December 31, 2009

Celebrating New Year's Eve with style in town - and on the beach

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - And so the last day of 2009 began with a three-hour drive to Puerto Vallarta (six hours driving, round-trip, of course) to visit Dr. Antonio who has been osteopathically wrenching on my neck, back and arm for several visits now to get a nerve in my neck to quit being, well, such a pain-in-the ass.

Or, technically, such a pain in the neck, I suppose.

But the visits are helping and so tonight I was feeling quite fit and ready for some adventure, So we roared out of town on the quad to Playa Grande where there were a handful of revelvers at the south end. Pretty quiet for New Year's Eve. We camped for awhile at the north end of the beach, however, our only company the occasional crab skittering across the sand, and the occasional swooping bat, feeding on the few insects that could stand the offshore breeze.

Admiral on the beach
Admiral and her beloved steed

Earlier in the week, we purchased a quantity of very large sparklers - sparklers which every kid in the village has been coveting. And a few kids have talked us out of a couple.

But to bring in the new year, the Admiral took a few of her stash of sparklers out to the beach where we lit them off before coming back to the palapa to retire for the evening. No big parties in town tonight - the first such quiet night since we arrived, I think.

Of course, it might just be a little too early to make that determination.

December 29, 2009

Time off for a quad ride down the beach to Tenacatita

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - What should have taken all day - moving a sink from our outdoor kitchen to up on the palapa - was only a few hours of work (for our plumber, Rodrigo, not me). And so instead of having to farble around with PVC pipes and leaky connections into the afternoon, the Admiral and I headed to the beach on our Honda quad as soon as Rodrigo declared the sink done and ready for tonight's dinner dishes.

We had been told by our amigo (and resident French surfer dude), Julien, that the waves were huge and so we thought there was no way we would be able to get past both lagunas (via narrow sandbars) to get all the way to Tenacatita.

But it turned out that the massive waves didn't breach the sandbars in either case - though they came close.

Narrow spit of land
Sand bridge connecting the north and south beaches

We visited for about an hour (or two beers, depending on how you count time), with our Canadian amigos Doug and Lynn who have opened a small RV park on the beach, just a few lots from our Tenacatita beach property. This season they are busy putting in palm trees and plants and doing landscaping. Last year they installed the parking spots for RVs and all the infrastructure (power, water, showers, banos, lights, septic...).

The RV park (like our lot) is within easy walking distance of some excellent seafood restaurants (Fiesta Mexicana is our favorita) and great snorkeling around a reef known as the Aquarium.

Doug and Lynn said they have had a few RVers come and stay with them, but the snowbirds haven't arrived in full force yet.

In the meantime, they are enjoying the peace and quiet - except for when our quad rolls up.

Here's a short video of one of the sand bars we cross to visit Doug and Lynn in Tenacatita.

December 27, 2009

Wild fiesta in Arroyo Seco, with dancing, music - and lots of laughs

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - After a day of working and puttering around the property, Admiral Fox and I headed to the jardin (town square) Sunday night to take part in a huge fiesta thrown to celebrate a baptism and a First Communion.

Such ceremonies are a very big deal in this community of 300 people. And when a fiesta is thrown, it is thrown for everybody.

Even us gringos...

But the highlight of the evening (in addition to the icy cold beer), was a show put on by our neighbor Chena, with help from various friends and relatives.

She put together her musical-comedy-dance group last year with just a couple of people as a lark. But it has become soooo popular, that whenever anyone has a special event, they plead with her to bring out the group. And it has grown from just a few people to an entire ensemble.

At the party, when she and her crew arrived, the crowd cheered like it was rock stars who had just stepped off a bus. In fact, if it grows much larger, she will need a bus to haul everybody around.

As the video shows, there was some fun audience participation involved, too.

I narrowly avoided being one of victims, er, I mean participants.

December 22, 2009

A close encounter with a 'moo' kind on Mexico's Highway 200

HIGHWAY 200, Jalisco, Mexico - The Admiral was driving our Toyota Tundra at a relatively pokey 50 miles-per-hour this afternoon on Highway 200 - bringing us home after a foray to Puerto Vallarta - when we were suddenly confronted by four or five very large bulls filling in both lanes of the highway.

As in really filling in.

The Admiral did a splendid job of braking and swerving, simultaneously putting on the truck's flashing lights for any traffic behind us, neatly avoiding creating any highway hamburger with our Tundra as the grinder.

Unfortunately the van driving behind us - quite fast - didn't fare nearly as well.

