Explore The northwest and Copper Canyon
North of San Blas, from Hwy-15 you can take the turn-off for Santiago Ixcuintla, a market town where the only real interest lies in the Centro Cultural Huichol (t323/235-1171), approximately 1.5km from the central plaza towards Mexcaltitán at 20 de Noviembre and Constitución. This cooperative venture, aimed at supporting Huichol people and preserving their traditions, raises money by selling quality Huichol art and offering various classes; the centre is most active between November and May.
North of Santiago, located on a lily-strewn lagoon and supporting only a few hundred habitants, is the extraordinary islet of Mexcaltitán – “House of the Mexicans” in Náhautl, which looks something like a very tiny version of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital before the Spaniards arrived. Indeed, the place is one candidate for the legendary Aztec homeland Aztlán, from which the tribe set out on their exodus to the Valley of México; the small Museo del Origen on the plaza addresses that hypothesis with a collection of archeological relics. Mexcaltitán sees very little tourism, but you should be able to find a guide to paddle you around the island (M$600/day) and accommodation at the single hotel, Ruta Azteca (t323/235-6020), offering four bare-bones rooms near the church. There’s a handful of inexpensive restaurants, most specializing in seafood and shrimp – try El Camarón on the plaza, or Restaurante Albera, on the east side of the island. If you’re in the area around the end of June you should definitely try to visit the island fiesta, on June 28 and 29, when there are canoe races on the lagoons and rivers; be sure to make a reservation, too. To reach Mexcaltitán from Santiago, catch a combi from the station on Juárez, one block from the plaza (M$20) to La Batanga (taxis are around M$150). The journey takes about 45 minutes and is followed by a fifteen-minute boat ride from La Batanga across the lagoon (M$10).