The Fish has Landed - Puerto Vallarta/Bucerias

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December 9th 2009
Published: December 9th 2009
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Boy on a SeahorseBoy on a SeahorseBoy on a Seahorse

My fav meditation spot
December 9th, 2009

Well, I'm definitely in my Mexico. Within the first three hours, more men smiled and said hello to me than in six months in Calgary. I stopped at Las Palomas, which faces the ocean, for my first Mexican meal (and cerveza) and lo and behold, Eduardo, one of the waiters at Salsa Mexicana Restaurant, who was part of my lifesaving apres the France Fiasco, came up to me and said I look the same as twelve years ago. Kind man. He is now married with two children. He's the manager there and bought me a celebratory tequila and has invited me back for breakfast.

Then I met a "baby" shaman (young shaman in training) at the square's festivities for the Twelve Days of Guadalupe. He told me I need to work out a certain "issue", suggested I meditate with a grounding to the earth meditation each morning and that I need to balance my life. I bought a couple of alopathic remedies off of him and I think I had peyote dreams ... incredibly wild. A black panther showed up at my doorway in my dreams and this is what the totem means: When the black
Sunset Sunset Sunset

panther totem appears in your life, it is a symbol of releasing your passions, and starting a new phase of your life. A phase in which you are discovering your desires, and living your dreams. Sounds perfect to me!

Thank God some things don't change; the square is still filled with families cooking their Mexican specialties and women with their home baked desserts for the festival season. One passionate salesman sold me his wife's fantastic chocolate cake with a custard topping.

I then ran into my huarache chefs from that same stint here in PV. Huarache literally means sandal but is a giant, thick tortilla (shaped like the bottom of a sandal) stuffed with assorted yummy things. I would dine at their stand at least once a week when I lived here. I received kisses and hugs from this couple who now have a little restaurant kiosko. An eventful first three hours!

Paloma del Mar put me into one of their new apartments and it's great. It's spacious and comfy. I got an old home welcome from Fernando the porter, Olivia the desk clerk and Adriana the owner.

I'd forgotten just how noisy Mexicans are in

Catch and Release
the morning. Paloma del Mar is on a typical Mexican street, not sequestered on the beach, so one can enjoy the toots, music, horns and bells from the assortment of people coming by to sell water, tamales, or whatever.

Today I'm a Puffer Fish - the shock of going from -27 and sandpaper dry to +27 and super high humidity has me feeling a bit puffy but I'll acclimatize!

December 11th

So far, I think I've tried to eat half the tortillas this side of the Rio Grande. I love corn tortillas and real tacos!

Within my first three minutes on the beach at Playa los Muertos, I ran into a friend of a friend and spent the balance of the afternoon sipping a cerveza and eating chicken nachos with her. Very enjoyable.

Things are fairly quiet here compared to the usual tourism but I think a lot of people come after the Christmas festivities with family. I'm enjoying the pace. Lots of things seem the same but some restaurants and businesses have closed due to the bad press.

Yesterday, I took a trip to Bucerias with my friend Gina to get everything lined
Whale FlukeWhale FlukeWhale Fluke

Happy Whales
up for my book reading at Sandrina's Restaurant and meet Ms. Sandrina. The restaurant looks gorgeous!

I have found an oceanside cappuccino bar called Roberto's with good beans and internet servicio. Love the sound of the waves and I have a friendly stray sitting with me. (Roberto's: Guerrero #123, Nuevo Malecon)

December 15th

Picked the right time to get out of Dodge! I am at Roberto's on the new malecon beach area right now and it's overcast but the perfect temperature for me. And it's not the deep freeze of Calgary!

My book launch party was beautiful Saturday night - Sandrina's was so pretty with the tiled patio, palm trees and greenery and candles twinkling. And the food! Fabulosa. First we had a delicious corn and bean empanada with dip, then a delicious, fresh salad. Next, a filet mignon lightly breaded with garlic mushrooms, a potato wrapped in bacon, and a cauliflower souffle. Plus mojitos and a cappuccino with baileys!

There were just over 30 people and then others who'd not known about the book reading but who apparently really enjoyed it. Samuel and Adriana of my hotel, Paloma del Mar, came out, so that

Beach Bum
was very kind. Also, a couple brought their two kids and these little cuties gave up their Christmas posada to meet a real author (they are from Calgary). They came up with their two chairs and planted themselves in front of me afterwards to ask questions. Adorable, smart little cookies. Sandrina's son Paul and daughter Chelsea served and they were great. For anyone traveling to Puerto Vallarta or Bucerias, Sandrina's is a MUST.

A bunch of us went to The Twisted Rose for the salsa night afterward, so a late night. They have a live band on the weekends and it's an open air set up.

I hung out with Petra, a friend who came for the reading from Santa Maria del Oro, and her friend Julie on Sunday. We leisurely checked out the trinkets for sale in Bucerias. We stayed at a dumpy hotel next to Sandrina's that I wouldn't necessarily recommend but it was fine for a night.

I went out for the last night's festivities of the Virgin when I returned. One must eat as much of that home cooked food set up in the plaza during the twelve days of celebrations as is
La Luna LlenaLa Luna LlenaLa Luna Llena

A Full Mexican Moon
possible. One robust woman had a table loaded with the most tantalizing cakes I've ever seen. I opted for the chocolate and it was divine.

I don't know if the pope made a big visit here about a year ago or if it was an inordinately amorous time, but even for Mexico, there are an incredible number of new babies here.

I've checked out a few of the beach bars along Playa los Muertos in Old Vallarta. The old stand-by, C.C.s is still filled with ex-pats, but I think the prices are far too high for what you get. A bit further down near La Palapa is Fidencio's, which has great servicio, excellent prices and delicious nachos with chicken and guacamole.

