Friday, July 19, 2019

barra in the news

Most of my story ideas come from my walks through my neighborhood. But some literally drop into my inbox.

Yesterday, I opened my email to find a message from my traveling-friend Roy. "I was reading this article about a fellow's travel nightmare, and he ended up in your neck of the woods.  Thought you might find it interesting."

Roy had set the hook. "Travel nightmare." "Your neck of the woods." Inquiring minds had to know.

The article did not disappoint. Sebastian Modak, a travel writer, was in Brazil with plans to fly to Argentina -- and on to the Falkland Islands. But luck was not with him.

He missed his flight and was forced to completely re-work his traveling itinerary to go north to Mexico. And here is the big surprise. Not just anywhere in Mexico. But to our very own Costalegre. With a stay in Barra de Navidad.

Like most writers of his ilk, Modak knows very little about the places he visits before he arrives and he then relies upon one or two sources (along with his limited experience) to draw some rather broad conclusions. The fact that he was somewhat surprised that Mexican families make up the bulk of the tourist trade in Barra de Navidad during the summer is but an example.

The recurring theme of his article can be summed up in one paragraph -- in his own words.

Costalegre, a trademarked portmanteau translating to “Happy Coast,” is being heralded as a new frontier for Mexico tourism now that other beach escapes like Tulum have passed the threshold between boho secret and overrun long-weekend escape. It made the 2019 list because of a new airport and new resorts that will make it easier to get to its largely unpopulated beaches.
Between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, our villages on Navidad Bay house the largest beach community. It honestly comes by its reputation of being a favorite tourist spot for many Mexican families.

Going north along the coast from here, there area a string of resorts. A lot of them are restricted to the type of people who you would never meet in a public airport.

Modak talks about the new international airport that has been under construction since I have been here and about the plans to build even more luxury resorts along the Costalegre when it finally starts funneling new tourists into the area.

For those of us who cringe at that prospect, his diagnosis is reassuring: "But if this is the next Riviera Maya, that’s still a ways away."

For me the most interesting part of the article was his impression of my home town of Barra de Navidad.

  • Sleepy settlement
  • Sits between the Pacific and a tranquil lagoon
  • Foreigner contingent dominated by Canadian and American retirees
  • Dense collection of beachside bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops
  • In midday heat, shopkeepers napped with newspapers spread over their faces
It sounds like the script for a very bad 1980s movie set in a Mexican village. As mundane as he makes it, he is not inaccurate; simply not very observant or original. But, then, all grandparents believe their grandchildren are exceptional.

It appears the only person of note he talked with here was my chum Luis Dávila (who does not appreciated that truncation of his name). Luis told him of the early Spanish history of the town and its connection with opening Transpacific trade with the Orient.

When Modak asked Luis about the rumors of massive development, I could almost hear the tone in Luis's response: “It’s like they see a gold mine, but need another gold mine to fund it,” he said. “So I’m optimistic about the future here.”

Me, too, Luis. Like you, I am optimistic.

But every time this topic comes up and I find myself being mildly opposed and supportive of it, I just chuckle. Because I am fully aware that some of my own neighbors were reluctant to see outsiders moving into their neighborhoods here.

Change will come. But until someone discovers Luis's gold mine, the Costalegre I know will most likely remain in place up top the point where my burning body is set adrift on the bay.

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