I first came to Barra de Navidad at the age of 17. My family has a connection here. Below is an excerpt about Barra de Navidad from my upcoming book, Dear Mom and Dad, Please Send Money.
“Why do you and your family have such a strong connection to Barra de Navidad?” my friend, Bing asked.
Bing, his roommate Steve and I were traveling along the Pacific Coast of Mexico on our way to Barra to meet up with my parents. I reached forward to turn up the air conditioner, sat back and shared our family story.
“My sister, Marsha and her husband Bill discovered the little fishing village in 1966,” I answered. “They set out from
on a year’s travel adventure with Marsha’s three children, and Bill’s teenage son David. Marsha’s kids were young –- the youngest Ronald, was four, Donald six and Ruthie was eight. Bill was looking for a place on the beach in Santa Rosa where he could eventually retire. Mexico
“Before leaving California they looked on a map of Mexico and noticed a small dot off the Pacific Ocean. . . it was below Puerto Vallarta and above Acapulco. It indicated a town called Barra de Navidad. They didn’t speak Spanish at the time, but knew that Navidad meant Christmas. Their goal was to reach this Bay of Christmas and spend Christmas there, which they did.
“From what I remember Marsha telling me, they camped on the beach that first year and fell in love with the village, the warm climate and the friendly people. They ended up staying three months.
“They camped on the beach and made friends in town. Their new friends warned them that Mexican tourists would packed the town during the Easter holidays. So they thought it best to continue their sightseeing around Mexico and return after the two-week holiday. They left Barra in March of 1967.”
“Did they return after Easter?” Bing wanted to know. He reached for my hand and squeezed it gently before putting his hand back on the steering wheel. I smiled at him, wishing I felt more for him than I did.
“Yes, after they traveled to
.” I answered. I took a drink of my mineral water and looked again at the map. Our trip down from Belize Puerto Vallarta had taken us inland and the ocean was only in view every so often as the road curved towards and then back away from the Pacific Ocean. We knew we were traveling south, so we just had to be sure we didn’t miss the turnoff into the town. We came around a curve and found a big dark green road sign with white letters that said, “Melaque” and below Melaque it said, “Barra de Navidad.” We were close.
“Anyway, they stayed in Belize for a while before heading back to Barra. On the way back they got sick –- all of them except Ron, the youngest. They think now it was either the rainwater they filled their water tank with, or it was the cheese they bought in Belize. I remember her telling me they got really, really sick and their eyes turned yellow.”
“That sounds like hepatitis,” said Bing, being the medical student he was.
“You’re right,” I replied, looking at him and smiling. He had such a great smile and large dark eyes. He was not handsome, but definitely nice to look at with his dark skin and dark brown curly hair. “They saw a doctor in
. He told them it was hepatitis. He gave them Vitamin B shots and sold them vials of Vitamin B to take with them. They were about six hours north of Barra so headed there. By then Bill and his son David were too ill to drive so Marsha took over. Then she got sicker and sicker by the mile.” Guadalajara
“Did they make it?” the guys wanted to know, now captivated by the story.
“Marsha got them into Barra and parked the truck and tent trailer in front of their new friend Chato’s house. They couldn’t take care of themselves. They were deathly ill.”
“Wow, well obviously they got to a doctor in town and got better,” said Bing.
“Actually, no,” I replied. “The village was too small to have a doctor, but Chato’s mother, Mamacita
, took care of them. They rented a room across the dirt street from Chato’s. There was a bathroom there and a place to hang hammocks in the attached patio. Bill, Marsha and David spent nearly three weeks in hammocks, doing nothing except resting, taking Vitamin B, sucking on hard candy for the sugar and waiting. The kids weren’t as sick and got better sooner. Oregon
“That’s a great story,” Bing said.
“Yeah, it is. They stayed in the village for another few months, recuperated and then drove back to the States.
“They vowed never to forget Barra and the love and care they received. And that’s what formed the bond between Barra de Navidad and my family, which endures to this day.”