March 28, 2009

Leaving Arroyo Seco for the bright lights of Puerto Vallarta

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - The Admiral and I loaded up the Toyota Tundra Friday for a flash visit to son Dustin's casa here, with a quick stop at the 2,500-elevation city of El Tuito to visit new amigos Joni and Greg.

The El Tuito house that Joni and Greg live in is so neat, I forgot to take a single photo. I'll try to remedy that on our next swing through, probably Monday morning when we head back to Arroyo Seco to help with the Great Sod On project (also known as Operation Dust Off) back at the Pink Flamingo.

Here in the metropolis that is Puerto Vallarta (and Nuevo Vallarta to the north) we pack in all the visiting we can with granddaughter Sasha, son Dustin and daughter-in-law Cami during our three or four day stays.

Sasha Fox sleeps
Sasha at rest

But, in addition, I frequently check in with my city doctor and, of course, the Admiral and I make pilgrimages to two consumer high shrines in the city: Costco and Home Depot.

Costco is almost always worth the visit, Home Depot less so. Home Depot is not the Home Depot of the U.S. - though outward appearances lead you to think so. Most of the Home Depot prices are relatively high for materials. And many fairly common household articles are not available at all.

But like many places Mexican, the Home Depot here doesn't follow all the protocols of its U.S. counterpart stores. Today the garden section in Puerto Vallarta was scene of a big art project involving children and store staff, with materials all donated by the store.

The kids were having a ball.

Home depot student art projects
Students make - and paint - flowers

But more important for us this trip was finding bar stools at - four simple stainless-steel beauties at a near U.S. Home Depot price. The stools will now grace the bar made by a welder amigo in Arroyo Seco for us. We might test the stools out at son Dustin's breakfast bar tonight, with a bottle of Spanish wine we bought yesterday, at Costco, of course.

Who knows? We might need to pick up a couple of more stools on our way out of town when we hit Costco - to get a few more bottles of the Spanish Rueda wine.

Rueda wine
A bottle of Rueda

March 26, 2009

'The Endless Summer' comes to Arroyo Seco

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - In 1966 - the same year I graduated from high school in Jamestown, New York - I saw the movie, The Endless Summer by Bruce Brown, a classic film about surfing around the world.

  • Endless Summer movie clip

  • And two days ago, I met Richard (who likes to go by Ricardo here). Ricardo hails from South Africa and grew up on the coast where the South Africa scenes of the movie were filmed.

    He has vivid memories of being a child with movie people - and famous surfers - coming and going in his house.

    As you might suspect, Richard/Ricardo is a surfer and has been his entire life.

    Ricardo spent two days with us, surfing both days and getting some very good rides. In fact, as I write this, he is pondering whether he and his amiga Amy should spend one more night (which means surfing in the morning) or head back up the highway towards Puerto Vallarta.

    Today Richard caught a great wave - not quite Endless Summer quality - but close.

    And here's the video of it:

    video

    March 25, 2009

    Taking the morning to go surfing at Playa Chica

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - No, I didn't actually climb aboard a real surfboard today. I left that duty to a new amigo, Ricardo, who hails from South Africa by way of Ashland, Oregon where he and his amiga Amy live.

    Amy and Richard arrived yesterday bearing gifts from the Admiral's cousin Lynn and her partner Suzanne who had seen the couple in Yelapa, at the memorial service for Isabel, the woman who died earlier this year after falling off a staircase in La Manzanilla.

    What were the gifts? A set of pink flamingo glasses and stir sticks. Amazing! We celebrated the gift with a round of Cuba Libres - in the flamingo glasses, of course.

    Admiral and Amy at the beach
    The Admiral and Amy at Playa Chica

    What I did do - instead of surfing - was jump on one of our boogie boards to go out and challenge the waves.

    The cross currents were pretty strong, knocking me over several times when I lost my footing. So after just a few rides I decided to take it a little easier today. I can always head back to the beach.

    Richard comes out of the waves
    Richard comes in from the surf

    The waves were better for surfing than for boogie boarding and Richard is hoping to get a repeat tomorrow of today's good surf before he and Amy make their way back north.

    Here's a very brief video of our amigo Max (from France) followed by a short clip of Richard getting a ride.

    video

    March 24, 2009

    A day at the animal clinic and a farewell to cruiser friends

    BARRA DE NAVIDAD, Jalisco, Mexico - We said goodbye to sailboat cruisers Paul Cahill and Tamar Lowell on Monday. They are heading south - muy rapido - aboard their sailing vessel Xanadu so they are well past the hurricane line when June 1 rolls around.

