Thursday, February 09, 2017

El Tecuan - The Abandoned Paradise

One Saturday while staying in La Manzanilla, I decided to drive around Tenacatita Bay to see what had happened at Tenacatita since my last visit there.  A few years ago there was a "land grab" by a wealthy and prominent attorney from Guadalajara.  At that time, he not only bulldozed all the existing palapa restaurants, but also the homes that had been built by Canadians and Mexican nationals.  A few hotels were lost in that massacre as well.  Then he fenced the whole area with chain link fencing and posted guards!

I had driven down there shortly after when the guards were there but one had to leave your drivers license in order to go to the beach and so I went no further and left.

None of that is there now.  The fencing is gone, but a few wandering guards, both private and for the government to oversee the private guards wander around, listlessly.  No one approached me or my friends
who rode along with me.

Along for the ride was a delightful couple that I had recently met from Oregon.  Recent retirees from teaching school, they were intrepid travelers and open for a mini-adventure.
Julie and I at the beach at Tenacatita.  Notice, no buildings, no restaurants, no banos - nada, sadly.

After we took more photos and wandered around, I asked them if they would be interested in going further down the road to a place that I have wanted to check out called Tecuan.  They said, off we

El Tecuan is about 9 kilometers off of Hwy 200.  The road has been in disuse for the last eight years since the owner, General Barragan died.  The road, the buildings, the airstrip are all in a great state of decay and destruction.  Onward we went, however, on the road heading toward the beach until we came to a fence
and a guard shack.

We asked to enter and were told "No", that it was private property - all 900 hectares of it.  The guards were very polite and seemed apologetic to say no.

I, of course, am driving my old Pathfinder with the Texas license plates.  As I began to turn the car around, I leaned out my window and said I was so disappointed as I had come all the way from Texas to see this beach.

Never did it occur to me that this would have an impact on the guards.  And, as I turned, one talked to the other and voila, they waved us on in and said we could stay in there til 6PM.  It was now about 1:30PM or so.  Woo hoo, off we went after thanking them profusely.

Oh my, it was an undisturbed paradise of mango trees, freshwater ponds, cattle, all kinds of unknown and exotic birds along with a tarantula the size of a bread plate that was walking across the road in front of our car.

We continued to drive until we got to the ocean.  Off to our left was the former thirty-eight room hotel, tennis courts and swimming no way usable built in the 50s or 60s. 

It seems from what information I've been able to find that General Barragan was rewarded by the President of Mexico in the 1950's for distinguished service in the military with this magnificent piece of land.  When the General passed on, his son inherited the property and had no interest in maintaining or doing anything with it but to use part of it for farming.  It appears that Christie Real Estate has the listing of it for sale.  I could not find a price or any more information.  There are more photos on the listing page.

We took lots of photos. The first photo is looking south down the beach.  The second photo is looking at
 the abandoned buildings from a distance.

The rest of the photos are on the laptop computer that I had at the beach.  I have tried and tried and tried
to transfer them to my desktop computer and the Picasa program on this desktop, to no avail.  Sadly, because the beach looking north with big boulders was extraordinary.

As we rode around we just kept exclaiming, "Wow" and "Isn't this incredible?"  Among other things.
Up north we came to a backwater pond from the ocean and in it was a roseate spoonbill, just one, and other creatures both flying and crawling.  What a beautiful sight.  You'll just have to take my word for it unless someone shows me how to get those darn photos from one computer to the other some day.

After a couple of hours or so, we headed merrily back without a care in the world.  We had seen a beautiful abandoned paradise.

Up ahead, as we came around a little curve heading to the gate, there it was, LOCKED!  I  could not believe my eyes.  Nope, no one around.  Not a single person, except us.  Where the fence and gate were was surrounded by a deep ditch filled with water and who knows what else.  Let me assure you, none of
us would have gone into that ditch.  So, I did what I've done before when out in the middle of no where
and needing assistance, I HONKED the horn of the car for quite a long time.  I knew someone, somewhere would hear it - we had passed a village about 10 kilometers out on  Hwy 200.

