Catsup

La Ticla from the South – Overlooking “Hollywood Hills”

Driving through the coastal countryside of Michoacan, the smell of ripe and rotting tamarinds fills my nose. The overpowering odor comes from all the tamarinds on the ground, not harvested. The workers, many from the town of Ticla, cannot get to their jobs of harvesting this crop because the neighboring group of people at La Placita has barred their movement north from La Ticla. As a gringo I have a hard time understanding the depth of the situation at hand. It appears that different groups of narcos, ejidos (both Mexican and

Ripe Tamarind... candy does grow on trees.

Indigenous), and capos (mafia) are vying for separate goals. One ejido in La Placita continues their land-grab expansion, claiming that historical land documents are invalid. The people of La Ticla are concerned for their safety because of recent acts of violence in La Placita. Many are ready to flee to the US.

Us surfers are looked after by a fairy-god-mother mafia that protects the interest of it’s clients (tourists/surfers) who purchase the drugs and support the tourist industry. It is their best interest to keep things tranquilo down here beach-side. As for the locals of this town, they don’t have a fairy-god-mother mafia. They have to fend for themselves, which might mean exodus. Until now I had never considered that many Mexicans in the US are truly refuges of a civil war. Parts of this country are embattled in a deep, violent struggle for power. One that the current government may not win.

My travels have taken me thousands of miles since the last blog posting. I have lived too much to write about it all. During the last week of March and the first week of April, I  traveled back to FL to see Amy and her family. Her mother passed away while I was there. It was very sad but thankfully now she suffers no more. I returned to Mexico for a few weeks of work which took me to the uplands of Michoacan to the cities of Zamora and Jacona. There I witnessed the huge strawberry industry.

When I found a break in work, I managed to make it to Paracho, Michoacan – the classical guitar capital of México and maybe the world. I met many luthiers (guitar makers) and played their guitars. At the end of the day, just before the shops closed, I met Francisco Navarro García (www.francisconavarro.com) and played the only guitar he had available to purchase. The guitar fit all my criteria and turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. It has a spruce top which makes it louder (for playing outside) and a box made of Mexican cypress. The neck, constructed from Mexican mahogany, took six years to dry to the correct moisture content (not to warp or change in the future). Francisco said he worked for over a year to complete it. I love this guitar – the way it plays, the tone it makes, the perfect construction.

My work then took me to the mountain town of Tapalpa, Jalisco which is around 8000’ up in the sky. The town, set in the pine forests of the Sierra Primavera, is a very popular place for Guadalajarans to escape the heat of the city. The buildings constructed of rock, wood, and mortar give the town a unique and distinguished appearance. In the morning I got to walk around greenhouses of strawberries with a million dollar view of the Valle Sayula.

My next job took me to the shores of the giant lake Chapala – a huge puddle 5000’ in the sky. Beautiful mountains surround the lake on every side. The agriculture industry has planted much of the shore of the lake with raspberries and blackberries. Most of these crops are exported to the US and Canadian markets. My guides took me into the mountains on the south shore of the lake to small towns near Manzitlan. The people here have planted peaches and blueberries on parcels surrounded by the pine forests. It must be a nightmare for these farmers to get their crops out of these remote locations – down many miles of unpaved mountain roads.

Lake Chapala, the Michoacan South East Corner

By the end of my work run I found myself jonesing for some surf. I got down to the coast as quick as I could, which turned out to be a beach called Boca de Pascuales. I woke the next morning to find double-overhead sets that went completely square when they detonated on the sandbar. Three different jet skis were out with guys jumping straight off the ski into the wave. Once the rider committed, the driver would gun it towards the shore with the giant wave crashing right behind the ski. The surfer got into the wave easily with his momentum and pulled deep into the tube – sometimes actually coming out. The wave was too heavy for my rusty status (I hadn’t surfed for a few weeks) so I got back on the road.

Tow-In at Pascuales - and he makes it out.

This guy paddled into this wave!

I cruised south on carretera 200, through some of the most beautiful coastline of this country. I passed the tamarinds, I passed La Placita, and arrived in La Ticla. La Ticla sits on a rivermouth, which comes down from mountains above the coastline. The small amount of flat land near the rivermouth has been planted with cocos, bananas, and corn. Over thousands of years the rivermouth has deposited an enormous amount of round cobblestones. The formation of the stones and sand changes from year to year. This year there are many peaks in front and just north of the river mouth with a long left about 400m north of the rivermouth. Other years a point has formed making incredible rights peel south of the rivermouth.

This shot taken from the highway, just above and to the north of La Ticla.

I’ve moved onto Rio Nexpa and I’m now waiting for this wave to really turn on. As I get some time I’ll elaborate a little more on all the cool places I’ve just passed through. Plenty of pretty pictures will accompany the posts of course…

Rio Nexpa Sunrise

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4 Comments

  1. amy said,

    April 27, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I can’t wait to get back to Mexico with you! The surf looks great and I love me some tamarind….mmm. I read an article about a whole town that has basically been abandoned because the traffickers ordered people out. Glad you got a picture of your new guitar and it’s maker!

  2. May 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Ah yes…Rio Nexpa….! Loving the latest post of what at some point might end up a novel….Hi to Amy and wishing her all the best…You too…Hope to see you sooner than later….Heard that left in Mazatlan is epic….Spencer

  3. anacrb said,

    June 7, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Hi!

    Your blog is really beautiful. I’m still in Santa Cruz (UCSC) and will be back home (Morelia) in July.

    I hope you enjoy Michoacan, Morelos, DF….

    Ana Cristina Ramírez

  4. jose sanchez cardiff said,

    January 2, 2012 at 3:55 am

    good memories, I am an optimist and know that good will prevail thanks for spreading positive vibes. Mexico will rebound from this temporary insanity we have to learn to love earth and all living things.


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