Friday, March 2, 2012

The Past...San Blas

From Chacala we travelled 23 miles north to San Blas, arriving at about 5 pm on Thursday, December 29th.

In the mid 1700’s San Blas was the Pacific naval port for New Spain.  A fort was built on a nearby hill that served both as an armed fort and an accounting office for San Blas.  The town thrived as a port and as a centre for ship building due to its proximity to nearby forests until 1810 when it was overtaken in the Spanish-Mexican war for independence.  San Blas fell into decline after the war and shipping activity was moved further south to the deeper ports of Manzanillo and Acapulco.

Shrimp and lobster at the market

Today San Blas is a quiet harbour town.  A central market supplies all manner of produce, fruit, meat, fish, seafood and hardware.  
Home delivery
Limes are available everywhere

The traditional costumes of the Huichol

A nearby tribe of Indians, the Huichol, are well known for their beadwork and colourful tapestries.  They can be found selling their handicrafts in the square dressed in their traditional costumes.  

Our panga in the mangroves

One of the highlights at San Blas is the jungle tour on the Río Tovara.  The tour company where you can rent pangas to take you up the river is a short walk from the beach.   

 The first half of the approximately four mile trip is through mangrove forest where we saw a few small crocodiles basking in the sun.  After breaking out of the mangroves, the landscape was one of rushes and isolated trees often covered with bromeliads and Tillandsia sp. or air plants.  We saw several species of birds and many turtles sunning themselves.  

Turtle sunning

The river ends at Camalota Spring where a local family runs a crocodile refuge.  American crocodiles are endangered due to poaching and loss of habitat and are protected in Mexico.  

On the way back we took a side trip to La Tovara Spring where we had lunch and a swim in the beautifully pristine water.  The pool for swimming is fenced off to prevent crocs from wandering in.  A large school of cichlids and catfish are resident there and we amused ourselves by throwing leftover tostada chips Frisbee style into the water and watching the ensuing feeding frenzy reminiscent of the old Tarzan movies where the hapless native enters piranha-infested waters. 

The swimming hole.  Note the fish near the bottom of the photo

The next day Mark, Lisa and I went up to view the old fort and abandoned church.  Neil was not feeling well and opted to stay on the boat.  Sometime around the late 1990’s the fort was repaired with a new roof, complete with a new steel I-beam running the length of the building, and missing sections of the walls replaced.  Many of the original cannons are still on the site.  

A short walk from the fort is the old Templo de la Virgen del Rosarío church which was built in 1769.  The removal of the bells from the belfry in 1872 was the inspiration for the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write his famous poem, The Bells of San Blas.  


San Blas is also notorious for its jejenes or no-see-ums.  These tiny bugs are voracious and are able to fly great distances to hunt you down even on your boat.  Their bite itches for days and the warmth of bed particularly sets off the itching.  Nothing feels as good as scratching the skin off your ankles.  In town, this sign painted on a wall acknowledges the presence of the little beasties.  I’m sure that if you looked at one under a microscope you would see those sharp little teeth and that evil grin.  

The Happy Jején

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Mum & Dad took Jonny and I to San Blas! It was beautiful, and I'd love to go back there. Thanks for the update - I've been wondering what you folks have been up to. :)

    -Yvonne P