P.V.

There was a unique situation where Rosalie and her four sisters were all in Mexico at the same time. The problem was, two were in Puerto Vallarta and three were in Melaque. Further complicating the situation was, that of the two in P.V., one was arriving and twelve hours later the other was leaving. We, however, would overcome.

Brother-in-law Vic arranged to rent a seven-seater van and we started our quest. The van was fine and got us there but it had no rear shocks. There are many, many topes (speed bumps) on the main road to P.V; up to four in each little town we passed through. Most are not well marked and if Vic, who was driving, happened to hit one a bit too hard Gordie and I, who were sitting in the back, tended to head for the ceiling and then return with a spine-crushing thump. There were also road works with unexpected ridges which added to our misery.

Sister-law-Delorie was the one leaving so we spent a day with her in a luxurious apartment overlooking the ocean.

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We sat around the pool, drank wine and generally had a good time. That evening we picked up Marina and her friend Barb and we all went to the Marina for Dinner.

Some of us had been to Victor’s Place Restaurant previously so we knew the food was good and that he dishes out a lot of free booze. In fact, he gave our table two bottles of Tequila as part of the service.

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Victor always greets his visitors personally with “welcome home” even though he hadn’t a clue who we were. Even if we had been there previously he probably wouldn’t have remembered as every time he handed out free drinks he had to have one himself. The thing is he never seemed drunk. He is a very nice man and we would go back again; and not just for the free booze, although that is a strong consideration.

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Delore, Suzanne, Rosalie, Marina and Giselle

Sadly, Delorie had to leave early the next morning. So Vic and I took Suzanne, Marina and her friend Barb to Walmart to get some supplies. We also got their phones hooked up with a Mexican sim card. They got unlimited calling and text in North America plus 2 gigs of data for 50 pesos (about $3.50) for 15 days. We are being ripped off in Canada.

That evening we walked the Malecon and saw some great sights. Firstly, me panicking because we were so intent on the sunset we missed the start of the action. It was cooler then, as we watched the sun go down.

The following morning we pilled into the van and headed back to Melaque and those bone-jarring topes.

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Driving and stuff

Rosalie’s sister Giselle and husband Gordie were arriving here on Saturday so we decided to rent a car to pick them up. We asked Suzanne to come along as all three sisters could be together for the ride back from the airport.

The car rental place was in Barra so we hopped on the local “chicken bus” for the trip there. The car cost 600 pesos a day ($41.39) including insurance and taxes.

The car we got wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. It was a micro-mini compact and barely big enough for four people, not five as well as luggage. We decided to try and make the most of it as the two girls and I wanted to go to Manzanillo for supplies at Walmart.

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When we left Walmart with a loaded the car it was apparent that we couldn’t get one more person in, certainly not two with luggage. So, we agreed to take Suzanne and the supplies back to Melaque. After lunch, Rosalie and I headed back to the airport.

After parking the car we went in and expected to wait forty-five minutes for our guests to come through customs and immigration.  To our surprise, they showed up in about twenty minutes. I barely had time to gag my cerveza down. Well, they showed up but their checked bag didn’t. They weren’t amused when I told them this was a good thing, as we didn’t have the room for it anyway. After the required paperwork we took off for home. We are still waiting for their bag but have been assured that it will turn up today.

It was nice having a car so, as we had it for the minimum two days, we went to La Manzanilla the next day for some time at the beach with the rest of the gang. That evening we went for pizza at a local restaurant. This is how they do the pizzas. They were great.

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This was my first experience driving in Mexico so I was a little apprehensive.  However I needn’t have worried. In a lot of ways, it was easier than driving in Canada. For a start, as Rosalie pointed out, the stop signs and speed signs appear to be ‘only a suggestion’ and are basically ignored.

One of the reasons it’s easier here is that everyone is so polite. There are no stop signs at most of the intersections so whoever gets there first goes first and everyone avoids hitting everyone else. No one gets mad, no horns beeping, no angry revving of engines; it’s great! Also when on the highway if someone wants to pass, the slower vehicle in front pulls on to the hard shoulder and lets them by. I passed a cop car on a solid yellow line this way. Well, he did pull over to the shoulder, so I had to.

There are some anomalies though. Most of the major roads through cities have side roads running parallel. If you need to turn left, you have to be in one of these lanes on the right and wait for the left turn signal. It’s a bit confusing at first but you get used to it after a while. It also makes it easy to do U-turn.

All in all, we had a great time and look forward to renting another car soon to do a bit more exploring.

 

St Valentine’s night out

I don’t like St Valentine’s day because I feel forced to acknowledge that I love my wife, and I tell her every day. It’s all about money and I also don’t like the idea of a giant greetings card company trying to guilt me into buying something.

I once went into a store to buy a St. Valentine’s day card,  and was greeted by a garish bright red display covered with hundreds, if not thousands, of bright red cards all saying “buy me, buy me.” Yuck!” I immediately walked out and have not bought one since.

