Thursday, 26 July 2012

Back in real Mexico..............


Our break is over and we are back at the laguna and spent yesterday getting the house back how we like it.

The second week of our break was better than the first. The down side of San Pancho was that the sea was really only for looking at. The undertow was really bad so swimming was out of the question. We enjoyed our time in San Pancho but the longer we stayed the more sanitised it felt. It is making its living on mainly US money and in exchange the "nationals" ( as the Americans call the Mexicans) are "managed". So nearly everyone in all the shops and restaurants speaks English, there are no hawkers on the beach and we did not get served one portion of frijoles the whole time we were there. Frijoles, mashed beans, are the Mexcian staple!! My camera disappeared while we were there, I know exactly where I left it but next morning the waiters denied seeing it. Luckily I had just downloaded a load of photos onto the netbook. Phew!

We had a couple of day trips from S Pancho, Sayulita is a hippy surfing beach. We met a lovely Japanese young couple who have been travelling for 5 years. Chris bought me some lovely garnet earings that they had made. That is really outside the box for their culture and we wished them well.

Another day we went to La Penita where there was meant to be a huge market with was a disappointment only 3-4 stalls the rest was the usual market tat. I did buy some lovely fish, it had just been landed and 2 large fish cost 60 pesos ( that's £3) and he filleted them too. The beach was dreadful too, full of rubbish, not a pretty sight........although the sea was full of beautiful majestic pelicans.

Saturday we went to Playa los Ayala which we loved. It was the southern end of a big bay and it was Mexicans at play. The sea was quite gentle, so we had a swim and the water was full of daytrippers with their inflatables. Swimming is not big in mexico for some reason and sadly it is a cause of deaths each year. There were sellers everywhere, fabulous frsh fruit, cocunut cakes, drinks, inflatables loaded up on a bike, jewellery and fresh oysters.

We then drove to a place called La Tranquilla. A huge complex with 2 massive hotels, three hotel shells ( the money ran out!!) and a golf cousre with 2 people on. The whole complex was bigger than SAMAO and is aimed at the "all inclusive crowd" who don't want to mix with the locals. I looked the hotel up on line and it and it is luxurious and a snip starting at 264 US$ a night.........and that doesn't include breakfast....but you get your own private plunge pool on the balcony!!

From there we drove to Punta de Mita a lovely spot that used to be a little fishing village. Chris met some dive guys and we decided to go there, instead of 2 nights in San Blas, so that he could dive on Monday. There was a cheap mexican hotel for £30 a night and we changed our plans. The diving didn't come off so we just spent a lazy time and avoided the really expensive food spots........we had a huge plate of seafood lobster, octopus, filleted fish, whole fish and larhge prawns with salad and rice. The food was beautiful, the beer cold and the waiter was lovely the table tops were plastic and the waves were lapping feet from the table. The same thing was on offer with tablecloths and wine glasses and a slimy waiter for 3 times the price further up the beach.

If La tranquilla looked posh on the headland at Punta de Mita was the Four seasons resort. It is $450-4,500 a night but Jack Nickhlaus did design the golf course and Barack has stayed there!! It is all a bit obscene and the final straw for me was on Monday night when I wanted to get some cash from the ATM and it only dispensed US is hard but I can see how the locals can be swayed because it does provide jobs. On the return journey home I knew I was back in Mexico when we ended up in Compostela town centre by mistake and there was a man on his horse and three shops selling saddles etc.

We got back about 2 on Tuesday and at 5 I went up to SAMAO to stock up on fruit and vegetables. There had been thunder and dark clouds but as I got to the sign for SAMAO the heavens opened and the rain was full of hailstones. I managed to park right outside the veg shop.........well at the second attempt the first time I wasn't close enough to the high kerb and didn't fancy putting my foot in half a foot of water pouring down the street.

It was great to have a break and David and Conception seem to have enjoyed their time at the laguna. However you can't be in "holiday" mode all of the time and I am glad to be back at the house cooking food how we like it and having our own space.

