Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We are leaving Los de Marcos tomorrow.

Tuesday February 28, 2012

We spent the day packing up but it wasn’t a big deal as we have only been here a month.  If you have been sitting in one place for months on end it gets to be a bigger and bigger job.  As we loaded the bike more than one guy had to come over and have a peek at the inside of the garage.  Eric rides the Harley up the ramp into the garage and it is always a bit stressful because he doesn’t want to end up in the kitchen!  So far, so good.

Many people here are starting to head north and I had a chance to talk to a few of them when they noticed we were packing up.  Lots of nice people in this park but we had a bad start with dog issues and found it all a bit difficult to fit in.  We were incorrectly positioned in the park …too close to the palapa ….but we had no idea how loud it could be.  Jose the park worker and I had a chat about it and he should know as his room is right under it.  He couldn’t believe how loud the Mama Mia party was the other night…so I guess it wasn’t just us!  If we come back to this park we will park farther away.

In the end I must say all of this RV travel is a learning experience and we have put many things in the memory bank from our first RV visit to Los de Marcos.  The town is small and we really enjoy the local Mexican people.  The beach is great and although the weather wasn’t all that good this last month we found many things to do to amuse ourselves. 

When we first started this winter travel it was all about getting away from the bad weather  and although that is still a lot of it the whole thing has become much more.  Many people spend their whole winter in an RV park in Mexico and hardly ever leave it.  To truly enjoy Mexico you have to get out and move around and the motorcycle has allowed us to do that. 

Our first year travelling was a huge shock to two people who have lived a quiet rural lifestyle and had never even travelled in an RV….let alone the United States. Year two we made it into Mexico on our own and as far south as Mazatlan.  We were lucky to meet Sam and Rita who had brought their Harley with them so we had someone to ride with.  Last year we learned more and even made a trip south with Eric on our other Harley and me with Frank and Sandi in their jeep.  A lot of fun and we got as far south as Barra de Navidad.  This year we did a trip to Los de Marcos with Sam and Rita on their bike and Eric and I on ours.  Another step forward.  Now we have brought the rig south for a month and we have learned a little more.  Next year we hope to come back to this area for part of the winter and do more motorcycle travel as well.  Baby steps.


We had a lovely final dinner here uptown at Saul and Vivi’s restaurant.  Business hasn’t been great for them this year and I think part of it is the two new Gringo run restaurants that have opened up.   When Vivi saw us passing by she quickly threw the lights on in their restaurant and was happy to feed us.  We have eaten there many times and she is always gracious and puts out a good meal.  Fresh Red Snapper that she quickly filleted and served empanazado (breaded) with salad and potatoes.  A good meal and a nice lady. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

A ride up the Valle de Banderas and a good Mexican lunch!

Monday February 27, 2012

Tomorrow we will be packing up to head back to Mazatlan so today we took a last ride in this area for this year.

The ride.

So….we set off  on the 200 toward Puerto Vallarta. 


This is the most dangerous thing on the highway….a bus.  They will pass anything and anyone at any opportunity and they get so close behind you that you could almost touch them.  I gave this guy a dirty look and he moved back.  When I turned around and took his picture he didn’t get close again!


When he finally passed us he was gone like a shot.  This is along the highway from Los de Marcos to Puerto Vallarta.  It doesn’t become two lanes until you reach the cut off towards the marina and Punta de Mita and before that it just a windy two lane road and it has to carry all the traffic south.

At the fourth stop light going through Bucerias heading south there is a left turn to the Valle de Banderas and that was our destination.  You have to be in the lateral to make the turn and we couldn’t get down to it from the highway as it was too steep so we made a quick U turn at the Mega and turned around.

There was a bit of cobblestone on the first part of the road after we turned off the highway but then it opened out into a nice rural quiet road that was perfect for a ride. 


A pretty estate along the way.


The area was very agricultural as we rode and we passed many small farms.  Very pretty.

Map picture

This is our ride. Up the Valle de Banderas through San Juan de Abajo area and down through San Vincente and back to the south end of Bucerias. 

P1020401A wide open quiet highway.  Lovely.  

The first part of the highway ended in a small town that had no name and and that point we had to turn right toward San Juan de Abajo.  From there on the road went through small towns that seemed to go on forever.  As we road along I tried to snap pictures but of course I wasn’t sure where I was. 


This fellow was riding a wheeled cart pulled by his donkey.  He gave me a big smile but I didn’t snap fast enough and ended up with this roadside stand in the way.

P1020403 Tiny town….big church!

P1020404 Another small Mexican town with cobblestones…at least here there was a line of pavement we could ride on. 



