Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In Which We Go Horseback Riding, My Horse Falls Down, and Zoe and I Leave.


Chewbacca wouldn’t even fit in this tiny little corner store, but of course I had to shop here anyway.

Monday was the last full day for Zoe and me and we spent most of it lazing around, eating, and then lazing around again until it was time for the day’s main attraction, horseback riding. Mel had set us all up with a local dude, Arturo, and his posse of ponies. I’ve done this sort of thing before and as Zoe pointed out, I always get the dud horse: it’s either the slowest, the laziest, or the meanest, and this time was no exception. Everyone else got on their calm, well behaved pony and quietly waited for the signal to leave, while my horse, Vallo, immediately went straight for Zoe and her horse, Garbanzo, and tried to bite both of them. Great start. He then pushed his way through all the other horses in order to get to the front, only to change his mind minutes later and take up the last position in our group of seven.


You can’t even see the rest of the group beyond Susan, Mel’s mum, on her horse. I followed along at a snail’s pace until the rest of the clan appeared on the horizon.

We all travelled along, through trails, along beaches and up steep paths through the thick jungle until we emerged at a lookout on a headland between two long stretches of beach. Vallo kept things interesting by stopping to eat huge mouthfuls of whatever was available, randomly trying to bite other horses at will, and occasionally just stopping and refusing to move until our guide Arturo whipped him from behind, at which point he would put his ears back and take off (Vallo, not Arturo).

The view from the top was fabulous though so I didn’t mind so much.



The way back was steep going down but I leant back and looked up at the trees while Vallo tried to negotiate the gullies and rocks, until all of a sudden his front legs went out from under him and we both lurched forward, and then his back legs went down, too. There was a lot of scrambling and some swearing until Vallo found his footing again. Somehow I managed to stay on during all this and we carried on as though nothing had happened, which I guess it hadn’t, really. Vallo didn’t seem to care and was back to biting everyone in no time.

We ended the ride with a ‘gallop’ (and I use the term loosely) along the beach which was more like me kicking Vallo so much that it felt like I was galloping, while Vallo just stood there.

We all worked up an appetite, except Kent who was in bed with a case of food poisoning, and Jacob, who had basically spent the day watching ice freeze so that he could make us all Pina Coladas. Actually, just being alive is enough for Jacob to work up an appetite: at dinner he put away this 4:20 burger which consisted of a regular burger, a chicken breast, bacon, and onion rings, all with a side a fries. And then he finished my burger, and Zoe’s burrito too.


I had bought a couple of lanterns to send off as I loved them so much so we all headed down to the beach, but happened upon a bar playing the World Juniors Hockey game, with only 10 minutes left and a score of 5-4 for Canada against Russia. Hockey doesn’t get much better than that so we all piled in, ordered some drinks and watched the last bit of the game.  It was good to see Zoe and Silas enjoy their first smoke-filled bar, drunk-people-yelling, hockey game experience. In case you were sleeping, Canada won!!

We fumbled around on the beach for a while in high spirits, trying to sort out the lantern, finally got it going and cheered as it slowly rose up into the night sky. We happily watched it sail up and out over the ocean, but changed our tune slightly as it caught a breeze and arced back, apparently directly toward land and a bunch of houses. We watched nervously as the burning ball of fuel (as it had now become) headed toward all the bone-dry thatched roofs, and then sighed with relief as it burnt itself out without setting Sayulita on fire.

They really are beautiful and will be a new tradition for me at New Year’s from now on. I hear you can buy them in Victoria now and a friend reported seeing one at Dallas Road on New Year’s Eve as well.


The next morning Zoe and I had to pack to leave as I have to go back to work and, and she to school. Jacob is enjoying his retirement and Kent was able to manage  a few more days off so they are staying along with our friends Mel and Pepi and Silas, Mel’s mum Susan, and family friend Mike. What a great gang to travel with!

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Here we are about to enjoy breakfast at Choco Banana.

Zoe and left everyone here and caught a bus to the Airport. Public transport really is fabulous here and hasn’t let us down once. 45 minutes later and $25 pesos each ($1.75US) we were at the airport, where Zoe noticed this Wings restaurant sign and said: "That sign doesn’t make sense. You don’t need a fork to eat wings”.