There is still stuff to do in the garden but that can wait. Chris did some repairs yesterday, on the outside door,and the key snapped in the main door and he managed to fix the strimmer too. It is amazing how much the garden has grown in 2 weeks. Those seedlings that I took a photo of a few weeks ago are now about 3 feet high!!

Angel arrived about 45 minutes after David and Conception had left, he'd been unwell since Saturday with diarrhoea........but had to wait till we were back. I sent him back home with some electrolyte sachets and Imodium and he was back yesterdy saying how much better he was and what a good doctor I am!!

Sadly our drumming neighbours are still here and we got a welcome back session on Tuesday night and then 2 hours yesterday. They are terrible drummers and it is just monotonous noise. I was thinking we could rig the music sytem up with a long lead and play music at full blast at about 3 in the morning.......

Yesterday we popped up to SAMAO to collect Chris' bank card. It was fedexed from the UK and only took 5 days.........Chris was like a kid with a new toy tracking it online. As usual we went to the doctor, Lulu, to collect it. Our friend Lloretta, the American nun, was there and we took her home as she has been unwell while we have been away.

Chris, who is so observant, found a business card stuffed in the number on our gate. Ququis, the vet, had popped down while we were away. Think we need to invite her for some food and she can come and check on the animals.

Miguel, our American friend from Iowa, is coming down tonight for a swim and some food........assuming we don't have rain again.He's just been home so it will be good to catch up with his news. 

We have 8 weeks left here and as it is cooler now, we need to get some walking done to improve our fitness for Machu Pichu and the rest of the S America jaunt.

Very expensive Corona but fab view!!

Los Americanos on the beach at San pancho

San Pancho sunset
Okay, just got to do the spellchecker and then I will add some photos. Not sure why but this takes me best part of an hour to do..........maybe I say too much!!
Till next time
Take care
Norma xx

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

If it begins with a "T " we don't want it!!

Intrigued by the title?? We have just spent a week in Puerto Vallarta and got fed up with the endless hard selling of Trips,Tours, Tequila and worst of all TIMESHARE!!

Everything was a front for timeshare, half way through eating a meal........the waiter asks do you want to make 3000 pesos just an hour to look at a place........its raining today come for lunch and we will have a little chat about timeshare. Hey amigo I remember you from last year.......Yeh Yeh!! The worst bit was these sad people could not understand that we know "there is no such thing as a free lunch" and our time is our time not something to be bought and of course as house sitters we have access to free houses in exotic places.

So PV was not a great success, expensive, built-up, busy and honestly we could have been in any resort in the world. You couldn't even walk on the beach as each bit was owned by the hotels. Some bits were okay but we didn't even find a good Chinese as we had thought we might.

Chris did get his advanced diving certificate-but even then he said the diving wasn't very good.

Luckily we only had to stay one week and now we are in sleepy San Francisco, Nayarit........fondly known as San Pancho.  It is a world away, on the surface anyway!!

We are staying at Roberto's bungalows, we have a lovely first floor terrace -with outdoor kitchen, an air-conditioned bedroom and bathroom.There is a small pool to cool you down and the beach is about 10 mins away and not a private bit in sight. We sat watching the sunset last night and it is fabulous. It is pretty dammed hot though and the sun has been baking us since about 9 am.

Its a place that one of the previous Mexican presidents decided could get him know as a humanitarian to get the job as UN secretary of state........San Pancho got water, sewage, a hospital, schools, houses and full employment and he didn't get the UN job!! Since then it has been "invaded" by rich Americans and Canadians........luckily this is off season so its not too bad.

President Echeverría adopted San Pancho as the site for his particular vision of a “third world” “self-sufficient” model town. As a result of his special interest, funds were poured into the humble village that at the time did not even have electricity. Nonetheless, an infrastructure was constructed. Roads were laid and proper housing was built for the small population of fishermen and farmers. Not to mention schools, a fishing museum, industrial factory, and modern fully-equipped hospital were all constructed and inaugurated by the president as part of his dream of turning San Pancho into a “university of the Third World”.

