Mexcaltitán (pop. 2,000), the House of the Mexicans, represents much more than just a scenic little island town. Archaeological evidence indicates that Mexcaltitán may actually be the legendary Aztlán (Place of the Herons) from which the Aztecs, who called themselves the Mexica (May-Kshee-kah), in 1091 began their generations-long migration to the Valley of Mexico.
Each year on June 28 and 29, the feast days of Saints Peter and Paul, residents of Mexcaltitán and surrounding villages dress up in feathered headdresses and jaguar robes and breathe life into their tradition. They celebrate the opening of the shrimp season by staging a grand regatta, driven by friendly competition between decorated boats carrying rival images of Saints Peter and Paul.
Mexcaltitán lies about 25 miles (32 km) by an all-weather road northwest of Santiago Ixcuintla. You get to Santiago Ixcuintla either by back road from San Blas or from Highway 15, by the Santiago Ixcuintla turnoff 38 miles (60 km) north of Tepic. About five miles (8 km) after the turnoff, you reach the town, marked by a solitary hill on the right.
Just past the hill, turn right on the main street, 20 de Noviembre, which runs by the central plaza and becomes the main westbound road out of town. Continue approximately another five miles (8 km) to the signed Mexcaltitán turnoff, where you head right. You soon pass Base Aztlán, site of the Mexican experimental rocket center; then the farmland gives way to a maze of leafy mangrove-edged lagoons, home to a host of cackling, preening, and fluttering water birds. About 15 miles (24 km) after the turnoff you reach the embarcadero for Mexcaltitán.
Note: Mexcaltitán is also accessible from the northeast side, from Highway 15, 136 miles (219 km) south of Mazatlán, at a signed turnoff with gas station four miles south of Chilapa village. Initially paved, the access road changes to rough gravel for its last half through the bushy wetland decorated by rafts of Mexican lotus lilies and flocks of preening, stalking, and fluttering egrets, herons, and cormorants, finally arriving at embarcadero La Ticha after 28 miles (45 km).
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition