Nexpa. It's the kind of place that inspires the thought Nexpahhh!
It was April 1998, I was looking to get back to the beach after taking cover inland for the Easter festivities (I couldn't afford the Semana Santa beach prices). I had heard about Playa Azul, in Michoacan, and was hoping it would be what I was looking for. Unfortunately by the time I arrived, it was a spent little community, coming off the Semana Santa rush. It felt like a little place trying to be a big place. I was looking for a little place that was happy being small. It was a bit disappointing after "waiting" in Guadalajara and then Uruapan, to get back to the beach.
So the next day, I day tripped north along the Michoacan coast, checking out every cove from every map/ book/ word of mouth suggestion I had noted. It was all quite beautiful, however I was travelling alone and a bit wary of simply camping alone on just any cove, so I pressed on until I came to the unmarked cobblestone drive that leads down to Barra de Nexpa. (The Moon, Pacific Mexico Handbook notes it at km 56, 109 miles southeast of the Colima boarder, on Hwy 200.) The cobblestones soon gave way to dirt, but about ? mile in I came to rustic looking dwellings and palapas with a few newer homes being built.
I drove amid the palms, towards the beach, following the "road" 'til I found what I was hoping to be a beachfront restaurant. At first sight of the water I became mesmerized. Barely able to refocus on speaking (any language) I managed to order a coctel de camarones (my favorite seaside treat) and a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle and sank back in a hammock to await my feast and drink in the view. I watched while an older man collected, and then sat beneath the palapa cleaning, his small crabs. He then went into the restaurant and cooked them up for his lunch.
It didn't take long before I was inquiring about a room to the waitress, Marta. She told me to wait there and she went running off down the beach. Thirty minutes later I was attempting to ask a young girl when Marta would be back in my poor Spanish. She reassured me that Marta would be back "momentito".
I decided to check my attitude and lay back in a hammock once again. Suddenly, there was Marta, motioning me to come with her. She showed me to a cement box with palm frond roof located smack dab in the middle of the huts on the south end of the beach. Complete with front porch, one light fixture and one electrical outlet, windows on three sides (all covered in a thick, salty marine layer, a few wooden shelves attached to the walls and also a filthy single bed covered with a dirty, torn, double fitted sheet. There was a remarkably clean (thanks to Marta), shared shower and toilet nearby.
Apparently three separate families have rights to beach/lagoon front property here and Marta's family has the rights to the south end. There are cleaner, nicer motels in Caleta, but none closer to the beach or cheaper. There is also camping bordering the lagoon, back behind the lineup of beach huts.
Fortunately, I had brought all the things I needed to make this hovel my home for two weeks. I hung my hammock on the front porch and rarely left it's comforting sway.
I wrote in my journal "I stand and stare at the waves as though I've never seen waves before? I wonder how I will sleep in the future without the sound of these waves."
I became a surfing aficionado, although they didn't get me out on a stick; the water was just too damned cold, and very rough. I had trouble body surfing with all the rocks tearing at me. I learned the secret was to walk southward, down the beach, towards Caleta, and to enter the ocean past the lagoon. But even better was where the lagoon, river and ocean met, it was a warm and gentle pool, and I came to spend time there almost daily.
I also met and became acquainted with many people who were living there at the time. John, and his dogs, helped me make my room more secure (although how easily breached that security was, wasn't revealed until my last night there, when I locked myself out.). I knew I could count on John, we worked together and helped each other out upon occasion, we shared a ride into Lazero Cardenas (the closest bank, etc.) and he took me to a hidden waterfall on another day. A better neighbor I could not have had.
One afternoon, several of us decided to have a campfire BBQ party. By the time John and I came back from Caleta with foods to round out the menu, pretty much all those staying in Barra Nexpa had heard and were planning a dish to bring along. We ate and drank and partied into the hours, in English and in Spanish, with people from as far away as England and as close by as Nexpa.
But the best thing I found in Nexpa was myself. My mother had died a year earlier and I had not been myself since. In Nexpa I found the patience that had been escaping me. I again found the "time" to marvel at life. It began with the waves, watching them break smoothly, over and over again, from left to right. Sometimes the wind would play off the waves and blow the tops of the curl back into the sea. Then I began watching the surfers and how they interact with the waves. The beauty of the dance, the rhythm, catching a wave and staying with it, for maybe a minute at a time, if all interacts well.
One morning I became entranced with hermit crabs. For some reason they began flocking to my room at night. The ones with smaller shells came in under the door; the larger ones kept trying to get in by "knocking" their shells against the door. In the morning they would all begin their trek back towards the door, and when I'd open the door, others were still lined up waiting to get in.
One morning a good sized one came in through my open doorway. But the minute I stood up it reversed its movement exactly. I'd sit down and it would stop and then begin its return into my room. We danced like this back and forth for an hour.
Another day I became fascinated with a spider. I had never realized before, how many joints they have in their legs. This one was a beauty, black and tan markings with the smallest little eyes.
I had visits from other critters, including black birds, a chirping chameleon and something that crawled out onto the beam and nibbled at my bananas hanging high in the air.
Alas, my time in Nexpa came to an end all too soon and I moved on up the coast to my next adventure in La Ticla. But I dream of the day when I will return to the paradise that is Nexpa, to lie in my hammock once again and listen to the call of those never-ending waves.
I'm currently planning a trip to San Blas / Bahia Matanchen for early May, so I will write you about that following my trip. I've sent a little info as well as pictures about the Aconchi Hot Springs. I can only presume you have seen them by now and are furiously attempting to fit a visit to them into your next trip!
See you on the road, in Mexico.