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Such a proud mother.

Unfortunately the flight was terrible. They kept announcing that due to turbulence it was still ‘too bumpy at the back of the plane’ to provide any service. I wasn’t sure what that meant…was it worse in different parts of the plane? Why didn’t I know this? By the time they resumed service and made it to our row (at the back of the plane as per usual) they had no food (and I use the term loosely) left to purchase. Probably a good thing anyway as we had all been thrown around so much that no one really felt like eating. I did see that all the people up at the front seemed happy enough so maybe it is bumpier at the back.

All my big plans of enjoying a night in Seattle went out the window as it was all we could do to stagger through customs (we missed having Parker Michelin but I could see him in the next booth over flourishing passports, with his box of snacks on the desk beside him) to the closest hotel where we didn’t move until it was time to leave for our flight this morning. It was foggy in Seattle as I sat at our gate listening to Len from Billings, Montana bullshit his female colleague Sue-Anne about everything from wetsuit use (up in Canada they wear them to catch Salmon in the rivers) to where Nepal is (beside Iran). I didn’t really have the energy to call his bullshit but it made for an entertaining half an hour.

And that’s a wrap for this holiday. I will leave you with a few images that didn’t make it into earlier blogs.





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Thanks for reading!



Monday, January 5, 2015

In Which We Find the Bra Market, the Waves are Very Strong, and the Sunset is Amazing.


It seems we have lucked out again in our new place. It’s not as luxurious as the last but the view and pool more than makes up for it. Although it is at the top of the World’s Steepest Hill which you can just make out in the picture below. Not even the taxi would go up it and a dude who was staying here before us said he saw a golf cart (which are all over the place here) flip over coming up the hill  one day. Great.


We made it down ok without me falling on my face and went for breakfast at a little place around the corner where, to my surprise, they were again serving Divorced Eggs. This must be a thing here. You could also get Benedict Eggs here as well. Hilarious.


There was also this poster:


Not the best name for a Guiding company. When is a jungle ever chilly, first of all, and secondly, no guy (or girl) wants anything to do with a Chilly Willy.

Anyway, I digress.

Zoe and I carried on to check out the shopping situation and happened upon a great little local market selling things that people might actually need, like clothes and shoes rather than overpriced trinkets and knickknacks. It was like happening upon an small open air value village. Zoe and I made several purchases before finding the extensive open-air bra and underwear section.



There were hundreds of them, all shapes and sizes. But the best part was that the only ‘salesperson’ in sight was a thirteen year old boy sitting behind a table. I watched as he assisted an older woman find the right size in a pile of bras. Some kids have all the luck.

After this exhaustive experience it was clearly beach time. the winds were up today and the waves were quite strong so in we went for a bit of a beating and salt-water lashing. I hadn’t been in more than about a minute when a particularly vengeful wave came along, picked me up, threw me ass over tea-kettle (as the saying goes) filling my head with sand and salt water in the process, and deposited me many metres from where I started out. All this is a perfectly normal wave-experience except that this time, I also managed to lose my bathing suit bottom at the same time. Fortunately I could feel it somewhere around my knees and managed to grab on before it was completely gone. When one is being hurled around in the middle of a wave, it’s anyone’s guess as to which parts of you will emerge first. I am not sure if I flashed everyone or not but I like to think that I didn’t. By the time I got myself sorted out another one was on me and it was a repeat performance of Act 1 except this time it was my top. Finally, I was able to clear my hair from my face, grab on to all the important bits and arrange them roughly where they should be, and stumble out of the water. In my haste I neglected to notice one of the ubiquitous small dogs playing at the edge of the water, and stepped on the poor thing. It yelped and I tripped over it again, doing some crazy side-stepping dance routine while simultaneously trying to avoid being sucked out to sea again by the latest assault wave, and keep by suit on. When I finally gained some semblance of composure and balance, I could see Zoe off to the side shaking her head and doing her best to pretend she had never seen me before. I sat down on the sand some ways away from the waves, and tried to stop looking and acting like a complete spaz. A few minutes later I was back in business, straps tightened, and everything where it should be. I managed to keep myself together after that. I finally dragged Zoe out sometime later but she wasn’t very impressed at having to leave the water.


