Wednesday, December 10, 2014


December 2, 2014

I had been very disappointed to discover that the CrossFit gym in Bucerias had closed.  I was determined to come back in at least as good shape as I had been when I left.  Having slacked off during my time on the boat, I now began my days with an ever increasing number of pushups, situps and air squats.

My first missions for the day were to drop off my laundry and get my hair cut.  I had seen a hair salon over on Huachinango (Red Snapper) Street, so headed in that direction.  There was a gringo gentleman in line ahead of me.  The hairstylist cut his hair with clippers and then proceeded to clip short his beard and all the hair on his upper body.  I had never seen anybody do that before, but it made sense in the warm climate.  For 80 pesos (<$6) I got a nice haircut.  It was the most I had ever paid for a haircut in Mexico, but still only a fraction of what I paid in the USA.  I could have had my hair cut for 40 pesos if I had been willing to do it at someone’s kitchen table, but I elected to splurge on the salon.

After completing my errands in town, I took the bus to the Mega to replenish my groceries.  This time, I managed not to buy more than I could carry.  I took a big bus home so as to have room for my purchases and then carried the whole load up the hill.  The hardest part of climbing the hill was not slipping out of my sweaty flip flops.  Coming down, the trick was not to slip on the smooth cobblestones or trip on the uneven surface.  I was getting quite good at hauling heavy loads up the hill without missing a beat.

It was 15:00 by the time I got home.  I put my groceries away, ate some lunch, and relaxed until 17:30 when I had to go down the hill to buy a ticket for the following night’s Amigos de La Cruz fundraiser and pick up my laundry.  After ascending the hill with yet another heavy load, I mixed myself a drink and cooked beef in green mole over Spanish rice for dinner.  It was late by the time I finished my meal and I had just enough time to catch up on my correspondence and watch an episode of The Walking Dead before it was time to hit the hay.

December 3, 2014

Wednesday was my day to catch up on my blog and I spent most of the day writing and uploading photos.  Before I knew it, it was time to head down to the Gecko Rojo for Mexican Train dominoes.  It was a particularly lively session but, after I finally won a game and raked in my pesos, I had to tear myself away to head up to the Amigos de La Cruz fundraiser at Roberto’s Xocolatl, the restaurant below my apartment.  The Amigos de La Cruz is an organization dedicated to the improvement of La Cruz and assistance to its citizens.  They provide recycling services and trash cans, beautify the streets and public facilities and assist citizens with medical care and school supplies.  I figured it would be a good way to meet people and find out what was going on around town.

Another reason I wanted to go to the party was that Tatewari (a flamenco band) was supposed to play at 19:00.  I got there about 19:00, but they had started early and their set was almost over.  The place was packed and it was difficult to find a seat.  I stood in line for 15 minutes, trying to get a drink before I sat down, but finally gave up because the bartender was only fulfilling orders for the waiters.  They brought out another table and I grabbed an empty seat there, since I at least knew the girls from the marina office who were sitting there.  The rest of the people at the table turned out to be cruisers from Sunday Morning and Giddy Up.  One of them even had a spare glass of wine, so things worked out well.  It was a bit too noisy to talk much, but we enjoyed the music and, when we were finally called to the buffet, the chicken and marlin fajitas were excellent.  The restaurant had a nice view (not quite as nice as mine) and a pleasant atmosphere.  After Tatewari finished playing, Bryan Savage took over.  Bryan Savage is an excellent saxophone player who has toured with every big name who ever needed a sax.  I am not a fan of jazz, but had long admired his playing and really enjoyed his set.  Not only did he play the saxophone, but he also played a mean flute and performed some Jethro Tull.  When the party died down, I climbed up the hill to my apartment and sat listening to the music, which I could hear clearly through the open window.

December 4, 2014

I finally felt well enough to get up and run.  I ran down the hill, through the town, along the malecon to the red light and then back up the hill to my place.  Running up the steep hill to my apartment after a two mile run was a challenge, but I made it without having to walk.  It was only slightly more difficult than walking up the hill with a load of groceries.

