Girls Just Want to Have Fun
29 January 2016
January 15, 2016
It was two days before our friend, Gail, was to arrive and I was going over the activities I thought she would like to do. Jay and I were sitting across from one another at the salon table.
"She arrives Wednesday around 5:00 pm. We are going to meet her in the hotel lobby. It's happy hour so we can have a few drinks and then go back to the boat for dinner. I'm making Chicken Mole. Thursday, I was thinking we could just lie around the beach. Or maybe, we could go to the Botanical Gardens that day."
"Do you really think she wants to travel on three buses and walk through the Botanical Gardens the day after flying all the way from Boston?" Jay asked me.
"No. You're right. We'll just go lie at the beach and relax. Catch up." I continued with my train of thought, "Okay, so Friday is the Women Who Sail luncheon. Saturday is the first Vallarta Cup race. Sunday I want to take her to Los Arroyos Verdes for a SPA day. That leaves Monday and Tuesday for a trip to the Botanical Gardens and a sail."
"Stop! Stop planning Terri! Let's just see how it goes. We're not supposed to be on a schedule."
I backed down. We are cruisers, after all. We make plans and then the wind changes direction. However, the week did sort of pan out according to my non-schedule.
Our first day together was spent with us girls at the beach, lying on the chaise lounges provided by the hotel. Books and magazines, water bottles and lots of sunblock adorned the table between us. It was a lazy day which ended with dinner on the boat.
We spent a second day on the beach and then passed on the Women Who Sail Luncheon in favor of dinner with friends at the Marival Resort. There they have a restaurant on the top floor overlooking the bay. We arrived for sunset and were pleased to find they had a special offer. For $299 pesos we could have either two cocktails or three glasses of wine and three tapas plates. With the dollar strong here in Mexico that equates to a mere $17.50 per person. Quite a deal. And delicious too.
Saturday was the first race of The Vallarta Cup and so Gail was introduced to the workings of a committee boat. It was slightly overcast which was a welcome respite when you spend the entire day out at sea. Upon returning, there was a party at VYC with dinner and dancing.
Sunday, I took Gail to Los Arroyos Verdes, a hidden gem in the Bucerias valley. I guess you might call it a resort, Mexican style. Several years ago, Lupe, who is the owner, bought the property which consists of several acres. She is both an architect and chef, among other attributes, and is responsible for the design. On site are 40 casitas (some one bedroom, some two bedroom) all with kitchens and a living area. They are for rent by day, week, month or year. The grounds are beautifully groomed with paths that lead through gardens. It sits by a farm and in the mornings you can hear the goats and roosters, a charming addition to the aura of the place, which encourages a peaceful existence and living in concert with the land. There is a pool which has a platform in the middle. That platform provides a perfect center stage for musicians while the audience can either sit alongside the pool or swim around the performers. Every Sunday, Los Arroyos Verdes hosts a band and Lupe invites the cruisers to visit for the afternoon to swim, listen to the live music and enjoy a meal at her pool-side restaurant and bar. Being the smart business woman she is, she also offers free rides both to and from both La Cruz Marina and Paradise Village. All she suggests is we tip the driver generously - a fair trade.
Gail and I arranged for a sixty-minute Aromatherapy massage for the cost of $600 pesos. Again, quite the deal as this translates to a little over $35. It is a small, one-woman, SPA. Nothing fancy. But the massage therapist was excellent and we had no complaints. The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming and enjoying the music. To my surprise and delight, the performers were two members of the group, Luna Rumba; Cheko Ruiz - lead vocals and rhythm guitar, and Alex Gonzales - percussion. After just one song, Gail could see why we love this band.
Monday we went on an epic journey. We took four buses, walked ten miles (Jay had on his Fitbit) and one cab before the day ended. The first bus we chose was the correct bus only we got off at the wrong stop. Having to walk a few blocks to catch the next bus turned out to fun. We got to view some side streets of Puerto Vallarta that we had never seen before. We walked by the sports park where there were lots of people working out, getting their daily exercise. We turned south and headed toward the Romantic Zone. We passed a few taco carts and nearly tripped on a dog. We said hello to an old woman walking on the sidewalk. I commented on her pretty attire. She had on a long white and blue skirt and blouse to match. A shawl draped across her shoulders. She smiled and said something in Spanish and then lifted her shawl to show us her necklace. It was Jesus wrapped up in a leathery package and she wore it over her heart. I smiled and nodded back as if I understood. After she went on her way, Jay explained to me that she had some sort of heart condition and therefore kept Jesus close to her heart to protect her from illness. Just about then we walked past a large open window (no screen) and door to its side. I stopped and backed up.
