February 29, 2012

On the racing deck for the La Manzanilla cup

Wind starting to fill in... Racing ahead!

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February 28, 2012

La Manzanilla Cup on for Wednesday, wind permitting

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - The annual La Manzanilla Cup sailboat race was canceled Monday for a lack of wind, but is supposed to take place Wednesday.

Monday there was a decided lack of wind and so the race's sponsors opted to move the race.

The captain's meeting is sometime around 11 a.m. near Lora Loka's with the actual course to be decided at that time.

The group will also decide then what time to start - provided there is wind, of course.

While I flirted with the idea of dragging the Captain's Gig down for the race (our 10-foot Gig Harbor sailing dinghy), it seemed like it would be more fun to watch the race from the press table with La Manzanilla's own Lois Lane.

A full report with photos will be posted Thursday, depending on the strength of the post-race margaritas...

Scene from last weekend's regatta in La Manzanilla

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February 27, 2012

La Manzanilla sailboat race over - Di's Dream takes first place

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - The race wasn't the fastest. The wind was light and at times, almost non-existent all across Tenacatita Bay.

But the dozen boats in the race/regatta had a good time, got around the course in a relatively timely fashion and finished up in time for margarita's on the beach at Cato's Restaurant, one of several restaurants relocated in La Manz that had to flee Tenacatita Beach when it was taken over by thugs in August 2010.

Cato's also provided the panga taxi service for the shorebound who needed to get aboard their boats for the race.

Admiral Fox came in from the race after crewing on Di's Dream but caught her heel on the seat as she exited through the surf.


A few margaritas later at Joe and Barb's house on the beach - plus a fish sandwich at Palapa Joe's - and she was much improved. Good thing. She teaches Zumba early Monday morning in La Manzanila. Zumba doesn't have a limping step in any routines I know of.

I watched the sailing from the race deck at the restaurant Fiesta Mexicana, situated right at the start and finish lines to the north of downtown La Manz.

A large contingent of La Manzanilla residents were there, too, cheering on their local favorites.

As it was, Di's Dream took first place in its division, crossing the line smartly before putting the Admiral into the panga.

The race Saturday was sponsored by the Vallarta Yacht Club, kind of a warm-up for a few boats for the much larger Banderas Bay Regatta that starts March 20. Adm. Fox and I will be aboard the sailing vessel Lotus for that race, our third appearance. I have been training by lifting heavy bottles of Pacifico daily.

But Monday a famous local race - the La Manzanilla Cup - will be held, a very laid-back affair that will no doubt call for more margaritas, more fish sandwiches, but no panga rides for the Admiral.

Joe and Grant will be in this race, too, hoping for low surf to get out to their boat, I'll bet.

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February 25, 2012

La Manzanilla sailing race underway across Tenacatita Bay

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - This year's La Manzanilla race was minus the white tents, free food and free tequila, but it got going almost on time with about a dozen boats Saturday.

Oh, and the Corona girls in the hot pants were missing, too...

Admiral Fox jumped aboard the sailing vessel Di's Dream, after hiring a panga to take her and a bunch of other crew members out to the race course. When I last saw her heading offshore, she was perched in the stern of the boat.

Getting off the beach in the panga was not problem, but the big surf proved challenging to other small boats, including the rowboat with Joe and Grant.

Grant pulled his hardest and managed after several close calls to make his way out to Joe's boat to join the race.

In the meantime, I stayed on shore to chat with the rest of the racing peanut gallery. The boats got off to a great start, but the winds were very light at first. As I write this, the sailboats are about halfway around the course, heading across the best of the race at the westerly edge of Tenacatita Bay.

As soon as my Palapa Joe's fishburger arrives, I will chow down and head out to catch the photo finish.

Or is it, photo the finish?

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February 24, 2012

Sayulita, Sasha and life in el rancho Arroyo Seco

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - We spent three fun days in Sayulita with amigos Michael and Karen Schamel of Hector NY before waving goodbye to them Tuesday.

They came south to escape the cold winter of upstate NY, but the last week here, it was not exactly a tropical paradise. We had high winds, two solid days of rain, and much cooler than normal temperatures.

Still, we all had a great time. The scale in the palapa confirmed it when I weighed myself earlier.

