Bahai de Banderas - the beginning

Monday, December 1, 2014
Hot Sunny
Mileage 531 242 km
Last night we stayed at June's B&B

Awesomeness: The house lost some of its awesome factor when we found out about the murder.

This was our day to leave the home with great Mexican touches for the Puerto Vallarta area. I felt kind of obsessed by the odd new we had been given the day before about the house and what had happened there. Like I said before, glad we did not know about this misfortune sooner, especially not on November 29. We made sure to take out the garbage, strip the bed, clean out the fridge and do some light cleaning before leaving. Ken e-mail the house owner of our departure and off we went.

I really love the Lakeside area and felt a bit sad at leaving even though we are both happy to be returning to the PV area. I just had to sit in the car and take in the scenery, which was lovely. First we drove through farming country. The drive through farming country showed us a more wealthy side of Mexico, or what appeared to be anyway. We saw big storage facilities for corn, sugar cane etc. and big farm machinery. It was very Saskatchewan esk. The road was mostly two lane but was not that busy. There were high grasses growing on both sides of the road. At one point we saw cows in the road just wondering around. They did not appear that afraid of us or our vehicle.

Once we came to the mountains the road became very curvy. Mini rock slides were evident on the road (some not so mini bit huge). We did stopped for a quick home made sandwich of cheese, avocado and buns just off the road at an OXXO. We drove on to Mascota were we stopped to stroll around. We stayed here overnight last year. This year we were off on an earlier start and figured we could make it to PV before dark. Mascota is a lovely place with an interesting, well groomed town square. The towns people are working on a renovation of the big church and the rest of centro. They appear to take pride in their lovely town.

Mascota, Jal. town square

The rest of the trip was extremely mountainous, curvy and very scenic. After sitting all day it was difficult to continue doing so. Somehow we managed to until PV. We drove into Tachos RV Park that we stayed at last year. We picked a spot that was taken last year. In fact, there were many of spots left. The Park was under new management. It was extremely well groomed from last year.

We walked to the big mall by Walmart and found ourselves a delicous, nutritious supper of salad. We were happy to be back in Puerto Vallarta with the warm air at night, anxious to go explore downtown tomorrow.

Gallerias Vallarta Mall all dressed up for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Tacho RV and Trailer Park - Puerto

Awesomeness: All the RV sites were well groomed by a gardener. It looked so much better. It was under new management.

We were off and running relatively early for us. It was not as easy to get ready due to the fact that we were back camping. The bathrooms here are clean and well appointed with virtually no one using them.

We can catch a bus into town right from just outside the gate from Tachos. The bus has not gone up in price since last year and is still only 7.5 pesos per person, per ride. 

We see the big Sheraton Hotel and disembark. We go into the hotel's exterior breakfast restaurant outside by the Ocean. Beautiful! The Grackles amused us by stealing either sugar or Splenda packets. These amusing birds sit on chairs, tables and in the tree limbs in front of us. On the beach are white outfit fellows selling colourful table-clothes or blankets. People are renting horses and riding on the beach. We sit for a long time, relaxing and taking in all the sites by the Ocean. Our trek through the public part of the Hotel show us that this place is indeed a gracious place to stay. Not really what we want to do, however, spend lots of money at one place for a short amount of time. We would rather spend less and be able to travel for longer.

Off we go, finding the shade to walk in. We are somewhat used to the heat but are wearing hats, suntan lotion and sticking to the shade. The malecon is lovely as ever but hot for us. We walk passed places we have been many times and continue on the the Planeta Vegetariano Buffet. What a feast! A delicious salad bar, water with fruit juice, soup, a main entree of veggies and soy kabobs, rice, beans and other veggies. In the end dessert is brought to you and there is tea or coffee to complete the spectacular meal. It is a feat to not over eat to the point of injuring yourself.

We walk around old town Puerto Vallarta seeing some favourite spots, restaurants we have liked, public art and walking the malecon. We head back before dark to check out the pool at Tachos.

 The bus ride home was eventful. Our young driver with a point to prove. He will be on time and damned if any trucks blocking the road would cause his tardiness. If you ever get on a bus and see nortes americanos, with white knuckles on to the seat bar. Slowly walk away, lol.

After dark we walk the main areas around Tachos to find something to eat etc. We return to the Chicken House & Salad for another good, healthy meal. The mall is decorated for Christmas and it reminds us of last year in PV at that special season of the year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Tacho RV and Trailer Park

Awesomeness: They are trying hard to get the internet up and running for everyone. Some people have been hear for a over a month without internet.