Then it was back up the hill for a swim and the sunset.


My awesome camera has a ‘miniature effect’ option which I was playing around with. It actually makes Jacob look like he lives in a dollhouse.


He actually looks more like this:


And then the sun set, which blew the top of our heads, as Pepi would say:


Last day tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,



Saturday, January 3, 2015

In Which we Leave One Paradise for Another, I Meet a Depressed Funicular, and I have the best Paleta EVER.

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This was the view from breakfast this morning. You probably wish I would shut the hell up about pools and paradise etc., especially as I hear it is freezing in Victoria, but I’m not going to so, sorry about that.

We have been staying in a fabulous condo in a huge complex called Punta Esmeralda, which is just between Bucerias and La Cruz. It’s about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. I’m not usually so enthralled with these sorts of places, but this one is amazing. Our condo is a penthouse overlooking the rest of the complex, with its eight pools, and the Pacific Ocean beyond that. The walls are all sliding doors that open completely giving unobstructed access to the balcony. It’s really so amazing I can’t quite believe it. This is what happens when you leave everything to the last minute and happen to luck out completely. The problem is that I feel like I live here now. Sigh.

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The rest of the place is like paradise with pools and waterfalls and gardens and a great restaurant/bar.

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The menus are always interesting here but this one puzzled me. Were they strictly for divorcees? Would I become divorced if I ate them? Were they divorced themselves? I didn’t even bother to ask – my Spanish is passable but not that good. Besides, eggs are not my thing.

They really have thought of everything here, including installing a funicular to ease the uphill trek from beach to condo. So thoughtful!

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I decided to try it out, which went directly against my resolution (and I use the term loosely) to take the stairs. I pressed the button and waited. And waited. Finally, the cogs and pulleys started shaking and moving and eventually, the car door opened:

Me: Hey, funicular, how goes the battle today?

Funicular: I don't know I just can’t seem to get going.

Me: How about if I press this button here?

Funicular: Yeah that might work.

Me: Alright then. I have pressed the button. Should I press it again?

Funicular: Maybe a few times. Like ten or so.

Me: Ok how’s that?

Funicular: That should do it (starts moving very slowly, and loudly).

Me: Busy today?

Funicular: What? I’m sorry I can’t hear you.


Funicular: Around 11am I think.

Me: Forget it.

Funicular: Do you mind if I just stop here for a bit?

Me: Sure what the heck. Everything ok?

Funicular: It’s just that sometimes I feel like I’m losing my grip on reality and I’m just going to start backsliding, you know what I mean?

Me: Oh…really? That is too bad. You should maybe talk to someone about that. The repairman or someone…You know I just remembered I left my wallet here at the 3rd floor so I’m just going to get out here. Have a great day, Funicular.

Funicular: I thought we were going all the way to the top?

Me: You go on ahead I’ll catch up.

Funicular: Nobody loves me.

Me: That’s not true. Look here comes Debbie and Ron from Wisconsin.They look like they are all over going to the top. Have a great day!

Funicular: Well…ok.

Me (to Debbie and Ron): Lookout he’s not having his best day ever…

Debbie: Pardon me?

Me: Nothing. Have a great day!

I noticed later that it was out of order so I hope Funicular got the help he needed.

I will end here by mentioning this delectable item which put me firmly back in paradise: the Nutella Patella. Creamy, so creamy. and delicious. SO DELICIOUSLY CREAMY. I must learn how to make these. I could make a killing on Hornby Island in the summer.

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Thanks for reading,


Friday, January 2, 2015

In Which Zoe Almost Gets Drunk, and Sayulita Is Charming

The Big Pepi Surprise has been hard to top so for the last two days I have just hung out, eaten great quantities of guacamole, found some good signs, and basically bummed around annoying my kids by taking random pictures around town. Oh, and trying to get poor Zoe drunk (keep reading).

