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Melaque Transportation.

Getting around Melaque is quite easy although the modes of transportation are a bit different. Also, the majority of the roads are unpaved and pretty rough.

The easiest way to travel of course is on foot. Provided you stay on the shady side of the street and don’t step in any doggie-doo.

We often see people travelling about on motorbikes. This is another cheap form of transport as the locals manage to cram the whole family on. We don’t usually see Dad or the older boys riding though. The seating arrangement goes something like this: Eldest daughter up front driving, Mum at the back hanging on for dear life, a pre-teen kid (or two) in the middle and various Ninos jammed in between. There may even be someone sitting on the handle-bars. If someone fell off I don’t think anyone would notice.

There are a few quads around. The other day we saw one parked on the main street. A young girl about 8 years old came out of the store with an older girl, both were dressed immaculately in their school uniforms. The younger of the two hopped on the quad and started it up. The older girl jumped on side saddle and consulted her cell phone as they drove off. 

Our favourite way to travel is by the Chicken Bus. It runs from Melaque to Barra de Navidad and cost about 8 pesos. We haven’t seen any actual chickens on the bus but have seen a few waiting at the bus stop which is a large tree at the side of the road. I believe these buses are privately owned and are discarded inter-town buses. In the past, we have often watched the road go by through the floor of the bus. Because of the condition of the roads and many speed bumps, they rarely get out of second gear as they chug and rattle through town. Once out of town though they hurtle along at about 50 km an hour.

Transportation

A Chicken Bus under the spreading bus stop tree.

The other major method of transportation is, of course, the taxi. These are yellow cabs, some in no better condition than the chicken bus. The rides are a bit bumpy because their shocks have been worn out by the roads. You can go anywhere in town for 40 pesos, about $2.75. We once ordered one to take us to Barra early the following morning and the driver slept in his cab all night. I guess he didn’t want to miss the fare.Transportation

The newest form of transportation here is the Tuc Tuc (I think it’s called that). This is a three-wheeled machine that carries three people at a squeeze and costs 10 pesos. We haven’t tried one yet but are looking forward to it. It would probably be best for two people and a case of cerveza ($22 for a 24 pack) and maybe a box of wine.

transportation

Tuc Tuc

 

Yransportation

Another Tuc Tuc

The buses that run between the local towns are much better than the chicken buses but they have a few quirks too. It’s not unusual for a clown to get on at any stop and tell stories to the kids. Or a couple of people with guitars to get on and entertain us with their singing. They do expect a tip though no matter how bad they are. It’s all a lot fun once you get used to it.

Then, of course, there are the intercity buses. These are luxury buses from Europe and are a very nice ride, depending on the road of course. There are two classes of bus, first and second class. We, being the snobs we are, always take the first class bus. The second class buses don’t have bathrooms and make more stops. The difference in price is about 20 pesos for a 5-hour trip so why bother.

The other method of transportation is the bicycle, It’s boring though compared to the other methods so I’m not going to bother with it.

Standby Melaque

Standby Melaque here we come.

For various reasons after four days in Puerto Vallarta, we decided to start out for Melaque early.

We packed our bags and Rosalie ordered a taxi to the bus depot. It was a bit further than the airport and still only cost eighty pesos. We booked our tickets for the first class bus, it cost us about $24 each. We also got a drink, a sandwich and some cookies. It was supposed to be a four hour and ten-minute ride but it took nearly five hours. Ah! That’s Mexico. We weren’t in a hurry anyway and the bus was very comfortable.

We checked in at Laguna del Tule and Rosalie and I felt as if we had returned home. It’s a national holiday, Revolution Day this weekend and so the place was packed with more Mexicans tourists than normal.

The following evening we went out to find somewhere to eat. We ended up at one of our favourite roadside restaurants and ordered some drinks while we waited for our BBQ ribs. I happened to look up and saw a familiar face, the familiar face saw me and it turned out to be Mike and Fay, a couple we had met here before. so we all ate together.

After our meal, we went back to the place they are renting, for a glass of wine. It’s right on the beach and the whole beachside of the house is open. A beautiful place.

Later that night we were sitting by the pool, a group of Mexican kids came up and started talking to Lyn. Of course, Rosalie joined in and a great conversation ensued. They asked us all sorts of questions, like our ages, names and where we were from. The thing that amazed us was that they weren’t afraid to talk to us and ask questions. It would never happen with kids in Canada. It was kind of nice in the morning to hear a kids voice say “Adios Chris” as they left for home.

