Tuesday, March 14, 2017


March 5, 2017

The Walk to Las Palapas
The Banderas Bay Regatta was a lot of fun, but all the participants I spoke with were glad that it hadn’t lasted for more than three days.  Sunday was a nice, relaxing day.  I got up late and then went for brunch at Las Palapas with my housemate, John.  While the day ended up being quite hot, it was breezy on Playa La Manzanilla.  I had some heavenly pancakes and enjoyed listening to the guitarist, Al, who provided background music.  I enjoyed the walk there and back along the beach almost as much as the food.

Kids Taking a Scuba Lesson in Our Pool
When we got back, some of the cruiser children were being certified to scuba dive in our swimming pool.  The one at the marina was not deep enough, so Ulla had consented to let them use ours.  I spent most of the afternoon reading, but did get a little guitar playing in before the music at Anna Banana’s cranked up and made it impossible to hear myself.  Then I applied myself to working on a new drawing of a street scene in Bucerias until the light failed.

March 6, 2017

I got up early, but had been kept up late the night before by music, so just didn’t feel like running.  I read and wrote and almost missed the net.  After the net, I boiled some eggs in the electric kettle because the last batch I had done on the stove never got properly cooked.  It seemed the breeze was carrying away all the heat.  I brought the eggs to a boil and, when the kettle shut off, let them sit for 15 minutes.  They turned out perfectly.

I lounged around the house and went for a swim as it was quite hot.  Geo (formerly of Luna Rumba) and Lobo (a guitarist from San Miguel de Allende) were playing at the Octopus’ Garden that night.  I had meant to get tickets, but never found the opportunity to go to Bucerias to purchase them because of the regatta.  It turned out that my neighbor, Mark, had a couple of extra tickets, so Betty and I purchased those.

Geo and Lobo at the Octopus' Garden
Mark had purchased a whole table’s worth of seats, so we were joined by John and Janice, from Canada, whom Karen had introduced me to when we all went to the San Pancho Music festival.  They were originally friends of Mark’s.  We all ordered barbecued chicken except Mark who just had chocolate cake.  The concert was spectacular.  Geo limited himself to playing the five-string violin and Lobo played the guitar.  Most of the music was flamenco-ish, but there were dashes of arabesque and Celtic in there, too.  The amazing thing was they had not rehearsed together.  They had decided the set list via email, but had practiced separately.  This was not apparent from their performance.  The magic that had been absent from the Duende concert, a couple of weeks prior, was definitely back in operation.  Lobo provided the intensity to match Geo’s and there was no high-tech gadgetry to distract from the music.  Even the LED lighting got turned off because it was causing a hum.  We were all enthralled with their playing.

March 7, 2017

Misty Morning
Tuesday, I got up and ran, since I had wimped out the day before.  There was atmospheric mist hanging between the ranges of mountains and then everything turned golden when the sun cleared the top of the ridge.  I went early and had time to run an extra lap around the breakwater before heading home to shower and listen to the net.

Golden Sunrise

I needed to go into Bucerias to pay the balance owed for our trip to Copper Canyon.  Betty needed to go somewhere else, so I offered to take care of that errand.  First, I stopped at the center of town and went to the post office to mail a postcard to my guitar teacher.  Then I stopped at Little Bee’s to buy some bulk chocolate.  I had bought semi-sweet (or semi-bitter in Spanish) the last time and found it too sweet.  This time I bought “bitter.”  It was still sweeter than the dark chocolate I regularly buy in the United States.

The Mex-ECO Tour Agency in Bucerias
I walked across Bucerias to the other side of the arroyo and then down to Lazaro Cardenas where the tour agency was located.  This allowed me to dodge the souvenir sellers around the bridge.  I paid our bills and tried to get a final itinerary, but was told I would have to wait until the owner got back from her current tour to Copper Canyon.  That mission accomplished, I walked to the far end of the street and up to the Chedraui to pick up a few grocery items not easily found in La Cruz.  Lazaro Cardenas was a pretty street with lots of colorful shops and flowers.  It was also often crowded with Canadi-an tourists.  The clerk at Little Bee’s had been surprised to discover that I was from the USA because their clientele was so overwhelmingly Canadian.

I didn’t need to go to the bank, so crossed the highway and caught a combi back to La Cruz, arriving by noon.  Tuesday was a quiet day at Agave Azul, with no music at Anna Banana’s, so I took advantage of the opportunity to play the guitar and draw.

March 8, 2017

Bucerias Street Scene
Wednesday was another quiet day and I managed to finish my Bucerias street scene.  I had feared it would be too busy, as it had more details than most of my drawings, but I was pleased with the final result.  By the end of the day, I was craving social interaction, so was happy when Betty reminded me that my friends, Jan and Gregg, were having a party that night.

