Monday, December 9, 2013


Leon Wearing a Shirt with His Image
We returned to La Cruz around noon on Monday.  I spent the afternoon cleaning and oiling the teak on the aft deck.  Tuesday, Scott took the generator apart and came to the conclusion that the rings weren’t bad, but it needed a valve job.  I spent the day cleaning and oiling the teak in the cockpit and on the cabin top.

Funy Bones Benefit at YaYa's Cafe
Tuesday night, there was a benefit at YaYa’s Café to raise money to bring a free spay and neuter clininc to La Cruz for long enough to sterilize 200 dogs and cats.  It seemed every gringo in La Cruz was there.  It was a big party.  There were pozole and several kinds of tacos to eat.  A number of very talented musical acts played Spanish guitar.  My favorite was Geo and Cheko, a white guy who played both guitar and wild violin and a local guy from the band Luna Rumba.  They had met at a guitar festival in Zihuatanejo.   There were silent and live auctions and some fairly lame comedy.  They roasted one of the old time gringo residents.  Lots of alcohol was consumed. They raised enough money to pay for the free spay and neuter clinic for an extra week.  Homeless dogs are a problem in La Cruz and some Canadian women have started a dog rescue organization and were behind this benefit.  They are starting an educational campaign to convince the local men that neutering their dogs won’t make them sissy.  We have a dog named Suave on our dock who is very happy just being a dock dog.  She is a nice, attractive dog and a couple of people have tried to adopt her, but she always comes back to the marina.

We had run into Mike, from PV Sailing, at the party and he had given Scott a recommendation for a machine shop.  Scott went over there Wednesday morning to get directions and returned with the location marked on a map.  Since the head from the generator and exhaust manifold were heavy, we took a taxi to a suburb of Puerto Vallarta called El Pittilal, where we had been told we could find the Gonzalez Machine Shop.  The mark on the map showed the shop at the corner of Hidalgo and Independencia in El Pittilal, but when we arrived there (after struggling with one way streets for 10 minutes), it was nowhere to be found.  Our talkative taxi driver, Ezeqiel, asked someone who said there was a shop that repaired generators around the corner.  I was fairly sure it wasn’t the place, since we were looking for a machine shop, but we went in the hope that he would know of the Gonzalez Machine Shop (or Taller Gonzalez in this case.)

The generator guy was very friendly and got a good laugh out of our directions.  Taller Gonzalez had moved recently and I guess Mike hadn’t been there yet.  It wasn’t on the corner of Calle Hidalgo and Calle Independencia in El Pittilal.  It was on Calle Hidalgo in the colonia of Indendencia.  We were in the wrong town.  Fortunately, Ezequiel lived in Colonia Independencia and knew the way.  We arrived without further incident.  They took a look at our ancient parts and said they could repair them.  They asked us to call the next day for a price.

Puerto Vallarta
We had been resisting getting a Mexican phone, but I finally decided to cave in and get one.  We took the bus to Puerto Vallarta and went to the Telcel store in the Galleria Vallarta.  For 299 pesos (about $23) I got a cheap cell phone with 100 minutes.  We ate some lunch and did some more shopping in Puerto Vallarta and then took another bus back to La Cruz.  It was pretty late by the time we got home and later still by the time we finished barbecuing some steak strips, which we ate with salad and freshly cooked tortillas.

My big mission for Thursday was to call the machine shop and get the scoop on our generator.  Making phone calls in foreign languages is always stressful for me, but it went OK.  Their price for performing a valve job, cleaning everything, welding our decaying exhaust manifold and delivering it to us was 3500 pesos (<$300.)  Our machine shop in the U.S. would have laughed at us and told us to buy a new generator.  The valve job on my engine at home cost $1000.  It is refreshing to be in a place where people fix things instead of throwing them away.  They are very good at it.

I had cleaned the teak on the foredeck on Wednesday and oiled about half of it on Thursday before I had to go out to get pesos for the machine shop.   We walked out to the ATM at the OXXO on the edge of town and then made our way back from hardware store to hardware store, looking for a fitting to attach a garden hose to a kitchen sink, which would enable us to run water out of the forward tank fed by the water maker and into the aft tank.  So far, we have not found one, but I am getting good at describing plumbing fittings in Spanish.

The Gecko Rojo
I got up early on Friday and ran twice around the marina, which is about four miles.  We waited around Friday morning for the generator head to be delivered.  I finished oiling the foredeck.  They didn’t show up in the morning, as promised, but they did arrive about 2:30 and they had done a great job and even brought us some gasket material so that we could cut new gaskets for the ones that were too far gone to reuse.  Scott and I had intended to go to the Gecko Rojo for the Mexican train happy hour, but I went to Nuevo Vallarta to go to the bank and didn’t get back in time.  I did meet Scott at the Gecko Rojo, but he was jawing with the guys at the bar instead of playing.  I had Kalua pork in the oven, so we went home for dinner right after happy hour.

