Saturday, February 7, 2015


January 30, 2015

Knowing that the bus from Barra de Navidad to Puerto Vallarta didn’t leave until 10:40, I had time to go for a run over the steep hill above the marina and through the golf course.  I had always wondered why I never saw a soul on the golf course.  Someone told me that the hotel guests don’t get up early enough to play golf in the morning, so it is busy in the late afternoon instead.  After my run, I ate breakfast and packed my duffle bag, even managing to cram my memory foam pad inside.  Then we took the water taxi across the channel to the town and lugged my belongings clear across Barra to the bus depot.  We were early and the bus was late, so we sat there for the better part of two hours before my bus finally arrived and I said goodbye to Brad.

The bus from Barra was not a first class bus, but it was comfortable enough.  We didn’t actually leave Barra until 11:10.  The route wound inland through non-descript low hills, fields of corn, and orchards of mango trees.  We stopped at numerous seemingly nameless villages and roadside bus shelters.  The bus may not have served well known cities, but it was crowded with passengers traveling from town to town and carrying all kinds of goods.  One man carried two large bundles of brightly colored hammocks.  After about four hours, we came to the intersection of the new road to Yelapa.  The road was surfaced with pavers and stretched off towards the mountains.  We headed further inland before climbing over the mountains and finally joining the coast at Boca de Tomatlan.  It took us quite a while to drive across Puerto Vallarta during rush hour.  By the time we reached the bus terminal, it was 17:30.

Since I wasn’t sure exactly where I was and had a lot of heavy baggage, I elected to take a taxi back to La Cruz, which also allowed me to avoid schlepping my bags up the 134 stairs to my apartment.  I had a nice young taxi driver and he only charged me 230 pesos (about $17) for the ride.  I was tired and didn’t want to move from my apartment that evening, so peeled open an envelope of chilorio (spicy shredded pork) and ate that with tostadas (crispy fried corn tortillas) for dinner.

January 31, 2015

I spent a very pleasant last morning by myself and then hopped on a bus about 13:30 to go meet my cousin, Tiffany, at the airport.  Her plane was slightly delayed so, despite having checked with her to be sure she was actually on the plane and checked with the airport to determine the projected time of landing, I still had to wait for about 45 minutes before Tiffany managed to get her passport stamped and luggage recovered.  We walked across the pedestrian walkway and took a bus completely devoid of shock absorbers back to La Cruz where I introduced Tiffany to my 134 stairs.
The Gathering Clouds Were Spectacular
After getting Tiffany settled in her room, we headed for town.  Our first stop was La Glorieta de Enrique where we celebrated her arrival with margaritas and coconut shrimp.  Then we continued on to the Gecko Rojo for another round of margaritas.  We hung out there until the band started to get noisy.  Then we returned to my place and called it an early evening.

February 1, 2015

Tiffany’s visit gave me an excuse to go to the Gecko Rojo for eggs Benedict and mimosas on Sunday morning.  They had a local fellow singing and playing mellow keyboard who had a lively sense of humor and did numbers such as I Left My Wife in San Francisco.  The eggs were tasty, included a mimosa in the price, and were more reasonable than I expected.  We relaxed there, using the internet (mine wasn’t functioning that morning) for some time and then wandered over to check out the farmers’ market.  Neither of us were big shoppers and the food offerings were weak on Paleo choices, but I did buy some strawberries.  Finally, we stopped at Charlie’s Place to scope out the options for Superbowl parties later and then caught a bus to Mega to get cash for Tiffany and buy groceries.

Rain in Bucerias
While we were in the Mega, it started to pour.  We thought it might pass, so bought cups of coffee and sat in the café, hoping vainly that it would clear.  When it became apparent that we could be stuck there all day, we packed up our groceries and made a run for the bus shelter.  Fortunately, the bus had just arrived so we were able to dash right inside.  I had to stand at first, but we eventually got seats and could watch the rivers of water running down all the side streets.  I was a bit concerned about crossing the arroyo where the water flows across the road, but the bus plowed right through with no trouble.  The rain was lighter when we stepped off the bus in La Cruz, so we managed to get up the hill without getting drenched to the skin.

The idea of going out in the rain to watch the Superbowl didn’t appeal to either of us, so we watched it in Spanish on my television.  (The first time I had watched it since I arrived.)  The trouble with watching the Superbowl in Mexico is that you don’t get to see the wonderful commercials broadcast in the United States.  Since I couldn’t have cared less about the game, I studied languages with my headphones on and just checked on the score now and then.  Later on, I cooked chicken breasts and curried cauliflower and made us a salad.  We enjoyed our dinner and a bottle of wine and then Tiffany hit the hay early while I stayed up, playing the guitar.

February 2, 2015

Rainy Morning in La Cruz
One o’clock in the morning saw both of us standing at the windows, staring in awe at the squall raging outside.  I had to close the windows because the rain was blowing sideways.  Palm trees were thrashing and Tiffany was wondering whether she hadn’t just arrived in the path of a hurricane.  We managed to go back to sleep, but I was awake again by 6:00 because the sound of the rain pouring down on the concrete outside my window was deafening.