We did go out for dinner on the night though. There were six of us: Vic, Suzanne, John,  Joanna and us. It was a great night. There was dancing and some of us joined Elvis in singing and of course, we drank too much.

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The thing that struck me the most was the diversity of people: Old (mostly old), Young, short, tall, skinny, fat, good looking, not so good looking, but we all had someone we cared about and we were all having a good time. So the evening was worth it.

Anyhoo, enough of that rant. A few days later we invited Vic, Suzanne, Mike and Pat over for dinner. We decided to cook steaks. We had had some a few days earlier that were really good.

Vic and Suzanne showed us the place where we could buy the meat. Six three quarter to one-inch t-bone steaks cost about seven dollars each. (200 pesos a kg or about $13.72) They were so big we ended up freezing two of them. They were both tender and tasty.

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I found this photo online and to us, it’s the epitome of the Mexican attitude. Some have next to nothing but are still extremely happy. Happiness is a state of mind.

Jamaica (Ham-ika) is a drink made from dried hibiscus flowers. We tried it several times and liked it, so Rosalie bought some flowers from the local store and made some. It involves a lot of boiling and reboiling to get the most out of the petals and we ended up with a nice healthy drink for next to nothing.

John and Joanna wanted us to see their place so we met up there with Vic and Suzanne to spend a couple of hours on the beach. I wanted to say that I caught this nice fish but you can see the shadow of the Mexican who really caught it.

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His timing was perfect. There was a school of fish just offshore; you could tell by the way the pelicanos were attacking. As well as the birds the school was also attacked by larger fish and this guy did one cast and caught one!

 

After the beach, Rosalie and I went and got some ingredients for another batch of pierogis as another friend of Vic and Suzanne’s is coming to visit and we are going to get more T-bones. He is of Ukrainian origin so we want to test my skill with the pierogies.

“Love isn’t what you say. Love is what you do”

Winnie the poo

 

More ‘orses

When Christian came by with his horse a while back, Rosalie fell in love with the idea of doing the Sunset Tour with him and a bunch of other people. So she booked the tour and went with her sister Suzanne and hubby Vic as well as our friend Linda.

Christian, his sidekick and partner Gerry and the horses arrived surprisingly on time for Mexico. Then again it would have been embarrassing to miss the sunset. To me, the horses seemed to be very docile and easy to get on with. I ducked out of this one as I’m not sure how my hip would take it. Besides, I had a sinus infection so wasn’t feeling my best.

I watched as they saddled up one by one with Gerry and Christian helping them to get on their horses. Suzanne was a little nervous but Gerry became her protector and gave her lots of reassurance.

They left the house and turned left to head for the beach. As they went along the beach there were tables and chairs in the way so Rosalie steered more toward the surf. Christian immediately redirected her away from the water as apparently, the horses are afraid of the sound of crashing waves. (Woosies!) The tour eventually took them right along the beach toward the other end of town. They wended their way through town and across the canal, hen took the old road to Cuastecomantes.

At the top of the mountain, they stopped to see the sunset and to admire the view of Melaque. Many photos were taken and some beer and water consumed.

As it got darker, they retraced their steps via the beach rather than through town and headed back to our place for some linament and a cold beer.

 

Pierogi a la Mi

We went to Jim and Ylda’s home for a fabulous meal of cabbage rolls and pierogis. They were so good that even though I don’t eat a lot I went back for thirds. I have always wanted to try making pierogis so I went home inspired.

The following day I mixed my first batch with a potato and blue cheese filling. There were a few problems though. There wasn’t a roller around so I used an empty wine bottle (the fun part was emptying the bottle; of course.) Also, I needed a larger rolling surface. Between Rosalie and myself we did get it done and it was delicious. Now I was in a fever to make a new batch with a different filling.

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The next day we went in search of a roller and a larger cutting board. Both were found at our all-purpose Plastico store.

Back at the duplex, I whipped up another batch of dough and realized I had made an error. I was supposed to use hot water for the mix but I had used cold. Plodding on, I found that everything was getting really sticky. This time I finished the job with a meat and potato filling. It too was good.

The third batch was made using up all the leftover filling from the previous batches and again had trouble rolling the dough. Everything stuck to everything else. Not good!

While looking for more recipes I noticed that some of them said to roll the dough into little balls and roll them individually. This gave me an idea, so we went up to town and bought an inexpensive tortilla press.20190208_113421

We couldn’t try it out that day as we had to go to a meeting about the local Emergency Awareness program. It was a little depressing. They have some ambulances here but they are poorly equipped. The 911 system works but they speak little English and in one incident didn’t answer the phone.

The guy giving the presentation knows of these problems and is taking steps to correct them. He made an appeal for any used medical supplies that we could bring from Canada. Last year the Canadians and Americans brought supplies and someone brought a defibrillator. It doesn’t matter if the instruments are broken as the Mexicans are great at fixing and improvising.

