meant we’d have to backtrack a bit since the libre doesn’t run right through or near Cuyutlán. However, somewhere in Manzanillo, I somehow ended up on the cuota. Big expensive mistake. The toll for cars is $123 (~$8.50US) but, because we have duals on our rear axle, it cost us $242 (~$16.50US). If you ask me, the toll roads are the real bandits in Mexico.
Having been in e-mail contact with George, one of the owners of Coconutz, I knew he wouldn’t be there until maybe the weekend. So, we weren’t too surprised when we pulled in and found no one there. The only other rig in the place was George’s 1975 Dodge Travco motorhome.
There was a string up across the opening which we untied and then tied back up after passing through. A sign on the baños said to call Marco, which we did, but we got a message which we didn’t understand. But, George had given me his phone number so I called him to let him know we’d arrived earlier than expected. He called Marco and had him stop by to bring us a key to the baño and give us the lowdown on the place.
This park is brand new. It’s only been open since mid-December. Consequently, you won’t find it in the Church book. They are working hard to get the grounds planted and landscaped. The baños are the best we’ve seen anywhere, Mexico or the US. Maybe it’s because the place is new and underused but, if they stay this nice over the long haul, they should get an award. There are two baños. Each is a separate, lockable room containing a hot water shower, plenty of hooks to hang your stuff on, a toilet, a sink, toilet paper (normally you have to bring your own), soap, and paper towels. This may not sound like much to those uninitiated to the ways of Mexican RV parks but most don’t provide toilet paper or paper towels, some don’t have showerheads and a few don’t even have toilet seats. And almost none of them have adequate facilities for showering while keeping your stuff dry and secure. So, to find it all in one spot is sweet indeed. The fact that the place is owned and operated by gringos may have a lot to do with it.
Prices are on the higher end of the spectrum but not bad for what you get. $300/night or $1995/week. On their website, they describe this as an introductory price but I personally hope they don’t raise it. We did pay more in Puerto Vallarta but since PV is so big, the higher price helped offset the bus fare if we’d stayed in a slightly cheaper park in Bruceias or La Cruz. You can walk anywhere you want to go in Cuyutlán.
George sent us an e-mail this morning telling us where various things are in Cuyutlán. We walked about 8 blocks to the Lavandería to drop off our dirty clothes, then wandered around town and up and down the malecón. Saw a number of likely spots to while away a few hours over a cerveza or two. Also, saw several little stands where we plan to check out the tortas. After reading this article in Serious Eats, we are on the lookout for excellent tortas.
So, here we are in Cuyutlán where we plan to spend a week. Who knew? Not us as, until a few days ago, we didn’t even know it existed. I love it when a plan falls apart.
Boca de Iguanas to Cuyutlán, including running around in Manzanillo): 76 miles
Total to date: 7,290 miles