I had a problem before we left Canada. A rash had developed on my lower back and it was getting worse. I wasn’t feeling too good. Mike and Pat whom we know from the trailer park had wanted to take us out for brunch. When they came to pick us up they took me to the local clinic instead. I saw a really nice young Doctor who spoke English and he gave me a thorough going over and prescribed several medications. His bill came to 200 pesos, about $14.

Next, they took me to the Farmacia. When we got the bill I asked Rosalie if there was a mistake as the total for three prescriptions was only 57 pesos. It’s no wonder a lot of people don’t bother with travel medical when they come here. My second appointment with the Doc cost 30 pesos and the third 20 pesos.

I’ve had several sleepless nights, due to the itching, which nothing but ice seems to help, but I’m improving each day.

We walked to the weekly market yesterday and bought a few bits and pieces. There was a roadside taco stand so we had a taco and beer each. Total cost for three tacos and three beers was 84 pesos. About $5.60. 

The weather, of course, is great. It’s about 28 C and no rain.

Supplies Day

Now to go get our main supplies. After hauling a 5 Litre jug of water back the previous day I insisted that this time we take a taxi no matter what the cost.

As we were about to leave I noticed that there were two 5 Gal bottles of water under the stairs. All that sweat and agony for nothing.

supplies

View from our balcony.

We walked to the store grabbed a shopping cart and started in. I headed for the booze section as I wanted to get the essentials first. We got two six packs of Dos Equis for 90 pesos each, about $6. and a six-pack of Pacifico for 60 pesos, about $4. The tequila was $8 for a 750 mil bottle and Carolans was about $14.

Everything else was equally as inexpensive. 

We left the supermarket with our supplies and went in search of a taxi. The plan was to buy a freshly cooked chicken for our dinner but they weren’t done yet so we gave it a miss. We found a taxi and it cost us a whole 50 pesos to get back to the condo. This was about halfway to the airport so we knew we had been ripped off the day before. Although in fairness to the taxi drivers, they are charged a heavy fee by the airport to use that location.

That evening Rosalie started to cook our meal when we found that the gas stove wasn’t working right. The flame was really low no matter how far we turned it up. So, we had no chicken and no way to cook what we did have. Rosalie and Lyn persevered though and after about an hour managed to cook some eggs. We had these with fresh buns and cheese and so didn’t starve to death. We also had a good supply of wine so we were fine.

Before we left I had spoken to the condo owner about hooking up the TV and WiFi. During the conversation, I learned that they had no cable and the WiFi was probably turned off. So it was a bit of a redundant conversation.

After we had finished our meagre meal, we poured some wine and tried to hook the tv up and see what was working and what was not. The WiFi seemed to be on so I checked it out and found that it worked. This was great because  It was too hot outside and we needed something to keep us in. Now, we could get Netflix. 

Puerto Vallarta

So we’re off to Puerto Vallarta. Peter picked us up at 4 am. We picked Lyn up shortly after and set off for the airport. When we left Nanaimo the temperature was 6C. When we arrived in Calgary it was -8C with snow on the ground. A good time for heading south.

The flight to Puerto Vallarta was uneventful. Lyn wanted to sit by the window so I gave up my seat. The problem was she was over the wing and didn’t see too much. 

We arrived at the terminal in PV and were processed through. Lyn got held up as she had a few more ciggies than she should have had. It cost $320. actually pesos but she didn’t know that at the time. The penalty or duty was about $20 Canadian so not too bad.

As we walked out into the arrivals area we were beset by hoards of people waving placards for taxis. Rosalie and I forgot that this was a con to sell us timeshares. While we were talking to the first guy he opened up a bottle of tequila and gave each of us a shot. Lyn didn’t want hers so I helped her out. Then I found myself with a sample Margarita as well.

We broke from this guy and was directed to another young man who said the taxi fare would be 100 pesos. He also gave us a shot of tequila. Rosalie didn’t want hers so… what the hell. When he mentioned that we would get a free bottle of tequila as well as our 100 pesos back we said no thanks and left.

I had five tiny Tequilas and a small Marguita before we left the airport. I love this country.

