Ready to trade the sun, surf and sand of Mexico’s coastal city of Mazatlan for the simpler life of a rural village? Then plan a day trip to El Quelite. This picturesque country town of about 2,000 is the kind of place you dream of discovering; then plot to keep secret from all but your closest friends.
Having joined PlayaSol Tours in Mazatlan (30-minutes to the south), we had no idea what to expect when our van pulled into town just before high noon. It certainly wasn’t this charming scene—laughing kids wearing cowboy hats while riding horses and donkeys down the middle of the cobbled main street.
Once our driver parked the van on that same cobbled street, our first visit was to the panaderia, the bakery. Here bread is baked the old way—in a wood-fired, dome-shaped oven. The variety of breads this small establishment turns out is amazing, not to mention delicious.
No Mexican town would be complete without its tortilleria. In El Quelite, the tortilla factory is another cottage industry a few steps down the street from the bakery. Like the breads, the tortillas are hand made and sold warm, fresh from the griddle.
Lunch and a folkloric show
Without question, the highlight of a trip to El Quelite (and another huge surprise) is lunch at El Meson de Los Laureanos. While the restaurant serves yummy local country dishes, the real star is the folkloric show performed by a cast of dozens in the small open-air patio. We watched a symbolic deer dance, a fire dance and traditional folkloric dances, all accompanied by a lively mariachi band. This being a ranching community, we were entertained by a cowboy roping demonstration and even a sure-footed dancing horse.
During the show, we snacked on guacamole, salsa and chips while snapping photos . Everyone in the place was doing the same, and I noted we were among the few tourists taking in the show. Most of the diners were Mexican families, either local or visiting, like us, for the day. From child to adult, we were all wide-eyed at the colorfully costumed dancers and musicians.
The show ended with more dancing, but this time it was the luncheon crowd swirling around the patio floor to the beat of the mariachis. Even restaurant owner, Dr. Marcos Osuna, got into the act.
Just a typical day in not so sleepy El Quelite.