Melaque & San Patricio

A pleasure to contribute to the People’s Guide blog – and an honor. I
recently went to San Patricio/Melaque after listening to a friend rave
about it for years. What I found might not surprise those familar with
smaller Mexican towns but I have to say it was a culture shock to me.
I’ve heard that the residents of Jalisco are the friendliest people in a
country of friendly people. Check.

Never have I been gifted with so many smiles, warm from men and flirty from women far to young for me to even consider. A girl who MIGHT have been all of sixteen, dressed to the nines and walking with two girlfriends didn’t take her eyes off me as she passed my sidewalk cafe table while they walked by. And the smile didn’t disappear either. Young enough to be my daughter, I allowed myself to be secretly flattered and wish i was half my age. The things I would do over if I could.

My friend put it best, it’s like going back a generation where there was more politeness than hipness and more openess than cynicism. The town is refreshingly old fashioned. No need to go into the beaches and scenery here, it’s as nice as anywhere else I’ve been on the west coast.

A beautiful beach is a beautiful beach.

Great food cheap, liquor, cheap, check. Check. Trash and graffiti, check – far less than I have seen in other towns.

I keep coming back to the people there. The town seems strapped for
change. Anything higher than a twenty peso bill leads to an awkward
smile and a “perdon” and I am left alone in a tienda as a poor clerk
runs along the block looking for the six peso’s I am owed. The one
business that does not exist there is the time share one. Not a single
suspect “hola amigo” and the flash of an insincere smile, the likes of
which have destroyed my last trips to Puerto Vallarta.

No, when the owner of a well known breakfast spot heard me talking of
taking a cab to Manzanillo to leave, she offered me a ride and I had to
hide a bill in her car to get her to take gas money.

There’s a genuine small town warmth. The streets are empty around nine at night. The Sunday night walkabout in “el jardin” is a joy to watch. Families, girls holding hands, kids on the prowl – and not a hint of the trouble you would find at such a gathering in my part of the world.

Some parts of Mexico are like anywhere, you don’t walk down a deserted street full of long shadows. In San Patricio I did, several times. It may not have been prudent but as it turns out it was risk free. Most of the gringos there are retirees and seniors and I see them on the same dark streets at night.

Back to el jardin. A young child beaned me with a firework. He didn’t run away but when his eyes popped back into his head intead smiled at me and said, “Aye Carumba” and apologized a half dozen times.

“Aye Carumba?” I didn’t think Mexicans actually said that.

Kids, teens playing soccer, enjoying a smoke and hanging out. No
swearing or anger and the smell of dope was absent. As I said, it isn’t
like it is in Canada.

Thank God.

And one more thing – the best tres leche I have ever had came in at
about a buck. And eight ounces.

Jeff O'Brian at rest

Jeff O'Brian at rest

magnificent_iguana_productions >> at << yahoo.com

7 Responses to “Melaque & San Patricio”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. stella says:

    Hi – what a pleasure it was to read that San Patricio seemed hardly changed from the time we spent there, camping in front of the ocean back in 1973!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’d love to go back and were wondering if things had changed. I bet my husband that a big conglomerate of hotels had purchased the land and the village was problably a poor semblance of its former self…I’m immensely happy to find that i was wrong. We were also wondering about the crime and drug problems etc…but your description reassured us.

    many thanks!!!

  2. jeffrey O'Brien says:

    No conglomerates or resorts although that might change with the horrible situation in Tenacatita. Melaque is all mom and pop, no starbucks, burger king or any other brand names. no building taller than three stories for the most part. Crime – someone using a bank machine at night was followed and mugged. Cerveza, .50 to a buck if you buy from the depository and you can have a taco pig out for three or four dollars. Love love love it – send me your email, i have tons of pics on facebook if you want a look

  3. jeffrey O'Brien says:

    Stella, there is a great little beach town nearby – no Barra de Navidad but La Manzanilla – beautiful and lots of caimen about. I think you’d love it there again – San Patricio town square on a Sunday night after mass lets out – families and friends, kids playing – none of the trouble and swearing and drugs and stuff we would have to put up with at home. People there are the nicest I have run into in my travels. Beach is clean as a whistle.

  4. jeffrey O'Brien says:

    There are ruins that I think can be explored and I’m told if you walk the beach at La Manz you come to Boca de Iguana which is really worth seeing.

  5. jeffrey O'Brien says:

    Sunday night in the square was packed with walkers, family and kids. A little family craft fair going on. Kids playing ball, laughing – civilized and still exuberant. Most everyone dressed to the nines, the best tamale and horchata cart is right there at the mouth of taco row by the church.

  6. jeffrey O'Brien says:

    Mom and Dad sent me this note from Melaque.

    “HOla Jeff, How are you doing? Dad and I went with the San Patricio church group
    to a village and gave out xmas presents that were left over for the school kids.
    They were so cute and so grateful. One little boy came up and shook our hand.
    It was quite an experience. We bought over a$100.00 worth of food for a very
    poor village. 50 lbs beans ,rice, milk, formula, diapers etc. and took it to
    the church. We are going to the church o Wednesday to bag the beans etc and
    then take it to a really poor village. They also want warm clothes as apparently
    it gets very cold at night and they dont even have shoes. It sure opens up ones
    eyes and make one feel very spoiled and selfish. We still have about $100.00
    let for another village.”