We were supposed to have gone out on the Chica Locca for a whale watching booze cruise that day, but it was clear that it was going to be cancelled.  We stayed in a lounged around all day.  About 17:00, I received a Facebook message from my friend, Charlotte from Pegasus, telling me to keep an eye out for her friends, Evan and MaryLou on Windward Star.  She must have messaged us both at the same time because minutes later I heard Evan on the radio, asking the fleet if anyone knew Rene from Fool’s Castle.  I answered his hail and we agreed to meet that evening.
There was a break in the weather when we headed down the hill to meet Even and MaryLou at Philo’s.  We had a drink there and, when the band started up, we relocated to La Cava de Martinez where they had Monday fiesta night with a good mariachi band.  The service was rather terrible because they were packed and seemed to have only one waiter, but the food was delicious as always.  We had fun chatting and listening to the music.  The band had a talented (unlike most in La Cruz) female singer wearing a cute matador costume.  We stayed out until after 22:00 and, unfortunately, the rain resumed.  Everyplace else on the main drag was shuttered by the time we headed home, dashing from overhang to overhang, through the rain.

February 3, 2015

Tiffany had said that she wanted to do nothing but eat, sleep and drink on her vacation and that is pretty much all we did on Tuesday.  It rained most of the day, so we stayed in and did a lot of reading.  I cooked dinner and we drank a bottle of red wine.  It was very relaxing.

February 4, 2015

The Chica Locca
The weather finally cleared on Wednesday and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was still a little cooler than normal, but was a lovely day to go whale watching on the Chica Locca.  We arrived at the boat about 9:30 and left the marina by 10:00.  They immediately served us coffee and juice.  I resisted at first, but caved in when they offered me coffee with Bailey’s.  Once we were underway, they served us fruit and pastries.  We motored out into the bay and headed towards the Marietas Islands, slowing down now and then to watch whales.  

Humpback Whale
Humpback whales come to Banderas Bay to mate and then return to give birth.  We saw many of them.  Never before had I been able to capture any with my camera, but they were so numerous that I managed to get a few decent shots.  Of course it helped that I wasn’t also trying to sail the boat and could concentrate on following their movements with my lens.

Whale Tail
 We arrived at the islands before noon and tied up to a mooring ball.  They turned on the water slide and most of us splashed into the water and swam or paddled about in kayaks or on stand up paddle boards.  The water was clear and warmer than the air.  After an hour or so, they passed out snorkeling gear and a large
group of us swam from the boat, through a cave to a beach on the bottom of a sink hole in the center of the island.  It was warm and sheltered in there and the sight of the sink hole rimmed with bromeliads was otherworldly.  We explored some of the side caves, splashing through the water and climbing over rocks.  I continued on to the coral reef with the boat’s naturalist and saw a few colorful tropical fish before some people began to get cold and wanted to return to the boat.  It was a long swim and, though I had been the first one to the beach, I was ready to relax in the sun and eat lunch by the time we got back.

One of the Marietas Islands
Since Tiffany and I both try to eat Paleo, I had ordered gluten free meals, thinking they were more likely to conform to our diet than any other option.  That turned out to be a good decision because the standard lunch was a very bready chicken sandwich, but we got a lovely salad with slices of chicken breast rolled around peppers and cucumber.  There was an open bar, so we drank margaritas and relaxed.  Once lunch was over, we headed for home, once again stopping to watch whales and dolphins.  They cranked up the music and people started to dance.  There was a group of nurses who must have been taking pole dancing classes because they were quite adept at dancing using the poles supporting the roof of the boat, much to the delight of the all male crew.  We dallied along the shore between Punta de Mita and La Cruz and didn’t return to the marina until nearly 18:00.  It was a wonderful day.
Rocks Off La Cruz

We were exhausted by the time we got home and napped for a little while before heading out for dinner.  I had intended to go to a seafood restaurant next to the highway, but it was closed when we finally got there, so we continued on to Oso’s Oyster Bar and ate shrimp enchiladas and listened to a very talented young Mexican couple playing guitars and singing what were probably original songs.

February 5, 2015

We were a little worse for wear after the previous day of sun and alcohol, so decided to spend another day lounging around the house.  My friends, Jan and Ramona, had arrived in La Cruise with their boat, Jatimo.  They hailed me after the morning net.  At midday I decided I needed to get a little exercise, so I walked down to the marina to see them on my way to the grocery store to stock up on beverages and bacon.  They wanted to come up to see my place, so we agreed that they would come over for drinks when they had finished their boat chores.  I did my shopping and bought us a rotisserie chicken for lunch.

Jan and Ramona Enjoying My View
Tiffany and I spent a quiet afternoon and then Jan and Ramona arrived for happy hour.  We visited for a while and then all went out for fish tacos at the Ballena Blanca.

On our way home, Tiffany became worried about a dog that was standing in the highway and herded her out of traffic and gave her a scratch.  She was a big, goofy dog that looked like she might have been part Great Dane or possibly pit bull.  Apparently, she was desperate for attention because she followed us all the way home.  I didn’t let her in and hoped she would go away.  She whined and barked outside our door for a bit and then seemed to have left.  Around midnight, when I was trying to go to sleep, I noticed that the neighborhood dogs were barking and there seemed to be a lot of commotion downstairs.  I looked out the window and saw “our” dog down in the yard.  People were throwing water at her and trying to chase her away because the resident dogs were barking at her.  She ran up the stairs to our level and, not wanting to disrupt the entire complex, I could think of nothing to do except let her into my apartment.

The dog was very happy to be admitted and made herself right at home.  She headed for the kitchen, stood up, and put her monstrous paws on my counter to see if there was anything up there to eat.  I had to put my trash in the refrigerator.  I cleaned the old leftovers out of the fridge and made her something to eat.  She scarfed the food and then curled up on the couch.  She was rather smelly, so I was thankful she didn’t try to climb in bed with me.

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