Archive for January, 2008

La Peñita Rodeo

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

We decided to break our longstanding “Don’t Drive in Mexico at Night” rule to attend a benefit rodeo at the town of La Peñita.  The drive is only about 8 miles on a fairly straight stretch of Hwy 200.  The scary part is that farmers let their livestock graze on the side of the road.  You’ll see everything from horses, cattle, sheep and goats.  Anyway, our strategy was to get behind a truck and follow closely.

La Peñita rates right up there with some of the bumpiest cobblestone streets we have experienced.  Down one of these roads, about two blocks from the beach, lies the rodeo arena.  From our seats in the third row, we could see the ocean in the background.

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While we filed in and throughout the evening we were treated to the best mariachi band that we have heard.  They remained standing the entire evening and played as background for all events.

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Early in the evening, as the crowd filed in, we found it to be comprised of mostly US and Canadian visitors.  Apparently knowing that things don’t start on time, most Mexicans that attended arrived about 45 minutes late, but in time to see the start of the exhibitions.

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This was really an exhibition rather than a rodeo competition.  They didn’t have events that we are accustomed to such as bull riding, calf roping, etc.  They were demonstrating their horsemanship skills as well as certain roping achievements.  Instead of calves, they roped the hind legs of a speeding horse and tried to bring it to a stop.  None succeeded.

This gal, who also carried the Mexican flag at the beginning, demonstrated her riding skills.

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One amazing exhibition was put on by this group of women pictured below.  (without the baby)  They were the precision drill team and performed high speed figure eights and criss-cross formations without collision.  The amazing thing is that they rode sidesaddle.

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Unfortunately, as night fell, only 5 of the 9 stadium lights came on.  The others flickered and stayed dark.  I won’t waste your time with any further photos, except this one to demonstrate the photographic problems.  It may be hard to tell, but this guy is performing a trick roping exhibition.

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At “halftime” they served tamales to all attendees.  It was included in the $10 ticket price.

Our driving tactic succeeded and we arrived back home safely.

Friends from Home

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

We discovered that some friends from Dallas, Lin and Russ, were staying in a time-share just down the road in Nuevo Vallarta.  NV is, as the name implies, a new section of condos and hotels on the beach just north of Puerto Vallarta.  Unfortunately, the road into NV is riddled with pot holes.  No attempt is being made to fill them in.  I guess they figure that as long as the construction continues, the trucks will continue to tear it up.  So, why not wait?

We made arrangements to pick up Lin and Russ and give them a personal tour that wouldn’t be offered by the hotels.  We drove south about 45 miles and  picked them up at 9:00 AM.   We immediately headed north to tour some of the smaller towns and beaches.  Our first stop was the very touristy town of Rincón de Guayubitos.  This is a popular destination for North Americans and Mexicans alike.  Every weekend brings dozens of busloads in from the interior.  The shore is lined with hotels and the streets are one shop after another, generally selling the same stuff.  We ate breakfast down this street somewhere, on the left.

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Visitors from the US and Canada are finding this town to be the perfect spot and are tossing up McMansions in great numbers.  The typical house in this area is between $750,000 to $2,000,000. and that is US dollars.

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From there, we headed to Lo de Marcos.  It was a little chilly and very few were at the beach.  We were also able to give Lin and Russ a tour of our current home RV Park.

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From here, we stopped in the quaint village of San Francisco, also called San Pancho.  It is more rustic than most of the towns in the area, but it is also the only one with a hospital.

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Then it was back to our old stomping grounds in Sayulita for a chilly lunch at Don Pedro’s, the beach restaurant we used to frequent when the Cowboys played football.

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We discovered that we were low (nearly empty) on power steering fluid, so we made only one more stop this day at Punta de Mita.  We spent a few minutes walking on the beach and then we headed back to Nuevo Vallarta.  Lin and Russ returned to Punta de Mita a few days later by bus.  They took a whale watching tour on a small boat that could handle six people.  Apparently they had dozens of close encounters with the huge humpbacks.  From what they say, we may have to try this tour.  More information on humpbacks can be found at:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/species/Humpbackwhale.shtml

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A couple of days later we picked up Lin and Russ for a lunch in Puerto Vallarta.  We left the truck at Walmart and took a cab to PePe’s Taco Stand.  Unfortunately they didn’t open until 5:00 PM.  So we headed to the beach and walked about a mile to the main downtown strip, the Malecon.  After looking at every menu along the street, we settled at the “No-Name Bar and Grill”.

