If you are looking for a laid-back tourist destination with an opportunity for immersion not only in the Spanish language, but also in fascinating culture and history, consider Huatabampo, Sonora as a great out-of-the-way place to visit.

I spent the month of June 2017 living in, and exploring, the city and municipality of Huatabampo. A municipality is a political unit similar to a county in the U.S., and the municipality of Huatabampo includes verdant agricultural fields, a beautiful coastline, and small towns originally established by Jesuit missionaries in the early 1600’s.

But perhaps the most endearing characteristic of Huatabampo is its people. As it has been for centuries, the region is populated mainly by the indigenous Mayo. The residents of this region are known for being deeply religious and very friendly, something I can confirm. The people I met there were open and very nice, and I made lasting friendships there.

I arrived in the city by bus, and took a taxi from the bus station to the hotel where I had rented a room for the month, the Hotel Alys. The Alys is a small hotel that also rents rooms by the week and the month. Every room has a mini-split air conditioner, a flat-screen TV with cable, a mini-fridge and a microwave.

The hotel is two blocks from the city hall and plaza. Along the way you will also pass the General Obregon House Museum and an Oxxo convenience store. In fact, there are a lot of places within walking distance – grocery stores, cafes, restaurants and other shops and stores.

In addition to restaurants that serve traditional Mexican food, you can find pizza, grilled chicken, salads and seafood. But some of the best food is sold on food carts located around the town. Some of the local food entrepreneurs start serving at 8:00 a.m. and close at 3:00 p.m. Others start preparing food in the early evening and stay open until midnight.

Daytime food carts serve fish tacos, ceviche, caguamanta (manta ray stew) and other seafood, carne asada. You can get a tray of tacos dorados in the plaza for a few pesos, and a burrito consisting of frijoles wrapped in a flour tortilla for two pesos at “El 14.” The evening fare is typically tacos, mainly carne asada.

Next door to the Hotel Alys, Don Chito makes amazing carne asada tacos starting at 8:00 p.m. every evening. Chito is also a very amiable guy, and his wife Aracely will do a fantastic job laundering and pressing your clothes. The staff at the Alys also offer laundry service.

I developed a daily routine there, and quickly made friends that would greet me every day as I stopped by the Oxxo for a newspaper, picked up a cup of coffee, enjoyed a morning bowl of beef birria or sat reading the newspaper in the plaza. A relaxing day.

Every Thursday night the city administration sponsored a family night in the plaza, with entertainment and information for attendees. One Thursday I attended had a Mayo deer dancer and pascola dancers, a young lady who had made a dress of recycled materials, and an announcement by the Municipal President, Heliodoro Soto, about a new recycling program.

If I wanted to go someplace out of town, I would take the bus to the port town of Yavaros, a trip to the Mayo pueblo of El Júpare or a ride to the beautiful beaches of Huatabampito, all in the municipality of Huatabampo. I also made some day trips to nearby locales like Etchojoa, Alamos and Navojoa.

I never felt unsafe or threatened in any way while in Huatabampo, but I did not take unnecessary risks either. If you are looking for an interesting place that is a relaxed, small-town experience that you can take in at your own pace, consider spending some time there. If you have any questions, let us know.