Not only are the developers of Tierra Alta, David and Xochitl Kimball, pioneers for introducing the concept of log cabin construction to El Tuito, a small colonial town just 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, but they are also the very first horizontal condominium regime to EVER be registered within Cabo Corrientes! ¨We are not only excited about this progress, but we are also proud of our accomplishment and the persistence of the local authorities to make this dream come true,¨ exclaimed David and Xochitl.
So, it is official, the condo regime is recorded and escrituras are being prepared for execution for all those who purchased in advance. Don´t miss out on this incredibly unique opportunity to own a home in the woods just a short drive from the tropics of Vallarta.
WE ARE COVERED!
Yes, the brand new cabin that Bruce Beckler is building has just been topped off with a beautiful new roof! ¨I am just thrilled to see my new cabin being built. I can´t wait to get in and begin making it home,¨ said Bruce.
While you can no longer be the first, you don´t need to be the last to get in on this wonderful trend of cabin homes in the mountains. Remember, adobe designed homes are also available on any of the floorplans offered.
A PRIVATE DETACHED HOME IN A CONDO REGIME
¨There are many advantages to having a private home within a regulated condominium regime,¨ explains Lic. Jose Maria Gallardo, attorney for Tierra Alta. ¨A condo regime is the legal framework for a property in which owners can enjoy the advantages of individual ownership rights while also having access to and/or use of certain common infrastructure facilities such as a road, electrical service or a swimming pool. These private and shared interests can coexist under a condo regime , combining exclusive ownership rights for each of the private units (the lots and cabins) while also taking advantage of the shared parts of the property, including infrastructure and green space. Each condo owner has a proportionate right over the shared parts of the common areas so that they can make the best use of their privately owned units in the Condominium.¨
The alternative to a condo regime is a “fraccionamiento” or subdivision. But this alternative requires transferring the ownership and administration of the internal roads to the Municipality, opening access to the public.
El Tuito, Jalisco, Mexico – Cabo Corrientes is one of those vaguely heard of places where nobody ever goes because… well, where is it? And how would you go there? And why?
Literally, Cabo Corrientes means “Cape Currents.” It’s the defining end point of Banderas Bay west of Puerto Vallarta where the bay finally gives up its apparent attempt to swallow the Pacific. Look at the map – you’ll see that as the bay opens and yawns to the southwest, its lower prognathous jaw begins to fall away at the tiny coastal town of El Chimo.
At the very end of this lower jaw is the town of Corrales where the old lighthouse is located at the Cape. Also called Cabo Corrientes is the municipality that includes about 75 kilometers of beautiful and rarely visited beaches, beginning with the entire lower jaw of Banderas Bay and ending along the Pacific Coast as far south as the town of Villa del Mar.
From Vallarta itself, you can’t quite ever see the last bay-defining point marked by the old Cape lighthouse at Corrales. You can occasionally see that far end of the bay on a clear day from the opposing upper jaw at Punta Mita, whose residents are generally too happily distracted by golf to be much interested in aquatic geography.
The term “cape” usually implies that when you round a specific point or promontory, you are entering a different world (as in “Cape of Good Hope”). If you begin in Vallarta and head west in a small panga, moving along the lower bay past Yelapa and then past Chimo toward the Pacific, you may technically still be in the bay, but you are now out of sight and out of mind.
Past Chimo, you are at a kind of geographic and psychological tipping point. Ocean swells now rise and fall with their own remorseless rhythm, indifferent to your condition. At that point, you have lost the bay’s protection. And if you then round the cape and head south along the Cabo Corrientes shoreline, you can feel the profound difference between a defined bay and the open, endless Pacific domain.
Of course, all bays are defined by their partial closure against wind and water. The Bay of Banderas is just such a protective zone. Its orientation denies direct admission to most hurricanes. But it is large and deep enough (maybe 3,000 feet) to offer a complete oceanic environment with enough aquatic scale for humpback whales, giant manta rays, tuna, dolphins and marlin.
There are times that Banderas Bay seems like a relatively safe theme park for seafarers who don’t really want to go to sea. In fact, Banderas Bay seems to have been artfully designed for vacations and retirement. It appears to have been invented for people who believe they have suffered enough, so bring on the paradise, now, please.
But if you drive 25 minutes west from Vallarta along coastal Highway 200, you will cross into the Cabo Corrientes municipality just past Boca de Tomatlan. You are, in a sense, rounding the cape by land. The road abruptly leaves the coast, swings due south and inland toward the town of El Tuito in the foothills of the Sierra Cuale Mountains.
