Sunday, July 15, 2012

La Laguna de Santa Maria del Oro. Nayarit Mexico. A Volcano Crater Lake.

We all like playing around in fresh clean lakes and even more so in fresh clean volcanic lakes with no bottom. When you can see the lake bottom you are reassured that everything is OK but when there is no bottom to your swimming experience your over-imaginative mind thinks of deep lurking creatures hence The Loch Ness Monster that everyone with too much imagination imagines swims silently around the peaty gloom of that famous deeper than deep Scottish loch.

Turn off to La Laguna De Santa Maria del Oro. Nayarit

It is common knowledge that a volcanic crater lake can reach even into the depths of the earth because that is what makes a volcano - really hot rocks that emanate from inside the earth's crust and once that hole, over the millennia, is filled in with water who knows what is down there? Lots of dead stuff I imagine.

La Laguna de Santa Mario del Oro. Nayarit.

More after the jump

La Laguna de Santa Maria del Oro is that lake outside Tepic in the state of Nayarit. 40 or 50 kms east of Tepic along the highway 15 you take a left and 20 kms later you pass a long shed full of chickens, a nunnery, some sugar cane fields, a high tech farm of some sort growing stuff under large tents and then into the small town of Santa Maria del Oro. Typical of all Mexican small towns with it's plaza and bandstand, frying chicken stands, central market, dusty unsigned roads and numerous unmarked topes that destroy the car suspension over time. Through and through occasionaly getting lost and out the other side passing an observation point where the coaches stop, discharge the tourists who take a quick look at the laguna far below, who then pile back in and bugger off.

The road, well maintained as all Mexican paved roads are, winds down and down till, if you keep driving you drive into the lake. The road stops and there is a left turn that takes you through and under enormous guancaste trees to the Koala bungalows and the right takes you passed restaurants and under more giant guanacaste trees and eventually circumnavigating the 10 kms of lake road.

There is the Tau Resort, an up-market collection of bungalows and swimming pool and kayaks and a restaurant. There are, further along, expensive lakeside houses with well manicured grassy gardens and weekend residents who play around in fast boats and water skis and later some small fields with corn and cows and farmers with straw hats building dry stone walls. We walked it in two and a half hours.

Rock Bound cross on the lake peripheric.

Some guys fishing alongside the road.

There are restaurants everywhere all on the south side and they all serve the usual Mexican fare and a 'local delicacy' called Chicharron del Pescado. This meal comprises small pieces of freshwater lake fish deep fried in a tasty batter that comes with their own 'specialty' hot salsas and tortillas and salad. The fish is good but it is hard to locate the fish taste because of the enclosing batter that can sometimes knock a tooth out if you are an old person with delicate gnashers. However every restaurant tries to draw you in by saying their Chicharron de Pescado is the best but in some you could quite easily be eating Chicharron de Pork Skin like you find in those large packets you buy everywhere. We gave it a go at what we were told was the best place to buy it only because it had most people sitting in the restaurant but on entry to the restaurant we had to step over a stinky dead cat that was being approached by a large iguana licking its lips. We stopped to observe the iguana but soon got chased off by the smell. These restaurants get real busy at the weekends and some deafen you with music coming from juke boxes secured behind iron cages and that music can carry across the lake.

We stayed at the Koala bungalows only because the Tau Resorts was fully booked. The Koala bungalows were built lakeside by an Englishman called Christopher who, on a round the world backpacking holiday 34 years ago found his way here, liked it, bought some lakeside land and built his little domain of a well maintained perfect garden of grass, Cuban Palms, fruit trees and Coconut palms brought all the way from San Blas all those years ago. There is a restaurant under thatch that is only open at the weekends but serves great food and of course the Chicharron de Pescado which were assured is the best on the laguna. There is a romantic wooden jetty that you can jump off into the cool water and kayaks and a great view of the lake especially in the morning after a thunderstorm when the air is fresh and low clouds cover the distant hills. We stayed three nights in July when the surrounding countryside had become green and nightly thunderstorms blew the air apart with rain, thunder and lightning.

However if you are intolerant of the noise of boys shouting and playing football on the bouncy grass and screaming kids splashing in the pool all day long and squealing outside your bungalow window till  midnight when their parents don't tell them to shut the hell up, don't stay at the Koala bungalows at the weekend. It just so happens also that those itinerant drummers that can be seen dancing like crazed banshees and drumming bad rhythms for money next to restaurants and in plazas in Mazatl├ín and infuriating the hell out of you and destroying your eating experience have their headquarters they share with maltreated underfed dogs in a concrete shack 50 meters behind the Koala Bungalows. From there they can be heard banging their drums till the wee hours till your brain is bursting and you are tearing your pillow apart with the frustration. A strong sleeping draught is the only solution. One resident went up to complain and they told him to "fuck off" and mind his own business or we'll set the dogs on you.

So I would advise, if you have it,  spending some extra money and stay at the Tau Boutique Resorts around the other side of the lake. When 'boutique' is mentioned you know it's going to be fancy. And that means peace and quiet and you also know if they had the drummer problem they would go out back and shoot them and machete them all and dump them and their drums tied to heavy stones into the deepest part of the lake where they would be confined forever to the centre of the earth. The distant thud of submerged drums and screams could become a legend over time.

images ©2012 Matt Mawson

1 comment:

  1. i really like your blog. i have heard of Laguna de .... Oro. Seems a lot easier to escape the heat there than going to Mexiquillo. I assume that things slow down in the last half of August?


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