    Paul and Tamar only know at this point that Panama is their goal, they said.

    But they have a few miles of ocean to get done with before they hit there.

    Xanadu
    Paul waves adios from the cockpit of Xanadu

    We said goodbye after spending a long afternoon at the Grand Bay Hotel pool with Paul and Tamar, who said they will be looking for marinas with pools in the weeks and months ahead.

    We wished them luck with the sailing and pool search, but it is going to be hard to beat the Grand Bay.

    The dogs from Arroyo Seco
    Transported by the Admiral to the Cisco's Amigos clinic

    The day before, the Admiral and I spent the day helping with the Cisco's Amigos project in La Manzanilla. Dogs and cats are brought in to a free veterinary clinic, at which a lot of neutering is done - along with general health care for the animals.

    I drove into town from Arroyo Seco (about a 30-minute drive) with six dogs in the back of my Isuzu Trooper - one of which had a habit of wanting to bite anything that got near it.

    Its owner came along to control him and only suffered a minor bite getting him out of the car.

    The pooch's name is Mareado - which translates roughly to 'motion sick.' But he made it all the way in without any of that problem. That made me very happy.

    At one point, waiting for some of the 21 dogs from Arroyo Seco we took in to get done with their surgeries, I took refuge in Palapa Joe's for a lunch and Cuba Libre(s). In the process, I listened to the 60 Minutes interview with President Obama.

    Like Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh-In, 'Very interesting...'

    Or maybe it was the Cuba Libre(s).

    Obama at Palapa Joe's
    Obama at Palapa Joe's

    After almost a week without a project, today we launched Operation Sod On. The goal is to install about 120 square meters of sod on the property, along with probably a half-dozen trees and lots of bushes and shrubs.

    Lots of bushes and shrubs.

    Around this oasis in the middle of the property, we will be putting down some kind of gravel for walkways and more trees and shrubs - anything to keep the dust clouds from forming.

    The price for 120 square meters of sod delivered? About $200 U.S. dollars.

    My neighbor Chon and I are going to check out the various kinds of grasses that the sod dealer has. I want the kind you don't have to mow much.

    But it would be nice to have something kind of classy, like the grass below...

    Putting green
    One possibility for the Pink Flamingo


    March 20, 2009

    Just a beach of a day in Arroyo Seco and Tenacatita

    TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - It's not often you get a chance to write a headline like Just a beach of a day in Arroyo Seco and Tenacatita, so when you do, you run with it.

    But in truth, it was a beach day, starting with a walk this morning to Playa Chica, a quad ride from Arroyo Seco to Tenacatita along the sand, then followed with lunch on the beach with California amigos Paul Cahill and Tamar Lowell. Paul and Tamar are anchored near the Blue Bay Resort aboard their cruising sailboat, Xanadu. They have plans to head to Central America this year, though we are encouraging them to stick around Costalegre for the rest of the season and head south next year.

    Filming the rock
    Paul, Tamar and the Admiral in front of Admiral's Rock

    After lunch at Fiesta Mexicana, we drove the quad over to our Tenacatita property to show Paul and Tamar the piece of land that launched our entire life here in Mexico. Paul, with his ever-present video camera, filmed everything and no doubt some parts of our lunch, the trip on the quad (with four of us and gear) and the beach walk will appear in one of his videos down the line.

    Earlier in the day, the Admiral and I wandered out to Playa Chica, part of my 'get exercise' program so I can get some lung power back after the weeks and weeks of bronchitis. Out there, I saw a crab that had gotten separated from his hole in the sand. He was not happy as I followed him around with my camera and he finally retreated into the rocks where he made threatening crab noises.

    Getting crabby
    Getting crabby on the beach

    The day before, I rode out to see if I could go boogie-boarding, only to be greeted by a foul smell from the end of the beach that forced me to put my bandana over my nose when I went to investigate. It turned out to be a dead pelican, who had become dinner - or perhaps tapas - for a large flock of buzzards. The buzzards barely moved when I rode up on the quad and at point, encircled me.

    I decided to flap my arms a lot to let them know that despite the bronchitis, I was fine.

    I left them behind in a cloud of flying sand.