I will describe one bus trip we took from from our campground into Puerto Vallarta. We got on the bus and the driver had on a t-shirt and jeans which is typical. The driver looked to be a very young, skinny teenager almost not old enough to drive. But oh did he drive! He had the bus going at a constant top speed, slowing down only when he had to stop. He wove in and out of traffic like he owned the road, squeezing beside trucks, other buses and cars. We noticed the windshield was cracked as was the rear view mirrow. Ken asked, "how do you think that happened?" We were white knuckling it, holding on for dear life with both hands. Tip...if you see other Norte Americanas doing that when you step on a bus in Mexico, step off and wait for another bus. You might have a driver like the one we had.

We went for coffee again at the Hotel Sheraton Buganvillas. Such a great view. They do not seem to mind people who are not guest coming and looking around or having coffee. The prices appear to be more like NOB but the view is worth the little extra cash.

This day we did not walk along the malecon. We've done that lots. We walked up a few blocks east of the malecon, up through a more authentic neighborhood. We found older hotels, another veggie buffet (did not look as good as the one yesterday), interesting restaurants, a whole other part of PV that we did not know exsisted. It is so nice to see the Ocean again after being away from it for so long.

When it came to lunch time we wanted to try out a place we had not been to before but had heard good things about. It is a rather infamous restaurant in PV - Joe Jack's Fish Shack. They have a little upper area and that is where we chose to eat. People off cruise ships came this place, too. We have been to many places in Mexico as you know. This place had a great atmosphere and food but it was over prices for our tastes. Good service, too, and nicely appointed but somehow it missed the mark for us. We have seen so many other places we like better and are more economically priced.

Once back at Tachos, Ken went in the pool. I am afraid I am spoiled by having the opportunity to go in a heated pool. Tachos pool is not heated and therefore I did not go in it. I just dangled my feet in. In the heat here you need to go in a pool or take a cool shower before bed. You makes all the difference.

Thursday, December 4, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Tacho RV Park

Awesomeness: We have a small banana tree almost right beside Pepe the van.

By the time we got off and running it was past coffee time so went straight to the place we wanted to lunch at. We had seen a restaurant that serves a comida corrida for the very reasonable price of 60 pesos. It is right up by the main church, as you walk up the hill towards the church, it is on the right, last building before the church. You get a soup, a water and fruit drink and a choice of several entrees. In the end they bring you dessert. I had tacos cameron and Ken had garlic fish. The place was very clean and the service was superb along with the food. Sounds like all we do is eat. Well really all we do is walk and walk and walk. Yes, we walked more after eating. Actually we walked lots in Old Town before eating because the comida corrida did not start until about 1:00 as they serve breakfast before that.

El Campanario comida corrida.

When you walk lots, going some place new really spices it up. We decided to walk on one side of the river, cross the bridge then walk along the other side of the river. On side of the river walk we were on dirt, no sidewalk. There were loose dogs, always a bit iffy. The dogs in Mexico are often loose but these guys had been sedated by the sun, having siestas. We found the bridge and crossed it. We were up quite high, almost overlooking the city, on one side of gringo gulch. 

There was an open house sign beckoning us in to see Rivera Cuale,Puerto Vallarta. It is a type of condo living on the river Cuale. There is a lovely pool attached to a pond beside the river. The river runs quickly over the rocks giving it the babbling brook sound. This area is sounded by natural planting of trees and flowering shrubs. A realtor from Montreal showed us around. Impressive place! There are only three units left. You take elevators to the units, some units have their own elevator. They have expensive kitchens, Quetsecolal brand, with high end stainless steel appliances. The architects that designed and built this place became award winners for building and the units contained therein. Very well laid out. The whole place was very high end with killer views of the city and the ocean. When we asked the price we could barely believe it. We could actually afford to live there. We think PV would be way too hot for us in the summer so we will not be purchasing here.

We walked back in an area of home that are more to our taste. More Mexican styling. Once back near the malecon we went for a beverage at an Italian restaurant. We watched pooches playing. One dog looked like the dog from the talking dog video from Facebook. Bacon anyone?

Milling around once again over by the main church we realized a parade was about to take place. The goings on were related to the Guadalupe Festival. There were Pre-Hispanic native dancers and bands. The entertainers came from different secondary schools in the area. We were coaxed into a restaurant, oh twist my rubber arm, with a balcony up above the parade. For picture taking - perfect.

Friday, December 5, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Tacho RV Park

Awesomeness: The people who frequent this wonderful place.

Today is our last partial day at Tachos. From here we move on to Bucerias, up the highway, about twenty minutes east of here. Since we have been here we have reacquainted ourselves with some Canadians we met last year at the same place. Margret and William from the Yukon who come down here every year for the winter. I'm guessing the Yukon is a little cold. They have several dogs Chihuahua and a red mini pinscher. We also saw them in San Carlos this year, just passing through. 

