A Mexican Getaway and A New Year

As you might know, we spent Christmas in Mexico this year in the small town of Platanitos in the Nayarit Riviera, about two hours outside of Puerto Vallarta. Our dear friends Paul and Robyn built their oceanfront dream house Casa Lagarto about three years ago and ever since we have been anxious to visit. It has been a trip in the making until all chips fell into place a few weeks before Christmas this year. What a great experience this was.

We got to really see and experience a real slice of Mexican life. No American resort with American food buffets, but real rural Mexico with local produce markets, freshly-caught oyster stands on the side of the road and even mariachis at 6 o’clock in the morning. Needless to say, I was blown away by the hospitality, generosity and natural beauty.

We spent our time in the pool, at the beach, cooking and baking, conversing, watching the whales swim close to the shore, napping and some sightseeing. We had no watches or clocks and any time any of us asked what time it was, all we would do is look at the sun and try to guess how much time we had until sunset. We woke up with the roosters at 6 o’clock in the morning and went to bed soon after sunset.

This was my first time ever in Mexico and I had heard about how poor some areas of the country are. I can say it is true. Small towns like Otates are very poor with no paved streets, tin roof homes, living off fishing and agriculture, barefoot children on the streets, but what I noticed is that these people are happy to live this way. I realized there is no real desire to accumulate things and that it is ok to live day to day as long as your friends and family are close. These are people who really appreciate friendship ties.

I was blown away by the generosity, which was very clear one morning when at 6am I was woken up by the mariachis who had surprised Paul and Robyn’s neighbor Richard on his birthday. The mariachis showed up at Richard’s door with a guitar, an acordeon and a bottle of tequila to wish him a happy birthday. That was a gesture that really said a lot.

All the kids had a fantastic time running around naked, swimming, enjoying hot chocolate at sunset and feeling free. This trip has made me reflect on many things and I have come away from it realizing that it’s ok to let go sometimes and just live the moment a bit more. This will be my resolution for this new year. Live my life a bit more.

I wish you peace and health this new year and thank you.

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64 Responses to “A Mexican Getaway and A New Year”

  1. danazia says:

    Beautiful pictures! I’m glad you had a great time. I really adore your blog and all your pictures. You inspire me. Thanks for the food and memories.
    Dana Zia

  2. Amber says:

    I spent the week after Thanksgiving this year in old town Puerto Vallarta in time for the beginning of the processions of the Virgin. It is amazing to be even a small part of it as an onlooker. There is devotion and gratitude to their faith that I rarely see here in the states perhaps because our lives are more complicated and spoiled. One of the things I really enjoyed was that during the day all the tourists would be on the beach, but in the evening the Mexican families would come and bring food and flip a bucket over so that Grandmother or Mother would have a place to sit while they all ate and laughed and the children played. I could have stayed a month.
    I am glad you enjoyed your trip.
    Be blessed this New Year.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Egunon Aran! Unas fotos preciosas, un pais que sorprende, Yon que sigue igual de guapo que siempre, y un deseo, que tengas un estupendo año 2009!!!.Urte berri on!!.muxus.

  4. idu says:

    Urte berriko minutu bakoitza banan banan bizi dezazula, eta horrelakoxea izaten jarrai dezazula, ZORAGARRIA!
    Muxu bat, eta ondo pasa

  5. 190.arch says:

    Lovely pictures from my country!
    I can feel how the sun is just watching them.
    There where you are right now is my private paradise.
    Have a great 2009 : )

    A mexican from a very cold Milan, Italy.

  6. Such a beautiful and peaceful looking place!

    Happy New Year!



  7. Anonymous says:

    Feliz año, q el 2009 sea mejor que el pasado y superado por los siguientes!!Yo viaje por mexico hace años…me encanto.
    Beso desde Zürich.

  8. Jamie says:

    A very Happy New Year to you Aran! The kids are adorable, the photos are gorgeous and the holiday sounds dreamy! And I agree that we all need to live our lives bit more. Truly!

  9. thank you for sharing your wonderful photos and the stories behind them. living in the here and now is such a challenge, but it’s important to try. i like your resolution. happy new year!

  10. Catherine says:

    Looks like a very beautiful place ! Happy new year to you too ;o)

  11. lisa says:

    Isn’t Mexico wonderful? I too went there for the first time this December, and loved it. Your photos are beautiful.

  12. Bea says:

    This is a real treat! Lovely to imagine it all! Happy New Year, Aran!

  13. VeggieGirl says:

    Soooo fabulous and striking.

    Happy New Year’s Eve!!

  14. sounds idyllic… what a merry christmas you must have had! thx for sharing the gorgeous pics! =)

  15. looks and sound like absolute heaven…the perfect holiday—wow. thanks for sharing such a great story and your photos are gorgeous.
    welcome home (it must be hard to be back!) and a wonderful new year to you filled with love and joy and wonderful friendships!
    (thank you aran again for the incredible treats!!!)

