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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mexcaltitan - Island City

Yesterday we drove about 60 miles north of here to the Island of Mexcaltitan. One of Mexico's Pueblo Magicos. Some historians believe that Mexcaltitán is the legendary island of Aztlan the original home of the Aztec people. About 800 people still live there. The road there goes through lots of farm land. Corn, sugar cane, soy beans, tobacco crops and mango and banana plantations. The last few miles of the trip was more like going through desert. Flat and dry with scrubby bushes. But I guess during the rainy season it turns into a big lake.
The town is on an almost round island sitting in the middle of shallow brown water.  It is set up kind of in the shape of a wagon wheel. With the few streets going from the hub to the water. There is also a road that circles the island between the hub and the water. There is only one hotel and two restaurants.
Arrived at the parking area and got on a small boat with an outboard motor for the trip to the island. As we motored through the water ways the boat man had to be very careful to keep the boat in the channel. The channel was well marked with bouys with solar powered lights. If he strayed out of the channel we could become grounded.
Our first sight of the town.
Mexcaltitan - Island City
From the dock we walked up a short narrow street towards the hub of the town. The sidewalks are very high. No motor vehicles are allowed on the island so it is very safe to walk up the middle of the road.
All deliveries are made by boat and then either physically carried or hauled on three wheeled bicycle carts. A short walk later we reached the center of town and the plaza. Interesting Christmas tree.
The church on one side of the plaza.

The altar in the little church.
As we arrived at the church a baptismal ceremony was just ending. A beautiful little boy in his fancy white outfit. He had two young girls as attendants. The little girl in pink had on silver shoes with 2" heels. She is carrying a basket with flower petals.
We walked down one of the "spokes" to the outer ring road. Afew vendors were set up in the shade of the buildings. All we bought was a postcard showing the island from the air.
We soon came to the outer ring road. You can see the curve to the street in this panoramic picture.
Again the high sidewalks because during the rainy season from August to September the streets flood. Need a boat to travel around town. Looking the other direction down the street.
Most of the homes had a plaque above their doors identifying their family.

A couple more pictures of the town. The first a very narrow alley and the next a typical street scene.

After walking aorund for awhile we stopped at one of the water side restaurants for cool drinks. After pouring our sodas in a glass filled with ice we wondered if the ice was made with purified water. Hum???...It was not ice cubes it was chunks of ice chipped off a block of ice. My contention was the island was a draw for tourists so they would surely used purified water. Well no one got sick so maybe I was right. When we asked the teenager waiting on us he didn't seem to have a clue what we were asking.
The lack of tourists has really hurt this town. Now they are living off what ever they can make fishing.
Walked back to the docks and engaged a different boat to take us back to the parking lot. but before he did he took us all around the island. Had to stop many times to pull his motor up out of the water and clean the vegetation off it. And had to be very careful to not get into the very shallow water. How shallow was it? A bird about 20 feet from the boat was standing on the bottom and his belly was quite a ways above the water.
The restaurant where we had our drinks.
A view of the town from the boat as we were headed back to the mainland.
Another neat day spent exploring Mexico's countryside.
Today, Sunday, we are just taking it easy. Enjoying the air conditioing and watch a couple soccer teams from Tepic doing their excercises on the beach. Oh to have so much energy.

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