Saturday, March 29, 2014

Routine Is Disrupted -- In A Good Way!!

 Our move from our old apartment to a week's stay at a resort on the edge of town, Villa del Palmar, went well thanks to our good friend, Mel Enge.  We have accumulated a bit of kitchen items, so with our luggage, food, and the accumulation, we managed to fill up the car.  A cab ride would have been more interesting than we would have wanted!

It was a very strange feeling being in a resort with hundreds of our closest and dearest new "friends" that we really never got to know.  Spring Break was in full swing with a lively group of frenzied college students who were drinking by 9am (actually amazed they were even up by then!), burnt themselves on the beach by 3pm, and then got really rowdy, loud and obnoxious by 8pm.  As the one and only hot tub was right across from our ground level unit, we were privy to all that transpired.

The Entry to Villa del Palmar

Our condo is the middle one with the open door.

Pool area at the beach.

The beach area.

The big pool with water slide and waterfalls.

We enjoyed a few beautiful sunsets.

St. Paddy's Day with Mel Enge, only this was at the Cuban Club.

Live Cuban band with wonderful Latin music.

We got a call from our friend, Joe King Carrasco, on Tuesday to see if we wanted to tag along with him and his 3 pooches and go down to a small fishing village, Punta Perula, about 3 hours south. Of course, we took him up on the offer and by 6:00pm we were happily having a delicious meal on the beach while our eyes were feasting on a most gorgeous bay.

The view from the beach restaurant.

Joe & Mike just hanging out until the food comes.

Joe out walking with the pups.

Our accommodations were only one block off the beach in a quaint, quiet, and beautifully colorful atmosphere.  The only drawbacks were that the bed was a typical Latin extremely hard bed and my morning "coffee" was Nescafe instant, which reminded me very much of Ecuador.

Our room was on the 2nd floor. We were the only ones staying here that night - $38.

Outdoor lobby.

BBQ party area.

After a delicious cup of "real" coffee at the Jazz Café owned by a Frenchman, off we went down the block to spend several hours of delicious quiet time on the beach.  Mike and I enjoyed a wonderful walk and the company of Joe and the pups. Then another nice meal on the beach before heading back to PV.

Ahh, a good cup of coffee!!

Yours truly enjoying beach time.

The restaurant where we ate the night before.

A gringo beach house.

Nothing gets wasted. Feeding time for the birds after the big catch of the day.

Anna and her rubber chicken. She loves to play and chase.

Joe enjoying some body surfing.

Before we knew it, it was time for Mel to pick us up again for our move to our new building. Our permanent apartment won't be available until the 30th so we moved into the unit on the first floor for the interim. Such a delight to be in space that is well laid out, has a great kitchen, and good storage.  Before we knew it, we were all settled in and ready to go enjoy an evening listening to live jazz on the beach with JB.

Mel was back again to pick us up at 11am the next morning to take us out to the airport because Mike's sister, Laura, was arriving for a week of spring vacation from her school teaching in Vernon Hills, IL.  She has been looking forward to this all winter since the weather in Chicago has really been nasty this year. 

She arrived a bit early so we didn't have to stand around too long before she came through the doors and off we went to begin a fun week of enjoying Puerto Vallarta.  We had saved things we had been wanting to do so it was like us going on vacation, as well.

After settling in, our first order of business was lunch on the beach at Swell's and then some exploring of Old Town. The night ended by meeting up with JB Good for drinks and tapas. And, to complete the evening, a little dancing to Joe King Carrasco.  It's been quite awhile since brother and sister had hit the floor for some bump and grind.

Laura & me on the Los Muertos Pier.

Close up. 

For the first time in a long time, we had to set the alarm so we could be at the Marina by 7:45am for our whale watching/snorkeling/Marietta's Island all day sailboat excursion.  With 22 new friends, we headed out into the Bay of Banderas.  A few sightings of whales that were enjoyed by all on the trip out to the island but nothing spectacular.

Our sailboat!

The high rises after leaving the Marina. 

A beautiful show of clouds & sun.


Our crew - awesome job guys!

Our guide, Kim, giving us safety rules.

He was an awesome character and extremely knowledgeable marine biologist!

A beautiful tail!

Once out by the island, we had to climb down into a dingy that took us out closer to the island where we had to jump overboard with our snorkel gear.  Well, to everyone's utter surprise, the water was extremely frigid and it took longer than expected to acclimate.  Unfortunately, due to water currents, the water was quite murky and the snorkeling not the best.  But, I did see a sting ray, some eels, and a few colorful fish.

The backs of Laura, Mike & me. 

Ready, set, JUMP!!

Laura not quite sure she likes the cold water.