In Sayulita, a very cool surfing town 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, we were lucky enough to get Sasha Fox to visit for an afternoon. She played on the beach, walked about town, and had lunch with us at a small restaurant that caters to all ages.

Sasha got to spend a short time with a four-year-old amiga in Sayulita - Sofia - whom she will likely see more of in a couple of weeks when we head north to Nuevo Vallarta to spend two weeks in a beachside condo, three days of which will also involve racing in the Banderas Bay Regatta about amigo Clarence Harvey's yacht 'Lotus.'

This will be the third race for us aboard Lotus and this year, we hope, we will take honors.

Clarence hopes so, too, I bet.

THE Schamels had barely left Mexico when the weather did improve some with temperatures back up to near 80 and the winds seem to have dropped to a steady 5-10 knots.

This morning Admiral Fox and I took only the second walk to the beach of the entire season, walking down to Playa Chica to check on the lagoon, birds and surf.

I also did a mosquito check. And yes, there were plenty around the lagoon.

ON THE WAY back, my stomach started to do the 'I-just-exercised' rumble and so Admiral Fox quickly made some salsa for my refried-bean molletes. I added some tomatoes, cucumbers and assorted nuts for great breakfast - without a single animal protein in the mix.

Now if I can just get the internet to cooperate to send this...

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February 19, 2012

Leaving Sayulita for a day in San Pancho

SAN FRANCISCO, Nayarit, Mexico - The surf village of Sayulita was having its annual Sayulita Days this weekend - something we didn't know when we decided that we would spend three days here.

And today, while a parade marched through town and the music roared, we roared ourselves, up the highway to the nearby Pueblo of San Pancho, which by comparison was deserted.

Before we left though, we went to the beach to check out the paddle board surfers who were enjoying the waves and hundreds of tourists who all seemed to be enjoying the colder weather.

In San Pancho, parking was easy and for some reason, it seemed actually a little warmer than it was in Sayulita.

Go figure that one.

There was tourist activity and the beach merchants - including a fellow who offers horseback riding - were doing a good business.

We hope that tomorrow we might have granddaughter Sasha Fox with us here in Sayulita, or back up in San Pancho.

She would have loved all the kids running around the beach today.

Perhaps manana...

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February 18, 2012

A four-wheeling adventure across the El Tecuan beach

EL TECUAN, Jalisco, Mexico - While Karen and Sylvia went shopping in La Manzanilla Friday, Mike Schamel and I (with her highness la perra Mia) took off on the quad to seek out some beach restaurants down near a residence known as Shang-ri-la.

We left hotel on the beach in Arroyo Seco and immediately discovered that the easy-access road to get to the El Tecuan side of the beach had dissolved into mostly rubble and looked almost impassable.

And so we took the scenic tour around a small lake and up through the now falling down Hotel Tecuan.

At one time, it was the place to visit. Now it's a hulk in need of serious help.

We arrived at the other end of the laguna and beach only to find that on that end, we were blocked by a river of water pouring out. It looked like it was about three feet deep and given how fast it was going, it was beyond the quad's ability to ford.

And on reflection, we decided even walking through it might be risky business.

We could clearly see the restaurants and perhaps in a week or so the ocean will reclaim the beach and close the notch the way it was last year.

The river, a little too deep to ford

Captain Mike Schamel taking some photos

Restaurants across the laguna

Princessa Mia, very happy to be out on the beach

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February 17, 2012

Stray dogs making their way into Arroyo Seco

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - Just a couple of days ahead we will leave for Sayulita to the north. But in the meantime, we have seen a number of pooches dumped here near the village - perhaps because the owners know what a soft touch Admiral Fox is.

A few minutes ago, she put out water and food for a female dog that has moved onto the porch of our neighbor Chon's house.

The dog has wanted to simply move into the Pink Flamingo but so far I have been able to keep that from happening.

Earlier today, we did see a pooch on the highway on the way into town who, for two days, has been stalking the truck whenever I have seen him. Today I gave up and invited him to jump into the back of the truck, but he declined.

Below are two photos: the first of the Admiral trying to entice him to follow us, the second of him following her down the road.

When we got close to town, however, he turned around and headed back out to the highway.