We again met Ron from Mission, BC. He had difficulties in Patsquaro, Mich, MX. last year. He has left his trailer in an RV park and drove to an artesian out of town. Some guy you got out of a collectivo (van used like a bus). He had a gun and robbed Ron and his wife of their four by four, king cab truck. He spent a great deal of his spring dealing with the ramifications of the robbery. No one was hurt but that must have been stressful.

We ate lunch at a favourite spot in Nuevo Vallarta at the Paradise Plaza - Nopalitos. Best fish tacos ever! After lunch we wondered around in a Hard Rock Hotel. Lots of memorabilia to check out.

The helpful staff fixed our jammed camera.

This festival turned out to be a great day, see next post

Los Arroyos Verdes was our destination and also the place that we will spend the next month, until January 5th. Many or most of the service staff have changed to other people. Too bad because the other staff were so friendly and accomodating. I am sure these new people are wonderful, too. Casa Fresa, our abode for the next while, has changed slightly - new bed, a bit of new paint, new floor rug and an extra chair. Mostly the same. We liked this casita last year. The outside shower almost sent us searching for a different place to stay. Once we tried it out we loved it, want one for our home (not in Canada).

The beautiful grounds here are such a treat to behold. Trees, cactus, flowering plants, just so green and lush. They put a lot of effort into the huge yard here.

Los Arroyos Verdes seating area outside Casa Fresa.

Casa Fresa - our second stay.

Saturday, December 6, 2014
Hot Sunny
Mileage 531 610 km
Last night we stayed at Los Arroyos Verdes - Bucerius, Nayarit

Awesomeness: It was like being at home as we stayed here for nearly a month last winter. Love it here!

A dip in the pool was simply glorious. I just floated around on a pool noodle or two taking in all the views of the plants and art nearby. Just as wonderful as last year.

We took a walk around the Los Arroyos Verde's loop and saw sheep. The sheep are not there all day but seem to evening in the next yard. There were black and white baby lambs frisking about.

The late afternoon found us in Nuevo Vallarta for the fourteenth annual Chilli Cook Off. All the funds raised were for the orphanage here in Bucerias. You purchased tickets for either food or beverages. The food was either chilli that had been judged or samplings from local restaurants. For obviously reasons, I do not eat meat, I did not get to sample any chilli. My "wow" sample was of a seafood soup. Oh, so delicious, Ken went and bought me another bowl. We somehow were lucky enough to be able to get our own table by the ocean. I failed to mention that the Cook Off was at the Marina. Get spot with great views. In fact, everything either of us ate was very good. The bonus was the music. Some guy played and sang for us. It was so fun just strolling along the marine in the sun.

Once we left we strolled around the area, going into the Sea Garden Resort. We walked out by the pool and the Ocean. Beautiful resort with an inside, huge fountain and lovely green sofas. 

 We just wondering around and ran into a couple from White Rock, BC. They had a black, Pomeranian dog. Cuteness....They guy asked me if I wanted to pet him. The dog had on a harness. He was so light the owner just lifted him up by the leash so I could give the pooch some love. We wondered back to the Chilli Cook Off and it was still going on but we left for home.

Sunday, December 7, 2014
Hot Sunny
Mileage 531 640 km
Last night we stayed at Los Arroyos Verdes - Bucerius, Na

Awesomeness: We have our own, walled in little area to eat in. Just outside this area is a vine that appears to always have purple trumpet type flowers on it. It is called Bengal clockvine, blue sky vine, etc.

La Cruz Market was our destination. We are lucky because we get to drive there. People who fly down here have to walk or take a bus. Our difficulty was finding a parking spot. Given the challenge, however, we found a spot right by the fish market, close the the venders we planned to purchase from. Right away we found the lady selling a type of Italian liquor in orange flavour. When my Sister and Brother-in-law were down here in February he fried prawns in the orange hooch. They were excellent and we plan to do the same. Almost right next door was the Italian vender and his wife selling homemade pasta and sauces. This time we go pesto and cheese raviolli. We spent a fair amount but the purchases are still cheaper than they would be in Canada for the same thing. We know we will enjoy what we bought.

The Market had many of the same vendors in the same spots as last year...the yogurt guy, the person selling cut flowers, the cheese guy, the woven pictures, etc. Too many venders to talk about them all. There were a few new venders, it was very packed with them. The market has improved in that the venders going out to the end of the pier now have a covered walkway. Good protection from the sun. We walked out there for food and drink. Our favourite drink guy was there selling agua with fruit juice in it. We got a giant on of those in kiwi flavour. Then we found a vender selling quesadillas such as they made in pre-hispanic times. We split one and had veggie one with cheese. I want a whole one next time, oh so delicious.

