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January 22, 2010 - Tepic Nayarit Mexico

Written by GingerBlossom Published in

The bus ride between Guadalajara and Tepic was bad. It had an overwhelming stench of bleach, mothballs, a little hint of dirty diaper and then some nasty cleaning solution as a high note. I thought after a few hours my brain would just block out the smell, but no such luck. I think that it got to the other passengers too, because no one was buying when the taco vendors boarded the bus.

Nice views, though. Lots of maguey cactus fields, and one place where you were in the old lava fields from when the nearby volcano had literally blown off it's top. The last time I'd been to Tepic, I'd caught a ride with Leonel and Marta, they'd been to Leon to buy shoes for their store, and were headed home to Chihuahua. Anyway, we passed by this one town, and Leonel said, to the effect of, "Man, they so some weird shit here, eating mushrooms and flying through the air". Leonel is no Choir Boy, so the town must've made an impression on him for a reason. I'd read that this town is famous for it's witchcraft and sorcery.

Tepic is in the heart of the sugar cane region, and across from the bus station were trucks and trucks full of cut cane, and the sweet smell of cooking cane juice, a big improvement over acrid bus smell. I'd also forgotten the great number of sugar cane stands where you can buy peeled cane pieces to gnaw.

Tepic is the capital of Nayarit and well off the trodden tourist beat, but I love coming here. It's got several great book stores, great coffee, great weather, and has sort of an intellectual vibe - men in pony tails and Che berets, girls in leggings and little granny glasses, a vegetarian restaurant, and street musicians playing classical music on violin. When I stayed in Tepic at the venerable Hotel Sierra de Alica, a 1950's flashback, the young receptionist was plowing through Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

As well as being the government center for the state, Tepic is also the commercial hub, so the Cora and Huicholes all come into town to trade and I'm here to trade pesos for Huichol artwork and handicrafts. I remember in the 1970's, when I first worked at Taos Ski Valley, there used to be a small bead shop on the plaza. One time the owner had just gotten in a shipment of Huichol beadwork and it was, to me, amazing but totally out of my financial reach. Never did I imagine that one day I'd be selling it.
One of the tings that the Huicholes had for sale that I did not buy today was peyote unguent. It was supposed to be good for colds, which I have, but I was afraid of getting busted for drugs,. I also didn't buy any sugar cane - it's like celery, you need dental floss after eating it.