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Traveling by bus around Mexico is cheap, efficient and very comfortable. For our trip to Guadalajara we boarded an ETN bus at the Puerto Vallarta central bus station. This "bus station" (as well as the terminal in Guadalajara) is nothing like those that come to mind in the states. These facilities are similar to a major city airport except they are clean and efficient. The ETN bus, which is a huge vehicle, has 8 rows of seats - 2 on one-side and a single seat on the other. Complete with reclining seats designed for the "mid-westerner", these buses have free wifi, movies and food for the trip. Our time in Guadalajara was wonderful but rather than a play by play rehash I'll hit some high points and conclude with a few suggestions for those planning to visit the second largest city in Mexico (about the same population as Los Angeles). Our hotel, built in the 1700's, was downtown where the "beat" was contagious! Our first evening there we wandered to one of the plazas and found the streets lined with people waiting for something - turned out to be an annual gathering of motorcycles clubs from throughout Mexico and the "parade" was about to begin. There are no words to truly describe that which we watched for 45 to 60 minutes as 30,000 to 40,000 motorcycles of every configuration and shape roared down the main drag. It was a fun way to begin our Guadalajara visit. There is so much history in the central part of this city that a person could spend years learning about all that happened. Our attempt at a self-guided walk about was a short-lived mistake and soon we were in the trusted care of "Polo" who, while somewhat opinionated, was an outstanding guide for close to 4 hours. Then, after icing down some cerveza, we boarded a horse-drawn carriage for another guided tour of the city. When this idea was first "suggested" (KT code for "we'll be doing this") I must admit my first reaction was other than embracing; I mean the "exhaust pipe" end of the horse is but a few inches from the passenger compartment of the carriage and it's not like this carriage has a set of Monroe gas filled shocks supporting the suspension system. But, once again, my lovely bride proved to be right and our ride around town with Romero calling the shots for his beautiful horse Vincente was a fun experience. Romero knew as much about the city as Polo and proudly shared the history while Vincente smoothly ran through the streets and would stop and start at an intersection based on the color of the traffic light - seriously! All of the small restaurants downtown had great traditional food but our best meal was at the #2 rated place in Guadalajara. La Vaca Argentina scared me when we first entered - seeing the white tablecloth, elaborate place settings (more glasses in front of each chair than we have in total on the boat), and giant wine cellar I quickly concluded we'd be blowing our December budget in one night! Our Colombian born waiter who followed his aspiring Bull Fighter brother to Mexico was most helpful in making our selections - in the end, the whole thing was better than excellent and cost about $30 US per person (I'm pretty sure we'd be looking at 200+ in the US with the food and/or service not coming even close to that of the La Vaca). So here are some tips for future visitors; use trip advisor, travel by bus, Google "what's happening" in Guadalajara, get a guide (talk with a representative at the many tourist info centers for help with this), take a horse drawn carriage ride (go after 5 when the sun is going down - very pretty - don't bring wine, remember there are no shocks...), ride the taxis, talk to the people (all very friendly and helpful), if you like steak go to La Vaca Argentina and, most of all, visit as many places in the old town as you can.
Welcome to Paradise….Chip
12/01/2012, Paradise Village
Thirty-one days ago we untied from Dana Point and headed to Mexico with a "plan" to move slowly down the outside of the Baja and the Pacific Coast of mainland Mexico. We did just that and, after moving approximately 1400 miles we're now in Paradise Village Marina (Nuevo Vallarta/Puerta Vallarta) where we've got a slip for the next 30 days a few feet from my parents which is very cool. We celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving at John and Gilly's beautiful oceanfront home in Punta Mita with friends then took a Sunday afternoon sail aboard the 62+ foot catamaran Profligate (the photo). Our 31st anniversary was the 28th so we moved the boat over to La Cruz where I could take my bride to a "spare no expense" dinner at Tacos on the Street ($15 for dinner and drinks for both of us....) followed by an evening of dancing at the La Cruz Yacht Club Sky Bar. On the way back to Paradise Village we dropped the anchor in 30' of 84-degree water to scrub the bottom (I'm thinking an improvement in the anniversary "celebration" may be in order next year....). Over the next month we'll sail around Banderas Bay, visit Guadalajara for a few days, fly to San Francisco to see our kids, resupply, and service all of the boat systems before heading to Barra de Navidad for Christmas. We gotta keep moving - the proverbial clock is ticking on this "trip!"