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February 16, 2012

A day at a resort hotel with California and NY amigos

BARRA DE NAVIDAD, Jalisco, Mexico - We caught up with amigos Roger and Di Frizzelle of the sailing vessel Di's Dream Wednesday at a fabulous marina/hotel, just across the channel from Barra de Navidad.

When cruising Sabbatical, the Grand Bay Hotel was one of our favorite stops, particularly because of the great pools, food, and service.

It hasn't changed all that much, though I did not have my favorite drink, a cocktail called a 'ballena.'

Karen and Mike Schamel went with us and the six of us had a great lunch, followed by hot tub time. And then there was some slide action and a visit to the famous swim-up bar, too.

Roger and Di will be sailing back up to Tenacatita Bay in a week or so for a sailing regatta and in the course of conversation, we were invited to tag along as crew!

It will be a great warmup for the Banderas Bay Regatta which runs at the end of March. It's entirely possible that Lotus - with Captain Clarence - will be around, too, so perhaps we will be able to get in some practice for the BBR.

The weather cooperated nicely, too, with some overcast. That meant my slightly sunburned skin won't be getting any redder - at least not until we go to Sayulita in a few days for some surfing, swimming, and shopping.

OH-MY-GOD! I forgot to mention the big news!

Big news! Notices grandes!

The ribbon cutting (or whatever it is called here) was held Wednesday for the paving of the 1.6 km. road from Highway 200 to el centro of Arroyo Seco. And the surveyors have actually started putting in stakes.

It could be our little town is about to change - very fast.

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February 13, 2012

Road trip! Admiral, Captain and crew heading to Sayulita

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - After several weeks here in Arroyo Seco, we decided to take a vacation to Sayulita, a not-so-small town north of Puerto Vallarta famous for surfing and at one time home to the author of the book 'Gringos in Paradise.'

Mike and Karen Schamel fly out of Puerto Vallarta Tuesday for the reaches of upstate New York and home. But before that, we will spend three days checking out the surfing, restaurants and famed nightlife.

Adm. Fox and Karen are already talking about salsa dance lessons for one of the nights.

Me? I'm taking my boogie boards and hope to not smash my toes on a rock like I did the last time I was there. It's a great surf beach but I am not sure I'll give that a try...

We will be staying at place call Casitas Tortugas in the penthouse. They don't call it the penthouse, but it is the top floor, has great verandas overlooking the town and is barely two blocks from the surf.

I'd call it a penthouse.


Tonight the Pink Flamingo is having its first social event (and likely its only social event) by hosting the folks staying on the beach at the hotel. We will be firing up the stove in the palapa to make dinner and hope the mosquitos and no-see-ums that plague the beach right at dusk don't follow our amigos to town.

If so, we have some heavy duty fans to blow them out of town.

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February 12, 2012

The end of the rainbow, somewhere near Arroyo Seco

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - If it hadn't been so damn muddy, I might have gone looking for the pot of gold at the end of rainbow yesterday. After a day of near-monsoon rains, we had a gorgeous rainbow at the end of the day, and an equally spectacular sunset.

I could almost hear the Mexican leprechauns cackling over the treasure.

So what do you do in a beach town on a rainy day?

Go to another beach town, of course.

With Mike and Karen Schamel we headed south to Barra de Navidad where we wandered through a few shops, stopped at the miracle store to pick up a few miracles and then had lunch at a favorite stop: Mexico Lindo.

Normally, I would not have a margarita with my 2 p.m. lunch, but it was raining, there was no rush to do anything, and the young Mexican woman bartending seems to be pretty professional while doing other folks' drinks.

They were great margaritas... And I am soooooo glad I didn't have two.

But after the drinks and fish fajitas for lunch, we took a foray on a panga out to the anchorage where cruising sailboats hang out. There were lots of boats, but because of the weather, most of the cruisers were hiding below in their cabins.

Still it was fun. And I have never seen so many pelicans on the water anywhere.

Today the weather is still on-again, off-again rain, but with patches of blue here and there.

The locals say we will be back to normal sunny beach/surf weather Monday.

But then, they said that yesterday, too.

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February 11, 2012

Rainy day II in Arroyo Seco - and the mud piles up

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - We were awakened for the second night in a row by rain, this time accompanied by strong winds out of the south.

