Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Journey Through A Day

Welcome to Spring to all... I hope that you are getting the sense, at the very least, that spring is right around the corner. There is a tree in the front yard of my house that is home to a group of very happy birds. They sing in the rain. They sing in the dark. And they even sing when there is a cat watching them.

I am not travelling much these days, though I suppose in a way, I do every day. I thought that I would take you on a walk in a day of my work life. Don't worry - I'll keep out the "work" in work.

Morning on the south side of the mountain. I see the sun rise on the other side of the mountain, as the light descends into the valley. Here was my view on the day spring arrived:

My office has a view, and new blinds though I am not sure you can see them here. They are techno blinds that will block out the heat of the summer sun. The verdict is still out on this one. As you can see, I have a very fine view of the backlane. Let me tell you, there is a lot that happens in that backlane.

I didn't take any pictures of my actual work because my work involves meetings with other people, and they are entirely confidential. My desk looks like any other, so no picture of that. My work involves a lot of talking and well... that doesn't seem to translate into photos very well.

This day I was doing follow up phone calls to people, and doing this after hours when they were home from work. I went for a walk to get a beverage. Here it is:

It is not coffee. It is a Dandy Dairy Latte.

And that is the end of my work day. I came home and got the parcel ready to go Manitoba for my sister's birthday. I did this in a Tasmanian Devil style, and it shows:

I got to Greyhound before the bus heading East, so there's a good chance it will be there by Saturday.

When I got home, I picked up the sock I started on the plane from Spokane to Phoenix. I didn't do much in Puerto Vallarta - knitting is impossible at the beach (if any one has any ideas, let me know), and didn't mix with the myriad of other things we did.

Here's my progress so far:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Yelapa and Farewell

Saturday - no Spanish class. We are off to Yelapa, which we have been told by the Lonely Planet is 45 minutes by water taxi. We decide to take the Dramamine, just in case (wouldn't want to ruin an entire day - though I heard that the best cure for seasickness is liquor - and there is plenty of that in Vallarta), and then to have breakfast at one of their lovely restaurants. The boat is full with many well-humoured people including my seatmate, Simon, who is one funny guy. On the journey, our driver suddenly stops - a giant sea turtle. "Extra bonus," the boatman says.

When we arrive at Yelapa, we get off the pier near town, which is a well choreographed event. We step off the boat when the wave comes in.

One of out boatmen suggests that we go see the waterfalls, and then go down to the beach. Our thoughts are on breakfast. But breakfast is not obvious from the pier. We walk up and around the streets, (emphasis on up). We follow the path/walkway, and find stairs to a restaurant. A beautiful view for our breakfast. BJ checks out the restaurant; after a thumbs up, I climb the many stairs. BJ is off to the bathroom when the restaurant owner approaches me, "I'm sorry, we're closed." Our idea of having breakfast on Yelapa is sounding like a bad idea. Before the next leg of the journey, I visit the rather unusual bathroom:

Yep, that's gravel on the floor.

We continue along the path, deciding that we will eat on the beach as there are no other obvious places. As I glance left, I see that the beach is behind us. My instinct says, "Stop, go no further." When I see people approaching, I ask where the path is to the beach. At the top of the path, we are told, pointing in the direction we came from. We retrace our steps and up we go, to find the stairs that lead us down to the beach.

We reach sea level, and find a restaurant immediately.

Our breakfast is Heuvos Rancheros and waffles. What time is it you might ask? 13:00 hours.

And off we are to the beach:

We are told that our departure is at 3 o'clock. I have already heard stories from home about overnights in Yelapa (which everyone enjoyed). As this is our final night in Puerto Vallarta, there is much to see - we do not want to miss our boat. Our guides decide that the waves are too high and we have to get onto the boat from the ladder on the other pier. Off we trek to the north side of the cove. Again, the choreography of boat boarding.

The journey back is full of good humour, some of it Margarita-induced. I sit beside Simon again, and spend most of the return trip laughing.

The ocean has stepped up the pace since the morning. By the time we arrive in Puerto Vallarta, I have a left arm soaking with sea spray.

Back on solid land, I head to the pool. The sun begins to sink in the sky.

We spend our last evening eating camarones al ajo and shopping for gifts. We walk the Malecon one more time, and though we are excited to go to the club, a midnight start time is too much for these busy gals. So I lay in my bed, hear the festive sounds of party-time in Puerto Vallarta, put in my ear plugs for the last time, and dream of dancing.

The next day, we forgo breakfast for more shopping. While I wait for our fresh squeezed orange juice to be squeezed, BJ finds a bookstore. A bookstore with two cats. One named Chapter, the other Verse. Chapter has not returned from the evening before. The owner is worried.

We wander back to our hotel and see an amazing display of necklaces at the vendors:

At the hotel, we order our taxi, which now costs less than half of the fee that we paid from the airport. This is the way. North we go past hotels, and shops, Wal Mart and Subway.

Buenos Tardes, Puerto Vallarta....

