Blessing of the fleet

Nuestra Señora de la Paz

You may have seen the christening of a boat. People gathering around the vessel, some words are said and a bottle of champagne gets broken against the boat’s bow. If by chance the bottle does not break is considered a bad omen. 

However, I bet you had never seen a fleet of boats being christened. Well, this year, if you head to Bucerias, you will be a lucky spectator of the  Blessing of the fleet, also known as the blessing of the boats. 

Bucerias 

The neighboring state of Nayarit, also part of the magnificent Banderas Bay, has its share of enchanting beach towns in an area referred to as Riviera Nayarit. One of these charming towns is Bucerias, located between La Cruz de Huanacastle and Nuevo Vallarta. It counts with 18 miles of uninterrupted beach, ideal for surfing, snorkeling, kitesurfing, or just soak in the sun.

Bucerias, which means “place of divers”,  got its name because most of its inhabitants were divers. These divers caught oysters that were abundant in the region. The oysters were mainly sold in Puerto Vallarta or consumed locally. 

Even though it had a small population living in the area, it was only until 1937 that the town of Bucerias was officially registered as an Ejido (land farmed communally under a system supported by the state) by the government. Before this, the town was called Santa Julia de las Tablas because it had a wide variety of wood, that was exported to places like Brasil and Europe. 

Back in those days, the only way to reach Bucerias was by boat from Puerto Vallarta. It only had few dirt roads that were traveled by mule or on foot, crossing mountains, creeks, and hills. These paths were used to get to other towns such as Sayulita, Lo de Marcos, or Compostela. The trip usually took hours and on some occasions even days.  

Our Lady of Peace

Bucerias’ first church, built with adobe and dried palm leaves, at the end of the 1930s stood in the same place where the newer one is today. In the last 60 years, the church is been the place to honor Our Lady of Peace, the patron saint, and protector of the city of Bucerias.

This charming but straightforward church bears detailed ironwork, a large altar with a striking painted backdrop, wooden pews, and kneeling benches. Inside the serene atmosphere creates an ideal space for reflection and contemplation. Worth visiting.

Bucerias January Festivities

Every month of January From the 16th to the 24th, the festivities honoring Our Lady of Peace take place. 

For nine days the town of Bucerias displays a wide arrange of colorful festivities in the name of its patron saint. During the celebration days, every morning at 6:00 am the traditional “Mananitas” (birthday song) is performed by a mariachi. Also, every day, from 8:pm a cultural music festival takes place at the main plaza. 

Throughout these nine celebratory days, a series of religious services, sports activities, art demonstrations, and more cultural events occurred. Everyday picturesque floats cruise the streets of the town, and pilgrimage happens.

The Big Day

On the last day of the celebrations, January 24th the biggest pilgrimage takes place. However, this is no ordinary peregrination. A float of pangas (boats) with local fishermen and their families depart the port located in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. They will carry the Antorcha de la Paz (torch of peace) to Bucerias. Upon arrival, they will take the torch to the Our Lady of Peace church. Then at the church fishermen, divers, merchants, locals, and foreigners gather together to celebrate a mass go ask Our Lady of Peace for a fruitful year with plenty of health and prosperity.   

Every passing year more tourists come to see and participate in this important celebration in the town of Bucerias. However, Bucerias still keeps its essence of an authentic Mexican village attracting Boho souls and art lovers. It is a peaceful escape from the hectic life in big crowded cities. An oasis with so much nature to offer and plenty of tradition to discover.

Don’t wait any longer, travel to Bucerias, and immerse yourself in a pleasant journey. Uncover all that the Bahia de Banderas has to offer.

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