In our Mexican camping book, the San Jose del Tajo Trailer Park in Guadalajara is listed as being in a pleasant in rural setting. Driving down the six lane highway out of the city from the perifico, it is difficult to imagine how this is true. As you pass Walmart and other superstores, you pull off the road at a flyover and it still seems impossible that the campsite is on anything other than the fringes of a shopping centre; but to our surprise and relief, our book was correct. Barely 300m from the highway, the campsite is in a leafy ranch setting, at the base of a green hillside. If it wasn’t for the occasional roar from a two-stroke truck engine, you’d find it difficult to believe that the metropolis was so close.
Most of the people staying at San Jose del Tajo are permanent or seasonal residents, living in trailers, RVs and permanent dwellings around the outskirts of the site. If it weren’t for these residents, we would have been one of only two passing travellers staying at the site, and it was a welcome change to have so many people to hang out with, after months of being the only people at the campsite’s we’d visited. We spent three days in Guadalajara, and much of our time was spent with the friendly and hospitable Mexican, Australian, American and Dutch people we met at the campsite.
Guadalajara is a grand and impressive city, with a wealth of cultural attractions. We spent a day walking around the city, eating at the particularly awesome three level market, visiting some of the colonial buildings, and soaking up some of the atmosphere only found in such a large city. We also spent a hilarious evening at the Arena Coliseo, watching Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling). If it hadn’t been for the 60 minute bus ride into town I’d have gladly spent another day in the city centre.
We left Guadalajara by continuing along Mex 15 towards the coast. We passed through Jalisco state’s primary Tequila manufacturing area, stopping at the Tres Mujeres distillery to take a tour and sample some of their premium Tequila. After a short day’s drive we stopped for the night on the shores of the beautiful lake at Santa Maria del Oro. The deep lake is in the crater of a long extinct volcano and I enjoyed a swim in the cool water as the sun set over the surround volcanic ridge.
The next day we dove to the coast at San Blas, a town in Nayarit state. San Blas is small and uninspiring, but the beach is nice, and there are a number of great seafood restaurants at which to spend the day drinking and eating. Both of our guide books had warned us, but it was still a shock to experience the mosquitos at San Blas. They were out all day at the campsite we stayed at, but particularly in the evening, the unusually large mosquitos became an unbearable plague. The size of the mosquitos meant that as they bit you, they felt more like a small bee sting, and the bites would leave a large lump that itched for several days. On our second morning in San Blas, I couldn’t wait to leave, for me this otherwise pleasant town had become almost insufferable.