    Crowd of buzzards
    A brace of buzzards at Playa Chica

    Dead pelican gets picked over
    Pickin' on a pelican

    Talking with Paul and Tamar about their adventures - and planned adventures - reminded the Admiral of all of our fun times aboard Sabbatical, cruising these very waters. We laughed about Center Rock in Tenacatita Bay, which is anywhere but center in the bay, and how the cruising guides talk about the crystal clear water in La Veina, the river that runs from Tenacatita out to the bay where the sailboats are anchored. Crystal clear water indeed.

    Paul said the water in the mangrove swamp and river looked, well, like you would expect in a mangrove swamp.

    Oh, and he also saw a crocodile sunning itself on the little beach where boats pull up in Tenacatita. So much for conventional wisdom that none are in that river.

    Crocodile_sleeping_Australia
    A cousin to the Tenacatita crocs

    Paul and Tamar headed back to Xanadu and are getting ready to pull anchor Saturday for a voyage to Barra de Navidad and a day or two at the Grand Bay Hotel Marina. I think I will put my drink order right now for another 'ballena' from the swim-up bar there when we go visit.

    Now that I think about it, I hope they stay a week at the marina.

    video

    March 17, 2009

    The trees have their water and I needed some of my own

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - After a hour of drenching the transplanted - and planted trees - this morning, I rocketed into La Manzanilla because our Goddaughter Devani was sick.

    Her mother Mimi had called me late last night and asked if I could come to the house today. The baby has been sick for several days and didn't seem to be getting any better. Even though Mimi's exact words were hard for me to understand, the tone was pure 'mom' when she called seeking help.

    As someone who had pneumonia and now bronchitis for nearly six weeks, I suppose I am something of an expert - on the disease side anyway.

    Devani
    Devani two months ago

    I checked her medications - which all look in order - and listened to her breathing. I recognized the wheezing because I am still struggling with the last vestiges of it. In a few days, Adm. Fox and I will make a foray back to see if the baby is better, or if we need to take her to a new doc.

    Honda 2000 watt Generator
    Honda generator

    By noon, I was free and flying back up the highway to Arroyo Seco, finding when I got home that the power was out. I ran my trusty Honda generator for about an hour while I did some computer stuff and then decided to head to the beach instead of sitting around looking at all the things I needed to do here.

    And when I got to the beach it was all mine, except for having to share it with a couple of flocks of birds. I had thought a swim was in order until I waded out to my knees.

    Forget that 75 degree water of just a few weeks ago ... This felt like Seneca Lake in June. And I do not swim there in June.

    Egrets on the beach
    Egrets catching crabs in the sand

    Pounding surf
    Pounding surf - and cold

    Rocks and ocean
    Rocky outcropping

    As part of my quad-to-the-beach adventure, I carried along my Flip video camera to do a test run to see what the video clips would be like from the seat of a bouncing Honda.

    About what you expect, but still interesting.

    Sorry there is no narration, but it was hard enough driving the quad with one hand while filming with the other without trying to talk.

    But watch for a full-length video about Arroyo Seco (with dialogue and narration) this summer, in a living room near you, or maybe in your living room.

    video

    The palm trees are planted and very, very thirsty

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The relocated palm trees and the new palm trees have all been safely tucked into the rich soil here, and now are screaming for water.

    Ever hear a palm tree scream?

    I haven't either, but they make me feel so guilty just looking at them. Neighbor Chon and I are hauling water and setting up a drip irrigation system. The big trees need a lot of water to survive the move and without it won't make it.

    So today, we are dripping and hauling, hauling and dripping.

    New palms on Calle Sin Nombre
    Transplanted palms outside the back wall on Calle Sin Nombre

    Palms inside of palapa
    New palms inside the fence

    After Chon and the workmen dismissed the idea of using the quad and trailer to haul the trees around, they moved a few with the handtruck and suddenly the quad and trailer were pressed into service to move the trees.

    I learned from Chon that if you are hauling a very heavy load with a quad, be sure to go very slow and put the quad in 4-wheel drive. It's a lot easier on the engine and transmission.

    Local knowledge saves the day here, every day.

    quad pressed into service
    Quad gets pressed into service

    We also had a nasty surprise when moving two palms on the trailer side of the palapa - fleas. The workmen jumped around like they were doing a St. Vitus dance when they moved the last three woven straw mats we had on the property.

    They sprayed the ground liberally with Raid and said the problem was solved. But after thinking about it for about, oh, 10 seconds, I hauled the mats out behind the wall, sprayed them with a good dose of diesel, and burned them (and any fleas and eggs, I hope).

