Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life Is Just Too Flippin Wonderful !! Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I wish I could feel bad, well maybe a little, about not having the time to write the past 3 weeks but I don't !  Life has just been full of awesome people, things to do, errands to run, venturing out and about, experiencing and enjoying new celebrations and holidays, and just plain loving the life of an active retirement life in Puerto Vallarta!! 

I'd been looking forward to Halloween here, as well as, El Dia de Los Muertos, The Day of the Dead. Here it has become quite combined with Halloween, it being celebrated as the Children's day of honoring. The traditions of Mexican and U.S. Have been blended. The children here are taken by their parents up and down the streets of businesses and it's the businesses, plus some local expats, hand out candy to them. They chant only "Halloween" rather than "Happy Halloween".  The costumes are quite impressive and I simply adore the children!!

The Children's Halloween parade. Thank you, Randy & David for letting me share your photos!

Photo by Randy & David.

This is what I'm having done to my face next year! Great face painting by talented young ladies.

As for us, for the first time in many years, we too dressed up a bit. It felt really fun to walk the main streets to get to Nacho Daddy's for their epic party. Standing room only (we got the last table) with 3 different bands and a fun time for all!


On Sunday, November 2, the true Day of the Dead, we met up with our good friends, Rob and Shauna, who had just returned from a month in the states, for a traditional Mexican dinner at El Arrayan. A fabulous venue in Gringo Gulch with devine authentic Mexican food.



From there we walked back across the river to Old Town and enjoyed drinks and friendship at Los Muertos Brewing, where they had a street party going on with several different kinds of bands. It was enjoyed by locals, tourists, and expats alike. That's another reason why it "works" for us here. EVERYONE enjoys what is offered here, no segregation of anyone!  We co-exist and commingle like all humans should. 

Our landlord, Dave Smelser, arrived for 10 days and we thoroughly enjoyed his company and friendship!  We also enjoyed his sharing of his borrowed car to cart us around on errands for the apartment and building needs. Thank you, Dave, for being a great landlord!  This fact can make or break the bliss of living an expat life.

Dave Smelser, our fabulous landlord!
Mike had his tooth issues last month that were costly and unexpected. So when his other front tooth veneer broke off only 2 weeks after the other front tooth being repaired, we were both just done with highly frustrated!  The good news was that it was easily glued back on and has been fine since then. A total of $29 US to fix at the best dental clinic in PV. 

Rainy season was well on its way out but along came another hurricane (Vance), which brought more rain but not as much as expected. It was the next Tropical Depression that never became a hurricane that caused much more grief. A whole 36 hours of doom and gloom and heavy rain last week. That duration is extremely uncommon!  

The ones that suffer the most are the tourists. We feel awful for them when they're here to enjoy our blissful weather with their hard earned money only to have crappy weather. At least it's a warm rain. Considering the frigid cold that's hitting the US and Canada, it wasn't a horrible experience. 

This last storm, however, brought with it the "seasonal" change. The humidity has dropped way down and so have the temps. Mid to high 80s during the day, lower 60s at night, along with wonderful ocean breezes. Sleeping has been incredible with the ac off for the winter and only beautiful fresh air under a light blanket. Heavenly!!

Our lives continue to be enriched by meeting folks visiting PV, mostly for the first time, to check it out based on my blog. I'm honored over and over again by how it's been received!  And, Mike and I thoroughly enjoy sharing our experiences and gained knowledge with others so they, too, can embrace the expat life in PV and the Bay Area.

Kristi Gomez, a Facebook friend, meeting for the first time face to face.
Mike & Sandy, blog followers from San Diego.

Me, Cindy & Doug, blog followers from Denver, CO.

And, we are now into our 2nd High Season and we are beginning to see many we met last year winter and, when, possible get together again. 

Randy & David, blog followers that we met last winter and they have now purchased a new home here in PV!!
Wayne, a Spanish classmate & wonderful friend, who was here just a few days.

