Our Escape to Tapalpa, Jalisco

2018 Articles Suzanne A. Marshall

By   Suzanne A. Marshall from the September 2018 Edition

What were we escaping from you may wonder. Here we are living in paradise, on the beaches of Manzanillo, and we certainly have no desires to change that. But this season it’s been very, very hot. This isn’t so unusual in Mexico, and certainly not given the global heat wave the planet has experienced this summer, but what a perfect excuse to find a little temporary reprieve from the temperatures and head up the mountain into the Sierra Madre mountains to cool off and explore, yet another, lovely Mexican location.

We learned about Tapalpa from our Mexican neighbours who encouraged us to go and explore the area. It was easily accessible by car and only takes 3 – 3 ½ hours to drive there. It’s a pretty basic route on the freeway to Guadalajara then a turn into the city of Sayula (which I previously wrote about) and on past Sayula and up the road until you reach Tapalpa.

It’s a lovely location, situated at about 1,950 metres (6,400 ft.) and is one of the 83 designated “Pueblos Mágicos”, or magic towns, found throughout Mexico. Tapalpa was the fifth town to earn this designation which is only awarded to towns with real natural beauty; cultural richness, traditions, historical relevance and more. Tapalpa means “place of coloured earth” derived from the ancient Nahuatl language spoken by the Aztecs and many of Mexico’s indigenous civilizations. Its population is approximately 19,506, taken from a 2015 census.

A nopali cactus tree frames one of many rustic log cabins hugging the tree lines entering Tapalpa.
Atop the mountainside, the local flora includes cacti, pine, oak, cedar and fir trees. The wildlife includes deer, rabbits, squirrels, armadillos, snakes and a small wildcat known as the oncilla. There are even a few elusive pumas. (I prefer them elusive.)
My first impression of the area also included pastoral scenes of large, green, grassy fields with plump cattle grazing everywhere as well as beautiful rustic log-structured homes and cabins, with terra cotta tile roofs, scattered among the pines as we entered the city proper. We were destined for a small hotel, just off the main town square, named Hotel Casona de Manzano. It was a lovely, convenient spot for walking about the town and had a wood-burning stove/fireplace in the room.

The first paper factory in Latin America was opened in Tapalpa in 1840. [4] The factory shut down and was abandoned in 1923 due to the Mexican Revolution. [5] Today, its abandoned ruins have become a tourist attraction.

We’d be happy to return to Tapalpa one day and continue our exploration of this lovely area. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how reasonable the restaurant and shop pricing is in this town. As a tourist destination, a person often anticipates elevated pricing but that was not the case here and a very pleasant surprise. I know we haven’t seen it all and we will be happy to pick up where we left off and enjoy this breathtaking area again.

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