    Burn out the last of the fleas
    Burning out the last of the flea army

    All through the morning, Chon's youngest daughter Juliette stayed with me and helped move the quad around. She's almost big enough to start driving a quad and was eyeballing the controls a lot. But I think I will let her dad teach her how to drive a quad with his less powerful unit.

    But if she asks me to drive our quad, well, it will be very hard to say no.

    Juliette and a transplanted palm
    Juliette with her favorite palm

    March 16, 2009

    The great 'Move The Palm' trees project gets underway

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - It's a holiday here - the president's birthday - but the crew that was set to move our palm trees from in front of the palapa Tuesday showed up early this morning and said, 'What the heck, why not do this today?'

    That's a loose translation of what they really said in Spanish.

    And so for the past few hours, four guys have been hard at work, digging the holes for the palms to be moved, and, as I write this, struggling with the well-established root systems of the eight palms.

    Stubborn palm tree
    Tree really likes it right where it is

    The crew doing the work normally works for our neighbor Chon at a ranch he takes care of - the same Chon who vanquished the flea army that had invaded our property. Today we have all the gates open and when neighborhood dogs want to come in, he chases them with a vengeance.

    No mas pulgas, he has been shouting. (No more fleas!)

    The new palms to be planted out front are much larger and should give us both more privacy and dust control. And, as an added plus, they are unlikely to harbor scorpions.

    The palms being moved to outside of our back wall, apparently can be scorpion condos. (And you wondered why the Admiral and I wanted them moved?)

    Palms to be planted
    The new palms to be planted out front

    At work in La Calle
    Digging the holes for the to-be-moved palm trees

    Wanting to help - though not particularly interested in digging - I offered up our Honda quad, with its new cargo trailer attached, as a way to haul the trees the 200 or so feet from the front of the property to the back where the holes await.

    But Chon's trusty handtruck has been called into service. Mas facil (easier) my neighbor Chon says.

    With all the strong backs at work, perhaps it is.

    Quad trailer ready to help
    Quad and trailer ready to help

    March 15, 2009

    Why having a local guide is sooooooooo important

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The Admiral and I spent Saturday morning out and about, buying five large palm trees for the front of the palapa and with Barra de Navidad amigos, Mark and Jackie, who came by the Pink Flamingo for a visit, beach tour, and lunch.

    But late in the day, our French surfer-dude amigo Julien came by and asked if we wanted to climb the hill behind the village to the beach, from which he said there was a spectacular view of the ocean and a great place to watch the sunset.

    The French are generally not given to understatement, but in this case, Julien definitely didn't tell the whole story.

    C'est magnifique!

    Playa Chica One
    Playa Chica from the mountaintop

    View from the hill
    Pacific sunset

    Playa Chico sunset
    Mountaintop view

    We hiked up with Julien and Rocio, the veterinarian from La Manzanilla who was Lucky Dog's primary care physician until his infirmities got so bad we had to put him to sleep two weeks ago. (Pardon the euphemism, but it's hard for me to say the more common, 'put the dog down.')

    The hike proved to be just the right tonic for me, my lungs complaining most of the way, but I did trot the last 50 feet to the top and do little Rocky Balboa dance to celebrate being able to get a full breath of air. At least most of the time.

    rocky1
    Rocky Balboa

    Near the summit
    Just short of the summit

    The three amigos on a rock
    Captain, Admiral and Rocio at the top

    After the sunset, we carefully threaded our way back down about a mile-long hillside, particularly careful because it was quite dark by the bottom. (NOTE TO CAPTAIN: Carry flashlight on all early evening hikes.)

    But the fun wasn't over.

    Julien offered to cook crepes for all of us - and our neighbors Chena and Chon and their children it turned out. He used our outdoor kitchen, which proved up to the task. The crepes were like the view from the hill, magnifique.

    Julien cooks the crepes
    Chena and Julien making the les crepes

    The day's fun wasn't over when the last of the crepes were done, however.

    Sylvia excused herself to use the bathroom facilities and gave a short shriek when she discovered she was not alone in el bano. Apparently the nice patterns on the curtains in front of the bathroom - and maybe the cool tile - was an enticement to one of our resident toads.

    Toad visitor
    Toad visitor - evicted by the Admiral

    We had another bit of fauna visit, a tiny frog that seemed to take a shine to a big frog-shaped flower pot we purchased at the vivero (plant nursery) along with our new palm trees. The little frog stuck with the flower power (maceta in Spanish) all evening while we ate crepes. This morning he (or she, I suppose) was gone. But we expect he (or she) to return when it cools down the flower pot is not in the sun.

