Thursday, 29 January 2015

Latter days with no saint in sight (Wednesday to Thursday)

When I asked the owner of Japodrillo's Bike Rental yesterday how much he would want for an additional day rental, i.e. 10 am today until 10 am tomorrow, he said 400 Pesos. Since I already paid 500 Pesos for the first day, that seemed a bit much at the time.

A giant whale sculpture that everyone uses as a sign post for tourists

Today I cycle there again. Riding a bicycle on Mexican streets is not for the faint of heart.  I notice the first OOpla, when I realize right in the middle of the intersection that I'm running a red light.  I think some honker behind me might have saved me here but I can't be sure given the general level of honking around here.  Just 2 minutes later I try to escape the heard of buses in the immediate vicinity of my left elbow by getting onto the calmer lane on the right that just opened up.  But what also opened up was a rectangular gap along the pavement that is as wide as my palm and even deeper than that. It proceed in parallel to the road and my direction of travel for about 100 meter. Ever got your front tire stuck in railway or tram tracks?   This would have been MUCH worse than tram tracks.  As with most incidences like that I can't remember what I did but I escaped unscathed ;-)  Let's drink a glass to the Protector Saint of Cyclists !  Make that two; one never can be too careful !

I used it to find the bike rental place  (Turn LEFT at the WHALE and immediately LEFT at the Starbucks)
I arrive at the bike rental place still unsure of whether I will be cycling back.  It all will depend on the owners response to my oferta. He wants 400 Pesos. That's about CDN$ 35.  I'm going to offer him $20US + 50 Pesos for the extra 24 hours.  That's about CDN$ 28.50.  I shake his hand and cycle away after he accepts la oferta. Back at the hotel, after having been punished by 10 kms of Mexican cobbles stone road this morning already my behind is VERY ambivalent about getting back in the saddle again. EVER!

By I still have some Pesos left and my appetite completely vanishes when I think about the hotel food or the hotel wine (For some reason the hotel's white wine has the same strange pungent smell and TASTE as the butter distributed in the hotel). I cycle downtown to get some more non-pungent wine and flavour-full food in the restaurant at El Malecon.  

Pelican with fish
Along the way I run into a  greedy pelican with indigestion.  The fish gets stuck in his digestion-inducing vibrating neck.  But it shall not pass. So he throws it back into his beak, then throws his head back and tries again.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Fish in bag

Not going down well. Fish back in beak

Fish back in bag

and back in the beak

STAY AWAY from my fish

The bird vibrates his neck containing the fish, but the fish doesn't proceed further down.

He's not willing to give up the fish, even though the camera-wielding crowd of spectators keeps growing and keeps getting closer.  I leave after a couple of minutes, but for all I know, the bird is still there, its efforts of swallowing that fish being witnessed and photographically recorded by hordes of tourists ( The bird and I and my camera were alone for all of 30 seconds before the crowd started to form).

In the restaurant I apply what I was taught by yesterday's waiter: Instead of ordering "Un vaso de vino blanco, por favor", I order "Una copa de vino blanco, por favor". Makes sense to order one's wine in a wine glass instead of in a water glass.  Gracias amigo !  The LARGE pieces of very lightly breaded and deep-fried squid (Don't even think Calamari) are delicious and in addition to the greenish peppery dipping sauce the waiter today brings me two types of Hot Sauce. Since the mantra of "When in Rome ..." has always served me well, I stay away from the familiar looking bottle of Tabasco sauce and try Salsa Huichol Picante.  YUMMY !!!

The wine is flowing formidably well. I am unsure of what to do !!!  I've typed this whole post up to here while sitting here.  Should I order another?  Would that be wise given the state of Mexican roads and local traffic conditions?  What other options do present themselves?  Dessert cake and pungent wine at the hotel?

Not my pic !
I'm not sure whether it reflects in the quality or originality or readability, or enjoyment value of the latest blog posts, but having the bicycle is really improving my state of mind. Or could that be due to the amounts of non-pungent wine? Or just having lots of heart-warming fun on this holiday by hanging out more with Tanya and Sulema?
Note: In the interest of further investigation of the effect of good wine on my well-being I just ordered "otra copa de vino blanco", so if this post goes tipsy, DO BLAME the VINO BLANCO ;-)
An excellent, if fortunate, mixture of reflection and reality

Lots of information in this pic. There are very overweight Mexicans and there are buses that break down 
I can't remember much of this Wednesday afternoon and evening (NO, I did stop drinking wine ;-)  I finally find out when the bus to the airport will leave on Thursday morning (10:10 am)

On Thursday I get up early, go down for the by-now boring schlop they call breakfast here. Hans has barely stopped snoring when I leave the room to start my 5 km ride to return the bike. HINT: If you ever think about renting a bicycle in Puerto Vallarta, DO GET all the suspension you can get AND get a VERY SOFT seat. 