Just about that time a car drove up on the other side.  They wanted to be where we were - inside the gate - and we of course wanted to be where they were - free.  They were Canadians wanting to go to the beach.
We explained the situation to them but they were more intent on getting to the ocean then offering to assist
us so I went back and honked the horn again........loudly.

In a few minutes I heard a putt-putt-putt, a little motor bike with a man who was inside the fence on our side.
Immediately I noticed a twinkle in his eyes as he slowly got off the bike and started to walk over to the big lock on the gate and shook it for emphasis.  Then he looked at me as I asked him if he had keys.  No answer at first but then I saw the beginning of a teeny smirk as he pulled them out of his pocket and in perfect English said that he had keys.  We all laughed, in relief.

It turns out he had been working back in the mango and cattle area on a tractor and heard my horn.

Otherwise, we might have sat there for many, many hours or sent the tourists on the other side to the village to find someone to get us out.

The savior of our little threesome said he was heading to his home in the village for comida.  The tourists on the outside wanted him to let them in so they could go to the beach but he said no and they were not pleasant about their disappointment.

We thanked him profusely.  I tried to hand him some money and he would not accept it.  He just grinned at us and smiled.  Of course, in retrospect, I would like to know his story and how he ended up living in this area and working on this land.  Maybe another trip.

El Tecuan was worth the adventure.  To see such a pristine, unspoiled part of the Pacific Coast of Mexico....was a great gift that I'll never forget.


Clete said...

I could tell you many things about El Tecuan but it seems you prefer to delete my comments.

Babs said...

I would love to hear about El Tecuan and if you look at the blog about the boat, your comment is there along with my thanks.

crynoutloud said...

Great story Babs.

Inspiring adventure. What if you had to sleep in the car all night. Oh you got me going. Did you have any food or water with you? Did your phone work? So many questions.

Babs said...

Well, we could have stayed in the little guard shack or slept in the car or slept under the stars on the beach. Unfortunately, no we did not have any food but yes, I did have my little Mexican cell phone.....For some reason I was not was early in the day and I just felt it would be okay. NOW, if I had been totally alone, I might have been concerned, but I don't think I would have gone in on that beach land alone - in fact, I know I would not have.........I would not even do that in the USA...

I have, in the past, many years ago, had some scary experiences. I try to not ever put myself in those situations again, but thanks for your thoughts!

Clete said...

Just to correct a couple of inaccuracies in your blog you may like to know that General Garcìa Barragàn died in 1979. His son actually managed the place successfully for a number of years. The houses below the hotel were built when El Tecuan was selling residential lots.

But the main misconception about the place is that he received it as a gift from the government when in actuality it was given to him by the infamous cacique "el Amarillo", Rodolfo Paz Vizcaino, while the general was governor of Jalisco.

Babs said...

Thanks so much Clete for the corrected information. I was just going on info on found on the internet.

I would imagine it was quite a beautiful hotel back in its prime. What a shame it is not still available to use on that gorgeous beach.

Gilda Valdez Carbonaro said...

Amazing story, Barbara. By the way, we made it home without the harrowing Guadalajara foray. But we did end up in terrible traffic jams closer to home...Celaya, for example.

Babs said...

Gilda, glad to hear you're home safely. There was a lot of road construction near
Celaya. Somehow, it was not happening the day I went through, thankfully.

Enjoy being home! Hope to see you soon.

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

A fun day on the beach with Barbara! I wonder how long it will take for the likes of "International Living" to get their hands on that property...

Babs said...

Well, Peter, it is for sale. I'm sure a developer will come along sooner or later. They are talking of a "regional" airport in that area which would really boost tourism between PV and Manzanillo. Tamarindo, a very exclusive resort in the area, that I have never been able to gain entry to, is building a 10 story hotel on their property to be operated by the Four Seasons! They obviously know something that I don't know.

Yet, the Grand Hotel in Barra de Navidad operated by the Wyndham hotel group sits mostly empty........strange.

