December 2, 2008

Back in the USSA after a great time in Mexico

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The flights back from Puerto Vallarta to Sacramento (via Salt Lake City) were relatively uneventful, except for a teeth-jarring, drop-from-the-sky landing on the SMF tarmac as we arrived home. Maybe the co-pilot was getting in some landing time.

He or she needs some practice.

Temperature when we left Puerto Vallarta: 85 and with a touch of humidity.

Temperature when we arrived in Sacramento: 48 with pea-soup ground fog.


Our brief days in La Manzanilla and Arroyo Seco (with pit stops in Puerto Vallarta on either end) are kind of a blur, but contained lots of family time, lots of swimming, and three meetings with our amigo Arturo who promises to have the new bathrooms and showers built before we go back at Christmas. He promised!

Oh, and there was an open-mic performance at Palapa Joe's, too, Saturday night. I'm afraid to look at the video that our amigo Pam shot of the Admiral and I playing four tunes, me on the ukulele, the Admiral on her violin.

Really afraid.

View from the hill in Arroyo Seco
View of our palapa and ramada in 'downtown' Arroyo Seco

One of the most striking things about this trip was how green and lush everything was.

When we left last May, the land was as brown as California in a hot summer. Now, as evidenced in the photo, all the trees and plants are green and growing, though it won't be green too long before they lose that vibrancy. It hasn't rained in a month and won't until next July.

The other thing that was more vibrant were the insects. In a hike around the hills - to get the photo above as well as look at some property for sale - I managed to get chewed on by something that must carry a pretty heavy-duty neurotoxin. Besides the tangerine-sized swelling behind both my knees where I had a series of bites, I had a little trouble feeling my toes the next day.

I think long pants are in order for hiking from now on.

Dylan with Qwee-Qwee
Dylan with new friend, Qwee-Qwee

We spent much our time out in Arroyo Seco, where our amigos Chena and Chon have taken care of things on the property in our absence. Since May, this industrious couple has opened a tienda across the street that sells an assortment of non-food items. And in the evenings, they open up a street-side restaurant next to that, selling steamed tacos that are a hit with the villagers.

While we didn't get to sample the tacos, Chena did make a dinner for us one evening that was delicious, a chicken stew that she seemed to cook in about 20 minutes. With home-cooked tortillas, of course.

Son Dylan, a pretty good chef himself, helped in the cocina that afternoon, but also made a new friend - one of Chena and Chon's pooches, a Chihuahua named Qwee-Qwee.

What a crocodile?
Teaching a crocodile to sit-up

The La Manzanilla crocodiles were quite placid while we were there, though the lagoon in which they live spills out almost into the bay. Their somnolent attitudes might be because the water in the lagoon is quite deep from earlier rains and the critters are staying in deeper water.

Critters? That word seems a little weak for describing these behemoths.

But I did run across the photo above taken in Queensland, Australia of a fellow having a close encounter with a pretty large specimen.

I guess I shouldn't complain about my bug bites.

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