  16. creampuff says:

    Looks like a beautiful trip, Aran! Happy New Year!

  17. leaca says:

    Oh wow! How fun is that????? Looks like you had a great time.

  18. Rita says:

    Mexico is really nice, and the Mexicans are even nicer. I am gla dyou got the chance to see and meet them!
    Whishing you a happy 09!

  19. RuthWells says:

    Beautiful post. My husband and I took our first trip to Mexico last February, and stayed about 1 hour north of Puerto Vallarta, in the small town of La Cruz de Huanacaztle. We had a similar experience — real life Mexico with all its poverty and dirt roads, but stunning beauty as well. If you’d like to see some of our pictures, they’re at


  20. Suzana says:

    Wonderful photos of a wonderful place. So nice you had a great time, Aran!

    Best wishes for 2009, and Happy New Year! :)

  21. Pinky says:

    I was lucky enough to spend a winter in rural Mexico a number of years ago. Every Christmas since then I’ve missed the mariachis, the street dances, and simplicity of tropical life.

  22. jill says:

    Wishin you a delicious 2009!

  23. Joyce says:

    Your trip sounds like it was a wonderful time more ways than one!
    Your pictures are beautiful.
    Great happiness for 2009 to you and your family!
    Happy New Years!

  24. cindy* says:

    amazing. have a wonderful new year!

  25. Lovely photos! Great to know you had a good time away for Christmas. Have a wonderful new year!

  26. Michelle says:

    How beautiful and touching.

  27. nicisme says:

    How wonderful!
    Happy New Year to you and your family Aran. Hope you have a fantastic ’09!

  28. live life a little more, thats my resolution too, this year i am going to do it, this year im not gonna be afraid, no second guesses!

    oh i can’t wait to get to mexico, someday!

    i love those cannelle sticks!

  29. Y says:

    Aran, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I’m hoping to live my life a bit more this coming year too. That oceanfront house looks amazing – a great getaway.

  30. Mrs.French says:

    aran, really just so magical…I can’t think of anyone more deserving! Happy New Year my dear…xo t

  31. Christy says:

    What beautiful beaches!! And the way you described the markets really makes me want to go there!! Happy new year to you too!!

  32. Tartelette says:

    Happy New Year dear friend!

    What a fabulous trip…next time remember to pack me up there too :)

  33. R says:

    “I had heard about how poor some areas of the country are. I can say it is true. Small towns like Otates are very poor with no paved streets, tin roof homes, living off fishing and agriculture, barefoot children on the streets, but what I noticed is that these people are happy to live this way.”

    You can’t seriously mean this. Honestly, you can’t. It is very arrogant for richer countries citizen’s (like myself) to claim that people in lesser developed or not so wealthy countries are happy to be poor. They might be happy but it’s not because they are poor. I don’t doubt a second that all or most of them would desire to have that standard of living that you and I are having, but since most of them know it’s not going to happen, they’re being realistic and choose to be happy for what they have. If you haven’t had a chance to travel much outside the U.S. and in countries that don’t have much, like in Asia or Africa, I understand that this has been an eyeopening experience. It’s always good to see how the most of this world’s population live. You get to understand that we are the richest on this planet. We can read, write and eat almost anything we want.

    I really love your blog and enjoy reading your posts and recipes. I wish you happy new year!

  34. R says:

    I just want to add that if you feel bad to see this reality, may I suggest charity of some kind and pushing your government to increase the amount of development aid and to pay the debts for the UN, for example posting about this on your blog on some appropriate occasion. If not for anything else than somewhat egoistic reasons to silence our conscience and to stop the problems to get larger and more global. This all sounds more serious than the other comments but for some reason I’ve thought of this a lot during this christmas and new year. Probably the economic crisis makes it worse since I know I will survive (and I’m not rich at all in western standards, far from that as a part-time employed) but those who have less might not.

    Anyhow, back to nicer things. Your holiday really sounded great. Sun and warmth. Would love that now in these cold degrees. Can’t wait for spring to begin!

  35. Kristie says:

    Hi, I loved this post: http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/2008/08/daring-bakers-and-classic.html

    and would like to have the cocoa nib tuile recipe. Do you mind e-mailing it to me? (kristiefung@yahoo.com.sg)Thanks and have a great year ahead.

  36. Anita says:

    What a wonderful looking (and sounding) vacation!! Happy New Year to you and best wishes for an exciting 2009!

  37. Aran says:

    R- I understand what you are saying but I think you misunderstood the meaning of my words or maybe I didn’t explain myself right. I was not speaking of extreme poverty where people are dying of hunger. I never saw any of that in Nayarit. What I saw is that it doesn’t really matter to have a tv in every room or the need to over-consume. That’s what I was referring to and that’s what I want for myself this year, to downgrade.

