Located about a half-hour's drive from the high-rise hotels of Mazatlan, the small, charming town of El Quelite offers a glimpse into traditional Mexican village life. There, children ride burros along cobblestoned streets, and on Sunday after Mass, families gather for barbecue at roadside eateries.
Perhaps the main appeal of El Quelite is its sleepy, Old Mexico atmosphere. There isn't a T-shirt or postcard for sale anywhere, although a few tourists visit on day trips and shore excursions offered by tour companies. There’s not a lot to see in El Quelite—it's mainly a town for a quiet stroll.
Stops are made at a small bakery, which bakes bread in a clay oven, and at the largest fighting-rooster farm in northwest Mexico.
There's also time to stroll, enjoy the colorful houses draped in bougainvillea and have lunch at el Meson de los Laureanos. The restaurant, set in a hacienda-style building from the 1800s across the street from the picturesque town church and main plaza, includes a lush courtyard where women knead masa, or corn flour, to make tortillas. The all-local menu includes dishes such as roasted quail and beef-tongue stew and a delicious drink made from hibiscus. After a meal, head toward the back of the restaurant, which opens to an outdoor area of free roaming chickens, ducks and goats. Children and animal lovers can get some tortilla scraps from the kitchen and make a few friends among the livestock.
You may be lucky enough to catch a game of ulama, a pre-Hispanic ball game still practiced by the men and boys of the region. It is played wearing deerskin loincloths and using a 7-pound rubber ball.
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