While the factory that processed local fruits went on to provide jobs for the community well on into the 1980s, the rest of Echeverría’s vision for San Pancho was brought to an abrupt halt with the end of his presidential term and the miserable state of the Mexican economy at his term’s end.  Consequently, the ventures the President had proposed failed, and San Pancho drifted back into a drowsy tranquility. The fishing museum that had once housed perhaps the largest palapa in Mexico and was graced with elegant fountains, shortly fell into disrepair. Once the fruit processing plants closed down, and the “university” building went vacant without any students or professors to fill it, the overgrown tropical vegetation reclaimed the new developments and San Pancho went back to its sleepy existence. The town’s inhabitants went back to fishing and growing fruit, and with San Pancho still hard to reach, little changed.

Oh and the president fiddled public money to do all of there is a surprise in Latin America !!

The owner of the bungalows is American, his name is Earl.....yeh really!! He is a larger than life charachter and yesterday his neighbours let us chill in their garden while we waited for Earl to return from the airport. The food is lovely and met a lively Chilean guy who makes great bread in his restaurant. Last night I sat with a mango margarita.......well okay with 2.......... as we watched the sun set over the ocean.....knowing that the nearest landfall is 3,000 miles away. 

We had a lovely walk on the beach and have spent the day chilling by the pool. Hoping to cook tonight as a change from all of the rich restaurant food.

Sunday we are off to San Blas........where allegedly the mosquitoes are horrendous!! Returning to sleepy SAMAO on Tuesday. I've enjoyed the break but will be glad to get back to real life!! Will post some photos next time.

Bye........Norma xx

Monday, 9 July 2012

Holiday time

After 11 weeks it is time now for a break..........we have 2 weeks away from the house sit and are going to the beach. If you look on a map of Mexico on the west coast you will see the riviera Nayarit. We head for party central Puerta Vallarta first and then move north to San Pancho, Lo de Marcos and finish off in San Blas before returning here in 2 weeks time. 

Some of you may be thinking holiday...............surely every day is a holiday but no!! Imagine if that was how you lived you life?? Eating and drinking constantly ..............fatty body and fatty liver!! So really  looking forward to being in hotels, not having to cook, clean etc and not tied to the dogs and cats. 

We have air con too so every time I start to melt it will be switched on. We have only booked the first hotel-mainly to get somewhere to start off and to fit in with Chris' advanced diving course...........if he completes it he will be able to dive to 30m. He is however very nervous about doing a night dive with only a hand torch between him and the black ocean.

We had a fabulous day on Sunday some friends invited us for breakfast and they live close to the lake on the other side. Fabulous setting and lovely food and company. Julia uses a felting technique to make shawls in her studio overlooking the lake and Jorge is an architect and he designed two of the three houses on the plot of land they have.

Much later in the day we went to the laguna for lunch and had Mona's fabulous coconut prawns. Catalina's was heaving with folk and there was dreadful mariachi band playing but it all adds to the atmosphere. 

Today has been baking hot and very humid but we went up to town to do some last minute bits, Chris had his massage, Loretta ( the nun) has an English medical student for 2 weeks so we popped in to say hello. Last week I went to see Lulu, the doctor and fogot to pay..........oops-so put that right today. SAMAO feels very much like home now, lots of the people in the shops, market cafes etc know us now so there is always plenty of Spanish practice.

Chris has been in touch with his bank recently, someone has used his debit card details to run up a bill at travelodge for about £400. So we are in the process of a new one going to Auntie Pat's in Newcastle and then forking our £40 to have DHL send it over.............couldn't trust it to the post!! As Imogen's boyfriend pointed out if you are going to commit fraud surely you could spend the money somewhere plusher than travelodge!!

Well, shorter than usual but still have things to sort before the trip. We have wi-fi in some places so will write from the beach.............and expect lots of pictures of lovely beaches............and the odd margarita...........and I am dying for a Gin and Tonic.....haven't seen gin anywhere!! The first hotel has a pool bar and happy hour!!
Vaya bien
Norma xx