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Everyone was drooling over this car…

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We ordered this ‘virgin’ Pina Colada for Zoe, but it actually wasn’t virgin, and she and I drank about a quarter of it trying to figure out what that ‘weird’ taste was:

Zoe: I think there is alcohol in this drink

Me: No no, it’s virgin. That means no alcohol. Among other things.

Zoe: I think there is. My lips feel weird (takes another slurp)

Me: Hey Kent try this. I think there‘s booze in it

Kent (takes a huge swig): Hmm…nope. No booze.

Me: Well something tastes weird. Maybe It’s just not so sweet.

Zoe: I think they made a mistake.

Me: Hey Pepi try this.

Pepi (takes a glug): Nope, definitely no alcohol.

Zoe: I feel weird

Me (to server): Is there alcohol in this?

Server: I go ask.

Me: Who would serve a 13yr old a full strength Pina Colada?

Server: Yes yes of course there is alcohol.

Me: Well that answers that.

Me (to Pepi and Kent): Good job.

Zoe: I don’t think I can finish this..

Me: yeah well either way you’re not going to.

Server returns with a new Pina Colada.

Zoe (takes a sip): No alcohol in this one.

Me: Let’s hope we’re not hungover tomorrow.

Zoe: What?

Me: Nothing. Ok let’s go.

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, there was this beauty. I tell you, paper cup bath pulling is nothing but trouble.


And then there’s the innocent spelling mistakes, not to mention the punctuation error but most English-speakers I know can’t get that right either.

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And look out!

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I never did find out what this was referring to.

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Jacob’s and his new coke-can name, Rafael. Kind of suits him.

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It’s another Mel-garita to round out the night.

It seems the lantern lighting occurs all through out the holidays as I saw many more floating up under the moon. I bought a couple from a street vendor so hopefully I can light them without setting my hair on fire.

Thanks for hanging around with me.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

In Which Zoe Faints, Pepi is Very Very Surprised and New Year's Eve is Lovely

After sleeping in half the day we decided it was time to put our plan to surprise Pepi on the beach into action. If you don’t know what I am talking about, read yesterday’s blog – it will explain everything.
As I wasn’t organized enough to sort out a rental car, we are relying on public transport which is actually very handy and awesome, if a little sketchy and crowded at times. Just outside our place there is a ‘bus stop’ which is a bit of a misnomer as there really isn't just one area where buses stop – they will stop at any point along the road, regardless of whether or not there appears to be space to do so, and let anyone who happens to be in the vicinity get on the bus. There are also no schedules or times, they just come along and you get on or they don’t and you wait. We waited for about 15 minutes, at the side of the highway which wasn’t actually as bad as I was anticipating, until an-already packed bus came along and we crammed ourselves in.
Now, you may recall my comment yesterday about how I always seem to find myself providing first-aid while on public transport. Well today was no different except that this time, it was Zoe who passed out. One minute she was commenting that she didn’t feel that great to which I answered that she should turn herself around and face forward, and the next minute she was in a full faint. I was standing behind her so I couldn’t see her face but Kent could, and when his face went from fine to freaked out, and Zoe started swaying all over the place, I new something was up. And then when Kent helpfully yelled “She’s going down! JANE!” , I knew she was in trouble. Fortunately, two locals leapt out of their seats for us so I was able to lay her down and until she came around a few seconds later. A packed, hot, swaying bus is never the easiest place to treat these sorts of things but it all worked out and she was back to a paler shade of her normal self in a few minutes, just as the bus pulled in to Sayulita. It was likely just a combination of heat, not enough fluids, and motion sickness resulting in a drop in blood pressure– which her body fixed by putting itself into a horizontal position. All’s well that ends well.
After a restorative smoothie and sit-down, we were able to proceed with Operation Surprise Pepi, which really cannot be described, and must be seen:

Kent really crushes it here, going fully into character as a local beach hawker trying to sell Pepi a beer. Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent reliving this most excellent of moments. It was also New Year's Eve so there was an amazing firework show, but also a beautiful tradition here of lighting paper lanterns and sending them off into the New Year. It was actually stunning to see literally hundreds of these glowing lanterns fill the night sky.

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading.