Friday, August 27, 2010

Hasta Luego--Not Adiós

The time came to leave Mexico and my amigos. It was a great vacation and I enjoyed, so much, seeing my friends again. As I look over the many photos that I took, I leave you with a few of my favorites. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them! They are in no particular order---just some of the ones I like for different reasons.

This is a church in La Chona, Jalisco, coming into view between the nopales cactus. This picture was taken in Chuy's backyard.

In San José de Gracia, Aguascalientes, the Cristo Roto statue at the dam is breathtaking. Placed high on a hill it can be seen for miles around.

The cathedral in Guadalajara, Jalisco and the main plaza.

The Degollado Theater, Guadalajara, Jalisco.

An Indian family resting on a bench in Aguascalientes. He dances to earn money for the family. She is loving her baby while their two older children play.

In the flea market in downtown Aguascalientes.

The mountains are named "Cerro de Muerte" (Death Mountain) because it looks like a corpse lying down. You can see the forehead, nose, chin, hands folded and feet.

At the Rancho Capomo, Las Palmas, Jalisco. Such a typical Mexican scene.

The beach in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The Voladores fly on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The Church of Guadalupe, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, taken from the balcony of La Chata restaurant.

My favorite statue on the Malecon, Puerto Vallarta.

I hope you enjoyed my writings and photos and perhaps learned a little about Mexico, the people and their lives.

I look forward to returning, some day, to beautiful Mexico and the gracious and kind-hearted people. Until then...

Hasta luego.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Isla Rio Cuale

Slicing its way through the city, the Rio Cuale divides and surrounds the isla before tumbling into the Banderas Bay. The river at times is peaceful and quiet and at other times, it becomes a raging torrent whirling into the ocean.

This is the Cuale River after a huge rainstorm. It is muddy and is charging into the bay. The island is on the right. See the beautiful Sierra Madre mountains in the background? I love the mountains!

The river meets the Banderas Bay. You can see where the muddy waters stop and the ocean takes over.

The island is located between the centro (center of town) and the Zona Romantica. It is not a very large island, only about 1 block wide and maybe 6 blocks long. Access to the island is gained by wooden and very shaky footbridges on either side of the island or by a cement bridge and stairs on each end of the island! After crossing the wooden bridge once (to say that I did it!) I choose the more sturdy, but less dramatic cement bridge when I go to there! It is a natural island with walking paths through the trees, benches and flora and fauna. Part of the "fauna" includes iguanas climbing through the trees. It is very exciting to see one of them up close.

The island is a favorite place of the local people to come and relax. The market is always full of tourists but the other side of the island is quiet and peaceful. Often kids will swim in the river while parents spread a picnic on the grass.

As you enter the island you come upon a "Peace Park" with lovely flowers and greenery and a fountain. This is the pathway to the area.

Here is a close-up of the sculpture. Can you see what is on top of his head? And notice the stone turtle on the mushroom rock.

The stone iguana waits for you to take his picture!

Passing by the Peace Garden, you spot the archaeological museum---a small but nice museum of local Indian artefacts. It is cool and quiet there and one can learn a little about the history of the area.

Also on that end of the island is a group of artists who exhibit their paintings and photographs. Of course you can buy a special piece to take home. They also give art lessons 2 or 3 times a week.

There are restaurants where you can stop for a limonada, lunch, dinner or a great Margarita.

And then you come to the flea market! Bartering with the locals for a good deal is a great challenge for both you and the vendor! Usually you can go away happy with a wonderful memento to take home! They sell silver, jewelry, pottery, blankets, serapes, leather goods, handmade clothing and purses, as well as many different types of souvenirs too numerous to mention.

I stood on the steps to take this photo of the mercado.

The man in the orange shirt and the man in the white shirt are "deciding" on a price for a gift!

Visiting the island is a great way to spend a morning. You will be amazed at the local vendors speaking English! And once in a while, you might hear the famous phrase: "Almost free for you today!"

When I go to Puerto Vallarta, a visit to the island is a must!

Hasta luego.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Brunch

On my last Sunday in Puerto Vallarta I treated myself to Sunday Brunch at the Sheraton Hotel. This post will not be a teaching, preaching, or informative article---it is simply something to make your mouth water looking at all the delicious foods!

The Sheraton has a brunch on the weekends and it is not to be missed. Unlike the restaurants in the USA, when you go to a restaurant in Mexico, you are expected to sit a long time, enjoying the food and visiting with your friends. I was at this brunch about 3 hours, sampling, tasting, and nibbling on a lot of different foods, and then retired to the beach for another hour!

On the way into the restaurant, La Villita, you walk through pretty gardens.

The carved watermelon, behind the bowls, and the fat pig, welcome you to the salsa table.

The salads are inviting and take a peek at the colorful vegetables decorating the table.