Chacala to Pta de Mita via Rincon GuaybitosChip
11/18/2012, Banderas Bay
Our stop in Chacala was absolutely wonderful - the bay is spectacular and the people very friendly. The coastline leading to the point is lined with amazing homes (mansions) in the jungle looking onto the beach. Once in the bay it's mostly old Mexico with a string of beachfront restaurants and a small town and all that goes with that. One day here and then onto Guaybitos - only 8 miles or so down the coast but a world of difference from Chacala. There are shrimp boats anchored around this bay and the coast is lined with small hotels (there were so many umbrellas on the beach that I thought they were "jetty rocks" until I looked through the binoculars....). And, it turns out, it's a 4 day weekend so those "jetty rocks" all had people under them - lots of people. Our trip to shore here was great. There were hundreds if not thousands of people at the beach - families just enjoying a day at the ocean (a couple of blocks away were lines of buses - it appeared that most of these beachgoers had bused it from inland Mexico). Last night the shrimpers all took off and were in the process of returning this morning when we headed out. These are some tough people and some very "rustic" vessels - apparently looks are deceiving.... Anchor down at Punta de Mita in front of John and Gilly's home.
After a great night's sleep (preceded by a few cold beers...) we launched the dinghy to head to the beach to snag a bus into San Blas (think Longfellow's "The Bells of San Blas"). The last time I tried this Diane had Jack and I marching along the no-shoulder highway for 5 miles as we "pushed forward" waiting for the bus which eventually came (but only after Jack and I sat down in protest over the inhuman and egregious treatment!!). This time the bus arrived within a few minutes of us getting to the highway and off we went. San Blas is a very cool town - real Mexico with few tourist driven businesses. Unfortunately the town has been blasted a couple of times by hurricanes in recent years and the signs remain (it'll be awhile before the Church is completely repaired and the Bells once again ring for example). The above photo typifies why we love Mexico so much. Look closely and you'll see that mounted on the front of the bicycle is a fully functioning barbeque (seriously) and cooking away is a fresh caught Marlin. This dude rides around town (mind you, it's well over 90 degrees air temp with humidity around 75) smoking his fish. Every block or so he stops to make deliveries to the various restaurants along the main boulevard - in the photo is the owner of the place in which we're having lunch (she brought a sample of the fish over for us to try - I skipped that "opportunity"). Can you imagine the number of Regulators that would jump from the bushes in the US if a guy strapped his George Foreman Grill onto his bicycle and rode around town selling freshly caught fish...?
Crossing to the Mainland!Chip
11/15/2012, Matanchen Bay/San Blas
With the wind forecasted to drop to something manageable, Missteak and Serendipity left Puerto los Cabos at 0600 on November 13th for Matanchen Bay on the mainland. This passage is 270 miles so leaving when we did should have put us in around 2300 on the 14th. Once we cleared the marina, the wind piped up and by 0700 we were reaching in a brisk wind and moving between 8 and 9 knots! The sea was still sloppy from the weather that had gotten everyone attention for the last several days. It was a great crossing! We had the anchor down almost 3 hours sooner than our original prediction and are the only boats in this well protected bay (covered the distance in 37 hours with an average SOG of 7.08). From the photo you can see that our top sailing speed was just over 10KTS and that the water temp is over 85 degrees. KT is all excited about the warm water (last time we were down it wasn't until June that we found water is warm) but it means something different to me. Her view - great for floating about the bay on her noodle with an umbrella drink reading a good book or showering off the stern. My view - crap will grow faster on the bottom requiring more frequent cleaning, both the refrigerator and freezer (water cooled) will act like delusional nut cases that lost their bottle of Prozac and, lastly, the only thing missing in water this warm is a flipping Hurricane! Must be that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus thing... Happy to be here!!
What a contrast!!11/11/2012, Puerto los Cabos
What a difference a couple a hundred miles makes... It would be easy to babble on about the benefit or drawback of either place shown in the above photo but I decided it is what it is and, frankly, our point of view would be/is meaningless. We're enjoying both "versions" of Mexico and the people living there! And that's all I'm going to say about that - "necessita mas Cereveza Senior!!"