Private Property, Public Land

On a supermarket run to Nuevo Vallarta the other day, I came across this.

It was the close-up detail shot of the relish that really sold me. I’m so glad they included that.

A rare moment of harmony and civility between these two warring factions.

It’s hard to tell sometimes whether he’s helping or hurting. And by he I mean either one. Fortunately, the tools are plastic. Unfortunately, the water cups are not.

We had a visitor the other night. I suspect this isn’t his first time here.

Quite possibly the largest opossum I’ve seen, certainly this close. The other night during dinner time, Noe started freaking out. He told us he saw a face with two little eyes staring at him through the window. We laughed it off and told him there’s nothing out there like that. Obviously, we spoke too soon.

Noe, I know it’s tough, but please just try to ignore the 20-pound rat staring you down while you’re eating your dinner.

Much easier than ignoring the 30-pound brother across the room.

Riley’s pre-dinner entertainment.

Off to town!

The boys’ favorite little swimming hole right now.

We’ve visited Carricitos Beach a few times around sunset, but haven’t had one quite like this. Carricitos is definitely the best beach in the area for catching sunset. Westward facing, away from the crowds, and relatively close to town.

Like all beaches in Mexico, Carricitos is a public beach. But access to the beach can be a bit challenging. Like a lot of beaches here, Carricitos is 100% fringed by private property.

By law (as of October 2020), someone has to allow access to the beach (and is compensated for the costs of doing so). Yet, even in the face of a US$40,000 fine, this beach still remains the exception rather than the norm.

To get to Carricitos, one of the property owners has allowed access via a steep and narrow path bisecting an undeveloped property. That property is currently for sale for the crazy sum of US$7,999,999 (which bodes well for the continued access).

The alternative to accessing Carricitos, you ask? A harrowing clamber around rocky headlands from an upscale private housing community to the north, and a famously over-protective resort to the south (Playa Escondido, where they film Bachelor in Paradise).

Back in Sayulita Town, one of the big draws to this particular beach community is that the beaches on Sayulita Bay are so easily accessible. There aren’t any sprawling, high-end resorts limiting access to the beach like Cancun or Nuevo Vallarta.

There are public access points about every block, and business owners tend to be pretty laid back about private property (with a few obvious exceptions, like Don Pedro’s restaurant that has claimed all the beach up to the water line as their own (which is just plain ridiculous and by some interpretations of the law, illegal).

We didn’t realize how much of an outlier Sayulita was in this respect (in Mexico), until we visited other beach communities and started regularly reading Mexican news. The level of access in Sayulita is on par with what we’ve been used to in small beach communities across the globe. Really, the only place we had visited before moving here that strictly limited access was…Cancun.

If the beach can be privatized in a particular country, then whatever. That’s the law, and I respect that. I might not agree with it, but whatever.

But in Mexico, the beach is PUBLIC. And there are MANY places where you simply cannot access the beach for MILES, because the big name hotel chains have all banded together and connected their properties together up and down the coastline to prevent you from doing so. Even worse, they’ll often market their beach as a “Private Beach” on their website. It discriminates against the very taxpayers who actually own the beach, and is absolutely illegal.

Keep that in mind if you ever find yourself looking for a beach stay in Mexico and come across a fancy resort offering their own exclusive and private beach.

Lori’s Tuesday morning…

Lori’s week is looking pretty free at the moment as she waits for a new contract to funnel through the proper channels. We take advantage of it to do some more exploring, heading way down to Playa Patzcuaro (where we hiked to on New Years Day). This time, the plan is to go even farther.

Looking around on Google maps, I came across a review left by a visitor a while back talking about some caves at the far southern end of Patzcuaro. Funny, I’ve now been to Patzcuaro three times and don’t remember seeing any caves. But I also haven’t crossed the river and explored the southern end either.

Based on three-year-old satellite imagery alone, we follow the river almost to Patzcuaro Beach before taking a detour to the south to see if we can access this mysterious caves beach.

I have two options for us based on the satellite images. The first one is blocked by, I kid you not, an old Volkswagen Westfalia with a couple of stoned hippies who had set up camp in the middle of the path.

Rather than try and get around their sketchy encampment, we decided to continue on down the main road and try option #2.

“Pass Prohibited – Private Property”

But interestingly, no gate. And bollards, presumably to keep motor vehicles out. But not hikers…

Most hiking around these parts is done on private property where the owner has permitted public access, provided hikers adhere to a few basic rules, such as no littering, no camping, and no shooting. Fair enough.

Rarely do we see No Trespassing signs up on undeveloped properties with no fencing or gate.

Plus, we’re pretty sure that this pathway leads to the public beach, so they are sort of obliged by law to let us pass.

Lori’s ready to hit the trail, but I feel a bit uneasy. I’d rather avoid stumbling upon some guy’s illegal pot plantation looked after by a small militia, a la The Beach.

We head back up the hill and take our chances with the hippies. Who are not so keen to let us pass. They recommend taking the path through the private property.

So we find ourselves stuck between a hippie encampment and a potential pot farm.

We opt for the latter.

The hike is short and uneventful, winding it’s way through 100% undeveloped land down to an isolated stretch of coastline.

Midway up the bluff, another failed attempt by someone at some point to tame this wild country.

The coastline in Nayarit is littered with ruins of villas and vacation homes holding watch over the Pacific. Another interesting story, I’m sure. But to have this idyllic little cove all to yourself with no other neighbors would be pretty amazing.

A very nice stretch of sand. But I can’t help but wonder about the caves. A quick glance north and south reveals nothing along those lines.

We make our way to the southern end of the beach and look for a path or way around the rocky point, but nada.

So, we head to the northern end of the beach.

We follow the sand around a small cluster of boulders and pop out onto a smaller, adjacent beach. And then, we see it.

There are three caves, or tunnels, rather. One initial tunnel that requires getting on your hands and knees and quickly squirming through before the surf comes in. And two others just beyond the first, separating whatever this beach is from Playa Patzcuaro.

And, here we go.

Peering out towards Playa Patzcuaro from inside the cave/tunnel.

I’ll take nature’s public beach access any day.

Mission complete!

We linger on Playa Patzcuaro for a few moments before starting the 2.5-mile journey back to the golf cart.

2 thoughts on “Private Property, Public Land”

  1. Shirley Northcraft

    I loved hiking to this isolated beach and ducking my way through this cave. The boys were great sports!

  2. Great pictures of the boys and the caves/arches!


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