The driver slammed on his brakes to avoid slamming into us and in that process did several very impressive spins in the road before ending up in the ditch. The Admiral watched it all happen in the rear view mirror. I heard the tires screech for 30 seconds while I did my best duck-and-cover as I braced for impact.

truck two
Van from its good side

truck one
Tow-truck driver's dream (or nightmare)

At first, the driver of the van tried to say it was the Admiral's fault - until he saw the four bulls make a return, sauntering appearance on the highway. Perhaps they came to check out what havoc they had just wreaked - or see if they could dump another vehicle off the side of the road.

We offered assistance, but the driver insisted only that we head on down the road to the Pemex service station near the road to Tomatlan to ask his amigos there for help. His brother was on duty and after I explained where the accident happened, the brother was busy texting on his phone, no doubt for someone to head back north.

When we left the actual scene of the accident, the driver of the van and the owner of the loose-on-the-highway-bulls were nose-to-nose and gesturing pretty wildly about the whole incident.

And the driver's ladyfriend in the photo? We never got her name, but she seemed pretty nonchalant for having survived what could have easily been a fatal rollover crash.

On the balance of the trip home, we drove a pretty staid 50 mph, with eyes peeled for wildlife of any kind. And yes, we did encounter another herd of wayward bovines. But the second group was walking on the side of the 3 kilometer gravel road leading to our place, (the Pink Flamingo) in downtown Arroyo Seco.

And no fast-driving vans were behind us.

December 18, 2009

Arroyo Seco rodeo even got the kids into the act

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - After a few hours of setting up the property - and getting a balky shower head to come through with the hot water I knew was in the pipe - we headed over the rodeo and got to see the cowboys riding some bulls around and around, and around.

Admittedly, they were mostly young bulls, but not exactly pushovers, either.

And after the rodeo (and a quick visit to the beach to see amigos Jim and Vickie) we had tacos on the square with most of the village.
Sylvia's first Arroyo Seco meal of the season
Sylvia's first Arroyo Seco meal of the season

This year's fiesta is much bigger than last year's even features a merry-go-round for the younger  children.

And the rodeo and fiesta continue for the next two days.

Two more days of fiesta, food, rodeo and cervezas?


Captain's blog goes online - in Arroyo Seco

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - After a few stops and starts with getting the Internet working here in the rancho, the Pink Flamingo is officially online.

And today the Admiral and I and son Dylan will be heading over to a fiesta (of course) celebrating the town's birthday.

The celebration includes a rodeo, food, and lots of beer (and probably dancing).

Here's a brief video of our first few days here. Pix and video of the rodeo manana. Maybe.

December 16, 2009

In Mexico it's warm air, warm water but hard to get to the Internet

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - We arrived in La Manzanilla a few days ago, renting a casa a block from the beach but neglected to arrange for regular at-home Internet access ahead of time.

We have had to rely on the kindness of both Palapa Joe's and Cafe Risa until we set up out in Arroyo Seco for the season - a project that begins today.

But we have managed to get in a lot of fun, including a trip to Tenacatita Tuesday to snorkel and see if the seafood is still great at Fiesta Mexicana.

It is.

Sylvia and Laura, warm water
Laura and Admiral Fox test the warm bay waters

Eric and Tina in snorkel gear
Eric and Tina Hazlitt return from some serious snorkeling

December 6, 2009

Forecast I: Snow in Sacramento; Forecast II - Time to go to Mexico

SACRAMENTO, California, USA - The temperatures here in Sacramento have been below freezing at night for several days and now - as we pack for Mexico - the forecast calls for snow. Real snow. Real-snow-on-the-ground snow.

Jaysus. Where did I put my cross-country skis?

I can't remember the last time it snowed here - and in my 20-plus years, I don't think it ever actually stuck to the ground.

But the forecast says there could be as much as four inches of slippery snow on the ground in the valley tomorrow.

Watch for video posting of traffic accidents. People in Sacramento have trouble driving in a light rain!

Marathon four
Marathon runners

A little cold weather didn't slow down any of the runners in this morning's California International Marathon, run from Folsom to downtown Sacramento. It would have been interesting to watch them slip and slide had the race been tomorrow.

As it was, the sun did peek out for a few moments here and there. But not long enough.

The Admiral and I bundled up like Eskimos and went out to watch some of the race near our house. Even many of the runners were wearing wool caps and gloves as they pounded by. The temperature was about 35 with a strong wind blowing.

My Eskimo outfit is headed for storage as soon as school gets out.

Marathon three
Keeping warm, watching the race

Amigos Eric and Tina Hazlitt from New York have already arrived in La Manzanilla and were greeted today by, gasp, rain! The reports say as much as two inches of rain fell last night and today in La Manzanilla. But for Tina and Eric - used to the frosty north in Hector, New York - at least this is warm rain.

They probably went swimming in the downpours and loved it.

The Admiral and I will join them as soon as we can.

Here's a brief video of some of the action from today's marathon...