San Juan de Abajo and some beautiful sculptures.  It’s always amazing what you find when you ride.  When I Googled this area later it appears it is a tourist destination from Puerto Vallarta and has quite a lot to see.  Next time. 

By this time we were getting tired and needed lunch and we were riding up and down streets, one way here, two way there, following small van taxis and other fast moving traffic and I said….What the heck are we in the barrio!  Sure enough when I looked at the map later we were actually in “Barrio San Jose” at this point.  Funny!

I didn’t know that Eric had looked over the route and actually knew where we were headed….I thought he was just winging it!  It took a long time to wind our way through all the small Mexican streets before we finally made it through. 

In the end we ended up back out on the main highway at the south end of Bucerious, hot, tired and ready for lunch.  We decided to go back to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle which is the small Mexican town next to the Marina.  We stopped at a small taco stand and had a great lunch.  The owner spoke pretty good English and was interested in Big Red.  He and Eric chatted a bit about the cost of the Harley and how expensive they are now compared to the “olden days!”  He served us carne tacos which were actually filled with carnitas which is deep fried pork.  Delicious.  Two each with fresh salsa, salsa sauces and a pop.  Cost…60 pesos or $4.80 for two people.  A great lunch and it cost 1/10th of what it did to have lunch in Punta de Mita and I think it was a better lunch.  I know Eric did.



Eric doesn’t look super happy here….but he is!


A nice little taco stand.  While we were there the health inspectors came in and put up no smoking signs, health regulations and gave him iodine wash for vegetables and hand sanitizer packs to place at his sink.  At his sink there was a sign advising customers to wash their hands before they ate.  The owner who was cooking did not handle the money (dirty), his wife did.   Even the small places are under scrutiny so you don’t get sick. 

A good ride and a good lunch.  We’ll do that ride again next year and have a little more information about the things to see in the area.

A good day!


This is the park worker Jose….Eric was getting ready to pump up his bicycle tire.


This is the palapa next to us where all the happy hours etc. take place. This one was a normal quiet happy hour that even I would have joined in with!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A quiet day!

Sunday February 26, 2012

It was an early morning for us today as Sharon and the rigs travelling with her were leaving.  There was a huge crowd of people up early to say goodbye and wish her well.  She is a very nice lady and the park has been extremely generous in their support for her which she has appreciated very much.   You can’t beat an RV park for generosity when someone is in need.  Bye bye Sharon… travels. 

I managed to get two weeks wash done this morning but I had to be fast to get in before someone else.  Three machines, but only two that are easy to use.  The third one needs to be started with a coat hanger!  I got everything out on the line to dry and while doing so had a nice chat with Chris and Tony from Colorado.  Eric has chatted with them before but I haven’t.  They have a BMW that they ride at home so they were quite interested in our travels here on the Harley.  I said it had been a huge learning curve because of the crazy traffic but that we were really enjoying it.  They seem like interesting people and they had a laugh at our Punta de Mita lunch extravaganza. 

I had to pick one line of wash up off the ground when it broke but it wasn’t too covered in grass seed.  The lines are nylon twine and the sun has already deteriorated them. 

Tomorrow we will take a ride up the Valle de Banderas and have a quick look at an RV park that is up the valley.  Eric has scoped it out and it looks like a nice ride.

A nice walk on the beach and a good day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

We have a Gringo experience in Punta de Mita.

Saturday February 25, 2012

It was sunny this morning  so we decided to take another ride. 

Eric has ridden into Punta de Mita on his own but I have never been there so ….today was the day! 

Map picture

We took our usual route from Sayulita to Punta de Mita but today it didn’t turn out that well.  They have paved all the areas where there are new bridges after the washouts (good) and then they seal coated the road and covered it with pea gravel (bad!!) Loose, slippery and huge possibility of sliding and also rock chips to the bike.  Eric went slow and we made it through but we won’t go that way again while we are here on this trip.  The whole area of Punta Mita is being developed with golf courses (you can’t have too many of them!) and big developments as well.  I expected to find a fairly commercial area when we road into the actual town of Punta Mita but I was in for a shock!


We arrived at the bottom of the hill by the beach and immediately a Mexican was trying to wave us into the parking by the restaurant he was working for.  We chose the nice paved public parking!  At first Eric had thought we couldn’t park there but that wasn’t the case.  Each restaurant along the strip had Mexican hawkers trying to get you into their restaurant by telling you they have free beach access through their restaurant.   Hugely annoying but since we don’t frequent upscale gringo areas we have never run into this before.  Much like walking the street in Lahaina in Maui where you are accosted by someone selling something every step of the way. 

We continued down to the beautiful beach to have a look. 


We walked along the beach which is part of the huge Bay of Banderas which runs from Punta de Mita where we were to far south of Puerto Vallarta.  This little part of the bay is good for beginner surfers, paddle boarding and swimming.  A very pretty beach. 