Improvised Chile Rellenos
After I cleaned up, ate breakfast, and took care of my morning correspondence, I walked back into town to pick up a few groceries because I had invited Don over for dinner.  Back at my place, I relaxed for a little while and then set about roasting and peeling poblano chiles to make chile rellenos.  I did not have an egg beater or an oven, so I had to improvise.  I learned that one cannot beat egg whites in a blender and that doing so with a fork was only somewhat successful.  I had just fried the chiles in my watery egg batter when Don arrived a bit early.  I drenched them in spicy enchilada sauce and heated them on the stove while I made a salad and fried up some turkey pupusas.  Don brought coffee ice cream for dessert and we had a satisfying dinner.

Secret Pathway to My Apartment
After dinner, we were leaving to return to the marina for movie night when I finally ran into my neighbors who were lounging on the front porch.  We met Dave and Lisa and their dog (also named Dave) who live to the left of me and Paul who lives downstairs.  Paul let me in on the secret path leading down the back stairs and through Roberto’s to the highway.  It was definitely shorter and, while one section was rather precarious, probably not any more hazardous than walking up steep cobblestones.  Don stopped at the grocery store, but I continued on to the marina to watch Captain Phillips, which I had seen (but not heard) on a bus somewhere in Columbia.  It was much more enjoyable with sound and there was a big crowd.

December 5, 2014

I got up rather late, but still found time for pushups, situps and air squats before the net came on.  After the net and breakfast, I headed out to get a second key made for my guests and to buy water.  I managed to find the locksmith that I had once seen on Calle Huachinango, but the place was deserted.  I walked back up through the town and started along the highway in search of a hardware store where I might get a key made.  I hadn’t gone far when I ran into Jen and Greg coming out of the vet’s with their two dogs.  I chatted with them for a few minutes and they told me where I could find a locksmith nearby.  The locksmith was practically next door to the convenience store where I planned to buy water.  He made me a key for a measly 15 pesos (about $1.10.)  I picked up two six liter bottles of water at the store and climbed the long flights of stair up to my aerie.

Not long after I returned home, I got a call from Carlos to tell me that he had finished with the passport office in Guadalajara (still no passport, but was finally promised one next week after almost 2 years) and was headed for the bus station to make his way here.  I found it interesting that the person most eager to visit me was only coming from Cabo San Lucas.  Neither Don nor I could convince any of our friends to come before the holidays were over, although I did have three visitors scheduled for late January and February. 

I went down to the Gecko Rojo for happy hour and then returned just in time for a barbecue with my neighbors.  I had suddenly realized that I was leaving soon and had a fridge full of food.  I shared my leftover chile rellenos with them and whipped up some bacon slaw to share.  I met the couple next door and another fellow who lives below me.  I asked Dave and Lisa, next door, how they managed the gnats, since all their windows were open and the floor was not littered with gnat corpses.  They told me they weren’t a problem if you didn’t keep fruit around.  I put my fruit bowl in the refrigerator and never had another problem with gnats.  It was a welcome relief to be able to open the windows again.  I get a nice breeze most of the time, but had been trying to do without opening the windows so that I didn’t need to sweep constantly.

Carlos and Zit Zin
The bus from Guadalajara dropped Carlos and his girlfriend, Zit Zin, off at the turnoff for La Cruz.  This saved them from going all the way to Mezcales, but it was too late for them to find a bus or cab.  They walked most of the way here before getting a ride in the back of a pickup truck.  I went down to meet them and show them the way up the hill.  It was nearly midnight by the time we got back and they had had a long day, so we didn’t get to visit much before it was time to go to bed.

December 6, 2014

We got up in time to listen to the morning net.  Carlos really wanted to see his friends on Emerald Lady, but they didn’t answer the radio, so he figured they were sleeping in late.  We decided to go out to breakfast before dropping in on them.  Carlos remembered a place he liked for breakfast, but they were closed so we ate at a café near the entrance to the marina.  I had eggs and sausage, which turned out to be eggs and hot dog bites, but it was nice to sit and drink coffee in the morning sun and hang out with the kids.  After breakfast, we went in search of Emerald Lady.