This was what I chose: fresh squeezed orange juice (there were 7 juices from which to choose), pico de gallo (in the bowl), spring roll, cheeses, prosciutto, cantaloupe, tuna (tuna is a cactus and comes in red or green), papaya, honeydew and pineapple. A healthy start to the meal, right?

The entree included a chicken enchilada, tamale, birria (a local favorite) and a hardcooked quail egg.

I couldn't pass up the pozole and Spanish paella.

A couple hours later it was time for a visit to the dessert table. I took this picture especially for my friends in Gainesville, the poultry capital of the world! See the chicken in the box? A great decoration, I thought!

The pretty rice pudding (in the bowl) and a crepe de cajete were the best! The fruit tart wasn't bad either!

To top off the meal, a glass of champagne and reading the Tribune, an English newspaper which tells about the happenings in Puerto Vallarta for the next week. On the front cover is a picture of the angel statue on the Malecon.

The mariachi played to entertain us. I love the mariachi music!

When the mariachi took a break, these two guys played the marimba. They were quite good.

These two folklorico dancers and the two Indian dancers (see next photo) were walking through the diners advertising their Fandango show which takes place in the evening.

These are the Indian dancers. Their ankle bracelets shake and jingle when they dance or walk.

Dinner over, the newspaper read, I walked out on the beach to enjoy the ocean and the sun. These folks were at the pool which is right on the beach.

The vendors were waiting to make a sale. The mountains are in the background. Puerto Vallarta has the ocean on one side of the town and the mountains behind it. The views have something to please everyone!

Those chairs are just waiting for you to come, sit, and enjoy!

The yacht just happened to get in the way of my picture! The man is selling jewelry.

I enjoyed my last Sunday in Puerto Vallarta, relaxing at the beach and visiting with friends.

Hasta luego.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Day in the Country

When my friends, Alex and Tom, asked me if I would like to spend a day at a ranch, I couldn't say "YES" fast enough! Alex sells jewelry at the ranch a couple times a week and he was going to display his gems and invited me to tag along. What a relaxing and enjoyable day.

El Rancho Capomo is in the town of Las Palmas, about 45 minutes outside of Puerto Vallarta. Turning off the main road, we travelled a dirt road for about 1/2 mile back into the jungle of the Sierra Madre Mountains, and arrived at a ranch right out of the movies!

A family owns and runs the ranch and they offer tours to tourists from Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and other towns in the area. At the ranch the vacationers enjoy a breakfast before spending the day going horseback riding through the jungle to see waterfalls or riding ATVs over the mountainside, or streaking through the trees near the river on ziplines. After all that activity, the famished group is fed a delicious Mexican dinner before being returned to their hotels. What a day!

Now, you might wonder, just which activity did I participate in? Well...I walked down to the corral and looked at the horses. I watched the tourists return the ATVs to the ranch. I was fascinated by the more daring ones moving at lightning speed on the ziplines. And I took pictures of everything!

After all that activity (!), I sat in the outdoor restaurant, and visited with the family who owns the ranch, while sipping a Margarita, and listening to some Mexican music playing from a CD. There was a cool breeze blowing from the river through the trees so the weather was great.

The ranch is on the bank of a river, which was full of water due to the heavy rains. The water was surging and tumbling over the rocks, a beautiful sight. They tell me that during the dry season, there is very little water in the river but today, it was almost overflowing its banks.

On the ranch they grow bananas, have mango and lime trees, and dry their own totopos---nacho chips. If you have never eaten a tortilla chip dried in the sun instead of fried, you have missed a culinary delight!

The area was so pretty and I had a very unexpected but delightful day out in the country! Thanks, guys, for inviting me to go with you!

Lots of room to park the ATVs in front of the restaurant.

A typical Mexican restaurant.

The river was muddy due to the heavy rains. Can you see the people standing on the balcony looking at the river?

You can walk down the stairs and across the bridge to look upriver.

The corral with horses waiting.

These two guys have a nice place in the shade to wait.

Here come the ATVs!

Me and the old cowboy!

Such a pretty picture...the old wagon, a pile of bricks and the agave cactus.

After we left the ranch, we stopped for la comida---dinner---the main meal of the day---at the Restaurante Mariscos El Coleguita in the town of Ixtapa. They specialize in seafood and I ate shrimp and more shrimp!

The waiters pick up the food at the kitchen. I love the sign!

It was a big restaurant and was quite full at 4:00pm. We had to wait a few minutes for a table.

There were musicians to entertain us. Well, let's say that they thought they were musicians! A lot more practice was needed before they truly could entertain!

Pico de gallo on the left with a basket of tostadas and a cup of shrimp soup on the right were the appetizers. Limonada in the blue glass. My entree was a special platter with fried shrimp, grilled shrimp, fried fillet of fish, rice, beets and carrots, and a seafood soup. Of course, tortillas were in a basket on the table too. For dessert they brought fried plantains and kahlua and cream to top off the meal. Good eatin'...yum!

This was certainly a one of a kind day for me and I savored every minute of it.

Hasta luego.