From our vantage point on the second floor balcony, we were directly across the street from a very long pole sticking up in the air.

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On top of the pole were four men, dressed in traditional Mexican Indian outfits, playing flutes while sitting or dancing.

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Notice the large spool of rope.  That should tell you that there is more to come.  After they find that a large enough crowd has gathered, they drop themselves off of their perch fastened only by one heel and spiral down upside down.

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This process took about ten minutes.  This shot is as they approach the ground.

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Believe it or not, they played their flutes the whole way down.

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Upon reaching the ground, they scattered, along with some associates, to collect tips from the fascinated crowd.  They even found us on the second floor balcony.

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From our same perch on the balcony, we were treated to a seagull feeding frenzy.  In the background of this photo are two gulls diving into the water. I hope they don’t have the same target in mind.

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Followed by a large splash.

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We wondered where seagulls went when they were not stalking your snacks.

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We really enjoyed visiting with friends from home.  Thanks Lin and Russ for your vacation time spent with us.

New Home – Lo de Marcos

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Well, we moved from Sayulita and up the road about 12 miles to Ron’s RV Park in the town of Lo de Marcos.   

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Lo de Marcos, a small town of some 2,500 people, is easily accessible by National Highway 200 from the north (San Blas: 1½ hrs) or from the south (Puerto Vallarta: 1 hr) and by National Highway 15 from the east (Guadalajara: 4 hrs).   Lo de Marcos is surrounded by hills covered with lush semi-tropical vegetation, has beautiful beaches and enjoys summer-time weather year around.  And, unlike the neighboring tourist towns, Lo de Marcos has maintained its small-town charm and unhurried life style. With the exception of Holy Week, around Easter, Lo de Marcos remains unperturbed by the hustle-bustle of the outside world. The casual tourist or would-be resident finds a tranquil atmosphere, friendly people and a welcoming attitude where discos, fast-food joints and malls have not yet intruded. 

Lo de Marcos is home to about 7 or 8 RV parks.  The largest, Villas Tlaquepaque and Trailer Park also know as El Refugio, has a couple of hundred spaces, pools, beach access and is associated with a really nice hotel.  See Comments:  It has been pointed out that Villa Tlaquepaque (El Refugio) has only 70 spaces, not a couple of hundred.  Hmm, it seemed larger.  That will teach me to finish my research.  One listing shows 32 full hook-ups. Well, I guess they are wrong too. Two new parks opened in December.   One has the barest of essentials, and the sign labels itself as “New RV Park”.  Another is Savage RV Park which is very nice with a small pool and will handle 15  rigs.   Construction is underway for a new park that will accomodate about 50 rigs.   Ron’s RV Park is about a block off of the beach and has been in business for 5 years and is quite unique, as Mexican RV parks go.  The facilities are more like you might find in the US or Canada.  The power is good, water pressure good, the grounds are spotless and they didn’t hold back on pouring cement.  We’re not burdened with the sand and dust that generally filters through the air and settles on everything.  There is even a separate parking lot for the trucks and tow vehicles.

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Backing the rig in from the street was a snap with Ron’s guidance.

Those of you that are experiencing winter may not show much sympathy, but for the past 3 weeks, we have suffered through a cold spell.  Most of the regulars indicate that this is the coldest that they have ever seen it here.  Some days only get up into the mid-70’s and the nights are down-right cold, approaching 60 degrees.

Our next door neighbors threw a fish fry the other night with some halibut and salmon that they brought with them from Alaska.  We gathered at the palapa nearest the pool for the party.  You can see how everyone  is bundled up. 

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 We ate at tables on the other side of the pool.

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You’ll be relieved to know that our cold snap is finished and with the help of the solar cover for the pool, the water is above 80 degrees.

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The only blemish on the last few days happened when the microwave door-release button failed, trapping our thawing steaks that were destined for the hot grill.  Removal and dissassembly of the entire oven was required to get to the release mechanism.  4-hours and a little super glue fixed it right up.    I can’t believe it, but one guy on our Montana Forum had already prepared a slideshow demonstrating the repair.  I guess we’re not the first to experience this problem.  By the way, the steaks were thawed out by the time I got the door to open the next afternoon.

