The town of Navidad, with a population of about 1,000, is more of a metropolis than either Cimarrón Chico or Yerbabuena. It basks picturesquely on the hillside above a petite green farm valley. Hillside lanes sprinkled with red tile–roofed whitewashed houses and a venerable colonial-era steepled church, dedicated to San Joaquín and Santa Ana, complete the idyllic picture.
At his store across the plaza from the church, friendly English-speaking Juan Arrizon Quintero doubles as the unofficial goodwill ambassador. As he or any of the old-timers lounging in the shade outside his store will tell you, the short supply of terreno (land) is a big problem here. Young people must migrate to other parts of Mexico or the United States for jobs. The Navidad mine, still operating several miles farther east, used to employ lots of local people, but now it can hire only a small number of those needing jobs.
Visitors who want to stay awhile or camp nearby can try José’s store and one or two local eateries for food. For lodging, check out the guesthouse-style 10-room Hotel Navidad Dueñas (tel. 317/385-9895). Friendly owner Hortencia López asks $17 for a simply decorated but comfortable room that opens onto her homey plant-decorated interior patio.
For a wilderness camping opportunity, ask Juan about Laguna Juanacatlán Chico, whose clear 300-foot-deep waters are fine for swimming, kayaking, and trout and bass fishing.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition