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Published: September 22nd 2007
Friday 21st September
After an early start we arrived at the bus stop before 8.30am which took us to the harbour. Of course we were early and almost went on the wrong boat! We started chatting with another fellow who had the same ticket as us. His name was Mark Oman and he was here writing a movie script set in Vallarta during the fiesta for the Day of the Dead. The working title for this is “Always not Forever”.
By the time we boarded the boat we still only numbered a dozen and this included only 7 gringos.
It was glorious cruising south along the Bay of Banderas, the breeze blowing gently, the sun masked by some clouds and the captain taking us close to the land to explain the various sights.
Our first stop was Majahuitas, accessible only by boat and known for its untouched beauty. Here we were able to snorkel using gear suplied by the boat. There were a multitude of various types of fish.
A crew member found a seahorse which he captured and showed everyone - the first time we've seen a sea horse in its natural habitat. Rags was given a banana
which he broke up to feed the fish. Lots of little coloured fish surrounded him.
A couple, Leah and Loren, who were on their honeymoon were snorkelling nearby. As we approached we realised there was a problem - apparently Loren's new wedding ring had slipped off while he was swimming. Even though we all looked for it, it wasn't to be found - too many little nooks and crevices!
Our final destination was Yelapa, a small village of about 1500 residents, and electricity that only arrived recently. After being delivered to the beach a group of 7 gringoes headed for the waterfall hike. To begin we had to ford the river that divided the town. The walk took us through the cobblestoned and often muddy back streets of the village. One can ride to the waterfall and horses seem to be one of the main means of transport which meant avoiding horse manure along the way.
The water from the falls fell about 50 metres into a shallow, rocky pool. We were so hot that it didn't take much for us to hop in and cool off before heading back. By the time we arrived back at
the beach it was the hottest part of the day and we had to take another dip in the ocean to cool off once again. It was about 36 degrees today so we were glad to be close to water.
Back on the boat we were treated to a late lunch of chicken, rice and salad while we waited for the other group to return. They'd chosen to take a boat to the falls instead of walking. All we could drink, continental breakfast and lunch were all included for the price of this tour. Needless to say a few beers and margaritas were enjoyed throughout the day.
From here the boat took the most direct route back to Vallarta. On the way we were entertained by a large marine bird, the yellow footed booby. (A chap from Denver, Mike, knew his birds) This continually hovered above the boat, occasionally diving and sometimes catching fish, then flying fast to catch us up.
The ride on the bus back to town was very similar to a bus ride in Bali, the driver cursing other drivers and driving as fast and furious as possible - Judy thought it was quite
exciting! By the time we arrived back at the villa we were hot and tired. A cold shower quickly cooled us down.
The villa was lovely and clean as Rosa, the cleaning lady was in today. It usually takes us half a day to find everything after she's been as she tends to put everything away. She is very thorough though and even washes our clothes.
Rags remembered the time difference between here and home and rang his mother to wish her a happy 85th birthday for the 22nd. Skype was very clear and they could both hear each other clearly and Rags could hear the arrival of Mum's friends for the traditional morning tea which stretches out to mid-afternoon. Great to hear her sounding so happy!
Saturday 22nd September
Today we decided to have a day in town. After replenishing our pesos at the local ATM we headed to the market area. After a bit of haggling Judy bought a necklace made from turquoise and we bought a beaded mask. These masks depict the major element of the Huichol world and the beads
Dinner at Andale
We joined Trevor, Sally, Janet and Darryl for dinner.
are embedded into wax on a wooden base.
From here we walked to the Malecon and thought we would have a coffee at “Hooters” a place that we'd heard mentioned yesterday. Their motto is “ Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined” usually the sort of places we avoid but not today. We went in and found a seat but were then told by the skimpily clad “Hooters Girl” that they didn't serve coffee! Never mind, Starbucks was nearby and we'd been promising Rags a coffee here.
Starbucks was a wonderful refuge from the heat and we indulged in apple cake to go with our coffees. Judy thought she'd be adventurous and ordered a frappe but wouldn't again! Iced coffee with a dollop of cream.
After a beer at the condo we were ready for an afternoon siesta before heading out for the local board meeting at Cuates y Cuetes. There was quite a crowd here and we finally caught up with Charlie, Jim's partner from next door. He and Rags had a great chat.
As you can see in the photo we joined a group for dinner at Andale Restaurant. Janet and Darryl have just moved here to
retire from Calgary although they've been holidaying here for many years and are good friends with the owner of Andale. Judy felt like a change from Mexican food and had baby ribs but Rags stuck with the Mexican plate. The rain came down and didn't appear to be letting up so we chatted on until almost midnight when Trevor went to get his car and dropped us off at our back door.
Sunday 23rd September
It was after 10am before we surfaced, the latest yet. We didn't seem to want to make any decisions quickly on what we were going to do but 11am saw us off to the beach via the dreaded 200 plus step stairs.
From here we walked south along Playas Conchas Chinas (Chinese or “Curly” Shells Beach) in and out of little coves and bays for about 2 kms. Each bay was either full of locals, it being a Sunday, or with debris washed in after the heavy rain last night. We eventually came to a secluded cove just around the corner from a hotel where guests were being given a late breakfast. We had a dip here but
Dinner with one of the best views of PV from our balcony.
Rags noticed a strong rip near where Judy was swimming so we both returned to shore.
We returned, hot and sweaty via the highway after scrambling up a slope and climbing a rickety set of stairs from the beach, where we cooled off in our pool.
Lunch and an early margarita set the scene for a siesta until after 4pm. As it was Sunday we treated ourselves to another drink and wiled away the afternoon with our books.
Monday & Tuesday 23rd & 24th September
Monday was a write-off, Judy had a recurrence of her problem & the loo had to be in close vicinity. Judy did her research on the Internet and gave Rags the name of some antibiotics which he was able to purchase without a prescription from the Pharmacia Guadalajara. They quickly started to have the desired effect.
Tuesday she was better and whilst Rosa did the cleaning we went shopping at Walmart. Great place - has all you need under one roof. We purchased a couple of bottles of Scotch that were on special at about A$10 so that we may pack them properly in our packs
A few Gringos
Rags, Mark, Janet and Mike coming into Vallarta at the end of our cruise on Friday.
when we leave on Sunday - we're not risking what happened in Hawaii.
After putting the perishables in the fridge we left Rosa to it and went to one of the “colonies” or what we call suburbs, to see Trevor, a Pommie, one of the expats we have met. He lived near Great Bardfield, where we are going after Croatia. He was able to show us in books and on a map all the interesting places we should see whilst we are there. If we had a few months more than what we have we should be able to see them all, but it did give us lots of ideas to explore and has made us even keener to get there. I'm certain Nessie & Peter will show us even more places to confuse the issue. Still, that's the exciting part of being as flexible as we are with our itinerary.
Trevor pointed us in the direction of Cuale Paradise, a restaurant on the river in an another colony we hadn't visited. This was only a short distance away on a cobbled, rutted and badly potholed “road”. Maybe the Mexican govt should use some of the short-term, minor
Huichol Bead Art
This man is making a jaguar head, We bought a mask here as we thought that would travel best in our backpacks.
offenders as labour to fix their roads! Nice meal in lovely surroundings with the roar of the river right next to us.
The humidity got to both of us after that and the rest of the day was spent swimming in the pool, reading or relaxing.
It started raining at about 8pm, as it has done nearly every night since we have been here, nice steady rain rather than the torrents which often occur. It continued throughout the night and it wasn't until the early hours of the morning that it stopped. This will mean a lovely cool morning but hot & steamy in the afternoon. The humidity is one thing we won't miss when we leave, in fact, we are both looking forward to the cool, or at least dry heat, of Croatia.
Wednesday 25th September
Did we mention that Rags seemed to have had a reaction to some midge bites? They cover his chest and back and didn't seem to have been getting better despite putting various lotions on them. Anyway, today they started to look better - might be the stronger antihistamine he is taking now.
Typical of the road we walked along
We had to climb through the barb wire fence and back again to get around that!
instructions on how to get to the Playa Grande where there is a pleasant reastaurant. We decided to take the bus as Jim suggested it would be an interesting ride and because we couldn't find it on a map so wouldn't have known how to drive there. We duly arrived at the bus stop and waited and waited - lots of buses but not one that mentioned our destination. We almost gave up but asked somebody else waiting and they confirmed that it would be along soon. Finally the bus arrived (a blue and green one Jim, not white)
It was an interesting ride through the colony of Independencia which seemed to have some lovely homes and also a lot of substandard apartment blocks. The road declined until we were driving on dirt roads with potholes full of water. We alighted at the end of the line and looked at the directions, which Rags had carefully copied. “walk around the corner and look for the basketball court”. We walked around the corner in the direction the bus driver confirmed was correct and found that the basketball court was nowhere to be seen - it was close on 2 kilometres down
this dirt track with water filled potholes. Our t-shirts were wet with perspiration when we finally did arrive at this open palapa roofed restaurant by the river. We could see local people netting fish in the river and during lunch saw various butterflies and an iguana. The chef recommended the prawn and we had these, very tasty although a little overcooked.