Once the second group had reached us and were in the water, our guide, Kim, lead the way through the natural bridge to the beach on the island where we could explore a bit and warm up allot!  No one is allowed to walk on the island itself except on the beach due to it being a wild life and plant sanctuary.  Then we had to get back into that frigid water to make our way back to the dingy. Fortunately, we did all warm up much quicker this time.

Looking like we did just get out of the water.  But happy we made it and are warm!

Don't know them but a great shot of the hole where the beach is.

Mike & Kim talking about the "cave" and walls they're looking at.

This is Mike educating Kim & Laura listening in.

Meanwhile back at the dingy & finally warm again.

Almost immediately upon getting back onto the sailboat, a mother, baby, and their "escort" were spotted cavorting through the water extremely close to our boat.  And then, mother, baby, and escort began breaching over and over again and raising their fins in the air as if waving at us.  We were delighted with this show!!  Lots of ahs, oos, and clapping!

Once everyone was back on board, off we went headed back to land but not before we witnessed a few more cavorting moments.  Made it back to land by 6pm in a wonderfully exhausted state!

As Laura had only experienced PV through a tourist's eyes, we set out to show her "the other side".  We leisurely explored shops we hadn't been in and some we had all along Basilio Badillo. While Laura was looking for Day of the Dead items for her daughter, Lizzie, and we found a pair of awesome leggings in a storefront.  I tried them on for her to see if they would fit Lizzie. Unfortunately for Lizzie but fortunately for me, they fit me with a bit of spare leg length so they wouldn't work for her.  I am now the proud owner of those leggings!

After dropping off some items that needed mending at our favorite seamstress, we decided it was time for lunch.  Our destination was up the hill to Casa Isabel and we would be able to show Laura where our original apartment had been. Once there, she was sure glad we had moved to somewhere with an easier walk to everywhere.  Although, she was enjoying the exercise and could feel the inches drop off just as I have experienced.

Thoroughly enjoyed our 60 pesos lunch specials, a glass of wine/beer, and the beautiful vistas of town and the bay from this gorgeous venue!

Then it was time to head to the market for vegetables.  To get there, we took Laura through the neighborhood - up the hill, down the hill, down the many uneven, unlevel, narrow stairs to the bottom of the hill.  After perusing several market shops, our bags were full of goodies straight from the garden, all for $12.

By this time, we were absolutely pooped and headed home to relax and enjoy the evening sunset and a night of watching TV. Then early to bed but not early to rise....

Mike and I always have gone on the IFC Home Tour every time we had visited PV, so we had put this event off until we could include Laura on this exquisite journey. We boarded a luxury bus at 10:30am Tuesday morning and off we went to tour 4 luscious lavish and wondrous homes in the Conchas Chinas and Mismaloya area.  One was more spectacular than the other and all so very different in architecture and furnishings.

House #1 Lower Conchas Chinas:

House #2 Upper Conchas Chinas:

House #3 Mismaloya:

House #4 Mismaloya:

By 1:30pm we were back in town with plenty of time to prepare ourselves for our evening with our local Amapas neighbors at the Spring Fundraiser at the Tropicana Hotel, which happens to be just at the end of our street.  Met some wonderful new people, ate some good finger foods, enjoyed an open bar, and bid of auction items.  We didn't win but the money went for a good cause, which is to keep watch over anything good or bad that affects the Amapas neighborhood, which is now our "hood".  I even got snagged by the MC as I was headed to the baños to draw a ticket and read the number to the group. Nothing like a grand entrance!

Thanking the local police force for the great work they do to keep our neighborhood safe & enjoyable for all.

The Tropicana outdoor area.

Looking good sis in law!

Love this man!!

Sis & Bro. Resemblance??

Tropicana pool area.

Me & the MC announcing the winner!

Having made quick friends with a couple of single straight guys, Todd and Harris, we decided to continue our get to know each other conversations by going to NU for drinks.  We then were able to convince them they were "ok" to go with us to Garbo's to enjoy the music and have another nightcap.  A wonderful time for Laura and, I think, for Harris and Todd.

Harris, Laura, Todd & Me at Garbo's.

Todd & Laura at NU.

Harris & Laura at Garbo's.

Adrianna & Bobbie at Garbo's.

Todd checking in at Garbo's.

Wednesday was another day to shop and this time Laura scored!  Actually, she had been looking and biding her time to smartly see where she could find her favorites as well as decent prices.  She found some jewelry for herself, as well as her daughters, Lizzie and Callie. Then at another shop that I love but don't usually find anything that I would spend that kind of money on I found a nice sundress that had originally been $100US now on sale for only $8.  SCORE!!!  Laura found a beautiful leather purse at a very reasonable discounted price, also.  Smiles all around!

More Facebook friends of mine, Richard and Andrea Dogget, were in town for a month after their 2 months in Medellin, Columbia and on their way home to Iowa.  Turns out their apartment is just up a block from us, so off we went for margaritas at their place Wednesday evening and then out for dinner to Maia.  So fabulous again to get to meet facebook friends face to face!!

