Thursday, March 27, 2014

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Take Two

Our first trip to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, we spent a lot of our time at the La Cruz Inn, where Michele and Trina stayed. We didn’t really explore the town and felt completely overwhelmed by the calendar of cruisers’ events we were handed when we checked into the marina. But this time around, we knew we’d be in town for a week or 2…or 3 or 4.
So our goal for our first full day in La Cruz was to walk around and see what we could see. We ran into David and Carolyn first thing, and took off for town together.
They’d only been in town a day when we pulled into the small boat dock just a few slips away from CrazyLove (and right next to our mutual friend Will from Thallasea. Remember Will and his errant dinghy? Remember Will and the lovely Christmas celebration?) But they’d already scoped out a cheap taco stand that sold rotisserie chickens and fried taquitos.
We walked through town, past the roundabout with the town’s eponymous cross (made of Hunacaxtle wood), and up to Tu Pollo on the corner of the main highway.
The sign says “Welcome for Chicken.”
We got fried tacos, bags of rice and salsa, and delicious potatoes (see them roasting there underneath the dripping chicken fat? Oh, yes!) for all 5 of us for about $7.50 USD. David and Carolyn dug into their order on the spot and immediately went back for more. We picked up some drinks at a local “mini-super” and walked back to the main plaza to eat.
We found some shade in the gazebo and dug into our meal under the watchful eye of the local iguana population.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the cobblestone streets around town.
We eventually stumbled across an lovely oasis called The Octopus’ Garden. It’s part restaurant/bar/coffee shop, part art gallery/T-shirt printing shop with live music several days a week, a dance floor upstairs, and a wood shop out back.
We walked through the quiet courtyard and found our way to the Huichol Art Gallery at the back. The owners work closely with indigenous people from the area to market their colorful yarn and bead artwork and reproduce several designs on bright T-shirts to help spread the traditional artwork more broadly.
After a few minutes, several kids burst in and dashed up the stairs. A little curious, we followed them up and found a young Canadian woman teaching an aerial silks class to a mix of locals and cruisers’ kids. She flipped deftly between English and Spanish and just as adeptly, flipped up and down the hanging silk.
I pulled up a chair next to one of the local moms and we easily found connections between our busy lives. She said, “I’d love to learn English, and they offer classes here, but by the time we get home from school and eat something…there’s just no time."
Evening found us at "The Twins," a taco stand near La Cruz's main plaza. This small street restaurant had opened just a few days before we arrived in town. Over the next few weeks, it was fun to watch the owners add menu items and equipment as they could. First, they added napkin holders, then salsa bowls for each table, and one proud day, they owner called Bryan over to witness the installation of an Al Pastor rotisserie. They learned our names and joked with Meira about her insatiable appetite. We met some of their 8 kids (including the 3-year-old twins) We affectionately nicknamed the place "Tacos on the Square," "White Tent Tacos," or eventually, Alejandra and Leno's place. 10 peso tacos and new Mexican friends--now we're talking!

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