    Frog with frog
    Frog and frog

    March 13, 2009

    We go to war with 'las pulgas' in Arroyo Seco

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - We returned home from Puerto Vallarta tired, but happy to see that our neighbors - the best neighbors in the world - had done their magic again and cleaned everything, even going so far as to rearrange our outdoor kitchen so it made more sense, organizational.

    But as soon as we arrived, Chena and Chon ran across the street and told us it was war - war with las pulgas.

    War with fleas!

    fleas_vacuum
    Enemy combatant

    It seems that when the exterminator did his magic a few days before, he managed to wake up every sleeping flea in the property (a last set of living presents from the late Lucky Dog) but not kill them. Earlier on the day we arrived home, when they started cleaning, Chena and Chon had to avoid several areas (favorite sleeping spots of the dog) because there were literally hundreds of the little bastards. And then can jump about 18 inches off the ground.

    Chena and Chon - and their children - all got chewed up some before we came home and Chon said it was time to go to the nuclear option, Mexican-style.

    That nuclear option was to spray gasoline on the ground, light it on fire, and fry the damned fleas right in the ground. The other reason for the gas was to get rid of any eggs that were likely in the dirt.

    I doubt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would have approved of the maneuver, but it worked - at least outdoors. Our trailer (the Grey Goose Express II) had a light infestation, so I went in with two cans of Mexican Raid blazing in either hand to route out the miscreants. Watching all those Clint Eastwood westerns paid off as I sprayed to the left, then the right, dropping fleas like, well, fleas.

    I did wear a bandana soaked with water as protection, though it took a very long hot shower to get the smell out of my nose.

    This morning the trailer was flea-free. And as luck would have it, the original Grey Goose Express did not have any fleas yesterday and provided us with safe shelter to sleep, while we waited for the poison to abate in our normal digs.

    Here's some footage from Battlefield Arroyo Seco.

    video

    March 12, 2009

    Time with the grandchild in PV - and away from the dust

    PUERTO VALLARTA, Jalisco, Mexico - The Admiral and I took a few days of 'vacation' from Arroyo Seco, coming to Puerto Vallarta to visit with Dustin and Cami, and of course, granddaughter Sasha.

    Since we arrived, Sasha has mysteriously acquired a spiffy new high chair and a bouncy, jump thing that she sits in on the floor, getting lots of leg exercise.

    She loves both, along with the 2009 version of what we used to call a Tommie Tipee cup, made for little ones to learn how to drink from a glass. As soon as she saw it, she grabbed it with the same enthusiasm as I do at Palapa Joe's when Willie plunks a Cuba Libre in front of me.

    The Admiral came up a couple of days ahead of me, and in the interest of saving gasoline, I took a second class bus from Arroyo Seco to Puerto Vallarta.

    The bus ride was fine, and very cheap (about $8 U.S.), but I forgot that I get extremely carsick when riding in buses.

    Extremely.

    Still, after an evening of recovery, it was good times again, even getting a little concert from Sasha and Cami.

    March 6, 2009

    Some new dirt on the road - and a lot less dust in the air

    ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - Three days away from the Pink Flamingo made it evident that the dust in the street here (ok, and on the property) is not good for my respiration. In Colima and Comala, my breathing was generally easier, even adjusted for the beer, tequila, and cheese-rich food intake.

    But one of the miracles of living in a small town in Mexico occurred within 24 hours of returning.

    After chatting with my neighbor Chon - whose son Dani suffers from asthma believed to be triggered by street dust - we concocted a plan to cover the street in front of our places with a heavy soil that is not prone to turning to dust. One day later, the dirt was dumped and spread. And already we can see when cars go by that the dust swirls are very small. More important, they are close to the ground and don't seem to want leap over my dust barrier.

    New dirt on road in Arroyo Seco
    New dirt on the road - and less dust

    In the U.S., I suspect we would have had to file an environmental impact report, get a permit from at least three government agencies and have six inspectors on site when the dirt was dumped and spread. Oh, and for sure, there would have been some testing of the dirt to ensure it didn't contain any heavy metals or substances that could trigger allergies. And fees, lots of fees for all those inspectors.

    Instead, Chon's brother in law found the dirt, loaded his dump truck and brought it over.

    Voila, as my French amigo Julien says.

