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  • Day84

    Mexican variety

    November 30, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    This morning started with eggs and salsa roja for breakfast, so we were ready for another exciting day on the road. We first went to Puerto Vallarta, a pretty big, but quite interesting harbour city. When entering the city, we passed everything that is huge and famous: Walmart, The Home Depot, the cruise ship terminal with a huge cruise ship anchoring, the Hilton and Sheraton, shopping malls... Getting closer to the center, the names of the shops and hotels became less famous, the buildings are colonial style and the beach is public. We were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people and bars and restaurants, but enjoyed the atmosphere. Because of the boat people or because it was Saturday or just because it's Mexico, there was music and artists everywhere. In the end, it took us quite a while to pass Puerto Vallarta, as we stopped several times for photos and watching people. But also, because there was a lot of traffic and because the roads were bad cobblestone - a nightmare to cycle!
    Leaving Puerto Vallarta, we first cycled through the gay quarter with hotels catering for the LGBT community, before passing more luxury resorts located along the Southern coast.
    We stopped in Boca de Tomatlán for lunch, a cool fishing village with some restaurants on the beach. Touristy, but relatively quiet after the hustle bustle of Puerto Vallarta.
    Afterwards, we left the coast again and climbed up in the mountains. Bad timing in the middle of the day, but luckily it was shady under the trees. On the way up, we stopped for fresh traditional bread, prepared in a firewood oven. Our destination for the night is El Tuito, a sleepy mountain town famous for its cheese. The only ATM was out of service, but we were able to find a shop that provided cash out (for quite some commission fee though...). Anyways, we could at least to pay the hotel and some food 😉
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  • Day85

    Long sandy beach

    December 1, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    We left El Tuito early this morning to get as far as possible before the heat. And as El Tuito is located in the mountains, the temperature was indeed very pleasant when we started. However, the closer we came to sea level again, the hotter it got. So we cycled the 100km pretty fast in order to jump in the ocean. We arrived in Punta Perula just after noon, so had half a day to relax at this chilled out beach town with its 13km sandy beach.Read more

  • Day86

    Crocodile Bar

    December 2, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    The route for today was relatively short: 68km. However, it was all rolling, plus heat and humidity. So we really had to fight, although we were on the road with the first daylight at 7am. Views were nice though, green hills everywhere, and only few traffic.
    When we arrived at our hotel in La Manzanilla, the breakfast buffet was still on. So when Mateo, who runs the bar/hotel said that we should finish it up, we didn't think twice. He also gave us an upgrade on the room, as he was enthusiastic about our trip. So we had a nice, bright and breezy room with sea view for the night. The rest of the day, we relaxed at the bar, observed the pelicans diving and the fisherman waiting for fish, had the best iced cappuccino ever, went swimming and watched the amazing sunset.
    We really enjoyed La Manzanilla, a cosy little beach town with a great and friendly community of Americans, Canadians and local Mexicans.
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  • Day91

    Back in the mountains

    December 7, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We left Colima without a rush as we only had a short day of cycling ahead of us. We said goodbye to Dave, who also went for a ride, and Marcia who took off for her morning run. Most of the day, we had to cycle along Highway 54D. Quite some traffic, but with a shoulder most of the time, as it's a cuota. As we had to climb again, we were going for the continuous climb rather than for a rolling climb today. Views were stunning though. We could see the volcano Nevado de Colima almost all day as well as a couple of impressive canyons. We arrived in Tecalitlan at about 2pm and found a small hotel. As it's a very Mexican town, there are - of course - festivities going on: A parade with colourful dresses, even a carriage protesting against the use of plastic and music. At night, they showed different traditional dances of all the Mexican states on the principal plaza. It was packed with people, happily watching, talking, eating - almost like a fair - just without the alcohol. And we were the only foreigners...Read more

  • Day35

    Pacific Ocean

    April 26, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Finally, all the meds are starting to kick in. The cold and cough we could deal with but the SORE THROAT. Yikes! That is what drove us to the Medical Center. The doctor described it as swallowing with razor blades in the throat. He was right. Apparently the overhead air system in the staterooms plays havoc with the respiratory system.

    After three days in bed we sure are rested. Reading, crossword puzzles and movies filled our days.

    By the way, we are getting all of your comments even though they are not showing up on your end. Thank you.
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  • Day47

    3 nights in Puerto Vallarta

    January 26, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Since our short trip to San Blas, we just hung out for 5 days and did beachy things with Pat and Gail, and apartment neighbours, Van and Lola, in Chacala. They are from Bellingham also and Lola has been busy getting things ready for the ukulele workshops. Gail will be running jam sessions during the workshops and Pat will be a gopher. So lots of excitement as everyone around us prepares to do their part. James Hill, the ukulele guru from Nova Scotia, arrived with his family and is staying with his mother-in-law, Dorothy. Chacala is small, so communication is pretty good.

    On Sunday, after a significant Saturday rainstorm, all of us packed up and got ready for the next segments of our trip. It’s always a little sad to say goodbye but we know we will meet up sometime in the future. We just don’t where! It has been a fun 3 weeks with our old friends.

    Pat and Gail moved into a hotel for a week and we got a bus to Vallarta. It was an extremely easy 2 hour trip to the bus terminal near the airport. We paid a taxi driver 200 pesos to take us right to our hotel, Hotel Eloisha, in the Old Town. Quick and easy!

    I picked the hotel because it is in an interesting part of town, was a reasonable price, and at the far end of the malecon. There is a park directly across the road and the hotel has a rooftop patio and small swimming pool with a good view of the ocean. A light breakfast is served in the mornings.