The party was a pot luck, so I saw an opportunity to get rid of some of the food that was piling up in the refrigerator.  Betty made Spanish rice with cheese and I made pasta with Italian sausage.  We spent an hour or so cooking in the kitchen and then trekked across La Cruz, carrying our pots of food.  The communal kitchen did not provide us with much in the way of serving dishes.

Docks for the La Cruz Fishing Fleet
The party was well attended and it was nice to visit with people.  Unfortunately, the band that was supposed to play failed to find an amplifier, so the only music was a very quiet guitarist who played a little hesitant bluegrass.  I was dying to sing, but he never played anything in a key I could manage.  One of the people that I talked to was a Mexican fellow named Pedro who came from one of the original families in La Cruz.  He talked to me because I was one of the few people who could speak Spanish.  From him, I learned that the docks near the fish market where most of the fishermen keep their pangas were a compromise with the developers that built the marina.  The marina provides those docks for the fishermen whose anchorage was occupied by the marina, but only the original families are allowed the privilege of using them. Other Mexicans have to rent a slip like anyone else.  I hung out for a couple of hours, but left fairly early.  It was quiet at home and I managed to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

March 9, 2017

Removing the Roof of the Palapa
Thursday was another relaxing day.  I got up late and spent most of the day catching up on my blog.  The roof of the palapa was being removed and there was banging and hammering going on all day.  There were several wasp nests in the palm fronds and the wasps had to be killed before they could be disturbed. Supposedly, they were an exceptionally venomous species of wasp that could cause blindness if they stung you near the eyes.  I was glad I didn’t know this when I occasionally had one in my shower.

Betty, Mark and I went to the La Cruz Inn for dinner because Betty and I were craving salad.  We ordered Caesar salads with chicken, but were served shrimp instead.  When we mentioned this, they brought us plates of chicken, as well.  The shrimp was actually very good, as was the chicken.  It turned out to be a nice meal.

Cantus Eterna at the Marina La Cruz Amphitheater 
After dinner, we went to the full moon concert at the amphitheater.  Cantus Eterna was playing.  They had drawn the largest crowd I had ever seen at the amphitheater.  Most of the seats were taken and there was a large crowd of standees at the back.  Cantus Eterna played an interesting variety of music spanning the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  The vocalist sometimes sounded as if he couldn’t hear himself and lost the melody, but the instrumentalists were very talented and the drummer was downright phenomenal.  It was a nice gathering.

When the band paused for a break, I left with a couple of friends to go get ice cream.  It was a beautiful evening and we sat in the park and enjoyed our dessert.  I was home by ten, but could clearly hear the music until they quit at eleven.  I just couldn’t get to sleep and lay awake until two in the morning.  I shouldn't have ordered coffee ice cream.

March 10, 2017

After having been up half the night before, I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed to run.  I slept in and didn’t get moving until after the net.  Since it was a slow morning, I made myself pancakes out of bananas and coconut yogurt.  They were delicious.  I took my time drinking my coffee and then practiced the guitar for a bit.  My thumb had gotten whacked by a winch handle on the first day of the races and, while it wasn’t swollen or bruised looking, it was still quite sore.  I could only play for a little while before it started to bother me.  It was probably cracked, but it wasn’t crooked and seemed to bend properly, so I elected not to worry about it.  Any sort of splint would have made it impossible to play at all.

Further Deconstruction of the Palapa
In the early afternoon, I walked up to the tienda on the corner and bought a few groceries.  I didn’t want to buy much, since we were heading to Copper Canyon in a few days, but I needed eggs and bananas.  The deconstruction of the palapa continued and there was debris everywhere, making it somewhat hazardous to negotiate the stairs.  I was glad I was changing rooms the next day because decayed palm fronds were tracked all over my floor.  The Mexican fellow who had removed the roof the previous day brought his wife and son to help.  The boy was about four.  He was dressed like a little cowboy with darling little boots that made a racket when he scampered about the property.  The wife carried all the debris down to the truck while her husband dismantled the framework of the roof.  The replacement roof would not be a palapa and would cover the formerly outdoor bathroom.  The original framework needed to be replaced.

Weather Seminar in the VIP Lounge at Marina La Cruz
At 3:00, I went to the marina for a seminar on tropical weather.  Many boats were planning to make the crossing to the South Pacific in the near future and there were a number of seminars directed at this group.  I was not planning to do the “puddle jump” that year, but attended the seminar to add to my general knowledge as I never knew exactly what I might find myself doing should the opportunity arise.  The previous summer I had suddenly found myself sailing to Hawaii.  I knew that boats waited for a “window,” but didn’t realize that this meant they were waiting for a strong enough north wind to blow them out to where they could pick up the trade winds to take them to the equator. 