Map picture

We wandered out along one of the break waters and there are quite a few of them.  They would be there for hurricane surge which would easily take out all the restaurants that are built right on the beach.




We were of course chatted up by a Mexican boat owner who thought that we should go out to see the whales.  Eric told him that we have our own whales at home….killer whales.  No Gracias. 


So, you want to go out on my boat and see the whales!


Boat Harbor.


A look back at the beach from the breakwater.  All the restaurants are along this part of the beach. 


The other side of the breakwater where there are condos and a nice beach for beginner surfers and paddle boarders. 


These little guys all had their pop bottles with line around it and were on their way out to fish.  Cute!

We walked back along the main street toward the bike looking for a restaurant to eat at.  No problemo!  Eric would have picked a fish taco stand on the street but I wanted to sit on the beach.  We again ran the gauntlet of restaurant hawkers and ended up on the beach where I decided on the Si Senor restaurant.  We sat down and nice young waiter immediately brought us wet clothes that he handed to us with tongs to wash our hands.  That was my first clue that we were in for a very expensive lunch.  We ordered dos Pacificos and then had a look at the menu.  Eric just about choked when he saw the prices.  I ordered coconut shrimp for 280 pesos and Eric ordered chicken tacos for 180 and when you add three beers you can guess what the final bill was like.  We were started with shrimp rolled in a thin slice of Jicama with special sauce.  Free!   We also had a free ball of sherbet for desert which was made from a fruit that I didn’t recognize.  Good but kind of an odd taste.


Eric looks worried already!

The food was good but not spectacular and artfully presented, the waiters were excellent and funny…..was it worth the final bill….of course not! 


Expensive lunch!


The waiters were giving everyone a look at what was on the menu for dinner.  The fellow on the right was our waiter.  Favorite word…..Perfecto!



Beautiful view to have lunch by.


These young ladies were having a great time introducing their baby girls to the water.  This was right in front of the restaurant. 

A beautiful breezy spot to sit and look out at the beach while we were served a nice lunch. 

When it was time to pay the bill I had Eric give me his wallet and I paid the bill….too stressful for him.  Can we afford the lunch…of course, do we want to pay that for lunch….of course not!   These restaurants are set up for wealthy people on a short holiday where money is no object.  I would expect that the people staying in condos there would be cooking for themselves.  It was actually a funny experience to be taken in and we’ll just put that in the memory bank for places to avoid !!

P1020393 Main street.  

So, back onto the street to be hawked at by the restaurants and then back on the road home but first a stop at Mega for beer.  We took the 200 which is the main highway back to Los de Marcos…no more pea gravel for us. 

I managed a short sit on the beach and a walk so all in all a good day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A quiet day and a noisy night!

Friday, February 24,  2011

Sharon from next door popped over this morning to ask if I’d mind going with her into La Penita to pick up some medical papers.  Brian (her husband) has been having ongoing health problems since they arrived in Mexico this year and last week it all went bad.  He is diabetic and they had been dealing with a foot infection that they had been unable to clear up.  In the end he ended up in hospital in Puerto Vallarta and has now flown home to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  His immediate problems have been taken care of and he is stable.  Sharon has stayed in Mexico and will travel back to the states with two other rigs from B.C. and then will head home.  One of her daughters is flying to Phoenix to travel home with her.  Luckily Sharon is used to driving their truck and 5th wheel but it will still be a huge journey for her.  A really nice lady that I could easily have spent time with over a winter. 

So, a quick trip into La Penita and it was nice for me as I’ve never been into this town.  Eric was worried about cobblestones for the bike but it turns out the main street is actually interlock pavers so it wouldn’t be a problem.  Thursday is the huge open market day there so it would be hugely busy but today….not so bad.  Sharon walked me around and we had a quick look at the main part of the town.  Sharon got some of the papers she needed and we then headed home.  A nice town that warrants another look, clean with lots of shops. 



Main street of La Penita de Jaltemba. 

Spent the rest of the day doing minor clean up,  walking the beach and just relaxing. 

I thought we might get a quiet evening but it was not to be!  The park had an appetizer party on the palapa with people from other parks attending.  Loud but as we are close to the palapa that is what you would expect.

