Archive for February, 2008

Our Trip to San Blas, Nayurit

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

A little about San Blas.  It is located about 100 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, about midway between PV and Mazatlan.


Our trip from Lo de Marcos to San Blas took about 2 hours.

San Blas is located at the far side of this beautiful bay.  Click on Picture to enlarge.


Archaeological sites indicate that the state of Nayurit, where San Blas is located, has been populated for about 4000 years.  Between 2000 BC and 1500 BC the area around San Blas was occupied by groups that perceived the sea to be a god.  During this time, was the beginning of the artistic pottery that is so well known today.  Many of these bowls and pots were buried with the dead.

For the next 2000 years, the area flourished and grew.  From about 1000 AD until the arrival of Cortéz in the early 1500’s the artisans worked with metals to produce decorative jewelry and art.

Also in the 1500’s, San Blas became an important sea port to the north and west towards the Philippines.  From San Blas, Spanish Priest Junípero Serra began his travels northward towards California to establish missions.

Somewhat more recently, I made my first trip to San Blas in 1982.  The drive from Zacatecas through Guadalajara and on to San Blas will be remembered as the driving day from hell.  I wouldn’t have wanted to make that trip pulling a 40 ft. RV.  It was bad enough in a car.  In the past ten years, a toll road now gets you most of the way.  It is still not much of a treat from Tepic to San Blas.  Many people heading south from Arizona tend to bypass Tepic in favor of San Blas so they don’t have to deal with as many mountains.

The road is still no picnic.  The pavement is pretty good, but the brush and trees at the edge of the road are trimmed right to the edge of the pavement.   Things grow so fast that the limbs soon encroach on driving space.  Many RVer’s have reported damage to their rigs from limbs and branches.  We have personally seen broken windows and damaged siding on some trailers and motor homes.  We’re not going back to the states this way.



Anyway, back on track, my recollection of San Blas was that of a sleepy fishing village with a few thousand inhabitants and no pavement.  I thought it interesting that the people would sweep the dirt streets. (Now we still see that in many Mexican towns.)  In 1982, we stayed at the Suites San Blas hotel and in those days the price, including two meals, was $40.00 USD per day.  The hotel is still there, but the price is $35.00 per day.  I’m not sure that they still include the meals.

The front of Suites San Blas looks toward the ocean and naval base.


The rooms were one and two bedroom suites and the back side had a balcony that overlooked what, at that time, was jungle.


I mentioned the naval base.  In 1982, during my earlier visit, there was no evidence that they had any naval ships or boats.  They did have a marching band that would troop up and down the street at 8:00 every morning.  No late sleeping allowed here.   This trip they did have patrol boats and we didn’t hear the band.

San Blas is now a town with about 40,000 people.  Nearly all of the streets are paved with cobblestones and some cement.  Here is a street along the shore where there is a row of Palapa Restaurants on the beach.  About a half mile south on this road it becomes a sand road, but the row of restaurants continues.


In 2002, San Blas was devastated by Hurricane Kenna.  Generally everything is rebuilt or repaired, but some buildings such as this one were left to be reclaimed by the jungle.


Here is present day San Blas.


As in all Mexican towns, there is a town square.  The one in San Blas is beautiful and spotless.


This is the Playa Azul restaurant.  We ate at the adjoining restaurant, Alicia’s.  We had excellent lobster and enjoyed the scenery before hitting the beach.


From our table, we spotted a horse tied to the lifeguard chair and the rider resting in the shade.


The weather was a little windy and the fine sand blew in the air unless you were right down on the water’s edge.

The beach is really flat and easy walking.  The configuration makes it good for boogie boarding because you don’t get caught up in outgoing waves.


A few blocks from the beach we came across Los Cocos RV Park.  We found it odd that unlike every other RV park in Mexico, it was nearly empty.  The place is beautiful, but unfortunately, the rumors of the dreaded “no-see-ems” has taken its toll.  These are insects that typically attack bare legs below the knees at around dusk.  We’ve found them nearly everywhere.  We didn’t, however, have a problem with them at San Blas (late January, early February).   I also didn’t notice them during my 1982 visit which was the week following Christmas.  Whenever we plan to be out near dusk, we always spray ourselves from the knees down.  Here’s a shot of the park with its lone guest.


We elected to spend the night at Hotel La Garza, which was a pretty upscale hotel not far from the beach.  We have a few shots of the lobby, pool, and room balconies.




We found the hotel to be rather empty.  There were a few tourists and several people that were staying here receiving treatment at a nearby medical clinic.

A true find was the El Delfin Restaurant and Bar that was located at Hotel Garza.  We ate two meals there, dinner was excellent and the breakfast was outstanding.


No trip to San Blas is complete without a boat tour of the La Tovara Jungle and Swamps.  We’ll cover this on our next entry.

Margarita Challenge

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Well, first things first—–

Happy Birthday to our youngest Granddaughter Maddi on her 3rd BD.


Now to more serious business — The Margarita Challenge

This is an annual event put on by some US and Canadian visitors.  The proceeds go to a local La Peñata school.

The Restaurante Piña Colada was the site for the festivities.  The weather for the evening was perfect, of course  Several hundred guests had their choice of shrimp, chicken or prime rib.  It took some consultation with the butcher so that he understand how prime rib is cut.  Mexicans generally use very thin slices of beef.

The restaurant was decorated with a strange combination of flags and beer bottle cases hanging from the ceiling.  No US flag, but there was a Communist China flag.



The Margarita Challenge is set up to judge the best margaritas in three categories.  Three mixologists from local restaurants compete in each category.  It is not a contest for the skimpiest costume, but here is one of the contestants with her assistant.