It was interesting to look at the satellite images of the moisture gathered about the equator.  Sailors watched the weather and tried to time their crossing for the moment when there was an opening at the longitude where they desired to cross in order to arrive at their destination without sailing far out of their way.  Models were helpful but, of course, it was difficult to access the internet while in the middle of the Pacific.  For a fee, professional weather routers could offer advice via satellite phone.  Do it yourselfers could obtain weather information over single sideband radio and attempt to plot the activity on a paper chart, arriving at their own conclusions about where best to sail.  On our crossing to Hawaii, we had watched the progress of a hurricane very carefully, wanting to avoid it, but not sail too far out of our way.  We had timed it beautifully and followed the hurricane straight to our landfall.  A mistake could have been dreadful.

Betty and I went to the Ballena Blanca for dinner, where we met up with our friend, Gene, and his two little dogs.  It took quite a while to get our food and, by the time we had eaten, the band was already playing and I was late for movie night.  Betty decided to stay, but I headed out to the amphitheater to see what I could of Irrational Man with Joaquin Phoenix.  I ran into friends and had a good time, but it was a strange film about a philosophy professor who murders someone.  I guess it cut a little close to home, since I had been a philosophy major and one of my professors actually murdered his girlfriend’s ex-husband shortly after I graduated.

I was surprised to see Betty still at the Ballena Blanca as I passed on my way home.  The band, The Breeze, sounded good, so I stopped in for a last beer.  One of the crew members from Wings joined us and we danced a little.  I stayed until nearly eleven.  It was the latest I had stayed out all season.

March 11-12, 2017

Cloudy Morning
It was still cool and overcast when I woke up on Saturday morning.  The sunrise was almost completely obscured by the clouds and only the slightest tint of pink was visible.  I ran for 3.5 miles along the outside of the marina and appreciated the coolness.

Saturday was moving day, again, for me. Guests requiring two beds were arriving that afternoon, so I was being relegated to the downstairs room where I had stayed the previous year.  The room was dark and the toilet leaked, but at least I had a place to stay and I would be gone for a week on my trip to Copper Canyon, anyway.  The price was right.  On a more positive note, a screen had been installed between the door and the light left on at night.  The previous year, that light had kept me awake.
Yet Another New Room

I unpacked my belongings and got organized.  There was no electrical outlet in the bathroom, so I had to put my electric toothbrush on the table in my room.  The room was dark and, with no sunshine outside, rather cool.  I spent the afternoon and evening reading and had to put on long pants and crawl under a blanket.  I had become a weather wimp and was not looking forward to the cool weather on my trip to Copper Canyon.  At least we would be staying in climate controlled, fancy hotels.

The full moon kept me awake on Saturday night.  I kept hearing crunching sounds like an animal eating kibble.  I looked outside a couple of times, suspecting iguanas, but saw nothing.  About 1:00 in the morning, I wandered out to the kitchen for a snack and surprised a cat.  Unfortunately, he or she was not friendly and dashed away upon sighting me.  I missed my kitty.

I slept late on Sunday and decided not to go out for brunch.  I boiled some eggs in the electric kettle and made myself a mango smoothie.  It was afternoon before I knew it.  I practiced the guitar, ate some leftover pasta for lunch, read a bit, and then sat down to write.  I relished such open days when I was at home but, after a long stretch of them, I was almost bored.  I decided it was time to start another drawing.  Unfortunately, as there was no good lighting anywhere on the property, the hours when I could see well enough to draw or read music were quite limited.  I started work on a moody picture of fisherman surrounded by gulls on a foggy morning.  Finally, it grew too dark to draw.

Neither Betty nor I was very hungry, but I wanted to get out of the house.  I eventually convinced Betty to sally out.  I wanted a taco or two and she wanted a piece of chocolate cake.  Cake was a big deal in La Cruz.  Michael, the baker, provided cakes to several restaurants in La Cruz.  He made carrot, chocolate, and limoncello cakes.  I was not a big fan of cake, but I had formerly been fond of his carrot cake.  In 2017, he had changed his recipe and the carrot cake had thick layers of caramel and walnuts between the now thinner layers of cake.  Since I didn’t really like walnuts and mostly liked the carrot cake for the slightly sour cream cheese frosting, this ruined it for me.  I usually avoided chocolate cake and had been disappointed in the limoncello.  I was mostly immune to the draw of Michael’s cakes and preferred ice cream.