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another Beach Day

After Spanish class in the morning of Uno de Marzo, we headed to the orange juice stand (fresh squeezed every morning - not right for my blood type but sooo worth deviating from the plan), and then to the bus stop headed South. We were off to the beach at Mismaloya. After practicing our Spanish to the bus driver (not that successfully), we found out that we had missed our stop so we got the scenic route to the beach. After getting off the bus (at last!) we walked down the road to the sea shore and Reuben found us... he had the best prices on the beach for food and free chairs!

Reuben is a fun kinda guy... Here he is in front of his restaurant/bar:

At the end of the beach on Mismaloya is a thatched hut overlooking the water. In this open-aired room, you can get a massage!

Sandy beaches....

no matter what, you end up taking some of it home with you...

Later, we walked to the Zocalo and down the Malecon, a walkway that borders the ocean. This is a popular hangout after dark. Along the way, we saw performers, a rock piler (statues made of rocks), and the most impressive work of two sand sculpturers. I attempted to take pictures for the sand sculpturer in our family, but alas there was not enough light, even with a full moon.

What I was able to capture with the camera was our courtyard:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Beach - At Last

Day 3 (February 28th) was when we first went to the beach, not that we went in the water. Those waves were awesome - and not for ones used to swimming in lakes! We sat on the sand, went for walk along the edge of the ocean and got sprayed with salt water, and talked to a whole lot of vendors. "No, gracias."

The two hotels where we stayed were on opposite sides of the Rio Cuale. The second one, Hotel Encino, edged the river. Later we found the foot bridges that crossed the river - swinging bridges! Every time I crossed the bridges, I laughed. On our Day 3, we got a view of our hotel from the ocean.

The building in the middle hidden by the trees is ours. BJ and I can see our room in this picture - it is on the second floor from the top; we had a direct view of the ocean!! The water here is the River Cuale; I am on the foot bridge over the river (no, it's not swinging).

The rooftop had a seating area, lovely bar facing the ocean and our pool! Here is the view from poolside:

(Does anyone remember my question whether Puerto Vallarta is flat?)

We were back to the ocean later to watch the sunset. What a wonderous sight!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Back to the Beginning

Julia travelled part of the leg of the journey with me, and it seems that she wanted to be a part of the whole deal:

On the flight from Phoenix to Vallarta, I met a man who lived in Puerto Vallarta most of the year, about my age, and I got the scoop on where to go and what to say. And, we had a lot to say! And we laughed....

BJ met me at the airport, in addition to many men, saying, "Where are you going?" "Lady, want a taxi?" Because her flight from Seattle was earlier, she had scoped out the airport. Then we were off to town!

From home, we had booked a hotel for 2 nights; this was in the heart of the area called Zona Romantica. Here is a view from the rooftop. The door at the back of the pool, of which you can only see part of, is our room. When we had a siesta one afternoon, we had the windows open beside the door and it sounded like someone was in a bathtub.

On our first full day, we walked around the town with our researched list of hotels to see if we wanted a new room. We found one! Then we walked to find a place for dinner, and ended up back on the same street (after an hour BJ calculated). We had done a lot of walking, and found Steve's Sports Bar where BJ had a cerveza and I had a pina colada. There was a line up outside Cafe de Ollo, so we visited with 2 people from Minnesota. Here's the beauty of waiting in line outside a restaurant in Mexico - they serve you drinks! Pina Colada for me! Cerveza por mi amiga! At the table, I remembered that others had told me about the margaritas in Mexico... Margarita for me! Cerveza por mi amiga!

Then it was time to do our homework for class the next morning!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Puerto Vallarta By Night

Well, of course, in a way, there is more to do in Puerto Vallarta in the evenings. A few of the bars are open until 6 am and then on Friday and Saturday, they are open until 8 am.

We caught the water taxi today to Yelapa, and in the line up people were already into the beer. One of the fellows had not slept at all; I am wondering if the morning beer was a help or hinderance. The water taxi to Yelapa takes 45 minutes on the open ocean, which this morning, looked tranquil. Well, as much as an ocean can be. On the way back, the winds had picked up. I had the edge seat which meant that a good deal of me was wet when we pulled up to the pier. Simon, who sat next to me mostly only had his face sprayed.

Hmmm... I haven't been to this cafe during the daylight - it is home to a lot of birds. To the left of me is an open courtyard. There is the cutest frog sitting on the edge of a water fountain, which it appears to be devoid of water. The frog is not real.

BJ and I arranged to meet for dinner - she was walking down the street and just found me. She is off to the Artisans Shop and I am keeping an eye on her new wares (I don't precisely know what they are but I suspect it has to do with pottery - she is a potter - who could appreciate pottery any better?)

BTW, typing on a keyboard in Mexico is kinda an experience in experimentation. If I try to find certain keys by looking at the keyboard, they don't work. But if I do them from memory, they are exactly where they are supposed to be! (Except of course, this blog is entirely in Spanish - good thing I went to school. Oh yes, I wrote the exam on Friday - I have officially completed Level 1.)

I do have pictures... they are coming but with eating, and swimming, and exploring, there is little time for the blog.

I am coming home tomorrow - I am counting on winter having passed.