Touring Puerto Vallarta

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

While Lance and Ayden were in town we thought we would take a tour of Puerto Vallarta.  With our Dodge dually it isn’t easy getting around all over the small roads everywhere.  Besides Rick is too busy driving to sightsee.

We got up very early January 1 after celebrating New Year’s Eve at the RV park.  We drove to town, about an hour south, and parked at Wal-Mart to meet our guide, Alfredo. He was very informative and took us through the old part of Puerto Vallarta.  Along with our friends Pat and Gary, from La Peñita RV Park, the motley crew hit the road.

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Quit hiding in the shadows, Pat.

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People think the bull fights are a favorite place to attend but in old PV the rodeo, was a Sunday tradition. (Excuse the drive-by photo.)

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As we drove along the shoreline, called the Malecon, we noticed a beach full of sand sculptures.

Wise men and sand castle from the street.

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Other examples taken from the sidewalk.

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Up to the top of the city to get some great views.  (Note the high-rises on the far side of the bay through the hazy morning sky.)

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Looking out toward the bay south of town.  The rock structure is called the arches. Click on photo to enlarge.

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Here’s a close up of the arch in one of the rocks.

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The Night of the Iguanas was filmed here in 1963.   It starred Richard Burton.  Elizabeth Taylor had just finished starring with Richard Burton in Cleopatra.  This was the beginning of their love affair and both were married to other people.  She was married to Eddie Fisher. While Richard Burton was filming The Night of the Iguanas, Elizabeth Taylor came down to PV and bought a house here.  Basically, all the gossip about their affair put Puerto Vallarta in the spotlight.  Before that it was a small fishing village and after 1963 people started vacationing here.

This is a shot of the area where the film was shot. The set is near the point.  Click on Picture to enlarge.

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Here is a picture of one of the set buildings, near the point.

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Predator was also filmed here along with about 10 other films.

Predator jungle.

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We stopped to have lunch.  The restaurant is located in the area where they shot Predator.  Sometimes a diver is here diving off these rocks.  Not much water for diving today.

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How long ago was Christmas?

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

We have been so busy since Christmas that we did not do a blog when part of our family came for Christmas in Puerta Vallarta.

Lance, one of our sons, and Ayden, a granddaughter, arriving in Puerta Vallarta on Christmas Day.

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When we got home we opened a few presents (Sayulita T shirts for everyone) plus beach toys for Ayden.

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As it was getting bedtime, Ayden started questioning us if Santa was coming because she was in Mexico.  I, (Grammy) didn’t want her to be disappointed because Santa was not bringing her lots of gifts this year.  I explained to her not many people got to come to Mexico for Christmas and that she was a very lucky little girl to be here.  I asked her if she knew anybody else that got to visit MX for Christmas.  She shook her head yes.  I could not believe that she knew  anyone else (such as in her class) that was coming to MX.   Who do you know that is coming to MX ?  Her answer was “Everyone on her plane was coming to MX”.   Well, duh, Grammy!!!!!!

Ayden lost a tooth brushing her teeth. That is the 2nd one she lost in a week.   The tooth fairy brought her 150 pesos ($1.50).

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How many little girls were visited by Santa and the tooth fairy the same night?

Sayulita is a famous surfing town.  Lance took surfing lessons.

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We took them to several beaches.  Digging in the sand is a favorite.

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Jumping waves is fun.

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We took them to La Peñita to the market.  This market has everything.

A girl is never too young to get interested in jewelry.

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Baskets and purses galore.

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 Every fruit and veggie, known and unknown to man.

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And large inventories of wraps and dresses.

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A girl is also never too young to shop for new dresses.

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On the way back home, to Sayulita, we stopped back at the La Peñita RV Park and watched a heated water volleyball game.  There were three teams comprised of residents of Mexico, Canada, and the United States.  On a holiday, the park is about 40% Mexican, 50% Canadian, and the remaining 10% are from the United States.  The much younger Mexicans were defending their 2006 title.

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Unfortunately for the majority, the underdog US team reigned supreme.