Really good, fresh pasta.

Back at Los Arroyos Verdes we found the pool area quite full of people, not the pool. There was a fellow playing guitar and singing. Not just any old guy, someone who was very good at what he did. He could do Gypsy Kings almost like the orgininals. It was sunny and hot! 

We met people from San Diego and from Minnisota. We talked and floated in the tepid water. It was heated to about 91 degrees - glorious. It was like being in a dream. Actually I never have dreams that good, with palm trees and puppies by the pool. We met a Toto type dog called Riley. Now I want a dog like him. He is a small Terrier with such a personality. Friendly, attentive and cute, all special traits I want in a dog.

For supper we ate the pasta wishing we'd bought more. So good!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Los Arroyos Verdes

Awesomeness: They have been trying so hard to get the hot water fixed for us. Different crew but same great service.

Did not even realize it was Monday morning until I asked Ken. How bad it that? I guess that is retirement for you, or I am losIng it. Ken wants to get some business affairs wrapped up today or at least get started on them. I would like to start quilting. At least I think I would. It was been such a long time since I have had the motivation or desire to do any art. I do not know why but it seems to be a struggle for me right now. I know that before I left on our trip I was pretty busy or just plain unmotivated.

Going into Bucerias for morning coffee and a walk was the first order of business. 

Vera's Coffee shop won out as we checked out a few coffee places in Bucerius. This place had all the required criteria - good coffee, reasonable prices, good sweets (home made muffins), free internet, clean bathroom and Iced coffee. Yes, we are picky! Vera's had the added bonus of extremely cute pooches gathered around our table. What could be better? We had a black lab, a Whimeraner and a messy, muzzle, Monday, mutt. Messy, muzzle mutt was aptly named. You will see when you check out his picture - adorabe, too.

Good way to avoid work also. We decided to tour the Royal Decameron down by the water. Even though we did not have wrist bands we were able to stroll about like we stayed there. It had some nice touch like the huge talavera vases. We checked our the breakfast bar, the bathrooms and saw how huge this place really is. There are several pools, plus it is on the ocean. One area had really loud music playing. Other areas were calm and quiet. The Azul in Cancun area was twice as nice, so glad Shannon got married there instead.
We parked and walked up the usual street, a sort of main street, in Bucerias. We were looking for a particular coffee shop. I found an English language book store. We saw art shops and restaurants that we frequented last year. Generally it was very hot and we did not find the coffee shop we wanted. We headed back to Los Arroyos to eat lunch.
I have not cooked much lately, like since August. I am breaking back into it slowly - we had breaded chicken or fish and deli potato salad. Really I just put food out on plates.
I finally got started painting again. It was painful at first. I even took a nap as I was in full on avoidance mode. Once started I felt so good about what I had done even if it was not much. I actually felt happy about my little bit of painting. I have to keep this up so I again find great joy in my art. I know I will eventually.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Hot Sunny
Last night we stayed at Los Arroyos Verde

Awesomeness: It has a clean gym up above the laundry that we can do yoga it. They took away the lockers since last year and so it is even easier to find wall space for legs up the wall, etc.

Got up and actually went upstairs in the gym and did my yoga routine. I felt so good and so proud of my acomplishment. While doing shavasna I heard a door open and out came the little dog Riley and his owner. Riley is a puppy Cairn Terrier that I met on Sunday. He is so adorable, happy and lively. That was enough for me as it really made my day. However, when I was packing up and leaving the upstairs gym Riley's Mom came out of her door to ask my something. Riley is quite well trained, to not jump up on people when asked not to. He is very precious and still came out to great me but was well behaved. That interaction with Riley put me over the top. I am strongly thinking about getting a pup like him when we are finished traveling. Riley's Mom (I feel foolish but have forgot her name) gave me the name of the breeder and where they purchased him from.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Hot Sunny
Mileage 531 674 km
Last night we stayed at Los Arroyos Verde

Awesomeness: It is so close to Puerto Vallarta, yet does not have all the noise or the huge amount of people.

Yahoo, we are going into Puerto Vallarta today. Big city or not I love it there - the malecon seals the deal as far as I am concerned. 

We have a mission for the day. We want to go and get books for the orphanage library in Bucerius. Not that we can alone get enough books for a library but I wish we could. Being a retired teacher it does my heart good to have to pick out children's books again.

