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Mexcaltitan Regains Magic Town Status

Getting your magic back is possible – even in 2020. It’s happened in Mexcaltitán, a tiny island village accessed via a 15-minute boat ride down a lagoon in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.

The town was originally designated by travel authorities as a Pueblo Mágico – or Magical Town – in 2001, but it lost the designation in 2009 because of a “lack of infrastructure investment by the state government,” according to Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Now, thanks to nearly 35 million Mexican pesos of investment by federal and state authorities, Mexcaltitán has recently regained the coveted “magical” status.

“The small island that can be crossed by foot in one day is especially charming during the rainy season as its streets completely flood, making it possible to travel through them by boat, thus earning it the nickname ‘The Mexican Venice,’ ” said Zarkin.

Raised sidewalks allow pedestrians to go about their business in the rainy season. There are no cars in petite Mexcaltitán, which measures just under 400 meters (1,312ft) at its widest.

Mexico now has 122 Pueblos Mágicos designated by Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism. The towns on the list are representative of traditional Mexico, with architecture and customs dating from the pre-Hispanic period through the Mexican Revolution. Many towns struggle with population migration to large cities, and the hope is that tourism will help stem that flow and support local economies.

Local crafts are part of what the Pueblos Mágicos program celebrates. Daniel Stoychev Photography/Courtesy Riviera Nayarit CVB

The Pueblos Mágicos program also promotes traditional crafts and festivals and aims to preserve local customs and unique cuisine.

Mexcaltitán, close to the Pacific Coast north of Puerto Vallarta, fits the bill, Zarkin says.”This beautiful island is known for its charming calmness, its preserved architecture made up of a mosaic of picturesque houses with tile roofs, and its preserved regional culture, ethnic customs, and its unique Nayarit dishes, all of which are a true representation of the cultural wealth in its home state, Riviera Nayarit,” he said.

In Mexcaltitán, fresh-caught shrimp in season figure into many dishes including shrimp ceviche or tlaxtihuil – a traditional corn-based shrimp chowder.

Mexcaltitán’s Pueblo Mágico status was announced in early October and will be formalized at the Feria de Pueblos Mágicos, scheduled for November 26 to 29 in San Luis Potosi.

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