Carlos & Zit Zin Dancing in My Apartment
We knew Emerald Lady was in the marina, but security couldn’t locate them on their list until Carlos mentioned that it was the boat with the girl with blue hair and then the guard knew who they were, right away.  We found them way on the outside of the marina and spent several hours chatting with them and relaxing in their cockpit.  Finally, we decided to have a little dinner party up at my house, later.  Carlos, Zit Zin and I left to go to the butcher and the grocery store and then went home to relax and start cooking.  I called Don on the radio to invite him and he told me that my friend, Perry from Felicita, had just arrived.  I invited him, too.  With John, Kelly, and blue haired daughter Rachel from Emerald Lady, that made eight for dinner. 

Dinner Party at My Place
Cooking for a crowd on a small stove without an oven and no decent pots, pans or bowls was a challenge.  We settled on beef fajitas with chips and guacamole, bacon slaw and a jicama mango salad.  I sliced and diced everything before people got there, so just had to cook things once my guests showed up.  We had a really nice party.  It was as if we were a big extended family related through Carlos.  Most of the food got eaten, which really helped to clean out my refrigerator.  We finished dinner just in time to head down to the beach for a full moon bonfire.  We almost forgot to eat the ice cream that Don and Perry had brought, but we hesitated long enough to absorb that.  It was a beautiful night on the beach and many people from the marina came out to enjoy the bonfire.  Mike from PV Sailing had set up speakers and we enjoyed his music until the neighboring beach club drowned it out with their own and we just had to listen to that.  By the time we said our goodbyes and walked back up the hill, we were all tired and satisfied from spending a pleasant day together.

December 7, 2014

Sunrise Over Banderas Bay
Carlos and Zit Zin had a reservation at the nearby Riu for three nights of all inclusive fun.  Check in time was 11:00, so we had a relaxing morning drinking coffee and munching a pound cake that Carlos had brought.  I lounged around a bit after they left, catching up on my email and Facebook.  Then I set off for Nueva Vallarta to go to the bank.  On the way, I stopped by the taxi stand and made a reservation for a cab to pick me up at 4:30 the next morning.  My reservation was written on a tiny chalk board mounted on a column and I admit I had my reservations about whether or not a cab would actually appear.  I figured I could trot down to the marina and have security call one if I got desperate.

My bank was at the mall, so I ate bad Chinese food in the food court for lunch.  There was so much breading on the sweet and sour chicken that each piece resembled a bao (pork bun.)  The prawn was likewise enveloped in dough, more closely resembling a corn dog than a fried shrimp.  After lunch, I bought some more minutes for my Mexican phone and found a store that actually sold bras in my size, but was dismayed to discover that one is not allowed to try on bras or bathing suits in Mexico.  I got lucky, but wouldn’t risk it with an expensive bathing suit.

After returning home, I started packing for my trip to Chiapas the following day and worked on my blog.  At 18:10, I was heating up the sauce to pour over the torta ahogada that Carlos had left me when I ran across Perry’s card and remembered that we were supposed to have met for dinner at 18:00.  Fortunately, we had agreed to bring our radios in case he got lost, so I was able to call him and let him know I was on the way.  Perry wanted to pick my brain about the trip south, as he was headed for Panama.  We ate dinner at the Cava Martinez, a nice restaurant on a side street in La Cruz that I had wanted to try.  I had shrimp enchiladas in salsa verde and they were excellent.  After dinner, we stopped by the Gecko Rojo for a beer, but didn’t stay long because I had packing to do.  We had entertained the idea of my crewing for Perry at some point because he was single-handing, but it didn’t look like the timing would work.  We parted and wished each other safe travels.  I trooped back up the hill to finish packing and try to catch a few hours of sleep before rising at 3:45 to catch my plane.

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