    Dust_Storm_Texas_1935
    Dust storm in Texas in 1935

    Since contracting pulmonia (pneumonia) more than a month ago - and continuing to hack like a heavy smoker for weeks - I read up on dust-borne diseases and related problems. In the U.S., the closest thing I found is called Valley Fever - a malady I had twice there in years past. During the years of the Dust Bowl, many people died from swirling dust after getting caught in storms like the one in the photo above.

    In addition to the new dirt, the Admiral is laying plans for some additional palm trees and more cloth to shield the property from the road. And inside, we are considering putting down a large area of grass in the center - ringed by trees.

    Will I need a lawnmower? Good grief, I hope not.

    Willy at Palapa Joes
    Palapa Joe's owner Willy strikes a classic Willy pose

    We have been spending a lot of time in La Manzanilla for the past week, visiting with relatives and friends, running various errands and we almost always end up at Palapa Joe's, for lunch and a beer.

    Thursday I took the photo above of Palapa Joe's owner Willy, watching the street, one of his pasttimes when not preparing industrial strength margaritas or Cuba Libres for customers.

    In our bar chat Thursday, Willy and I talked about how many people begin leaving La Manzanilla in the next few weeks, trying to get out of town before Semana Santa (Easter weeek) and the huge crowds that flood the village, with many people camping on the beach for near round-the-clock parties.

    I'll be interested to see if we have much of an influx of vacationers here in Arroyo Seco. At Christmas, we did have a small contingent of vacationers camping out on the beach.

    For the Admiral and I, some of the best time is after Semana Santa, as the ocean water warms back up and spring hits full force.

    For now, I'm just happy to be taking in deep breaths of air - sans polvo (dust).

    Sunset at Tenacatita Bay
    A March sunset at Tenacatita Bay

    March 3, 2009

    A four-day road trip includes a visit to a volcano

    COLIMA, State of Colima, Mexico - After weeks of having fun with amigos from the U.S. - and me hacking Arroyo Seco dust balls up like a cat in need of shots - the Admiral convinced me to go on a road trip to the cities of Colima and Comala, accompanied by our New York amigos Mike and Karen Schamel. Mike and Karen were ending up a three-week stay in La Manzanilla while they escaped the freezing temperatures of central upstate New York.

    Except for the confusion generated by having two people named Michael in such close proximity, the road trip was, as we used to say, a blast.

    On our last day in Comala, we drove up to a tiny town and had lunch in a restaurant that had a great view of an active volcano. Yup, the volcano is considered active. We told a few Pompeii stories while we dined, watching the volcano occasionally belch out some steam.

    We did quite a bit of belching ourselves from the great ribs and margaritas.

    Volcano smoke
    Volcano lets out with a little toot

    The group at the volcano
    The intrepid volcano explorers

    Comala turned out to be a more interesting place for us than the much larger city of Colima. The small town is a warren of smallish houses and stores, mixed with very interesting bed and breakfast places. On the big town square, restaurants serve you free food - provided you keep ordering margaritas.

    We had plenty of food one afternoon and enough beverages that Admiral Fox was moved to leave the restaurant table and check out the violin being played by one of the wandering musicians. The Admiral's Celtic tunes clashed a little bit with the banda music around the square, but the people were fascinated to see a blonde gringa playing the fiddle.

    Sylvia the violinist in Comala
    Sylvia introduces some new tunes in Comala

    That night, we came back to the square just in time to see another violinist perform as he accompanied a great singer. The town square restaurants shut down their margarita machines before sunset but most of the town seemed to turn out to hear the concert.

    Singer at festival
    Singer at festival

    video

    Our time in Colima was very short - just a quick overnight at the Hotel Ceballos, but the day we left I did have a nice conversation with a team of dancers from the city who were raising money for their practices and for costumes for some upcoming competition.

    At least that was what they told me.

    In perfectly accented English, they asked me if I could spare them any cash - anything to help their efforts.

    I agreed, but with the caveat that I could get my photo taken with them.

    I didn't have to ask twice.

    Michael with dance team
    The Captain with the dance team in Colima

    They invited me to attend their practice that afternoon in Colima, but, alas, I had to make my way up the mountains to Comala where the volcano awaited.

    Sigh.

    video

    As luck would have it, our night in Colima at the hotel also coincided with the arrival of 150 Harley-Davidson motorcycles (and their drivers and passengers, of course), part of a rally from Mexico City that drew headlines in all the local newspapers.

    They were very well-behaved bikers - perhaps better behaved than us. But Admiral Fox was able to persuade one amigo to let her check out his bike, though she didn't have quite the right outfit for highway travel.

    Sylvia as biker chic
    Get your motor running...