The three judges on the opposite side of the table had their work cut out for them.  The results of each mix were distributed to the judges and then the two additional drinks were sold in auction.  For each mix, the winning bid and the runner-up each received a beautiful drink.  Winning bids were generally in the area of 1000 pesos or $100 USD.

In conjunction with the contest for the best margarita, a silent auction was held for various items that had been donated for the cause.  Many liquor, wine, art and craft items were available for bid.  Our only bid, and win was for a large bottle of Crown Royal.

The little daughter of the contestant pictured above, on the left, spent most of her time dancing.  Sometimes she would find a partner.  This woman managed to dance a full song in this position.  Makes my knees ache.


There were 33 people from Ron’s RV Park in attendance.  We had two full tables filled up.  Some people drove themselves, while many of us opted for a cab ride for the 30 Km round trip.  The cost for the cab was 100 pesos per couple, about $10 USD.  Here is a shot of Ron and his wife Manon, the owners of Ron’s RV Park.  They live here full time now and are originally from Quebec.


Tinka learned to multi-task —


Entertainment for the evening included a magician that was really quite good.  He spoke no English, but the tricks were pretty self explanatory.


Are my eyes bloodshot yet?


We had a great time and the school came out the big winner with some huge funds that will go to support new technology for their students.

One month from today we leave the Puerto Vallarta area and start heading north.

Anyway, life on the road remains good.


Just a note:  We’ve had great success using 1&1 as our internet provider and web host.  We pay a rediculous $40.00 per here for three domains, 1200 mailboxes, our blog, 1200 GB web space, 24/7 phone and email support, and numerous other features.  Check it out. 


As low as $2.00 per month.

Way to go, Cowboys!!!!!

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Ooopppps!!!!!  That is the wrong team and wrong year.  Sorry!!!  The cowboys didn’t make it this year.  BOOHOO.  Oh well, we still went to a Superbowl Party and at least the Cowboys supplied a good announcer in Troy Aikman.

Our party took place under a palapa in the nice warm weather here in the RV Park.



 There is only a small TV under the palapa,  so one of the couples brought their wide screen TV out so everyone could watch.

There are 2 great things about a Superbowl Party.  Your favorite team playing and the commercials.  The next best thing is if your favorite team doesn’t make it, you at least get to watch the great commercials.  Each commercial usually costs over a million dollars so they had better be great!!!!!!!

So we head 10 feet to the party.  Our Cowboys aren’t playing but at least we get to watch the great and usually funny commercials.   WRONG!!!!!!!!!  We are watching FOX channel with Troy Aikman and staff but when the commercials come on they are Canadian commercials–not the normal Superbowl commercials.  Bummer.  I think they put on about 2 of the regular commercials that people in the states saw.  We were hooked up to Canadian Star Choice since Dish Network and Direct TV are almost impossible to get down here in Puerto Vallarta without an 8-foot dish.

I bet we had some food at our party that a lot of you did not have.  Moose hot dogs and caribou (or reindeer) hot dogs courtesy of our Alaskan friends..  They were very good.  More of a meat taste than regular hot dogs.  The caribou was a little on the spicy side.  We did have regular hamburgers though.

So today we got on the internet and watched  the commercials to see what we missed.  We know that when we get back to the states in a few weeks we will get to see most of them over and over and over and you get the picture.

Maybe next year?

One Day, Two Days, Three Days of Shopping!!!!!

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

La Peñita RV Park organized a shopping trip for the women of the RV Park.  This was the RV place we stayed when, back in early November, we limped into that town with our brake problems.  It was a THREE day shopping trip near Guadalajara.  Tinka was invited to go with one of the women there.  Guadalajara is a 4  1/2 hour bus trip up the mountains from the coast.  We climbed on our charter bus at 7:30 AM on Wed.

The destination was Tónala, a suburb of Guadalajara.  Tónala is well known for the craftsmanship of many different types of mexican crafts.   For example there are 11 different types of ceramics made and produced in Tónala plus paper-mache, brass, furniture and hand blown glassware.  If you have ever been to a border town  or to the interior of Mexico you have seen many of these crafts.  This is where all the vendors and shopkeepers all over Mexico go and buy their wares to sell in their shops and on the beach.

The market is on Thursday and Sunday. 



The plaza is covered with merchant stands of every known craft to sell.  It was very busy so after tiring of the crowd we would go shopping in the regular shops of Tónala.


All the merchants would wrap our purchases up in newspaper and sometimes in boxes to protect from breakage.  For items which were not protected, we bought  bubble wrap and boxes to put our purchases in and transported them home in our chartered bus.


Even more purchases.


We stayed at the old Hacienda del Sol Hotel which was near the market.


We took a taxi into Guadalajara to eat dinner one night.  It was a beautiful indoors and outdoors restaurant called Santo Coyote.  Forgot my camera.

The next day we took a taxi to another suburban town of Guadalajara called Tlaquepaque.  This was a city where the rich people of Guadalajara would build their summer homes to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.  These were houses with big courtyards.  When the people quit coming to their homes they were eventually converted to upscale shops of more talented and renowned artists and restaurants.

The Plaza of Tlaquepaque.


Cleaning the brass on the street.


Houses converted into upascale shops.


Jose playing the guitar for Liz and Pat.


Tinka about to get forked in a ceramic Chef’s chair.


We ate at a restaurant called the Patio.  On Friday, Saturday and Sundays they have live entertainment starting at 2 PM for the lunch crowd.  First there is a guitarist and then a mariachi band at 3 PM.  What is unusual about the mariachi band it is all females!

We arrived back at the RV park about 7 PM on Friday night with all the husbands having a heart attack of all the boxes being delivered off the bus.