I've already adapted to the noise level and am able to sleep, aside of the endless fireworks that went off all night for the end of the Virgin's party. She went out with a bang.

December 17th

Yesterday, as I pulled out my water bottle for a drink, I passed a small girl playing in the street. Suddenly she stopped playing and ran up to me to grab my leg. She pleaded for something but mumbled. Que quieres nina? She clutched harder at my leg and opened her mouth like a little bird. Water! She wanted water. A pop I can understand but when a child begs for water, she must be incredibly thirsty. (I gave her some and returned with a large bottle to leave with her tia at the taco stand). I am very fortunate to live as I do.

Adriana (Paloma del Mar owner) took me for breakfast yesterday and we enjoyed a leisurely morning with a cappuccino at Roberto's afterwards. The hotel is doing well with long-term guests flying in from the deep freeze of Canada.

I've enjoyed the ultimate in relaxation for the past two sunsets: a margarita on the beach with a foot massage with German (pronounced Herman) and the lull of waves lapping the shoreline. Ahhhhhhhhh....

Restaurant recommendations:

The food and the waiters at La Dolce Vida are still up to the same standards - great. The spaghetti Amatriciana is as tasty as ever.

For tasty shrimp and fish tacos: Calamar Aventerero, Aquiles Serdan #130 across from Rizos grocery store.

For fun, silly beach reading: Go to Lucy's Cucu Cabana at 295 Basilio Badillo and pick up her husband's books:
PV on 49 Brain Cells a Day, Refried Brains or PV on a Donkey a Day.


Feliz Ano Neuvo!
(Happy New Year!)

I love that I can stop at the Happy Chicken in my ‘hood on the way home from the beach for fresh guacamole, chips and a beer for an après dinner snack (all for 3.50!)

You can call me Floja Fish - the Lazy Fish (writer). One does not realize how burned out one is until one stops to smell the sea breezes. Hence, the break in writing. And a change in flight ticket to stay an extra week. I've been sleeping in, eating wonderful mexi-breakfasts, walking to the beach, reading, and just resting at the ocean.

Right after Christmas day, the streets and restaurants swelled with tourists both national and foreign. The malecon is jam packed every night making it a little less enjoyable than the beginning of December. But I am very happy to see that the smear campaign has not been successful and that people are here.

My actual birthday went a little sideways with my friend Donna’s arrival that afternoon. The original plans to go out to dinner got waylaid due to raucous celebrations at a friend of Donna’s. Gina treated me out to dinner the next evening with her cousin’s family at Sandrina’s in Bucerias and the duo, Latcho and Andrea were playing pretty flamenco guitar and a special menu (again, fabulous) was offered that night. It was most enjoyable.

I also spent Christmas Eve out in Bucerias for a family dinner on the street at Gina’s home and then Christmas day at Donna’s three story villa for a turkey dinner.

Donna chartered a boat one day and we fished and got lucky enough to whale-watch three active whales. We stopped at Las Animas for lunch. The coconut prawns with mango sauce there are the best I've ever had!

I found a good romantic travel memoir for the beach called The Italian Affair and just finished another book called The Guru of Love. What a pleasurable change to read something for fun rather than to learn or “grow.”

If you have no dental plan (like me) it’s a great idea to get your exams and cleanings done here in Mexico at a reputable clinic. The prices are far less than at home. Another service here that is less than at home, and far more fun than the dentist, is the massage therapy. Tomorrow I go for the mud scrub/massage at a tiny salon with a very good massage therapist (Irma) called Lotus in front of the cathedral. The place is small and spartan but clean.

Unfortunately I have my annual New Year’s cold. One of the hotel clerks suggested an OTC remedy and the farmacia clerk suggested I supplement it with an awesome herbal remedy with honey, pollen, eucalyptus, and other good things. Both seem to be working quite well.

If you’ve not tried huaraches, you must try Chilan Balam, a little hole in the wall place just north of the malecon. It’s at 997 Avenida Mexico. You can choose an assortment of toppings like chicken, chorizo, beef, shrimps, etc. Deliciosa!

One day while walking to breakfast, an elephant went by. Then another, and another. The circus is in town and it almost broke my heart to see the elephants being dragged through traffic on little trailers along with caged leopards, tigers, black panthers and monkeys. Nothing but nothing in this world should be caged.


9th December 2009

Hey Wanda, Glad you have arrived safe and sound. Wish I were there too!!! There is no end in sight for this AWFUL weather.
14th December 2009

Que onda cabroncita?
Estoy muchisimo zeloso!!!!!!!! Aqui tenemos -35C! Loco! Es cierto que el invierno proximo vamos a quedar al menos un mes en Vallarta. Fue muy divertido verte en Zenari's (hace tres semanas?) Buena suerte con tu libro! Mira, nuestros amigos Erin y Hector de "Tia Catrina" tienen otro restaurante que se llama "418". Se encuentro en la calle Basilio Badillo 418, unos cinco quadras de la playa, en la direccion del tunel. Si tienes el tiempo, por favor diga "HOLA" de Carol y yo. Abrazos, Torben (el viejo cabron danes)
21st December 2009

Happy Belated Birthday
Thought about you yesterday. Hope you had a Great Day Wanda. We were in Red Deer celebrating my Dad's 91st. Hope I'm lucky enough to make it that far and be in good health. Have you checked out 418 yet? We've never been so let us know what it's like.
22nd March 2010

"One day while walking to breakfast, an elephant went by. Then another, and another. The circus is in town and it almost broke my heart to see the elephants being dragged through traffic on little trailers along with caged leopards, tigers, black panthers and monkeys. Nothing but nothing in this world should be caged." thank Wanda for sharing the story. Hope you had a Great Day. Red Deer Dentist

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