We finally got outside and found the taxi rank. We were quoted 260 pesos (about $20) for a very short ride, so we said no and went to the next guy. They obviously have a deal set up to all charge the same amount because he also said 260 pesos. We were too tired to argue anymore so they took us to the condo where we were staying but we left no tip.

We had arrived just after 4 pm and needed a few supplies so we took a 20-minute walk to the supermarket. Having bought our supplies which included a 5 litres jug of water we started back. After awhile Rosalie had to transfer some of the supplies (a bottle of wine) to my pack as she was starting to wilt. 

On the way we wanted to have a bite to eat so we stopped at an Italian restaurant and Lyn very graciously paid for our dinner. We struggled back to the condo with our heavy loads and swore that next time we take a taxi back. I think we were a bit put off by how much we had to pay for the last ride.

We settled in for the evening and had an early night as we were all whacked. 

 

 

Maid Rosalie

I now have to contend with having a ‘Maid Rosalie’ in the family. I’ve been a member of the Parksville Archery club since the spring. (See archery) I asked Rosalie if she was interested but she didn’t think she could pull the string back as her arm was still weak and sore from having her stent put in. This week I asked her again. She was still pumped up from El Camino and decided to give it a try.

I was a little apprehensive as she isn’t very mechanically ept. (opposite of inept). We went on my regular Monday night and handed h0er over to Don, a friend of mine (well he used to be). He got her outfitted and brought her to the firing line. I had visions of arrows flying everywhere and having to get the ladder out again to retrieve some from the ceiling. 

I tried to ignore her as I didn’t want to make her nervous. She fired a few arrows and at first looked a little goofy but was doing okay. None in the ceiling or on the floor. I stepped in to give her a few pointers as did some of the more experienced members. 

She needed to work on her posture most of all but she takes direction well and soon had it mostly sorted out. Mechanically inept or not, she did really well and very few of her arrows missed the target. I think she did much better than I did the first time.Rosalie

During the evening a few of us were talking about doing a “bag shoot” in the bush. This entails sneaking up on poor unsuspecting bags stuffed with more bags (cannibalistic) and shooting at them. Not very sporting really but sometimes we do get wet. It also includes thrashing about in the bush looking for lost arrows in case you miss the target. I’ve lost five so far. Now I only use cheaper arrows.

Rosalie, of course, wanted to be included. She didn’t have any equipment so we went bow shopping. We managed to pick up a few bits and pieces of equipment from The Sports Wharehouse but not a bow. The archery department at Cabelas was our next stop where she found a really nice little bow. It was a 25 pounder but she thought this may be a bit too strong for her. 

Rosalie

Not bad for her second time on the range. All the other holes in the yellow were made by me of course. (?)

Then we did the sensible thing and went to the archery expert Richard at Bucky’s in Duncan. He outfitted her with a 22 lb bow and had her fire it on his small range. He also gave her a lot of helpful tips. We bought 3 arrows, paid and went to the car. Then we turned around and went back to buy 3 more arrows and a quiver.

I may regret introducing her to archery as I have a suspicion that she’s going to be better than me….and she’s never even been to Nottingham.

Mexico

We seem to only live in the condo for four months of the year and want to spend more time in Mexico. So, why not rent out the condo full time, live in the trailer in the summer and go to Mexico for the winter?

Yes, another one of those crazy ideas from the Wells’. This is a great idea economically but we have a huge amount of logistical problems to overcome.

How do we find a place down there for six months? Well, we met Mike in the trailer, four lots down from us. He practically lives in Melaque so we got a lot of advice from him as well as other people in the park. When we go down later this year we will investigate further. I don’t see this as being much of a problem. Even if we stay in our usual hotel it still works out financially.

Mexico

Roof and sunroom.

Next, what to do with all our furniture? It would cost a lot to store it and seeing as some of it needs replacing anyway we may as well sell most of it and take the rest to the trailer. This is a bit of a problem as we don’t have a lot of room.

So we brought forward an idea we had for next year. We wanted to replace the awning with a metal and polycarbonate roof to let more light in. This idea was expanded to put in a sunroom instead.

If we were going to do this I wanted to start building this year to leave more time for moving when we come back. I got on my, not so trusty computer and started to draw up the plans. When I finished I took them to the park manager for approval. He had to turn me down as we have a strange rule that says 20% on each side of the room must be left open. 

