Adult Playground: Barra de Navidad and San Patricio
Barra is another place that I had heard about from my parents and other cruisers as being a must see, and a place where cruisers of all ages could resort back to childhood by playing on the resort's waterslides, eating chocolate croissants for breakfast, and hiking to secluded beaches.
Rachel and I had never navigated a shallow channel like the one that leads from the marina into the lagoon, and we were very nervous. We had been told, “Don’t worry when you run aground on your way in, everyone does, it will be fine it's just mud, so go slow.”
I had no intention of running aground though, even if it was just a soft mud bottom.
As we began to pass the marina on our way into the inner lagoon, I slowed us down to a crawl and asked Rachel to go forward and yell if she saw anything. Luckily we hadn’t even passed the marina when a fellow cruiser came racing up in his dingy to ask if we knew where the channel was. He was heading back to his boat and yelled, “Just point up towards the red boat and follow me!!!”. So off we went, trusting that this man knew what he was talking about. A couple of minutes later we were safely anchored with 4 feet under the keel.
The marina and it’s facilities are suppose to be for guests only, but at least while we were here, as long as you bought a couple drinks at the bar they didn’t seem to mind if you lounged by the pools. On any given day you might find eight to ten other cruisers sneaking in with you and it's easy to see why. They have a swim up bar, two waterslides, water aerobics classes, pool volleyball and enough lounge chairs for us all to lay around soaking up even more unneeded sun.
Barra also offers a water taxi service that will pick you up directly from your boat and take you into the marina or the town just across the way. It’s a great way to get off the boat and get to shore to explore, eat some delicious food, surf or hike without having to worry about where to safely tie up your dingy.
The town just north of Barra is called San Patricio de Melaque, named after the Irish soldiers, called the “San Patricios”, who had defected from the U.S. Army during the 1846-48 Mexican-American War. Their exact motives for switching sides isn’t clear, but it’s thought to have been because of the harsh treatment and anti-Catholic prejudice at the time. The Mexicans viewed the San Patricios as heroes and have named streets, towns and festivals in there honor, and it just so happened that we were in town on St. Patrick’s Day, a day this town comes alive! Every night for a week they shoot off massive amounts of fireworks and have a huge carnival with food vendors, rides and games. Only here, instead of winning a teddy bear you win a 32oz Pacifico as a prize!
The whole central square is full of people celebrating, and starting at around 10pm they light off these crazy firework towers followed by men running through the crowd with welded metal cages shaped like bulls and covered in fireworks that shoot off into the crowd. They call this the running of the bulls and it was unclear to us after asking around where this tradition came from.
The kids here stand under the flaming towers with small pieces of cardboard over their heads and they run up the and grab the fireworks that fall and are shot off the towers and throw them back into the crowd! Afterwards while talking to some of the kids, we learned it’s sort of a game to get as close as you can, and even good luck to get a little burned or have some hair singed. We kind of think that it’s more that they are just being 10 year old boys and want to play with fireworks.
For the most part this is not done out of malice but fun, and everyone seemed to be watching and in on the game. After awhile though it got a little out of control.
On the last night of the celebration and for the grand finally of the show, the whole top section of the largest flaming firework structure starts to spin and eventually enough fireworks light on it that it actually lifts off and flies up into the air. But what goes up must come down! And as the fireworks start to die, this flaming ball plummets back to earth and into the middle of the crowd!!!
Needless to say we loved it!!!! We had never seen anything like this back at home where there are so many rules and regulations at events and anything involving fireworks.
We spent about two weeks here lounging by the resort's rooftop pool and exploring the surrounding area. Here area few more of our favorite photos from our time in Barra!