Richard & Andrea's Living Area.

Kitchen & Dining


Sunset over Blue Chairs.
Richard, Andrea, Laura, Me, & Mike at dinner.

Awesome food presentation.

We had planned to take Laura to Sayulita, up the coast, by bus on Thursday.  Richard and Andrea decided to join us so off we went the next morning.  First a bus from the park in Old Town getting off at WalMart for 7.5 pesos each, waited 20 minutes for the bus to Sayulita, then another hour and a half before getting there 35 pesos for that leg. A total of $7.50 each round trip.

An upbeat, Bohemian, quite expensive surf town. As we had only been up to Sayulita at night with Joe King Carrasco, it was quite interesting to see it during the day.  We had an enjoyable lunch right on the beach with a fun little encounter with a young girl who sold Laura 10 woven bracelets for her students.  The young girl had a wicked sense of humor and I enjoyed bargaining in Spanish.

The shops were quite a surprise and we all found them to be more expensive than in PV. However, of course, I did manage to buy a beautiful embroidered top from India for a reasonable on sale price.  Richard, whose quite the haggler, was disappointed with me for not being more aggressive.  As many of you know, I can definitely be assertive but chose my battles.  This was not one I wanted to pick.

By mid afternoon, the sun became pretty relentless with little shade to be found.  Delicious homemade all natural sorbet and fruit juice icicle pops hit the spot for refreshing us all!  A quick walk down on the beach with feet in the surf brought our body temps down before heading back to catch the bus.  I think we all took catnaps along the way back.

On the walk back home, we talked ourselves out of going home to cook. Haha!  Since we didn't want anything fancy but wanted good food, we decided to try Tako's Pancho on Basilio Badillio. This place always has a waiting line for the few tables it has, so we have never had the patience to wait. Fortunately, this time, there was a perfect table for 3.  DELICIOUS 11 peso tacos!  Mike and I ate 5 tacos between us for $5!

It was again early to bed in sheer blissful exhaustion and 10 hours later we rose to enjoy a leisure morning at home.  Laura had declared she was taking us out for lunch so Mike and I chose a café on the Malecón that we had been hearing rave reviews about.  Vitea was the perfect venue! And, our lunches were delicious.  Thank You, Laura!!

A beautiful stroll down the Malecón and a bit more shopping.  We don't tend to shop on the Malecón because of higher prices but I must say we found a great shop, Popo's, where I found the blingy flip flops I've been looking for a good prices. And, they have wonderful dresses and beachwear.  I will most certainly be going back!

The mural at the cultural center on the island.

The new walkway bridge to Gringo Gulch.

Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Inside the church.

The Day of the Dead tourist shop.

Lighting fixture in the shop.

After a successful Tequila tasting and buying by Laura, it was time to get ready for her last night on the town.  We started out by attending an Open House at the new building just down the street from us with an open bar and munchies on the rooftop terrace.  A beautiful brand new building but the majority of the units are not large enough for year round living only short snowbird stays. And, of course, the pricing was way up there but they claim they're 60% sold out. Since we met a man, David Allen, who had purchased one for investment, I guess that claim could be true.

JB was meeting us for drinks at 6pm, so off we went down one more block to join him.  He is an absolutely delightful friend with a wicked sense of humor. While there we had conversations with no less than 7 friends who happened by. The comfort zone is truly kicking in!

We were then delighted to see that Richard and Andrea were joining us for our evening of fun.  This was the first time that Richard was meeting JB after having some interactions with him on Facebook also.  Love it, Love it!!

Laura, Andrea, & Jimmy.

Richard & Mike
Mike and I suggested Fajita Republic for dinner, so off the 6 of us went.   It was a good food event for everyone.  JB said it was the best meal he'd had since being in PV.  Mike and I had enough left over for lunch today, so we got to enjoy it all over again. After a nightcap with JB at our apartment, we all headed for the bed.

Laura was up early packing her bags and managed to get it all successfully packed.  And, at 10am this morning, Mike walked her down the street to catch a cab to the airport.  During the week, the 3 of us shared one bathroom, one closet, and one bedroom for dressing without having any issues. And, she slept well on the air mattress in the living room. That's success!!

After 2 weeks of moving 3 times, a road trip with Joe King and the pups, and a full week sharing our wonderful hometown of Puerto Vallarta with Laura, we are pooped!!  I did all the laundry and have been working on catching up the blog but other than that it's been a down low day.  In fact, Mike is taking a much needed nap as I'm writing this.

Thanks for following along. And, Thanks again to my wonderful husband, Mike, for taking such beautiful photos!!

Hope you're still enjoying our adventures even though we are now into our 4th month here.  Be safe and happy this week and I'll talk to you all soon with pictures of our "permanent" apartment.....