I've never read IL but I know many people who do.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have a fairly blessed existence there, SOB. Your ability to get out of scrapes is nothing short of amazing.


Kim G
Redding, CA
Where things are boringly predictable.

Babs said...

Kim - Ain't it the truth? But, I think I have some help from unknown
angels somewhere or something, ha.......

My life is a "trip" every day. It definitely is not boringly predictable
even when I don't leave home! Although, I do like the calm of being home.

Croft said...

Whichever way the General got his property it reminds me of the old Hacienda system that Pancho Villa fought so long against. Otherwise, a nice day at the beach if you discount almost being locked in. LOL

Clete said...

The general was part of Villa's forces as a young man early in the revolution before switching to the rival Carranza/Obregon side. That is how he started his career as a military man/politician. He really fell out of favor during the late 40s and early 50s for suspected involvement in a plot to overthrow Ruiz Cortines. He got back in good graces with Dìaz Ordàz and became the Secretary of Defense in the 60s. He ordered the massacre of student protesters in Tlatelolco in 1968.

Some of Garcìa Barragàn's descendants still reside in the area. The Pemex station at the junction of 200 and 80 is still in the family. The trailer park on the beach in Melaque also. Las Palmas in Barra de Navidad was once owned by them and one of the grandkids still has a house there.

One of the grandsons was gunned down a couple of years ago a few blocks from our home in Guadalajara. The whole family's karma pretty much sucks.

Babs said...

Croft, good to hear from you! Are ya'll RVing in Mexico now and are you heading this way? Hopefully. I just came across the photo of all of us at the Bagel Cafe yesterday. Would enjoy seeing ya'll again!

Clete, fascinating information about someone that I'm glad I never met. If he ordered the massacre of student protesters in Tlatelolco in 68, he must have not been a man of integrity.

Interesting to hear about his descendants as well. Thanks so much.

Croft said...

No, we are staying in Arizona this year where we finally found some heat. We will however have to repeat our fun dining experience in SMA one day.

Unknown said...

Back in 1984, three friends and I, camped on the beach and surfed, out from Hotel Tecuan. Back then it was beautiful, with everything up and running. We ate one night in the restaurant (the only ones in the place). It was so stunning, the grounds were kept up immaculately. Swimming pools, tennis courts. The airstrip was still being used. Wonderful memories.

Babs said...

Unknown, so wonderful to hear about your adventure at Tecuan. It is one of the prettiest stretches of beach that I have ever seen. Not having any development was awe inspiring. I kept saying out loud, "This is incredible" meaning the beauty, the nature and the lack of people!

Thanks for sharing.

Clarissa said...

I dream of living in PV some day after many stays there. Loved your story

Babs said...

Hi Clarissa. I always thought I would end up in PV after doing design work there and making friends. That was thirty years ago when it was still a sleepy village and the airport was a quonset hut!
I ended up in San Miguel de Allende in the mountains however and have been here twenty years!
Just being in Mexico is wonderful. Wherever you choose.
Good luck with your dreams.

Unknown said...

Hello. I stayed a night at El tequan in 97. We had heard about it from some crazy young ex-pats. On a trip down 200 from PV we saw the sign on the road and turned in.
It was July and the acres of ripe mangoes were amazing. It smelled of fermented fruit. So many mangoes had fallen and been trampled by cows.
We got to the hotel on the rise. It looked like it had been a bit of paradise before the 95 earthquake. Now, the walls had large cracks. Some features had toppled. There was only a local Mexican couple on the property. They rented us 2 rooms and made us a dinner of rice and beans. It was a long hot night.
I think now they might have just been squatters that charged us for a room because they could. I wish I could have seen it in it's heyday.

Babs said...

Unknown, fascinating! I bet they were caretakers. Most Mexicans do not leave their properties unintended even if it is a shack on a construction site. Glad they fed you!
What an adventure.........there are lots of those in Mexico!
Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hi, do you have more information about Tecuan in early years, 1870s?