Todd, a snowbird from CO, that was here just a few days to perform a wedding but will be back in January. And, our good friend Harris, who lives here but did some world traveling this summer.

Me, Lana & Dick.  We met Lana at the International Living Conference last June when we spoke. She has now decided she really would like to live here & is looking for her new place come spring.

The Saturday Farmer's Market began again on November 1. A delightful event that brings out many to enjoy all the handmade crafts and food. 

A big event for Mike and me has been the painting of our apartment bathroom and bedroom. Over 3 days, we transformed them into warm inviting places!  So enjoy the new colors and the crisp clean feel!! Thank you Dave for trusting us to do right. 


We also have decided to add a few more personal art and decorating items to make the apartment feel more like "us" in style.  So after searching a long afternoon throughout the City Market and surrounding shops, we decided on this fellow. The minute we saw him, we fell in love!!  However, it was ours only after a long negotiation period. You have to be willing to walk away. Our efforts at pricing were confirmed to be correct after meeting a wonderful local in a stunning Huichol gallery. 

Mike has also kept busy by doing some electrical work in the apartment. He turned this non functioning outlet into a functioning double outlet in the bathroom with a bit of patchwork. A great addition for us. All without getting electrocuted!!

Last Sunday evening, I enjoyed a wonderful meal at Bravo's with a group of women called the L.O.C.A.'s.  It's an outdoor adventure group that has a Meet & Greet every month along with a monthly adventure excursion somewhere in the area for a hike. Many times it includes either getting there by boat or a hike through rivers and a waterfall or two.  I only knew a few that were there, so it was fun meeting other ladies in the area, many of whom are snowbirds.

One of the greatest assets to the PV area is Pam Thompson-Webb!!  She has a service called Health Care Resources PV She coordinates different clinics for all sorts of preventative medical throughout the area with specialist doctors at a discount.  So I took advantage of the foot clinic. On Tuesday afternoon, at the local CMQ Hospital here in Old Town, I met with Dr. Patricia Villanueva.  What a thorough exam of my feet!  She confirmed that I do have a fatty tumor on my left foot instep with no issue; that I definitely have extremely high arches and must wear shoes with good support for the arch; and, that I have very good blood flow to my feet, which means my heart blood flow is working just fine.  All of this for a total price of $18US (250 pesos).

The other cool thing we've done is take a free tour of the Mexican Navy Tall Ship that was in port just a few days over the long holiday weekend.

Me & Tessa Armstead


Everyone keeps asking what we do all day.  There is no "typical" day.  They are all so different but I want to walk you through a full day of ours that occurred yesterday with wonderful friends, Shauna & Rob.  It's a prime example of how good life is here in retirement.

Up at 8 am, after a wonderful night's sleep with the cooler temperatures and nightly ocean breezes. I make my 2 cups of coffee that I drink with cinnamon, honey and a bit of milk.  Mike has his lemon juice and mineral water drink. We both sit down on either the sofa and spend an hour or so checking in with the rest of the world on line.  We each have different preferences for what we read but this is our meditation and quiet time before moving on with our day.  Mike is religious about doing his exercise routine while I continue to read or write.

Out the door by 9:30am to walk about 3/4 of a mile in Old Town across the river to the International Friendship Club (IFC) where we had a meeting regarding a volunteer committee that we belong to. From there, we walked back into Old Town stopping to do a few errands along the way with the goal of meeting up with good friends, Shaun & Rob.

Shauna and Rob met up with us at the bottom of their hill and we began a new adventure for us.  Rob and Shauna were going with us to have lunch at El Rio BBQ, which is quite a ways up river inland.  Rather than take a bus, we all decided to walk since Rob and Shauna knew the way.  So off we went on a beautiful glorious cooler morning to walk the streets of many outlying true Mexican neighborhoods.  Walking on cobblestoned streets can be quite challenging but good for strengthening your balance. Ha!