Beach in Bucerias
Saturday, we went on a quest for new nuts and bolts to reassemble the generator.  First, we went to Ferre D’ Todo, the big hardware store in Bucerias.  They were very helpful, but didn’t have what we needed in the way of bolts or the elusive adaptor for our sink.  While we were in Bucerias, I decided it was time to check out the town, instead of simply passing through it on the highway.  It is not very attractive from the highway, but is actually quite a pleasant little town.  There is a plaza near the beach and lots of market stalls and restaurants.  The beach is quite nice and there are palapa bars on the sand and waterfront seafood restaurants.  There are a lot of Canadians living there, too.

The hardware store in Bucerias sent us to another store in Mezcales.  We got back on the bus and headed out that way, but we got off one signal too soon and, after searching in vain through hardware and plumbing stores, ended up walking a couple of miles to the correct place.  It was worth the trip, however.  We found the mother lode of bolts.  There is a store in Mezcales that sells nothing but “tornillos.”  They even speak passable English.  Scott was in heaven.  They had everything we needed for the generator at great prices.  I cannot recommend them highly enough if you find yourself in the Puerto Vallarta area and need any kind of special bolt.  They are two lights east of the Mega, on the frontage road.  There is a giant bolt out in front of the store and a sign that says, “Tornillos.”  There is also a pretty good plumbing store next door, but they didn’t have our adaptor, either.

Sunday Market in the Plaza
La Cruz Farmer's Market
I got up early Sunday morning and went to clubhouse to use the internet.  While there, I chatted with a fellow who told me that there was a market in the plaza, as well as the farmer’s market, on Sunday mornings.  He recommended the tamale vendor in the park.  I went over there and bought some tamales, as well as some almonds.  The almonds were still expensive, but they were nice ones and I felt better giving my money to a vendor than to Walmart.  Then I continued around the marina to the farmer’s market.  What a spectacle!  There wasn’t much produce, but there was every other type of gourmet food and an equal number of stalls offering trinkets and artwork.  The market covered the entire breakwater and wrapped around the malecon, past the fish market.  I bought radishes from one vendor, lettuce from another, and peppers and avocadoes from a gentleman who was so insistant that I buy tomatoes (I didn’t need them.) that he ended up giving me one.  I also bought Scott a loaf of French bread to assuage his disappointment at having missed the French baker in Punta de Mita.

There was a music festival in Bucerias on Sunday afternoon/evening and, since Scott was being a stick in the mud, I went by myself after I finished oiling the teak on the foredeck.  I took the bus over there and, even though I got there a little late, the festival didn’t start for another hour after I got there.  I took a walk around the town.  I had intended to take pictures, but my camera batteries died.  I found a nice spot in the shade and chatted with some Canadians until the music started.  The first band was Tatawari.  They played traditional flamenco.  I really enjoyed them and was disappointed that they only played a short set.  The local mariachis realized they were going to have a slow day, so even they stopped to listen. Tatawari was followed by a Bolivian group featuring a flute and then a Bossa Nova group.  I lost interest when an Argentinian fellow was playing tango on his guitar.  Tango just isn’t tango without dancing and the crowd started to disperse.  I got up and went for a walk through the market stalls.

I bought a shift dress from a fellow named Abel and then we chatted for a while.  He told me that he had worked in San Francisco during the early 80’s.  He was doing well, working as a prep cook in a waterfront restaurant.  He used to take leftover food to the newly arrived Mexican men who hung out at Aquatic Park.  Some of them, as he put it, were “bad people.”  They would sell the food and buy alcohol.  One night, as he was bringing them food, the police came and rounded them up for drinking in public.  Abel was deported along with them and lost all the clothing and gifts he had collected over two years that he had planned to take home.  When they deported him, they sent him across the border in Texas, to make it harder for him to come back.  He took the hint and stayed in Mexico.

When I got back to the plaza, there was a really good jazz combo playing.  I hooked up with Jan and Ramona, some fellow HaHaers that I met playing Mexican train.  We danced for a bit and then sat down when a group from Vera Cruz, featuring a harpist, took the stage.  An African drum and dance troupe from Bucerias followed and then two sisters and a brother from Denmark who played traditional music from the Vera Cruz area on a variety of small stringed instruments that looked like ukuleles, but weren’t.  They were very good, but it was strange to hear that music coming out of those tall, blonde kids.  By this time, it was past the hour when the festival was supposed to end, but I refused to leave until Luna Rumba played.  Luna Rumba is Cheko’s band and he had organized the festival.  I guess they were ready to go home, because they only played a couple of numbers, even though the crowd was chanting, “Otra, otra.”  (Encore.)  We were really ready to go, but couldn’t tear ourselves away from the next dance troupe that took the stage.  First, there were three incredibly fit young men with tribal designs painted on their torsos who performed all kinds of athletic acrobatics.  I never knew there were so many ways to do flips.  They performed all these moves over bare concrete, too.  Their female counterparts were dressed in elaborate, skimpy, feathered carnaval costumes.  They danced in high heels that I couldn’t have worn from the car into the house.  They didn’t do flips, but none of the men in the audience cared one bit.  We finally left after that act and took the bus back to La Cruz.  It is a much quicker trip at 10 pm than it is during the day.


  1. Still living vicariously and enjoying the memories your blog evokes.
    Suffered a vicious sprain to my left ankle/foot and have been "on ice" for 3 weeks. I'm told I have another couple of months to go before it's completely healed, but expect to be ready for cruise through the Canal in the Spring.
    Love, Seagypsy

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