"Look!" I said, causing Jay and Gail to stop too. "He is making a stained glass window." It was about six feet by three feet long and lay on a table top.
"How many hours did it take to make this?" Gail asked. He looked confused. "Cuanto horas?" I asked in my limited Spanish. "Veinte dias." He replied. "Twenty days." I repeated. "Twenty days? Wow." Gail murmured, clearly impressed.
We wandered into his shop which was really his home. Inside Gail found a much smaller piece of stained glass. The colors created a moon scene. She purchased this telling me that moons always remind her of her husband, Dave, who passed away several years ago. We never did get to meet him, but I feel as if we know him. She has shared many many stories of their years together, keeping his memory alive. It would have been an honor to meet this man who was a devoted husband and loving father.
Moving on, we found another bus which would take us to the malecon. We were on our way to the Botanical Gardens, but wanted to stop at a little coffee hut by the beach. Jay and I had been there once before and thought it would be nice to stop there and have a mocha. There we asked for directions to take the third and final bus to the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are on the south side of Puerto Vallarta, which would be another thirty-minute ride from the Romantica Zone where we would catch the bus.
"You walk all the way to the end of the malecon. All the way." The woman said emphatically. She was a customer sitting at a table nearby and overheard that we were looking for directions. "There you will see an Oxxo."
"Across the street from the Guadalajara Pharmacia." The owner of the coffee hut interjected.
"That is where you pick up the El Tuito bus." The first lady continued. We nodded and left to walk the entire length of the malecon in search of the Oxxo and Guadalajara Pharmacia.
Well! Do you know how many Oxxos there are?! And there is not just one Guadalajara Pharmacia, there are many. It, too, is a chain store. We got to the end of the malecon and walked around for several blocks trying to figure out where to catch the bus. After asking three different people in three different areas, we finally found our connection.
We stepped up into the bus and paid our ten pesos and sat down. A young boy jumped on with a pie plate of pizza. He was selling slices. "No, gracious." We said as he went down the aisle. (This is quite common. Locals get on the bus at one stop and sell food, drinks, or candy. Or some get on with a guitar and sing for money. They collect what they can and then the driver let's them off at the next stop.)
It was a beautiful drive along Route 200 and the south shore. The two-lane road winds around the cliffs and overlooks the ocean and the coves tucked into the shoreline. As in all buses down here, the radio was blasting with Mexican folk songs. Gail and I just smiled, immersed in the joy of the moment.
As you might imagine, The Botanical Gardens is home to a plethora of indigenous plant species. One of their prize collections is the many varieties of Mexican orchids. Once threatened by poachers, the Botanical Gardens has made it their mission to gather together the largest assortment of orchids found anywhere in Mexico. Here they are on display for all to enjoy.
By the time we arrived, our stomachs were growling and we headed straight for the restaurant that we heard was quite good. It was located on the second floor of the main building and was an open-air eatery overlooking the gardens and river that flows through it. The waiter served us a complimentary Hibiscus tea and we ordered fish tacos.
Over the next two hours, we walked the trails that led around the property. Hearing that we were allowed to swim in the river, we had brought our bathing suits. We were used to the warm ocean water so when we dipped our toes in, we were in for quite a shock. It was cold mountain river. No swimming for us.
All tired out, we headed for Highway 200 and caught the bus (this made number four) back to the Romantica Zone in time for happy hour at Daiquiri Dicks. Refreshed, we took the long walk back down the malecon where we took Gail to an authentic Cuban restaurant. Once again, it was sunset, and the food was served as we watched the sun lower down in the sky. When the time came to head home, the inevitable question was raised; bus or taxi? "Taxi." Jay said. "Definitely a taxi."
Tuesday was Gail's last day before flying out to Denver to visit her daughter and go skiing in Vail. Tuesday is normally our laundry and market day. Since we were all exhausted from our long excursion the day before, we decided to stick around the boat. I took Gail over to the Riviera Market.
The Riviera Market is another local market of individual vendors that show up every Tuesday in the parking lot behind the hospital and casino. There are the usual tourist souvenirs but this is also where we get our fresh vegetables, fresh fish, fresh bread and fresh foods like pastas, sauces and home-grown coffee. Gail and I looked over the clothes, but mostly I was there for the food. Later, I sent Gail to the beach while I went to do laundry.
The day ended with Gail taking us out to dinner. We went to one of our favorite restaurants in the area, Porto Bello. Good Italian food overlooking the river. Hmm... seems to be some common themes here, particularly food, drinks and oceans and rivers.
Wednesday arrived and sadly, it was time for Gail to go. We had a great holiday filled with adventure and exploring. We had lots of fun. And now that I look back, I guess that non-schedule I wasn't planning turned out to be okay, after all.
See gallery for more photos.