Fish grilling on outdoor barbeque racks, oysters on the half shell, grilled shrimp, and banana bread stands; these icons of coastal Mexico let you know that you have found San Blas.
The first occasion that San Blas felt the ebb of commerce was in Spanish Colonial days when the forests up stream of the River were clear-cut, the river silted, and the harbor became shallow, too shallow for the ocean-going traders that were sailing to the Philippines and hauling home exotic Asian trade goods. The deep water boats moved south to Acapulco and the San Blas boat building and cargo handling ended. The Longfellow poem, the Bells of San Blas recounts the loss of the square-rig industry for San Blas and its abandoned church, the crumbling bell tower no longer able to support the bells.
San Blas bounced back from the loss of shipping when it developed its shrimp and fishing industry. A huge mangrove estuary extends from San Blas north for a hundred miles to Mazatlan and this is a rich nursery for fish and shrimp. Prosperity came again to San Blas but it was short lived when foreign boats quickly moved in and depleted the shrimp and fish.
Surfing and tourism would next invigorate San Blas but once again that would ebb as the bay silted and the waves no longer produced those record rides.