Traditional Las Varas: Pure Mexico
Just a pleasant 15 minute ride through native jungle and farmlands north of the Jaltemba Bay area is a glimpse into true Mexican lifestyle without the tourist hype. The unpretentious town of Las Varas exudes pride throughout its clean, cobbled streets with its simple buildings and extensive array of family run stores. Since this is a traditional Mexican town that does not cater to tourism, be prepared to brush up on your Spanish in order to interact with the merchants.
As is the case in other Riviera Nayarit villages, Las Varas originally was part of the extensive Jaltemba hacienda and became an independent town in the early 1930s. The much traveled highway 200 bisects the town, with the main business and residential areas fanning out around it.
It makes a great side trip to spend an afternoon strolling around the many Las Varas shops and appreciating the architecture of the older buildings around the lovely town plaza. Besides the architecture, there is a Community Museum that showcases local artifact such as pottery, fossils and other antiques. The town has a branch of IMSS-the Mexican health care services; several other government offices; a Bancomer bank; and the area CFE station. A wonderful selection of shoe stores, tile, hardware, tire, agri-business supply and several well equipped automotive shops round out the goods available in town. As there are three fabric stores, numerous grocery and meat markets, be sure to come prepared to carry all you purchases. Best of all, the prices are lower than in La Penita, besides a larger selection. Las Varas holds a tianguis (outdoor market) every Friday on the west side of the highway. There are numerous loncheras and taco carts throughout the main shopping area to keep up your energy while sightseeing and shopping. In all the years that I have visited Las Varas,
I’ve never been approached by vendors to buy souvenirs or silver; I can shop just the same as the local people, which I find relaxing. This is a hardworking community, so I’ve never seen loiters and it’s probably why there is so little litter in the streets. I perceive Las Varas as a solid family enclave; there are simple bungalows and hotels for visitors to stay overnight.