It's a really good thing that they were with us because it was full of twists and turns and paths.  After taking the riverfront path that is now revealed since rainy season has subsided and the river has receeded, we crossed a swinging bridge over the river into the Buenas Aires neighborhood.  We continued up river into another small village where the main road was completely torn apart for repair/installation of new sewer and water lines. 

No, we did not cross this bridge.

School girls chumming it up for the camera in Buenas Aires.  Kids are always kids!!

The walk was about 2.5 to 3 miles and took about an hour.  But, oh so worth it!!  El Rio sits on some beautiful ground along the river with jungle all around and a beautiful steep rock face across the river.  Having lived on the Kettle River in Northeast Washington, the terrain was very similar actually but we didn't have palm trees.  Such a wonderful venue!!

Mike's and my lunch were predetermined, as we had purchased coupons at 60% off through  Our lunch consisted of a huge pulled pork sandwich with fries, and a beer or lemonade for each of us.  Our total prepaid bill was $7 for the both of us.

As we were footloose and fancy free, we lingered over our lunch and had a couple of extra drinks to idle the time away.  Enjoying absolutely every moment of it!!

Our walk back took us in another direction along the other side of the river so we could enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighborhoods there.  What a delight to discover new areas so close to home!!  And, you get great exercise to justify the whole event!!

Coming over the stepped foot bridge down from Gringo Gulch onto the Island that sits in the Rio Cuale, we decided to stop for Happy Hour drinks at a small riverside café that we had never been to.  Actually, the main goal was for Mike and I to be able to use the baños !!  A great relief!!  To our satisfaction, the 2x1 drinks that we all had were very good.  Shaun and Rob had Rum Punch and we had Mojito's. 


After sharing the 2 drinks (1 each) and a total bill of $5, we all moved lazily on to another out of the way restaurant/bar that Mike and I had been to back in January called Uncommon Ground.  Their Happy Hour started at 4pm and the timing was perfect because we had all decided to continue our day by going to the 7pm movies. 

Uncommon Ground is owned by two lovely ladies, Lydia and Ann, who have been here 10 years.  Their establishment is very Zen with a twist.  All of the furnishings were shipped here to replicate their bar/restaurant that they ran in New Jersey just across the river from NYC.  Nicely done, ladies, you are an huge asset to this wonderful town of ours!  Happy Hour here just means reduced prices on certain drinks including my beloved wine.  You aren't forced to drink 2, which is a nice change that I wish more places would do.  So our total bill upon leaving at a bit after 6pm was $6.25.

Uncommon Ground

We all walked (yes, we still could) over to the bus stop and caught the tunnel bus to the Galleria Mall up across from the ship marina.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunset again during our ride. Our timing was perfect for getting into the movie just as it was about to start.  Interstellar was most fabulous and quite better than we had anticipated!!  A good choice.  Movies on Wednesdays are half price for everyone.  Mike's and mine are always half price because we have the Senior's Discount Card for Mexico (INAPAM). So total cost for the movie was $5 for the BOTH of us.


A quick ride back on the bus to town (total cost for us roundtrip at half price $1.20) and a nice stroll home.  We were gone a total of 12 hours, had a fabulous day of volunteering, exercise, good meal, a few drinks, friendship, and exploration for a whopping $25!!  Now, you just can't beat that! Who says PV is expensive to live in??  Absolutely, utterly WRONG!

I'm going to end this post with a tribute to a newer good friend who passed away suddenly on Monday - Judy Snow.  You were taken way too soon from many who love and cherish you! Be happy on the other side and look down upon us once in awhile and think about all the wonderful good times we had together.  Miss you and love you, mi amiga!!!

So until I find the time in my busy wonderful life to write again, to all of you, please have a wonderful life until then.  And, to my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!!  We will be celebrating here in our home with many new and cherished friends. 

Hasta luego, mi amigos!!