I went back to the computer and found that it had fatally crashed and taken all my drawings with it. I eventually got a new laptop (see the week from hell) and created another set. Long story short, I eventual got approval and started to go at it.

I built the basic frame and planned to buy used windows from DemXx. The idea was to buy double pane and split them into two pieces. This was a stupid idea as I broke the first one. So, back to DemXx for another load. We now have thermal pane windows all around. I’m almost finished so it’s a load off for the spring.

Mexico

Partially finished. Time for wine.

The picture on this page makes it look smaller than it is for some reason, probably the photographer. It’s actually 12′ by 12′.

The idea is to store what little furniture we have left in the trailer for the winter and put it in the sunroom for the summer.

The final decision hasn’t been made yet. We want to spend our two months in Mexico and get a better feel for the place with residency in mind. I’m pretty sure that we’ll do it though as we love Mexico so much.

The roof

That’s roof as in goof, not woof.

I was busy (as usual) working away at the trailer one Sunday morning when Rosalie reminded me that it was the day of the Spider Lake Springs A.G.M. I don’t usually miss them as they can be quite fun and there is always the chance that a fight will break out. This day though, I was too busy, so Rosalie went alone.

At noon, as the meeting was breaking up, I got a call from Rosalie saying that she and a bunch of our neighbours were going for lunch and would I like to join them. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to skip work for a while I quickly agreed.

There were a few false starts to me meeting them, as they kept changing the venue. We eventually ended up at the golf club and had a nice lunch. During lunch, the conversation turned to RV’s with roof leaks. “You gotta have a permanent roof,” the old timers told us. We saw the sense in the idea and decided to investigate.

As we left the club, Rosalie couldn’t find her car keys. It was lucky that I had met her as she obviously had locked them in the car. Well, not exactly! They were in the car alright but in the ignition. The car was still running and the doors were unlocked. Oops!

We decided to install a roof as we did have a few leaks and didn’t want the situation to get worse. I spoke to the park manager and then rushed home to draw up some plans on the computer. I submitted them to the manager and after a few grunts, he told me to go ahead.

While doing the plans I made a material list so all I had to do was go to Home Depot and spend lots of money. First I ordered the metal and polycarbonate panels to cover it with. The Polycarbonate are clear panels to let the light into the skylights. The next day I ordered colour coordinated screws. (My, how posh!).

Roof

Under construction. It was at this point that I ran out of screws.

I built the trusses and started on the installation. They told me that the metal would be delivered the following week.  However, the date changed several times and arrived a week late. The screws were a different story. They took a month to get here. In the meantime, I was cussing just a little bit.

I was told that I would need about 400 screws, which is what I ordered. It was obvious after one side was on, that I would need a lot more than that. I ended up using about 1,200. I didn’t want to go through waiting another month so, on the back of the roof that we can’t see, are white, blue and green ones. 

The polycarbonate panels lined up nicely with the four skylights so I was happy with the results.

Then some fool came up with the Mexico idea.

The skylight

The next few blogs are a bit dated as Rosalie demanded all the attention for her Camino walk.

We were having fun at the RV lot when Rosalie announced ” We need a skylight.” my response? ” oh god, now what?” She was right though, we did need more light in the trailer. Of course, what Rosalie wants Rosalie gets. I heaved a huge sigh and resigned myself to more stress and a few busted knuckles. With a bit of luck, I would fall off the roof and break a leg, thereby relieving me from the whole problem. But it wasn’t to be. 

I had just finished building the front of the trailer in for more storage. All it needed now was painting. (Rosalie’s job.) So I had time on my hands. 

There was a large speaker from the stereo system in the ceiling that we didn’t need, so that seemed to be the best place to put the new skylight. I removed the speaker and after deciding how I wanted to do this, I got started. Boxing in the area was not a problem and was soon done. Next, I waited for the weather to decide when I could cut a hole in the roof. I waited and waited. The weather cleared up at about 5 pm when I could no longer use power tools. (A park rule.)

The following day, the weather was finally good enough. I hauled myself onto the roof and finished the job. It makes a huge difference I must admit. We can actually see without the lights on.

Shortly after.I was sitting down by the fire for a much-needed rest when I came up with yet another stupid idea. I really have to learn to turn my brain off. It tends to run away on me sometimes. “why not,” I said, “turn the spare room into a TV room?”