Just the ambiance of the city is thrilling, the traffic, all the people, the stores, it is all good as far as I am concerned. This city, however, is special. It also has palm trees, bucenvilla, gorgeous resort buildings, cruise ships, etc. I love it! Keep in mind I have lived in the country, on a small island for almost twenty-five years. I appreciate the constant action of the city. We stop at every big store between PV and Bucerius - Mega, Cheddari, Walmart and the big mall looking for children's books. When ever we found some, and not every place had them, we found they were expensive compared to Canada. Odd, I thought since lots of things in Mexico are cheaper. I would have thought kids books would be relatively inexpensive. In Liverpool, a high end mall I found high quality, not Disney, books. Very expensive. I would only be able to get about two.

We decided since we are in PV lets go to the fantastic veggie buffet. Mistake! Food was very good as usual, but a buffet is not a good idea, especially when has such good food. I ate way too much, at least it was not too fattening. We walked around lots in town and got our daily exercise. We parked in our favourite parking lot which is underground for shade and security. We found a Ley store. 

Upstairs in the bargains were children's books. There were series of books especially for young children, condensed classics such as the Three Musketeers, Moby Dick, etc. They were in Spanish, of course. We could afford lots because they were on a bit of a sale. Plus no tax on kids books.

Thursday, December 11, 2014
Hot OverCast
Mileage 531 733 km
Last night we stayed at Los Arroyos Verdes

Awesomeness: We have to drive our laundry into the Canada laundry service. It is 12. pesos per kilogram. We will spend about 70 or 80 pesos for this weeks laundry. About $7.00 Canadian dollars. It will be folded, too.

We mostly hung out here in Casa Fresa. We did not even go for a swim. We did go for a few walks around the property and saw sheep, ducks, butterflies, etc.

I am trying badly to get back into enjoying my painting which is part of my quilting. I guess last year when I quit painting because we were aiming towards our return to Canada I stopped at a challenging spot. This is a good time to say that when you are copying your pattern from a picture onto freezer paper do not be lazy. If you are feeling tired or lazy when you get to a difficult area save it for another time. I did not heed this advise. I just muddled through and now I have to spend a great deal of time figuring out the mess I left of some leave. It will be a challenge to figure out without the blown up picture close at hand. I have my handy, coloured iPhone picture to assist me.
We ate all three meals here at the Casa as shocking as that may seem. We have been eating out way too much and it is such a change to eat in.
The Bucerius Art Walk is from 7:00 to 9:00 every Thursday evening from about November 1 to about the end of March. Art Galleries and little shops are open to the public. Some provide wine or sangria, along with snacks like flat bread or sweet treats. It is a wonderful time to talk to shop owners and artists. We were lucky enough to talk with a top artist from the area - Agustin Parra. He had been to Victoria, BC during this areas low season to paint. He painted flowers from Butchart Gardens. Absolutely amazing!!! We got to taste wine from the Baja and from just south of Dolores Hidalgo - tasty.

We did take the opportunity to view the three new casitas at Los Arroyos Verdes. Nice.

Friday, December 12, 2014
Warm Cloudy
Last night we stayed at Los Arroyos Verdes
Awesomeness: Guadalupe and all she does for the orphan children. What an super, awesome lady!
Going for coffee was needed to clear the cobwebs out of the old brain. I do not usually think that about coffee because I do not usually need it but today I had brain fog. I did wake up a few times in the night but I fell back to sleep. Ken, well he always likes a good cup of coffee in the morning. The owner of Los Arroyos Verde - Guadalupe Dipp - not only started of this place but also started an Orphanage. Tonight was the Christmas party for the children and the children of the staff that work here. All the people who live here bought gifts, books or food for the children. I spent some time today wrapping the books we bought for the library of the orphanage. After school, secondary school age children came here and performed for the younger orphans and for the guests. Then Santa Claus gave out hugs and gifts to the children. The children had written to Santa and requested certain gifts. I do believe that the true Santa of the evening was Guadalupe, she likely arrange and carried out her plan for the children. After the listening to Christmas carols performed in Spanish the food was given out buffet style. The adults paid 50 pesos for four tacos, plus a huge agua fresca. Lots of salsa and veggies were included. I could have potato or bean tacos.
The children were treated so well. There were several pinetas to break open, blind folded. Guadalupe also threw in extra treats once the pinatas were broken open. She even gave them plastic bags to hold their loot. There were huge inflated toys to jump on. My favourite was the donkey they brought for two reasons. He was there all day waiting for his turn to entertain. He was provided rides to the younger children. Then he was going to be part of the Posada ceremony preformed by the children. We saw many children dressed as angels but did not stay for the finale.

That is the owner, Lupe on the left.

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