The following day we tried out the tortilla press and it worked better than I expected. We did some with bacon/mushroom/green onion and potato and some with an apple and cinnamon filling. So now we have a freezer full of pierogis just waiting for someone to come along and try them out. That is if I don’t eat them all first.

Journey to Jaluco

Sounds epic, And in some ways it was.

Diane invited us for a bike ride in the backcountry. This is also a safer bike ride to Barra de Navidad. Going along the highway can be a bit hairy.

Dianne and Ron along with Tony and Nancy met us at eight thirty at our place. Rosalie had ridden ahead to let Margo and Denny know that we were on the way. We all met up at Materiales de Pollo and away we went.

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A rare picture of me.

We rode up to Hwy 200 and waited for the green light so we could cross the road. It may seem un-Mexican to wait for a green light but it’s a good idea because for traffic to make a left-hand turn you have to be in the right-hand lane. We didn’t want to get run down while in a state of confusion.

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Ron, Dianne, Nancy, Tony, Short Stuff, Margo and Denny. And if you look closely enough you can see me taking the picture.

After a short time, we were in the backcountry. The road out of town was “paved’ for the first quarter of a km but after that it was dirt. ‘Paved’ being rocks stuck together with concrete. It was probably great for cars but a bit bumpy for us.

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I think they’re growing peppers under the other trees.

The country out in that part is very agricultural. There were plantations along most of the road and of course the odd goat or cow. Quite a beautiful ride.

We got to Jaluco and the decision was made to add to our agony journey by taking another long way around. At about the halfway point we decided to stop for brunch at a restaurant back in Jaluco.

‘Letty’ is a restaurant on a very sharp corner. We piled our bike up outside and the eight of us went in. The staff and manager didn’t speak English so Rosalie and I, using our best Spanish, ordered a ‘cafe con leche’. We were served hot water in one cup and hot milk in another. It was then we noticed the jar of instant coffee on the table.

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Margo and Denny’s order. They didn’t expect it to be so Grande

 

This being Mexico we decided to make the best of it. Rosalie put some coffee in her cup and used some of the milk from my cup and she was all set. I added coffee to mine and I was all set. I didn’t have a problem with this method as we often made instant coffee with hot milk while living in England.

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This lava bowl arrived with the salsa. It weighed a ton.

The food as always was great. We both had a mushroom omelet with refried beans and salad. And, as always, it was inexpensive. Prior to getting our order Rosalie was given a tour of the kitchen. Neither of us knows why.

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What a great bunch!

Feeling nicely full we took a leisurely ride back to town. All in all, it was a great ride. Having said that, before we go again I have to get a much more comfortable seat for my bike. I’ll be limping for a week. We just got back and my knee started to complain so the journey was just the right length,

We travelled about 14 Km and were gone for three hours. I know this because I downloaded a nifty GPS app. I say we travelled about 14 Km because I forgot to turn it on until halfway through the trip. Maybe I’ll remember next time; probably not!

Lazy days

In the last few days, we have been polishing our Spanish and finding better ways of saying things. We often use “quiero” (I want) but we’ve learned this could come across as a bit blunt so we are finding friendlier ways of saying things “Puedo tener” (can I have.) I find it annoying as I only just learnt the old way.

Tired of overtaxing my tiny mind trying to learn more Spanish, I retired to the hamaca for a rest. Rosalie did her usual job of feeding me grapes. Well, that was my dream until I realized she was throwing them at me to wake me up, for dinner.

I’ve only fallen out of the thing twice. Both times I was trying to get in and not out. Fortunately, I didn’t cause myself too much damage. The danger is when Rosalie gets in with me, for a little woman she sure bounces a lot. Twice I almost spilled my wine.

We just get settled in when this happens:

The guy in the red VW sells ice cream,  even a tequila flavoured one. He’s been doing this for twenty years and we have no idea why he hasn’t gone crazy listening to the same recording over and over. The little girl is locked out and yelling to get in; her brother is even louder. We have no idea what the guy on the bike is advertising. The gas truck. Someone selling fruit and veggies out of the back of the pickup truck. And of course that F…ing rooster.

We finally settle down to read our books and before long Rosalie starts to take a nap. This is a tough time for me. When she sleeps on the couch I can at least tiptoe around very quietly and do a few things. In the hamaca I’m frozen. One badly planned move and I would wake her up. Worse yet we could both fall out onto the tile below. It’s only a few inches but it’s a very hard ceramic tile. I can only hope it’s a short nap before my muscles start to cramp up from inaction. The worse part is, that even if I’m brave enough to reach for my wine glass I may have to wait a while to refill it.

To keep my mind occupied I go into a zen state and count the dead bougainvillea blossoms blowing on to the patio. I swear every bush drops their blossoms and no matter where they are on the street, they end up on our patio. Perhaps we should leave them there, it may make our landing a little softer if we do fall out.