Luckily, we didn't have to walk all the way back as we were able to catch an alternate bus by crossing a swing bridge to the other side of the river. We meandered through another colony on our return, I think San Esteban, By the time we arrived “home” we were ready for a swim and some refreshments!
Thursday 27th September
Today we did the real holiday thing and went down to the beach and laid under a palapa and read our books, alternately reading and swimming, ordering food and drinks when we felt like it. We spent the whole day there and when we got home we discovered how well or not we'd put the sun cream on even though we had stayed in the shade. Judy had stripey kees and red toes
You can still see the decorations form the Mexican Independence Day fiesta.
and Rags had a red chest!
Friday 28th September
We waited until the rain stopped before leaving today. Rags headed off to Starbucks while Judy went to do a few bits of souvenir shopping - not much as I think our backpacks will be overflowing as it is. We then met up for lunch. We had this in the flea market - a real local haunt and some of the best food we've had so far in Vallarta. Previously to arriving in Vallarta we'd eaten at many local markets but since arriving here we have eaten at more expensive tourist restaurants and have generally found that the food is “nice” but bland and certainly not memorable.
Here at “La Tia” we ate with relish because the meat stew, rice and refried beans was absolutely delicious! Also, eating at tourist restaurants seems more a risk to Judy's bowels than eating where the locals do.
Saturday 29th September
Judy had a manicure, pedicure & haircut whilst Rags washed and cleaned the car. An afternoon of rest and then sorting & packing of our bags. Marvelous how theamount of luggage grows even if you haven't
been buying much!!
This evening we met the expats at the Roma Cafe run by an interesting man named Fox. He and his pet parrot are quite a pair. Cheap pizza and beers were the highlight of the evening although Judy had to take it easy as she was suffering from nausea.
After a sad farewell to our new-found friends we left fairly early to get ready for our departure tomorrow, this at the respectable hour of 11am.
Sunday 30th September
A very restless night was had as is usual for us when we are about to leave, Judy especially so as she was still feeling a bit nauseous. .
We were up and about just after 7am and after washing & drying the towels and sheets, exchanging our pesos to US$ and general tidying we tried to contact our hosts, Jamie & Laurie in Canada. They were either out or deep sleepers! We left a message thanking them for their great hospitality.
The flight to Dallas was uneventful, everything just hit the fan there. Rather than having a transit lounge for passengers and having the baggage continue through to the end destination we
had to go through Immigration and Customs, pick up our bags, then go through security again and recheck in with American Airlines. Chaos! It took nearly an hour to get through Immigration, pleas from several passengers having to catch the London plane in 20 minutes ignored. After finally getting through and running down the hall to get our bags we found ourselves in another long line for a security check. Even the begging by a young English couple, Tamasin and Mike, in the same predicament as us was to no avail. The official at security told us that the next security along (being several at Dallas, might be less busy) Mike ran down to check but reported back that it wasn't. The official then suggested that they'd opened another line at this station so we and all who had heard her literally ran as fast as they could to the next station. It seemed busier if anything but then Mike had the idea of appealing to passengers to move in front of them in the queue so that is how we continued by saying, “our flight leaves at 5.05, when does your's leave?” and people took pity on us and
allowed us to move in front. But then disaster for us. Rags moved to unpack the laptop and remove his shoes while he left Judy with tickets and boarding passes to show to another official but she found she only had one set of tickets and boarding passes for Rudolf. (We have books of them) so Rags had to return and look for more. By this time Mike and Tamasin were through security and we didn't see them again.
After security we ran with shoes in hand to Gate 12 that we'd been told was place to go on the Mexican flight but they were wrong and we ran, still holding our boots, (after 5 by then) to Gate 27 only to be told we were too late. The flight had dumped our bags and were off although in truth the plane must have only just closed it's doors as it was still there. Judy burst into tears but brightened immediately when they told us there was another flight in 2 hours and we'd been booked onto that. This meant we would still be in time for our Dubrovnik connection.
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