It reminded me of being anchored in Tenacatita Bay aboard Sabbatical and having the same thing happen some years back. One minute, you are in a paradise-like anchorage, the next, looking at a lee shore and hoping that your anchor is going to hold.

Last week we sold the Grey Goose Express I! Right now, it is in the possession of amigo and surfer dude Julian who is renovating it and will put it on his Arroyo Seco property as temporary housing.

He had asked to buy the Grey Goose for years and we caved in this year and sold it to him.

In an hour or so, we will hop in the car with Mike and Karen Schamel of Hector and head south to Barra de Navidad and other points to see what there is to see on a rainy day. I haven't been to Barra since the hurricane and want to see what's left. Barra sustained a lot of damage from ocean surge - even losing a landmark restaurant called Seamaster's. Plus we will make a stop at the miracle store.

I'll explain another time.

In the meantime here in el rancho Arroyo Seco, the rain has soaked the ground and what was at first a nice respite from dusty streets is turning those streets into mudpies - serious mudpies. Inside the compound we now have a growing lake and even the chickens have taken cover.

Sylvia wearing her handmade Mexican raincoat...

The forecast is for clearing Sunday (we hope) and a return to normal sunny beach life. In the meantime we have been assembling rain gear for our Barra adventure.

More on Barra de Navidad, the miracle store, and how to make raincoats out of plastic bags later.

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February 10, 2012

A rainy day in Arroyo Seco - no, really - rain!

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - We sat on a terrace overlooking Tenacatita Bay last night, remarking how the huge thunderclouds in the distance would have spelled rain for sure in upstate New York, smugly thinking that the clouds held nothing for us.

We were so wrong.

A few hours later, as we returned from a great dinner in La Manzanilla at Figaro's restaurant the rain began, with a slow pitter patter, followed by a little harder pounding.

And it rained all night and into this morning.

As I write this, the power has been knocked out (a very common occurrence when it rains) and the wind has started blowing, probably signaling that a high pressure weather front is moving through. It has already blown the lid off my water tank (which means climbing on the roof of the bodega) and sent other loose stuff flying about the property.

And when the sun does come back out, we can look forward to a serious blast of humidity and in a day or so, mosquitos.

Adm. Fox and Karen and Ginny have headed into La Manzanilla to the market there that on Friday sells all kinds of items: clothing, jewelry, even bootlegged DVDs of first-run movies in the U.S. Mike Schamel and I stayed behind - he's on the beach helping repair the fence around a turtle hatchery while I catch up on various writing projects, and, I suppose, getting my ladder out and replacing the airborne water tank lid.

The village farmers are ecstatic about the rain - it means their crops are likely to get a good boost. Rainwater seems to make things grow faster than well water for some reason.

On to the projects!

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February 9, 2012

Three days of seafood and it's time for a change

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - For three days, no, make that four days, we have had fabulous seafood meals, first in Puerto Vallarta and then at two restaurants here in Arroyo Seco.

A new restaurant opened a block back from the beach that is doing a great business by delivering meals to the hotel across the street where Karen and Mike Schamel and our amiga Ginny Tortarelli are staying.

The hotel (and 11-bedroom house, really) is full of guests and the deck grass area on the ocean side is the scene of a great cocktail party every night at puesta del sol.

After eating relatively healthy meals for two months, the sudden infusion of shrimp has been a little bit of a shock to my system.

Still, tonight we head into La Manzanilla for a dinner at Figaro's. My menu choice? Shrimp gambieri, of course.

Tomorrow I'll get back on the granola plan.

Below are two photos from the Pink Flamingo: one is the property at 8 a.m. this morning, the other is of one of scorpion removal team.

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February 8, 2012

The Internet line dies and is revived... Viva TelMex!

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - After several days sans internet in the village, a heroic hombre from TelMex (the telephone and internet service provider) arrived at the internet cafe to get things going again, just moments ago.
Added to that miracle is that this blogging software works again and you have quite a week going.
In the meantime, Mike and Karen Schamel arrived last night, escaping the cold (this year not-so-cold) upstate New York winter.
And now we are off to Luis' Restaurant Las Brisas for a lunch of shrimp and beer, er, I mean cerveza.
Hasta pasta, amigos.