    I am from the Basque Country where only two decades ago, many people lived like that. My grandparents were very poor and only ate what they cultivated themselves or the chickens and other animals they raised. I remember seeing my grandmother wearing old mismatched socks all the time. It didn’t seem to bother her and I never saw her throw anything out that worked half way or could be fixed. So this is what I am speaking of.

    I do feel very blessed to have been raised in the Basque Country where I had access to great education, health and abundant food. I cannot change the fact that I was lucky to be born where I was born. Empathy was something my parents really taught me so I try to give back as much as I can.

    My friends Paul and Robyn (who own the house in Mexico where we stayed) have really integrated themselves in the little community and every time they take a trip down, they make sure to bring spare car seats and other necessities that might be hard to find there.

    And as for the Us government, I am afraid I cannot do much since I am not a US citizen! :)

    Happy New Year everyone!

  38. Aimée says:

    Happy New Year, Aran. Lovely photos. Wish I could get my hands on some of that cinnamon!

  39. Cherie says:

    Sounds like you had all you needed for Christmas: peace, quiet, family, friends and good food. I wish you the same in 2009. Happy New Year, Aran!

  40. R says:

    Aran, I clearly misunderstood that so apologies for the quickly written response to your lovely post! The same idea of downgrading has been in my thoughts as well at the end of, well, last year so probably my reaction was so strong because of that. I must say I hadn’t read your about-part yet and hadn’t catched the fact that you’re a Basque (or maybe I had but had forgotten that, I read quite many blogs). Anyhow, still loving your blog and looking forward to more beautiful and well-written posts.

  41. Aran says:

    R- No worries and thank you!

  42. Claudia says:

    Happy birthday, oush, got crazy around here. I won’t correct! Happy new year to you too! Lovely spot in Mexico! Mexico is rich, has always been, poor are our souls!



  43. Hilda says:

    Happy New Year Aran and all the best for this beginning year! Lovely pictures of your vacation which sounds just delightful.

  44. Cakespy says:

    Happy New Year!! Looks like the holidays treated you quite nicely–and what a wonderful resolution. Here’s to a very sweet and lively 2009!

  45. sylvieaa says:

    Tous mes voeux pour cette nouvelle année et qu’elle te permette de réaliser tous tes rêves.

  46. Lori says:

    Being “present” in your life is shockingly difficult to do. (I find.)

    I lived in AZ for a time and went to Mexico on numerous occassions. I love the Mexican people. They are so very kind and generous. Lots of folks always said that if you were broke down on the side of the road it would be a Mexican that would pull over to help you in the middle of rush hour.

  47. Bridget says:

    I really like this post. Happy New Yera, Aran!

  48. Aran:

    Thanks for sharing your holiday with us here in Casa Lagarto. You are such a part of our family and we loved having you, C and the fair hair boy with us in this beautiful place. Mexico is filled with the most wonderful sights, sounds and smells. The mariachis at 6 am were a wonderful example of the people who live here. It was fun to sing along and watch you enjoy them. Paul and I try very hard to become part of this community and honor these people with both our friendship and our wallet. We have had several fund raisers for school projects and community projects in Oatates and we believe that we will always hold these people with our respect and concern for their lives. I too plan to live in the moment more this year. As the great kung foo panda taught us….yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift….that is why they call it the “present”. I love you girl!

  49. ***Belle et heureuse année 2009***

  50. Helene says:

    Happy New Year!

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with in 2009. Cheers!

  51. paula says:

    this all looks amazing. happy start to the new year.

  52. checectomy says:

    What a great time it looks you and your family had. Happy New Year Aran!


    PS – your buche de noel looks so amazing!

  53. Une belle et bonne année pleine de gourmandises…

  54. Chez Us says:

    Sounds wonderful!! Is it North or South of PV? Curious as we were in Sayulita last year & loved it, looking for other Mexican get-aways that are off the beaten path & not tourist!

    Happy New Year!

  55. Aran says:

    Chez Us- It’s north of PV. the town is called platanitos. right on the ocean. happy new year to you too!

  56. nadia says:

    Aran these phtographs are beautiful. I love going somewhere and coming back with inspiration on what you want your life to look like, what is important and what is just clutter.

  57. linda says:

    Looks like you guys had a wonderful and relaxing time.
    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  58. Loved this entry. A place I plan to go someday and take from it the goodness and simplicity you did.
    Thanks for sharing!


  59. ainara says:

    Tan ocupada con mis cosas hace tiempo que no visitaba tu blog… Y qué bien hace leerte! Tienes mucha razón, hay que intentar relajarse y dejarse llevar de vez en cuando :) yo tomo nota y lo intentaré en la ciudad del stres!! qué bonitas las fotos. mosu handi bat!

  60. Mexico is such a special place. Each region has its own character. I’m so glad you had a chance to experience the local feel and flavors.

    I have a lot of catching up to do here and I’m really glad to stop here first and hear about your journey!

  61. breadpitt says:

    love the chocolate cake …..havent drop by for soemtime…still the pic remain so pretty ….speechless;-0

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