Saturday, March 24, 2012

Las Caletas

Dan and I went to Rhythms of the Night, cruising across Banderas Bay to Las Caletas, where John Huston lived for many years, and it was definitely a highlight of our trip!

We left in the late afternoon from the marina.
The ship in the background is a Disney cruise ship.  Massive.  I'd never seen a cruise ship in person and was quite stunned by the immense size of it.  The guards are heavily armed as they patrol the marina.  I would have loved to have taken a picture of one of them with my sock-in-progress but I didn't have it along for the evening.  Of course it's entirely possible that the guards might have arrested me on the spot had I stopped them with pointy sticks in my hands (and that wouldn't have been good) but talk about a great picture if they had agreed to pose for me!

The boat trip took about an hour to get to Caletas and the staff made sure that everyone was entertained and served refreshments along the way.  The passengers had trouble standing and walking on deck while we were sailing but those guys could carry two drinks in each hand and climb the steps to the top level of the boat without spilling a drop.  As Dan said, they obviously had done that a few times before.

When we arrived at Caletas the sun was setting.  The shore was lined with tiki torches and the dinner staff waiting for us.  It was so beautiful!

Notice the little waterfall in the center of this picture.

As we walked up the path the dancers and musicians that would perform for us later in the evening welcomed us.  They represented ancient Mexican civilizations and wildlife.

Then we had a lovely dinner in the dusk, listening to strolling musicians and to the waves lapping at the shore..

After dinner we walked further up the path to the outdoor theater.  We were allowed to take some pictures of the warm-up part of the show but then were asked to turn off the cameras for the main event.

This guy was the comedian to warm us up.  Without speaking a word of any known language, he managed to crack everyone up.

And these guys up the trees right over us were simply amazing, giving us a taste of what was to follow.
The show was superb and reminded me very much of Cirque du Soleil.  I found out later that the creative director and choreographer is a retired Cirque du Soleil performer.

The only downside of a wonderful evening was hearing people calling for doctors shortly after the show began.  We weren't close enough to see exactly what happened but people around the incident were turning on their cell phones for light.  I heard someone say that he had a history of cardiac problems.  There must have been a doctor in the audience because he was bent over the man for a long time.  As we were leaving to get back on the boat, a woman was asking everyone for aspirin (not Tylenol, not Advil) so I assumed that she was looking for help for the cardiac patient.  We never did learn exactly what happened but it made me feel kind of sick to my stomach to think about a family dealing with a loved one's heart attack in such an isolated location.

The boat ride back the marina was lovely under the night sky.  Away from the light of the city, the moon and stars were bright.  The staff of the boat got people dancing for a while.

Then they mellowed the mood with romantic music and encouraged people to just enjoy the beautiful evening in the moonlight on the Pacific.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

downtown Puerto Vallarta

Dan and I hopped on a bus to go downtown.
Buses are inexpensive and there are lots of them so it's easy to go just about anywhere in Puerto Vallarta.  Most of the locals use the buses for everyday transportation. 

The bus drivers take your fare and make change while pulling away and driving so you need to hang on.  No time is wasted.  Traffic is goofy in PV.  There don't seem to be too many traffic rules and the aggressive drivers demand right-of-way.  It seems as if driving is akin to playing chicken to see who backs down first.  In spite of that we didn't see any accidents.  It was fun to watch but I was glad that I wasn't driving on the congested narrow downtown streets.

When we first got on the bus it was full so we grabbed a post and stood but a man popped up and indicated that I should take his seat almost immediately.  The Mexican people are unfailingly polite and respectful.

We rode as far the the Malecon, the oceanside boardwalk where vehicles aren't permitted.

 There are beautiful sculptures along the Malecon including sand sculptures.

If you put a coin in the box under this sculpture, it moves!
There's a real live person under that sand.  Apparently someone frequently spritzes him with water so that he doesn't dry out and crumble.

