The 83 Pueblo Magico towns of Mexico may very well be enough of a reason for a visit to the country. We have previously visited several, including Alamos, El Fuerte, and Creel just last year. Recently we relished our time in Loreto and Todos Santos, finding ourselves completely intrigued and enchanted by stepping back into time to experience hand formed cobblestone streets and woodbeamed ceilings. Wanting to escape the city, it was time for a little magic.
I have been interested in a day trip to San Sebastian del Oeste for several years and yesterday it finally came to fruition. With a necessary trek from the apartment to the camper on the days agenda, we decided to turn that trip into a field trip to the country.
San Sebastian, a mere 90minutes from Puerto Vallarta, sits at an elevation of 1480m (4856 ft), the drive from the coast was stunning, passing through several small villages and winding up the mountain, crisscrossing rivers. Local cowboys on horseback appeared en-route, their dogs yapping at their heels.
The town, itself, was founded in 1605 and was known as Real de San Sebastian for several hundred years, changing to it’s current name only in 1983. With a population originally near 20,000, San Sebastian was a vibrant silver mining town for over two hundred years.
1785 found a city with ten haciendas specializing in silver and gold reduction and over 30 mines in the surrounding Sierra Madre hillsides. After reaching peak production in 1830, the Revolution of 1910 closed operations and caused foreign investors to move elsewhere.
By the 20th century, the mines were depleted or shut down and the town became virtually a ghost town, creating a sort of time warp that accounts, in part, for the towns present day charm. The majority of buildings in town were simply left “as-is” and so retain their original wood beams and framing and rock-hewn walls.
Several haciendas, in various conditions, still exist in the surrounding countryside and immediately upon entry into town La Quinta, a 14th century hacienda and now coffee grower, offers up excellent freshly roasted coffee beans for a fantastic bargain.
We walked the rough, cobblestone streets to the main square, passing homes and businesses, admiring the rough rock walls and open beam ceilings. We had hoped for cooler temperatures, but didn’t find them, the cobblestones, and us, baking in the sun.
The central plaza was awash with a tour group so we headed down the side streets, admiring the reasonably priced silver jewelry in a store which has been in the same family for generations. Eating excellent tortas at Loncheria el Mezon in their centuries old family home. Peeking into the cathedral, painted a delightful robins egg blue.
Wilting in the heat, and concerned abut Aspen, after a mere couple of hours we headed back to the truck to return to the coast. Admiring the craftsmanship of the past that created a town that could remain so intact after so long.
One final stop at the Hacienda San Sebastian for a tequila tasting and we headed home to Puerto Vallarta, thrilled to have checked another Pueblo Magico town off the list. Magical indeed!