IT'S hard to believe the tranquil Mexican surfing village of La Ticla has a dark history of violence that it's still finding difficult to shake.
Every year this small beachside village relies on surfers and tourists to help support what little economy it has.
But, unfortunately, the numbers are continuing to dwindle because many people are still afraid to visit.
They have been scared away by stories of clashes between indigenous farmers and the Mexican government.
The locals were fighting for their right to retain their land - a cause they felt passionate enough about they were willing to go to war for it.
Crisaheila Santos Cerano, who was born and raised in the community, explained it started when the villagers blocked the road so government workers were unable to enter.
"The fighting started over at Placeta - where the people took over a small parcel of their land and stood for their rights," Crisaheila said, nodding sadly.
"The men were protecting our land, our kids and their wives - so everyone was armed and ready to fight. But it scared a lot of people away…"
Aside from New Year's Eve and Easter, the majority of the time the camp now remains virtually deserted.
Empty two-storey cabanas line the lonely beachfront, while the few local restaurants in town sit vacant.
Out the front, perfect waves roll past the small bluff. Despite the near-perfect conditions, there are few surfers out.
This is a problem because, while local families are able to cultivate their land to feed themselves, they still rely on some outside income to buy essential items they are unable to grow.
"We mostly farm papaya and corn," Crisaheila said.
"We have a weekly pay cheque, and make our money from visitors."
One foreigner who has been travelling to La Ticla on a regular basis for over 12 years is Jonathon Reid, from Texas.
He believes that less people are visiting the area from the US because they are scared about drug and gang- related violence.
"I mean, there are definitely some drug traffickers in this area - you can see them getting around with their walkie talkies on their belts - but they won't generally bug any of the tourists," he said.
It's hard to imagine any violence at all in La Ticla.
Tall mountains provide an almost surreal backdrop to long, vacant beaches that are lined with clusters of tropical palm trees.
These mountains, however, also manage to arouse fear in some wary travellers.
There are many popular stories of banditos coming down from the altitude to slash open the tents of campers and steal their possessions - including their money.
But it is hard to meet anyone who is able to confirm any of these stories from first-hand experience.
Mathiew Levesque, a French-Canadian who has been visiting La Ticla regularly for the past seven years, says he's never had anything stolen.
"I've never even heard first-hand experiences of anyone getting robbed or anything stolen," he said.
Mathiew, however, has not always felt that way. Initially, it took him quite some time to trust the villagers.
"When we first started coming here, we tested the locals a bit - like the little kids," Mathiew said.
"We'd leave some change out on the tables when they were coming around selling their papayas, but they never took any of it."
Indeed, all the locals are kind and honest.
Unfortunately, however, it is harder for them to spread this message than ones to do with violence and robberies.
And it's costing the town's people.
Throughout the village there are stores and restaurants that have closed down - their old signs rotting under the hot Mexican sun.
What the locals would like, however, is for people to spread the word about how life has settled back to its former tranquil ways and remove the stigma of violence attached to their town.
- Located along the central coast of the Mexican coastline, this area is considered an Indigenous reserve.
- The population of La Ticla is roughly 500 people.
- It is also an ecologically protected area because of the large turtle population that lives there. Year-round projects are run by different organisation to help protect this hunted animal.
- Primarily a surfing beach, the area attracts year-round swells.
- Locals estimate that at least 50% of their economy comes from surfers and tourists.
- The wave is suited to intermediate, advanced or expert surfers.
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