Okay, so this needs some explaining. We had previously turned the toy-hauler section of the trailer into a guest room. But, as we are not that popular, we only had a few visits in the nearly two years it was there. Also, I had discovered that we could get up to seven TV channels on the RV antenna. So, we must have a TV room.

I was a bit apprehensive as I had to tear an internal wall down and didn’t know what was in there. There were a few nasty words used as I went along but all in all, the whole thing went fairly well, It opened the trailer up and now I can watch TV as Rosalie does the dishes. It’s not finished yet though. I may make it last a bit longer as Rosalie is hinting at another skylight.

Then there’s the roof.

Day seventeen, Home

Day seventeen and she’s finally home. 

I caught the 8:30 ferry and had a nice lunch with my daughter Lisa in Abbotsford. Afterwards, having dawdled away some time visiting some old haunts in Langley I made a b-line for the airport. I had about an hour wait so I grabbed a Timmy’s and settled in.

Finally, the great moment arrived: I got the first “real” text from Rosalie saying they had landed. I wandered over to the arrivals gate and waited. I got another text saying that she looked like hell and I shouldn’t be concerned. After a while, I saw her limping (slightly) out of the gate. We did our huggy thing and made for the car.

day seventeen

Rosalie said that this is how she felt as she arrived in Vancouver. Yup! that’s about how she looked.

After close to 200,000 steps, 117 km, rain, shine, blisters, too much wine, too much food and then a day travelling, she looked great. Although a bit tired, jet-lagged and very punchy.

We had decided to go to Horseshoe Bay for the ferry as it was too tight to catch the one from Tsawwassen. We had to drive through rush hour traffic so I was a bit concerned about that. As it turned out, we drove straight through without a single hold up.

It was lucky that I chose Horseshoe Bay because of the incident at Duke point. Also, there was a small oil spill in the tunnel and the traffic was backed up for miles.

All this time Rosalie is rambling on about the great time she had. She was so tired she was acting as though she was drunk. Talking, giggling and generally having a good time. When we arrived home she had a nice shower and went to bed. Even with the time difference, she had a good nights sleep. So did I. I don’t sleep well when she’s not there.

She brought back with her, a whole caseful of souvenirs. I think she must have left a lot of her clothes behind as there can’t have possibly been enough room for both. 

She hasn’t noticed the stain left by the tea bag yet. She’s been missing me so I may get away with this one.

 

Day fifteen Lisbon

Day fifteen, I think! Rosalie has arrived back in Lisbon. Unfortunately, she has picked up a bug and isn’t feeling too good. It didn’t seem to stop her from having a few glasses of wine with her sisters before bed though. She also hooked up with a good pharmacist who is taking care of her.

“It is 9:00, & I’ve loaded up on Tylenol, my new cold meds, calcium/magnesium & 1/2 a big Gravol etc.

Luisa isn’t feeling very well either, so no phoning tonight.

In some aspects, I feel worse, but basically, I am so glad I went through the Camino without having this now, full-blownhead cold. My head is stuffed up, my left ear still blocked. But my spirits are good. We slept till 9 am from about 9:30 last night. Hopefully, the ear thing will be cleared by Monday, aeroplane day.”

day fifteen“Luisa & her Tiu”

When she got back she spent the next day with Luisa, who is from Lisbon, and her uncle. They took Rosalie under their wing and looked after her all day. They showed her the city and even bought her lunch. But eventually, she was too under the weather and had to return to the hotel.

Day fifteen“Fountain near the hotel colourful buildings around.”

“That was really fun & even though they spoke Portuguese the whole time, it was very comfortable for me & I could get a word or two every now & then.”

day fifteen“Tiu is 74, Luisa’s mother’s brother. Luisa is 61. Tiu means uncle”

Day fifteen“Tiu was trying to hide his license plate because he was parked illegally while we walked in the park listening to the live music by buskers.”

day fifteen“Lobby of Inspira hotel Lisbon as you walk in must be 30-foot ceiling”

At one point Tiu got into a fight with a trolly bus driver and Rosalie enjoyed the spectacle of these two guys yelling at each other in Portuguese. She took a video of it. I look forward to seeing that one.

She needs to be home soon. The place is a mess and needs cleaning up. lots of beer cans and empty pizza boxes to be dealt with. I will scrape the teabag off the sink before she gets here though. She’d clean the rest up but is unforgiving when it comes to tea bags.

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