The winding road climbs into the pine and oak forests and you will begin to notice that, by contrast to the dense human landscape of Vallarta, there is just a thin scattering of people in the small clustered settlements along the road. You are in Cabo Corrientes.
A look at the Cabo Corrientes lighthouse at Corrales
The current keeper of the old Cabo Corrientes lighthouse at the very end of Banderas Bay is a man named Hector Hernandez. He says it’s true what we had heard, that the lighthouse was powered for decades by fuel carried by donkeys up the 200 meters of steep elevation. But now, it shines out stronger than ever in its 110 years of service. As Hector notes, the faro was built during the last days of the Porfirio Diaz regime. Today, it beams into the night from a battery storage system powered by solar panels. Hector says the light can be seen 30 miles away.
The place where no one’s there
Given the remarkable technological advance at the lighthouse, it’s a little strange that the nearest gas station for Corrales, the tiny lighthouse town at the cape, is back in El Tuito. And in fact, there was still no functioning gas station even in El Tuito until earlier this year – after nearly 500 years as a trading town.
Today El Tuito is an attractive municipal center of some 4,000 people. The exterior walls of the old shops around the plaza are all colored with an ochre mix of local clays. The new gas station is finally open, partly to fuel the vehicles that now make their way on passable gravel roads from El Tuito to the beautiful Pacific shores that very few people have seen.
Cabo Corrientes and its open Pacific coastline have formed wide, sweeping, scalloped beaches that are more temperamental than Vallarta’s grand old bay. In fact, most of the beaches along the Cabo Corrientes coast are much easier to reach by car than by boat. If you know the simple, common sense driving routes that take you from El Tuito through the rugged mountain landscape of Cabo Corrientes, you can easily arrive at a world of wild, untouched beaches that seem quite unrelated to the domesticated waters of Banderas Bay.
After about 45 or 50 minutes on the road from El Tuito to the coast, and you’re there.
When you first reach many of these beaches, something seems missing. Then you note that there is not a single palm tree in view. Instead, there is a Sahara of rolling sand dunes and a scattering of small, roughhewn houses just inland from the beaches. One of their measures of age is the ancient, brilliant tree-sized bougainvilleas still co-existing with the human residents after generations. These rugged old plants sprawl over roofs, shouting out their defiant colors in the sun.
Cabo Corrientes is not a land of ease. How people survive here, well, it’s a question that seems to have something to do with how few of them there are.
To get to Cabo Corrientes
The town of El Tuito serves as the jumping off point, the hub in the wheel for reaching all of the untamed Pacific beaches of Cabo Corrientes.
Once in El Tuito, it’s your choice for a destination: Mayto? Tehuamixtle? Corrales? Villa del Mar? There are a dozen or more such towns along this nearly empty coast, each more windblown, more sun struck and less self-conscious than the last.
Of course, there are none of the efficient Vallarta-style Margaritaville beach installations that may recall your misspent youth in the hotel zone on Banderas Bay. But there are friendly outposts along Cabo Corrientes – rustic old handmade restaurants on the water serving cold beer and superb seafood. Fresh oysters, lobster, red snapper with garlic – all caught that morning or during the night. And now there are a few modest hotels scattered among these miniscule beach towns. Mayto has two small but comfortable hotels.
Cande’s, a famous restaurant in Tehuamixtle, rents rooms and there are several other modest “Tehua” rentals available with views of the bay.
Cande, himself, is easy to identify: He is the guy in the hammock at the entrance to his restaurant. His three attractive daughters wait tables and run the business. The seafood is glorious and the beer is icy cold. It’s not all austerity and rip tides in Cabo Corrientes.
But when you walk on one of these incredible broad Pacific beaches, alone, you will question whether all of humanity might have just recently moved on to some even more impossibly beautiful and remote location. At times, there just seems to be almost no one there. There will be the occasional lone fisherman sorting through his nets at the edge of the surf. A man placidly riding a horse with no apparent destination. Two men doing something to an engine in a rusted truck on a dirt road that meets the intensely blue sea.
In the somnolent hamlet of Naranjitos (population 94), a woman saw us stopped along a dirt road near the water. She then also stopped her car, restless kids in the back seat, because she assumed, smiling warmly as she called out to us, that we were lost. She wanted to offer us directions to somewhere. In her view, being lost was the only possible reason for our being in her town. If we were there, we must be lost.
Measuring absence: Population densities
The “Municipio de Cabo Corrientes” seems much too large to be a municipality (which in Mexico are entities that function like counties with a measure of independent governance). Puerto Vallarta is also a Jalisco “municipio,” but it has less than half the area (680sq kms) of its municipal neighbor, Cabo Corrientes, to the southwest.
Cabo Corrientes has a population of only 10,000 people scattered over its entire 1,540 square kms for a density of just 6.5 persons per square km. The much smaller Vallarta municipality now has more than 250,000 residents or about 375 persons per square kilometer which is about 58 times the density of Cabo Corrientes, its larger municipal neighbor to the south. And, that greatly understates Vallarta’s real density by excluding the many thousands of non-resident vacationers that fill the hotel and condo rentals for much of the year.
This contrast in contiguous populations is roughly equivalent to placing Massachusetts (density 331) alongside of New Mexico (density 6.6) as if they were right next door to each other, as is the case for Vallarta and Cabo Corrientes municipalities. The density contrast between Vallarta and Cabo Corrientes is extreme anywhere in the world, especially for neighboring entities that share a border.
As you enter the Cabo Corrientes municipality headed south on Highway 200, you are almost immediately in a population density of single digits, much closer to Mongolia’s which may have the lowest density of any country on earth. Mongolia has only 2 people per square kilometer compared to 6.5 in Cabo Corrientes. The US, with all of those wide open spaces of the West has a density of 31 and Mexico is at 57.
Population Density Per Square Kilometer
New Mexico: 6.6
Cabo Corrientes Municipality: 6.5
Puerto Vallarta Municipality: 375.0
United States: 31.0
For some people, low density may weaken their aesthetic response to places with scant signs of human presence. I may be attracted to these empty spaces in the world. But there are obviously millions and perhaps billions of people whose preference is for a dense coating of humanity – a kind of Coney Island of human concentration.
On the shores of Cabo Corrientes, people seem to have been replaced with wonderfully water cut rocks. At Playitas, there are stone menageries sculpted by the waves that look like a stampede of vaguely African imaginary animals, suddenly frozen just before reaching the surf. By contrast, Banderas Bay seems to carry on the romantic dream that the bay itself somehow cares about the people who line its gorgeous postcard shores, all set about with coconut palms. Cabo Corrientes, on the other hand, is an environment that does not seem to even notice us much. Cabo Corrientes still seems distracted by its own more desolate and lonely beauty, perhaps because it is simply not accustomed to being seen by anyone at all.
The Mexican Tourism Board on Cabo Corrientes
Along the coast of Cabo Corrientes, around 75 kilometers in length, you’ll find a set of paradisiacal beaches of fine, white sand, abundant vegetation and spectacular cliffs. Some of these beaches have barely been explored, making them ideal for those seeking to go deeper into the wilds of the Mexican coast and forget the noise and pollution of the cities. A great variety of fruits are grown in the fertile soil of Cabo Corrientes: mangoes, papayas, banana and coconuts are the main crop, and a number of enticing local dishes are prepared using them.
David Kimball is a retired journalist and businessman. For 12 years he researched and wrote Special Supplements on Mexico for Business Week Magazine in Mexico City. About ten years ago, he began assembling the land parcels now called Tierra Alta, an eco-development for cabins located in an oak forest just outside of El Tuito. His wife, Xochitl, now leads the development while Kimball gradually shifts his attention to the hammock on his cabin deck. He can be reached by email at kimballdavid(at)hotmail.com. Learn more about the Tierra Alta eco-development, at TierraAltaTuito.com
Birders are weird. I can say that because I come from a birder family.
Watching bird watchers can be entertaining: Here is an imaginary conversation between my parents, two elderly birders, married for 40 years, trying to argue quietly about whether the bird in the tree just ahead is really a Western Tanager or a Yellow Grosbeak.
“It can’t be a grosbeak! Look at that tiny little beak!” “I’m sure it’s a grosbeak.” “Well you just want it to be a grosbeak because you don’t have it on your Life List yet, like I do – from eight years ago!” By this point the whispers have begun to erupt into a volume level that is uncomfortable for both grosbeaks and tanagers. The two senior birders are suddenly left alone, abandoned by the bird in question. But they are still speaking in that suppressed, penetrating voice that is supposed to be inaudible to birds.