Still, we went in search of a restaurant that served both tacos and cake.  We walked up to the Octopus’ garden, but they were closed, as was the Tree of Life.  Neither of us wanted to listen to bad country music at the former Philo’s, but Betty bought a piece of cake to go and we stopped at the “Red Chairs” taco joint.  Our housemate, Grant, happened along and joined us.  I ate a couple of tacos and we enjoyed a relaxing hour sitting on the street and chatting with the passers by.  Betty bought some grapes from a Mexican farmer who had driven 800 kilometers to sell his produce at the Sunday market and was trying to dispose of the leftovers.  The cruisers at the adjoining table invited him to join them and we all chatted.

I was quite tired when we got back, but was unable to sleep.  There was music at Anna’s, but it was really just my own restlessness that kept me awake.  At 1:00, the sports bar across the street cranked up the music, but they shut it down at 2:00 when they must have closed.  I noticed that their music always seemed to stop at 2:00 on the dot.  I finally slept at some point after that.

March 13, 2017

I awoke at 6:30 and was so disoriented by the darkness in my new room that I mistook the street side window for the one at the foot of my bed, rotated 90 degrees, and fell backwards out of bed onto the tile floor.  That jolt dislodged any intention I might have had of going for a run and I crawled back in bed and slept soundly until just before the net.  I didn’t get out of bed until the net finished at 9:00.

Mobile Phone Hospital in Bucerias
I whiled away the morning playing the guitar and then Betty and I decided to go to Bucerias and Mezcales to do some errands and buy bus tickets for our trip to Guadalajara.  Betty needed to take her tablet to the repair shop, so we stopped there first.  Cell phone and computer repair was common and reasonable in Mexico.  What would result in replacement in the USA could often be accomplished for a couple of hundred pesos (about $10) while you waited.  Betty elected to leave her tablet and they told her it would be ready by 4:00.  That accomplished, we walked across Bucerias to the bank, stopping at Little Bee’s to buy some cocoa powder and chocolate for our friend, Shanti.  I withdrew some cash for our trip and then we caught a bus to Mezcales where the Primera Plus bus station was located.

An elevated highway was under construction in downtown Mezcales, making it difficult to see the opposite side of the highway where I knew the bus station was located.  Mostly by instinct, we got off the bus within a block of the station, since I didn’t actually see it until we had crossed the road.  It turned out to be at the intersection of the main road in downtown Mezcales, a useful landmark.  Buying tickets was quick and easy in person.  I had tried to do it online, since they offered a 10% discount for online purchases, but the website didn’t accept foreign credit cards.  We paid cash and were rewarded for our trouble with the two front seats which had not been available online.

Interesting Political Commentary
We took a combi back to Bucerias where Betty wanted to get a pedicure.  I decided to stay and keep her company so that we could go for an early dinner in Bucerias. I was feeling the need for a change.  It took a couple of hours for Betty to get her toes done and I chatted with a Canadian tourist who was getting a manicure.  It was nearly 5:00 by the time we left and we still had to reclaim Betty’s tablet from the repair shop.  We walked along Lazaro Cardenas and then ran the gauntlet of souvenir sellers clustered around the bridge over the arroyo to get to the far side of town.  Betty’s tablet was ready and I picked up a charger cord to replace the one I had that was taking longer than usual to charge my phone.  Then we walked back across Bucerias to Karen’s Beach Restaurant where we planned to eat dinner.  We walked over five miles between all of our errands.

Karen’s was a lovely restaurant located between the swimming pool of a modern condo complex and the beach.  The condo complex had provided palapas and chaise lounges for its residents and they added some color to the view.  We could see from Punta Mita to Nueva Vallarta.  Our housemate,
Karen's Beach Restaurant
Mark, had told us they had good fillet Mignon.  Betty could never resist pork ribs, so she ordered those.  I ordered “El Trio,” which consisted of a small fillet with red wine sauce, a piece of mahi mahi in a while wine sauce, and one coconut shrimp with a dab of tamarind sauce.  The presentation of the food and the setting on the restaurant’s deck were beautiful.  While it was a little pricey for Mexico, my meal only cost 255 pesos or about thirteen dollars.  The fish and steak were exceptional.  Unfortunately, the coconut shrimp wasn’t nearly as good as the ones I had eaten at Buz’s in La Cruz.  I was spoiled.

Despite our plans to have an early dinner, it was full dark by the time we left.  We waited in the arroyo for quite some time before a combi arrived to take us back to La Cruz.  It was 8:30 before we got home and I had missed the opportunity of getting my leaky toilet repaired that night.  I read for the rest of the evening and was thankfully asleep before midnight.

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