Aztec Ruins, Historic Cathedrals,and Good Coffee in Ixtlan del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico

People travel for many reasons, one of them being the sheer joy and excitement of experiencing  new places. But there is a different kind of thrill that you can get when you go home homeland. This was the case when I traveled to Ixtlan del Rio, Nayarit in Mexico.

To be fair, Ixtlan del Rio isn’t technically my home, but it’s where my mom was born and where she grew up. I came to Ixtlan because I had lost a loved one, so it was with a heavy heart and a heightened sense of urgency that I boarded the plane and made the pilgrimage home. In arriving, not only did I discover the warm embrace of a family reunited to honor a lost loved one, I also discovered all the amazing things that my home has to offer travelers in Mexico.

Nayarit is one of Mexico’s smallest states. Its geography and climate is very diverse because Nayarit has tropical coastal regions on its pacific coast shorelines as well as well as desert climates found further inland. Its varietal in climate and historically rich Volcanic soil make Nayarit the ideal place to crop cotton, sugarcane, tobacco and my favorite, coffee. In California, I work with coffee on a daily basis, from roasting to brewing to drinking to writing about it on my website Con Ciencia, so I was excited to see what Nayarit’s unique climate brought to the coffee industry.

Nayarit has become popular among the tourism community for its pristine beaches in the Nayarit Riviera. It is a state loaded with little cultural gems and Ixtlan del Rio is one of its finest. It’s a far cry from your typical tourist destination and the use of some Spanish is required when visiting, but it’s well worth the journey, and visitors are always delighted by Ixtlan’s storied Plaza and Cathedral where soldiers of the revolutionary époque used to play and pray.  If you get the chance, you should also visit Cristo Rey, a statue of Jesus Christ atop Ixtlans biggest mountain that resembles the one found in Rio de Janeiro.

Visitors are encouraged to make the 30 minute trek or 5 minute drive to the indigenous ruins of Los Toriles found just north east of Ixtlan. Local legend says that these ruins are the remains of an attempt by the Aztecs to build a capital city that pre-dates the existence of Mexico City. Ixtlan del Rio is also an excellent half way point for those traveling between the Mexican states of Nayarit and Jalisco and is a 30 minute drive away from the town of Tequila, Jalisco the town tequila originated and gets its name — think of it as the Champagne France of Mexico.

Ixtlan del Rio is Nayarit’s little diamond in the rough and for those interested in making day trips out to Ixtlan you can do so from the Nayarit Capitol of Tepic. Otherwise there are a few hotel options in the town that would satisfy your typical backpacker’s needs.

I experienced a bit of what this region has to offer tourists, I reconnected with my familial and cultural roots, I had a few fantastic cups of local coffee, and I left Ixtlan with a tremendous will to return.

Carlos Garcia

About Carlos Garcia

If he's not sipping a quality cup of coffee, he's traveling to get to one. And when he's not traveling to get to one, Carlos Garcia writes for Con Ciencia Coffee, a blog dedicated to exploring coffee's conscience.