The rainy season
06/29/2012, Puerto Vallata
Is this the beginning of the rainy season?
When I would tell the local gringo boaters that I planned to spend most of the summer here in Paradise Village Marina they would at first laugh, then they would say something like "hope you like rain" (I don't), or "better buy an umbrella" (I did). Just about all of those boaters have now left the area, their boats covered up and left in the care of a Mexican boat sitter. Just about every night for the past two weeks it has rained, not a ton of rain but pretty steady....until last night. Now you have to understand that I am from San Diego, where in a good year it rains 10 inches, yes, that is the yearly total. Here is a breakdown of rain for Puerto Vallarta area;
October-June 9 inches (total)
July 7 inches
August 9 inches
September 10 inches
Last night we had a squall pass over and IT FREAKING POURED. accompanying the downpour was thunder that shook the boat and intense lightning, which with a 60 foot metal pole (the mast) above your head, is definitely a concern (probably be a separate blog on lightning). On a 14 year old boat there are always a few drips here and there, especially the ports (little windows on the side of the boat). I thought I had had the drips narrowed down to one port, but last night found out it is more like 4 ports. So out came the tupperware and plastic bowls and now, along with my homework today it looks like I'll be kept busy working on the new (or recurring) drips.
So..in answer to the"is this the beginning of the rainy season" question, the locals say NO. They say that the street that looks like a lake now (pic), will look more like a river once the rainy season is in full gear....oh boy!
Oh, and since I started writing this blog the thunder is back and I am assuming that the rain and lightning will soon follow....oh boy again!
You think English is easy?
06/22/2012, Spanish school
As predicted Spanish level 2 is considerately more difficult than level 1 was. The introduction to level 2 pre-warns you that it is the most difficult of the 4 levels in the Warren Hardy program, as we are now dealing with past tense. Adding to the frustration is that I can be standing in line at Subway and some little kid in front of me, that looks to be 4-5 years old starts rambling on in Spanish and is perfectly understood. Then I step up utter a few words and the worker looks at me with a blank expression. Yes, I was just about to give it up yesterday, and then I thought about some of the posters that my school has up poking fun of the English language.
Let's face it, English is a crazy language too. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which a house can burn up as it burns down, and in which an alarm goes off by going on. Then there's the word "UP". A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning and close it UP at night. When it threatens to rain we say it is clouding UP....when the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. Well it's time for me to close UP my computer and open UP my book and continue my quest to speak fluent Spanish....or at least as much as a 4 year old.
06/18/2012, Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta mexico
translation; The beach
One big benefit of Paradise Village Marina is that it is very well protected from summer storms that frequent this coast. I am tucked pretty far up the estuary and between me and the ocean are first a row of high-rise hotels, then a road, and then another row of mid-rise condos, a high-rise medical center and a mall. all these obstructions are great protection from storms and/or....God forbid hurricanes. The bad news is that they also keep any kind of normal cooling breeze away. Another BIG benefit to Paradise Village Marina is that I am able to use ALL of the resorts amenities, including their beach (pic). So, it can be sweltering in the estuary on Si Bon, and I can take a quick 5-10 minute walk and be laying under a palapa, with a beautiful ocean breeze keeping me comfortable. The other day i went body surfing and was shocked at how warm the ocean was...I think it was the warmest I've ever felt the ocean....including Hawaii.
Think I'll finish up some paperwork, do a little studying, and hit the waves....adios.
este es mi maestro
06/15/2012, Spanish school Vallarta
Translation; this is my teacher.
Today I finished level 1 of my spanish class. Unlike the rest of the spanish lessons I've taken, this one really teaches you the spanish language. The rest of the courses I've tried really just have you memorize a bunch of different phrases so you are able to ask for a beer or to go to the bathroom. Yes, I had to dust off my thinking cap and try to remember the difference between a noun, a verb, a pronoun, an object pronoun and a bunch of other terms that left me thinking I should have paid more attention in 8th grade english class. I feel that the Warren Hardy learning method really starts with building a solid foundation in order to be able to actually learn the language....I already knew how to order a beer (big surprise there). My teacher, Melchor Cortes, is a fantastic instructor, he is knowledgeable, easy going and extremely patient. Melchor made the three week course easy to understand and I always felt that I was making good progress in my bid to speak spanish. It's been a VERY busy 3 weeks, between the class and the homework I've had very little spare time. So, where do I go from here? Well today I signed up and paid for level 2, so I have the weekend off and start level 2 on Tuesday. The truth be told, I'm not really taking the weekend off, I have plenty of reviewing from level 1 and a little previewing for level 2 to keep me busy over the weekend.
Riding Mexican Buses
06/11/2012, Any city in Mexico
One of the biggest adjustments I've had to make with this lifestyle has to do with the fact that I don't own a car, and I haven't even driven a car since early November. So how do I get around? Well, I take the local city buses, which are called "La camion". These are not to be confused with an autobus, which travels from city to city....a fact that I only found out last week in my spanish class. I guess that's why people looked at us funny when we would ask a question about "the autobus" while we were standing at the stop for "la camion". Many tourists are afraid to take la camion, I myself never really rode one until Sharon and I started riding them in September. I now laugh at myself for walking everywhere in San Carlos last summer, while la camion would pass me by....I guess I was afraid. I must admit that this (pic) can be a daunting sight, but it really isn't that hard to figure out. Unlike the US, there are no printed schedules, the buses have where their destinations are across the top, and then they write on their windshields their major stops....no confusing page after page of times and places...very simple. When we tell tourists that we meet that we take the bus they become very intrigued, they usually quickly admit that they haven't had the nerve to take one, but that they want to. They then start firing questions, "are there chickens and goats?", "how do you get to walmart?", "how do you know how much it costs?", "how do you know which one to get on?".
Well, it's really quite simple, as I said they write where they're going on their windshields, and if in doubt, you can ask the driver, turns out Walmart is the same in English as it is in Spanish. If it's not the correct bus the driver will shake his index finger at you in the international no sign (not to be confused with the international middle finger sign). The cost is usually somewhere between 6 pesos and 13 pesos (.50-1.00 USD), and again if in doubt hand the driver 10-20 pesos and he'll give you back the correct change with your ticket.
La camion is a cheap and wonderful cultural experience, for the most part the buses that service the tourist areas are nice, although some of the ones that service the out laying areas can be a little rough and get a little crowded, but that's part of the fun. If you're getting ready to go cruising get ready for la camion, it's how you'll get around on land. If you're planning on taking a Mexican vacation I highly recommend a trip or two on la camion while here....it will probably be the cheapest highlight of your trip.
Oh, and I've never seen any animals on la camion, including chickens or goats.
06/07/2012, Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta mexico
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....
From about San Blas south Crocodiles are prevalent. There are signs around warning people about them, and you occasionally see one in one of the numerous rivers, or laying on a golf course. We have known that just up the estuary there are crocs, we saw several on a short dinghy excursion one day. We really hadn't seen any as far down as Si Bon....till two nights ago when this bad boy swam by (pic). This picture was taken from Si Bon's stern....and the croc was about 6-8 long. I just saw another in about the same area this morning. Si Bon is scheduled to have her bottom cleaned today....The local divers never seem to very concerned about them, but we'll see.