“SSSHHHHH! We just lost the grosbeak!” “That was no grosbeak!” Bonnie Jauregui and her 83-year old mother, Patricia Morrow, run the 90-hectare Rancho Primavera about three kilometers from El Tuito on the road to Yelapa. The principle crop: happy birders (or birdwatchers). The birders are happy because they see a LOT of birds. In fact, a total of 160 species have been recorded on her property.
Serious birders are pleased not only by the number of distinct species to be seen within the ranch boundaries, but also by the ability to see so many other birds within a short, one hour radius of the ranch. If you include species seen on day trips from the ranch, the bird counts can easily double. “It’s because there is such diverse terrain within an hour’s drive from El Tuito,” Bonnie says. “On one day, you can drive to the tropical coastline and the mangroves. The next day you can be in the high mountain areas with very different habitat.”
The ranch offered its first birding tour in 1996. Today, while the ranch remains virtually unknown in Puerto Vallarta, it has been included in itineraries for the prestigious VENT Travel Tours in Austin, TX, the largest company in the world specializing in birding tours. Most Primavera guests stay for a week, dividing their time between birding, hiking and relaxing by the natural lagoons that offer fishing (delicious tilapia) and swimming.
The accommodations are simple but comfortable in either a ranch house room or in a cabin with full kitchen. But guests rooms at the ranch house and the two cabins have grown “organically” over the last ten years and the rates are a bit confusing at first. I will let Bonnie define the accommodations and pricing:
“There are the guest rooms that are minimum stay of 6 px for 3 nights which include breakfast and dinner. Then there are the casitas, the minimum stay is 2 nights at $100 a night or $500 the week. I don’t discourage meals prepared in the casitas but I am very glad when the locals get the guests’ business” at restaurants in El Tuito.
The accommodations at the ranch are deceptively unpretentious: birders actually are one of the most affluent travel segments. Birders in the US and Canada alone spend more than $30 Billion on their hobby each year and they are increasingly drawn to Mexico which has more than a thousand bird species.
However, Bonnie and Patricia are not exactly looking to “cash in” on the birding business. They allow day visitors to enter the ranch to “bird” without charge. “We have a donation box and we don’t allow parties or picnics but we do want people to come and enjoy the birds.”
Conservation is the central theme at Rancho Primavera. Bonnie and Patricia recommend the “Macaws Forever” programs (www.macawforever.org/) to support the dangerously low populations of this gorgeous local bird. This Vallartabased organization is also known as “Unidos por las Guacamayas”. Bonnie supports them because “they are reaching out to the communities to teach locals, especially children, about the predicament that the macaws are facing because of the poaching and loss of habitat. As scientists, they are also monitoring the macaw population in the Bahía de Banderas and Cabo Corrientes.” Bonnie and Patricia had their own tastes of near-extinction during their early years at the ranch before they finally hosted their first birding tour in 1999. “We tried a lot of different ways to make a living up here,” Bonnie said. “But gradually we discovered we were ‘rich in birds’ and that really has worked for us.”
Contact information for Rancho Primavera: Bonnie Jauregui, Rancho Primavera, El Tuito,
It takes about 45 minutes to drive from El Tuito to the closest beach locations such as Mayto, Tehuamixtle or Villa del Mar.
But the time required to reach any of these beautifully desolate beaches will soon be magically shortened. The passable 44 km road from El Tuito to the Mayto coastal area, for example, will be comfortably paved by the end of 2015, according to the Municipal Headquarters in El Tuito. (Before then, caution is advised in the June – October rainy season). The drive to all of the Cabo Corrientes beaches from El Tuito will become shorter, faster, less expensive and safer as pavement takes over from the gravel surface…
“There are times that Banderas Bay seems like a relatively safe theme park for seafarers who don’t really want to go to sea. Banderas Bay seems to have been artfully designed for vacations and retirement. It seems to have been invented for people who believe they have suffered enough, so bring on the paradise, now, please.
But as you leave the urban confines of Vallarta, the realities of tropical Mexico are always close at hand. If you drive 25 minutes west from Vallarta along coastal Highway 200, you will cross into the Cabo Corrientes municipality just past Boca de Tomatlan.
The road abruptly leaves the coast, swings due south and inland toward the town of El Tuito in the Sierra Madre Mountains. The winding road climbs into the pine and oak forests and you will begin to notice that, by contrast to the dense human landscape of Vallarta, there is just a thin scattering of people in the clustered settlements along the road. You are in Cabo Corrientes.