The store is supposed to open at 9 am but the owner is there before and there are taxis lurking everywhere in the affluent Marina district. Even I am surprised when I walk back into the room at 9:10 am.

After 4 non-productive hours in bus, airport lounges and at the flight gate, we seem to complete boarding only 5 minutes after the scheduled take-off time.  I follow my standard procedure and am asleep in my seat almost as soon as my posterior makes contact.  Which is a good thing, because when I wake up more than 1 hour later, the view out of the window has not changed.  Apparently a warning light in the cockpit was being paid attention to by opening the plane's engine hood.

Do I need to mention, that Vancouver is dark and cold, and that traffic across Lions Gate Bridge at 7:30 pm is GLACIAL.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A bicycle, A bicycle, my kingdom for a bicycle! (I get one for a small fraction though ;-)

Finally, I bit the bullet and rented a bicycle. We tried the tour operator in the southern end of town twice but there was no one in the shop.  Today I took a taxi from the hotel to the bicycle rental place close to the marina in the northern end of town (60 Pesos)  Too bad I didn't have my camera with me; some of the US-registered boats were a sight to behold. EXPENSIVE !  The bike rental is definitely not cheap (500 pesos for 24 hours), but I no longer feel trapped in my All-Inclusive hotel, which in my eyes is worth that price!

 Right after renting the bicycle I am happily corrected in my earlier poor estimate of Mexican honesty (Thankfully; I must have found the bad apple right in the beginning). When paying for my bottle of water at a local OXXO inadvertently with two 10 Peso coins the clerk hands one of them back to me because the price is only 10 Pesos.  Not a big deal, but I didn't want to leave my complaint from days ago standing uncorrected!

Almost as if they were sitting for a family portrait ;-)

The artist and I must have read the same SciFi authors !

El Malecon

Picking up the piece of fish


The puppy dog is supposed to keep the birds away from the fish guts ....

Finally puppy has learned 

 I lock the bike on a lamp post on the narrow beach walk at La Playa de los Muertos (Beach of the Dead). First I explore the whateveritis thing in the ocean and the views.

Gives a total new meaning to the word Cruising ;-)

Still have to go there (the Surf was higher an instant before)
I head to Langostinos restaurant and order Trio de Mare.  The menu describes it as a trio of prawns, calamar, and scallops. When the waiter intones the word ajo (garlic) as a question, I nod vigorously. The house wine is drinkable and the food has FLAVOUR !

A blurry picture (Was I smoking and the camera focussing on my smoke?):  Boat with a mixed crew

I meet Hans in this restaurant, but he continues along the beach. I look for him briefly, then cycle back to the hotel for a dessert slice of cake and an hour-long nap.  Life is good ! 

When I awake at 3:30 pm, I notice a brighter shade of red on the opposite side of my elbows.  Biker Burn!  Hits me every time ;-(

Around 4;30 pm I ride back into town. The place where I had lunch and where I had hoped to indulge in some Ceviche is packed. Not a single seat left and I overhear two owners saying in English "The difference two weeks can make".

I head back to my other favourite restaurant.  I start with a glass of white wine. Yummy.  The waiter brings chips and salsa.  I'm not a big chips fan.  In Canada salsa gives me the creeps.  I dip one chip in the little pot, eat it, and my eyes go WIDE:  So this is what it's supposed to taste like ;-)

The last week I have been reading a book (fiction) with a French Police inspector in Brittany.  His favourite food is Entrecote avec frites. I see a picture of a steak with fries on the restaurant menu and order it (Be VERY WARY of subliminal advertising ;-)
The meat is very good, if a under-done for my taste. The portion is too big for me and I actually have leave meat on the table. My sincere apology, dead Cow !

With the time approaching 7 pm, it is time to head home. Darkness is approaching and navigating Mexican roads in bright daylight already is a dangerous challenge; I don't want to cycle home in the dark. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

A mundane Monday (or a long march and another long march)

Sunday evening I admired more of the yellow-footed birds.

They come in pairs !

No sightings yet, fortunately ;-)
Monday morning it's time for the 7 km march to Viejo Vallarta again.
Another walk to the bike tour store; closed again !  But a nice view ;-)

Most tourists don't climb hills very well

Very pretty tourist wares 

Hans parting the pool waters
After lunch and a short nap (This is a holiday after all), I decide to walk the beach in the other direction.  There is supposed to be an uninterrupted beach for more than 3 km to the Marina of PV.

A facial expression rarely seen in Vancouver

This little river seems innocent enough

or maybe not?

After almost being swept away when fyording the stream, I start to understand why they are patrolling out there

Presumably a nice view from the inside, but not from the outside

The 'Hotel Zone'

NO, I did NOT pee my pants

If any of the birds represented by the little black specks are of the Albatross family, I wouldn't want to live here !

Hitchcock !

The sunset an hour later is a flamboyant orgy of pink and orange, but I'm sitting in the lobby uploading these pictures and my camera is in my room. Live and Learn.