TelMex to the rescue in Arroyo Seco
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February 5, 2012

Seeing Angels right here in Nuevo Vallarta

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Admiral Fox and I barreled up Highway 200 today, leading a two-car caravan with Sasha and her mother right behind us all the way into Vallarta from Arroyo Seco.

Sasha and Camelia came down for a long weekend and by all measures, had a great time.

Sasha sleeping in the hammock with Grandma.

Sasha and Grandma head out to the beach on our quad.

We have a handful of errands to do here in the big city, including getting new photos for our Mexican visas (called an FM3).

We have been to two Walmarts and a Sam's Club (all of which normally do these photos). But no joy. Both Walmarts have machines not working and Sam's Club pleaded total ignorance that the photos were ever done in their shops.

Que lastima! Santo Crappo.

We did make it over to the aeropuerto just in time to pick up Ginny French of Boston, an amiga of Sylvia's from Corning College and who is coming to Arroyo Seco for a week of fun in the sun. She will be joined by our other amigos, Karen and Mike Schamel on Tuesday.

But we took Ginny right in for lunch from the airport - to Napolitos, of course, in the Paradise Village Mall. And yes, that's a margarita in Adm. Fox's hand...

Adm. Fox and Ginny at Napolitos in the Paradise Village mall

In our quest for photos today, we did have one quasi-miraculous encounter - at a Telcel cellular store of all places.

I have been reading an Anne Rice book about the life of Christ (she does write some things that don't have vampires in them) and also having an ongoing dialogue with a writer amiga from Sayulita about everyday miracles and the likelihood that angels really do exist.

I am not sure the young ladies in the photo below qualify exactly, but still, it was fun getting my photo taken. Angels, right there in the Telcel store.

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February 4, 2012

BlogPress returns, which means photos can go up again...

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco - By what divine intervention I don't know, but suddenly BlogPress came back online on my iPad and so...

I think if I ever have a long enough time I will write a full report on what it is like using an iPad as a primary computer.

The jury is still out, except on the weight issue - the iPad weighs so little I can carry it all day and not worry about it. This particular blog is being written outside of the Internet cafe here because the floor is being mopped.

It will be great to get my own connection at the Pink Flamingo so I can sit in the shade, sip tea (or other beverage) and write from there. Perhaps by Monday night - provided I can set up the Tel-Mex modem without incident.

This afternoon amigos Randy and Karen, Greg and Joni and cousin Lynn are going to descend on the village for a look at things. By then, granddaughter Sasha, her mother, and Sylvia will return from their La Manzanilla crocodile tour.

I told Sasha to be careful at the water's edge. A three-year-old would make a nice snack for those huge bull crocs in the La Manz laguna.

Randy and Karen and Lynn are staying in condo just up behind the Catholic Church in La Manz and have a commanding view of the bay - and the new neon cross that lights up the sky at night.

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February 3, 2012

At the Arroyo Seco Internet cafe, waiting for Sasha Fox

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - Sasha Fox and her mom are visiting here for a few days and Sasha just went toddling off with Grandma (Admiral Fox) to visit a neighbor who has a two year old.

I am posting - again - from the internet cafe here, but over the weekend we will be picking up a DSL modem in Puerto Vallarta so we don't have to rely so heavily on this tienda.

The people who own the store and internet service are nice enough, but at times it seems have the entire village is here, and the bandwidth simply can't handle any more wireless connections.

This blog is also being written using a different software package. The BlogPress software simply refuses to function anymore - kind of like my washing machine now in the repair shop in Melaque.

The repair shop has a new main circuit board 'on order' to fix the machine.

On order. In Mexico.

I hope we get it back in time to put it back in storage.

In the meantime, today is a beach day with Sasha and dinner tonight in La Manzanilla with amigos Joanie and Greg from El Tuito at the famous Martine's restaurant.

(NOTE TO CAPTAIN: Limit yourself to two margaritas...)

More on how that works out tomorrow.

February 2, 2012

Trying out some new blogging software for the iPad

This is a test of the new blogging software, to replace Blogpress which has decided to simply stop working.

Santo Crappo!