Now for the good part.  As it started to get dark we saw the park owner lugging a large T.V. up to the palapa and we knew something was up.  Well…it turns out that some of the ladies had decided that they should watch “Mama Mia” the movie so they could sing a long with it!  Most of the people had disappeared after the appetizers by the time the movie was in full swing but that didn’t stop them.  “Top volume” for “108 minutes!” with lots of singing, drinking and laughing going on.  I’m sure they had fun but I wonder how much fun the rest of the people in the park had…not to mention the people in the park next door.  The palapa is on the second story of the wash house  up high and the sound really carries.  We closed our doors and turned up our music inside the rig but couldn’t really drown it out.  After dinner we watched T.V. with headphones on and that sort of drowned it out.  Now if you think this is all normal behavior from mannerly adults then ….good for you!  And no, I didn’t want to join in…I’ve seen it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A ride to San Blas

Thursday February 23, 2012

Today it was too cloudy to be a beach day but plenty good for a ride.  It is actually much more pleasant to ride when there is a bit of cloud since the Harley really doesn’t like the heat.  We set off early around 9:30 a.m. and enjoyed a leisurely ride toward San Blas. 


Coming through Zaculapan we once again shared the road with all sorts of farm machinery.  There was even a combine of some sort fueling up at the Pemex station.


Coming through Aticama just before the right turn to San Blas.



This truck was bouncing along in front of us and it was a bit worrying since those bread fruits are large and if one fell off the truck it could really do damage to us on the motorcycle. 


I tried to snap a picture of breadfruit growing as we rode along and this isn’t a very good picture but you can see them hanging at the bottom of the tree.  Very large.  I read up on them and it turns out they are very nutritious but not very tasty so they have to add spices etc. to make them edible.  Sort of like Tofu! At least that’s what I read on line.  They are for sale everywhere here so maybe they know how to cook them! 


Coming into San Blas.  Right to Tepic left to San Blas. 


Part of the estuary by San Blas.

P1020320 P1020324

Entering San Blas.


When we got into town we rode down the main street which is one way west and one way east.  We did come into San Blas briefly last year on our trip south with Frank & Sandi but it was late in the day and busy because it was Sunday so we just fueled up and left.  Today it was much quieter and we could see the charm of the area.  Many gringos stay here for the winter but it has never become a huge tourist destination because of the jejenes or no see ums!  Voracious and plentiful due to the mangrove swamps and they can ruin your day in a hurry!  Many people are allergic and break out in huge red welts.  No fun!

San Blas is steeped in history.  ….. if you are interested in the history of the area and the things that you could see there Wikipedia has a good write up,_Nayarit


Every town has a square.

At the end of the main street which turns to the marina we decided to stop and have a look at an old building which is some sort of a museum.  This was an aduana or customs office that was a crumbling ruins but has now been restored and is now the The Casa de la Cultura.  It housed a small amount of exhibits of ancient artifacts and an art exhibition.  I think they also have other exhibitions in it but we don’t speak a lot of Spanish and they didn’t speak English.  Our fault….not theirs! Hard to tell what’s going on when you aren’t fluent. 

P1020329Coming in on the front of the building.  Huge columns.


Inside glass cases there were  exhibits of obsidian above and carvings below which are pre Colombian.  

P1020331 P1020332

We walked out the back of the building and there were steps going up to an old area….what was it….I don’t know.



There was a case of these malcates which were use to produce textiles and it was from a much earlier time as the writing shows.  There was too much sun to get a picture of the case. 




Pictures by “Pedro Casant” and I really liked them.  Graphic and done in acrylic.  It appears he is an artist from Nayarit, Mexico. 




This one by Alberto Meza. 


These works were quite large as you can see by Eric looking at them.



Not sure if this is new or a reproduction. 


I thought this was a great shot from inside to outside where the columns are.



It was time for lunch so once we found the one way street heading out of town we started looking for a lunch stop.  At the end of town on the way out there are many barbecues cooking but they don’t have “pollo…chicken”  they have fish.  We stopped at this one and had a great lunch.


Sitting inside looking out past the barbecue.



We picked smoked Marlin on the barbecue for lunch.  Tortillas, rice and some salad and we were set.  We ordered two pieces when we started but one piece was more than enough…..Grande!  They had whole fish called Lisa and fish Zarandeado  as well as the Marlin. 


The Jejenero Restaurant a.k.a. NoSeeUm’s! 


This guy was working his way up and down the street trying to sell the fish hanging on each end of his pole.  Looks like a Gringo to me!


Eric had wanted to see the old fort here in San Blas but it got too late and we didn’t know where it was.  Turns out if we’d gone on the right fork of this road we’d have gone right up to it!   Next time!  



Just before we left Eric crossed the street to see what fish was this barbecue.  Corbina….a good eating fish.

It was now time to hit the road and head home. 



In one of the small towns along the way we stopped to stretch our legs and we noticed this stadium.  Amazing to find such a large football (soccer) stadium in the middle of virtually nowhere.  Huge. 

Tonight there was another music singing get together at the front of the park.  We could faintly hear it but when the rain started to fall some people headed back to their rigs.  The die hards  hung in there.