The distinctive crown at the top of The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe dominates the downtown skyline.
A Lenten Mass was just ending when we were there in the early afternoon.
There was a group of school girls waiting for their parents to pick them up on the front steps of the church.  You can see one little girl in her red and white school uniform in the background of the picture.  The street in front of the church is typical of a downtown street, two lanes of one way heavy traffic.  Parents stopped their vehicles to pick up their children, effectively blocking traffic as there is no parking lane.  Cars abruptly cut off the other lane of traffic to go around the stopped car but nobody seemed at all put out about it.  It was fascinating to watch the traffic chaos and see how it all worked out without the  rules we are used to in Canada.

The downtown area is home to small shops, flea markets, and pubs.

There are colorful souvenirs and clothing as well as jewelry for sale.
Plants flourish in the warm climate.  I don't know what kind of flowers these are but there were a lot of them wrapping themselves around posts.

Walking along the Cuale River bank we saw this tree.
  A nearby vendor told us that it is a rubber tree.  It was so large that I couldn't get the whole tree in one photo.  So beautiful!  Going through these pictures this evening makes me long to go back.  I have no doubt that Dan and I will take another trip to PV in the future.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

the beach

 Puerto Vallarta is blessed with consistently gorgeous weather during the winter months.  There is a cooling breeze off of the ocean and the sun is warm.  Because of its location in a bay, the water is comparatively calm.  We waded into the water and it was surprisingly cold.  The lovely warm pools are more attractive than the ocean to most swimmers and there are no sneaky undertows to worry about in the pools.

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy on the beach if you get bored.  The hotel provides Spanish and mambo lessons as well as massages.

If you feel the need to shop, there are lots of beach vendors that are happy to oblige.

I enjoyed finding another knitter on the beach!
She lives in Oregon and kindly agreed to have her picture taken when I explained that I have a knitting blog.

I can say with certainty that I was never bored.  It was lovely to relax on a comfy beach lounger knitting, reading, and people watching.

Then, as the sun was setting, this curious sight appeared.
We found out that there is a show aboard the galleon in the evenings called "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate (No beavers were hurt during the preparation of tonight's cruise)".  I guess you can tell that 70% of tourists in PV are from Canada.  I wonder if the organizers of the evening cruise know that Saskatchewan is completely land-locked.

Friday, March 09, 2012

PV, the beginning

We flew out of Regina late on a Saturday evening in a snow storm (a rare event here in this mild winter weather we've had this year).
It was only the second time in my life that I've been on a plane; hard to believe in this day and age, huh?  We found out that we'd been upgraded to first class on this flight which was a great thrill!

We arrived at our hotel at about 5:30 a.m.  I decided that I'd better take some sunrise pictures because I would not be up to do that any other time, night hawk that I am and all.

The hotel lobby was completely open to the outdoors on either side which blew my prairie girl mind - we have triple glazed panes and screens on our windows and the hotel didn't even have walls!  The notion of being completely open to the elements is very foreign to my mindset.  The lobby itself was gorgeous.
The hotel, Friendly Vallarta, lives up to its name!  All of the employees waited on us hand and foot with unfailingly cheerful and friendly eagerness, from the beach staff to the porters and maids.  With all of the bad press that Mexico has been getting, I have to say that we found the Mexican people to be completely delightful and respectful.  We felt welcomed and safe everywhere we went.  Tourism is big business in Puerto Vallarta and many depend on it for their survival.  It is a city of over 350,000 people so I'm sure there are unscrupulous people there but we certainly didn't experience any problems apart from charming and pushy time share salesmen.  We received excellent advice from our travel agent about what to expect and what to avoid and the airline had a representative employed at the hotel to provide guidance as well.  We wouldn't hesitate to go back.

I will leave you with a pic of our view of the water aerobics class from our lunch table in the buffet restaurant (look! no screens in the windows).

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

back from PV!

(Could we look more like tourists if we tried or what?)
 We had a great holiday in Puerto Vallarta!  I have hundreds of pictures* to sort through and will be posting more here when I get organized but here's a taste of our experience.

The view from our balcony:

looking toward the city

and the ocean front/beach/pool view of the resort.
It was so beautiful!

*I won't post all of the hundreds of pictures of course but if you're not a fan of seeing vacation pictures, consider this your warning to skip my blog for the next while.