Sunday, April 29, 2012

last PV post, I promise

We received good advice from our travel agent before we went to Mexico.  She told us that the hotel maids really appreciate tips because they don't make very much money in wages.  She also buys small toys and other little treats like fancy hair bands and bath beads at the dollar store before leaving and gives them in addition to the monetary tips.  Most maids are working moms and very much appreciate these small things for their children.

I saw our maid the first day that we were in PV and, through gestures and limited language skills on both of our parts, learned that she had a ten year old boy and a five year old girl.  So each day I left her items for both of the children along with her tip.  In return she left us little origami-type treats made with towels that became more elaborate as the week progressed.

So clever and cute!

Finally, I really debated posting about a medical issue that I had from the flights but decided to do so in case other people have the same problem and don't know why.  It isn't a common problem and getting a diagnosis can be difficult. 

After we arrived in Puerto Vallarta I noticed that I had a rash on my lower legs and feet.  I have a history of getting rashes when we go away* and we thought it was kind of funny at first.  The rash went away in a couple of days so I didn't think much of it.  However, after we flew home the rash reappeared on my legs and was more intense.
Apparently the skin on my legs and feet is thinning because of my diabetes and isn't thick enough to protect the capillaries from the air pressure changes when taking off and landing so they burst.  I also have some genetic tendency toward this because my grandmother lost both of her legs due to poor circulation and she didn't even have diabetes.  Frankly I find this news quite depressing although I'd rather find out about it now when I might still do something about it.  I am monitoring my blood sugar more closely and exercising more in the hope that I can slow down the progression of this problem.  There is one small upside to all of this - my normally hairy-as-all-get-out legs don't need shaving nearly as often as they used to.  For future flying, my doctor suggested wearing compression stockings during take off and landing and to take an aspirin to guard against the compression stockings affecting my blood circulation.  Oh, the joys of getting older.

*I developed a red, raised rash all over my body on our honeymoon.  It was a contact allergy to something that was used in the laundry of the linens in the hotel room.  My skin felt like it was on fire and it hurt to the touch so it put a bit of damper on being close to my new husband, to say the least. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

city tour and Mismaloya

Another highlight of our trip to Puerto Vallarta was a tour of the city and nearby Mismaloya.  Dan heard an announcement at the hotel one evening that there would be a free city tour the next day from 10 am to 3 pm so we signed up.  I didn't hear the announcement, or much of anything really, while we were gone.  If Dan hadn't have been with me to let me know the important or interesting details, I would have missed a lot.  I have suspected for quite a while that I was losing some hearing but the trip really confirmed it.  It convinced me to get my hearing checked when we got home and I am losing most of the higher range of sounds.  I will need hearing aids at some point but can get by for now.

There were ten of us from the hotel to join our taxi van and driver the next morning.  We were exceptionally lucky to have Jose as our driver and he was the best tour guide ever!  Here he is cheerfully posing with my sock-in-progress while we overlooked the city from Ah Carumba! restaurant (he says he takes his first dates there).
 If you ever want to see the Puerto Vallarta area, get him to take you (  He's enthusiastic, informative, and just plain fun!  He suggested extra side trips along the way and asked, "See it or leave it?"  Of course we wanted to see everything.  The tour was supposed to end at 3:00 and we got back to the hotel at 5:30.  A really great day!

There were so many things that I can't show you because the pictures were taken through the window of the van while we were moving so are blurry.  It was interesting to see the areas of Puerto Vallarta where most of the people live.  There are open air markets for shopping (the locals can't afford to shop in the tourist areas).  Most live in apartments, often with more family members living in a small suite than we can imagine.  Wages are low for most people so they can't afford more than the basics, especially if they don't speak English.  Even so, maybe because tourism is such a large industry in PV, there doesn't seem to be the abject poverty that we see in pictures of other places.

We visited a Tequila Factory which is actually a small museum to show visitors how authentic tequila is made.
 We saw the houses where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton lived in downtown Vallarta (Gringo Gulch).  There is a small road between the two places over which is a wooden walkway to connect them.  Since then, the walkway has been torn down when they were estranged and rebuilt when they were together, repeatedly.

There are spectacular homes in the lush jungle vegetation on the side of the mountains above the city.
If you look closely in the center top of this picture is a condo with a pool on each terrace that flows down to the next one on each level.  (You can click on each picture if you want a bigger view.)

The road to Mismaloya offers amazing views of the bay!

We saw what Jose described as a rare black gecko.
and saw another one shortly after.

There were several iguanas.  I snapped this pic as the iguana was scuttling away from me.  I guess I got too close for his comfort.

The small town of Mismaloya is not as modern as Puerto Vallarta.
There were chickens running on the road not far from here.

We had lunch there at an open air restaurant with breathtaking views.

We capped off our afternoon with a side trip north of the city, along a dusty rural road.  I don't think it's included in most tours; it was one of Jose's "see it or leave it" ideas.  I'm very glad we saw it.
But I wouldn't want to see it any closer than this!  Along an estuary is one of few places in the world to see crocodiles in their natural habitat.  Local fishermen visit daily to throw the crocodiles the fish heads and whatnot from their catches so the crocs can frequently be seen here.  This big guy put on quite a show for us, rolling and snapping his jaws before moving on.  It was so cool!  There is barbed wire along the bottom of the chain link fence to keep the crocs away from nearby cattle.

I haven't included the downtown stops we made on the city tour because I covered those in a previous post.  We did make one downtown stop that I will always remember - a store with amazing fire opal jewelry.  I bought a modest ring while we were there (talk about an unplanned purchase) and it will bring back lovely memories of our trip and the bright colors of Mexico every time I wear it.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

it's beginning to look a lot like...

Mother Nature gave us one last (I hope) taste of winter.

Our winter was so mild and dry that we can't really complain.  It's already melting quickly so it won't be around for long.  The trees haven't leafed out yet so the moisture in the form of snow is fine.

A couple of days ago (in lovely warm weather) I took my annual pic of the rhubarb coming up in the garden.
I actually noticed the shoots before March ended but didn't get my act together to get a picture until now.  I checked my past blog posts to see how this year's timing compares to the last few and it's definitely earlier than usual.

I still haven't finished my posts about Puerto Vallarta but have had major pain issues the last few weeks so it hurts to spend much time on the computer.  We've been home for over a month and I still haven't organized all of the photos.  More to come.