    We arrived before check-in time and we were offered available rooms. We actually chose an indoor room that ended up having a bit of a septic smell, so after the first night, they moved us to a room overlooking the park with a nice sunny balcony. We enjoyed watching the activities in the park. The huge patio on the rooftop was a great place to hangout and the pool was just right.

    Walking on the malecon was a daily treat. One day, we stood and watched a big pod of whales spouting and causing waves. Another day, we watched a very tanned man stack large and small rocks, one on top of another. Quite the balancing act. There are lots of wonderful restaurants so one night we took a break from tacos and pozole and had a pasta dinner in an Italian restaurant with wonderful service and excellent food. I think it was called Dolce Vita. Another afternoon, we ate two Mexican favourites of ours - a guacamole and Molcajete - at a nearby place called Margaritaville.

    We had a final laundry run before packing up and I got my hair cut. Mexican prices and service are the best!!! Our boarding passes for Our flight to L.A. were printed off in a nearby cyber cafe and we bought some didactic games for our grandkids at the Book Fair that was going on.

    We loved the convenience of everything. We will miss Mexico...
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  • Day3

    Unfinished Temple of the Precious Blood

    December 13, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Today, we woke up to the usual morning sounds in Mexico - the church bells, a chucking gecko, roosters and cars rumbling by on the cobblestone street. For some reason, there doesn't seem to be many noisy dogs here. The sun was shining as we walked to Dona Esther’s in the market for breakfast.

    We stopped at a tourist kiosk in the Centro to ask about a calendar of events. Lots of activities will be going on here during the Christmas holidays. The posadas start on December 16 and Christmas decorations are being put up all over the town.

    Breakfast in Dona Esther’s was good old fashioned Mexican fare - scrambled eggs, chorizo, beans and fresh tortillas. A green juice for Chris and a giant strawberry smoothie for me.

    We had an extra apartment key made at the hardware store and walked on to the ruins of a huge unfinished cathedral, Templo Inconcluso de la Preciosa Sangre.

    One minute we we walking on a dusty cobblestone street, admiring a couple of beautiful roosters (fighting?), watching as a cowboy rode by on a beautiful black horse and the next minute we entered the huge stone ruins of what was planned to be the largest cathedral in Latin America. We walked through a stone gate into a lovely garden, filled with bougainvillea and bird of paradise plants.

    I read this little blurb about the church:

    “The first stone of the Preciosa Sangre church was placed right at the end of the 19th century, but most of the rest of the construction dates to the first decade of the following century. The idea came from a citizen who wanted to build another big temple for the town. Construction was halted when the Revolution broke out and probably not resumed because of the continuing post-Revolution conflicts, especially in Jalisco."

    We were lucky to meet a Mexican man, Pedro, who took care of the gardens. He was happy to take us around and point out the details used in constructing this incredible building as well as to give us some Mexican history lessons about what was happening in this area during and after the Revolution.

    At present, one small section of the church has been completed and is used as a seminary for first year (18 year old) students. There is a chapel with a beautiful altar and one of two old statues in the world showing Christ bleeding on the cross.

    As we were coming home, it got hotter and hotter. It is quite cool in the mornings and evenings but a little too hot for us now at around 2 pm - siesta time!

    In the evening, the square was hosting a ceremony for recognizing raicilla makers in the area. Raicilla is a distilled drink made in a way similar to tequila. Here’s a little blurb I found about one company’s Raicilla made from a wild agave plant called Lechuguilla:

    “Estancia Raicilla Lechuguilla is made with the wild agave Lechuguilla in La Estancia de Landeros, about one kilometre above sea level in the Jalisco foothills. The agave used in this Raicilla are roasted in an adobe oven for two days, and Old Jack Daniel’s bourbon barrels are used to ferment the cooked agave. Once fermented, this Raicilla is double distilled in copper alembic stills.

    Estancia Raicilla is made in the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental. In 2014, Rio Chenery left New York City for the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico with the hope of making his family’s favorite drink. The legend goes that in the ‘60s his grandfather, who worked for the Tecate beer company, came across a rare agave spirit in the small mountain town of Mascota on a business trip and fell in love with it. The locals called it Raicilla, and over the years it became a family favorite. Estancia Distillery is founded with the vision of bringing this rare agave spirit to the world.”

    I will write another footprint about raicilla in a later blog. It is uniquely from this area.
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  • Day9

    Yerbabuena - a village of 400, maybe..

    December 19, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Today the two of us walked a very dusty road to Yerbabuena, a tiny neighbouring town in the mountains. Wouldn’t you know it, but a 3 day fiesta to the Virgen de Guadalupe, was on it’s third day in this village and we arrived just as the mariachi’s started playing in the square.

    It is a tiny place with a pretty pond created by a dam and big houses on large lots. As we
    wandered around the town, one man invited us in to have a coffee. He lives in Zamora, the city that we lived in when we taught English there, 20 years ago!

    Several logging trucks, full of logs, passed us. One driver stopped to double check the straps holding the logs. He had some pretty steep roads to negotiate on his journey and for sure didn’t want his load to shift!

    There really isn’t much information about this village, whose name means spearmint, or why it is where it is, but we had an interesting walk through farmland. Two favourite Mexican birds of ours are the bright red Vermillion Flycatcher and the yellow Kiskadee with its black mask. We saw lots of them as we walked to town.

    It was around 2 pm when we got back to Mascota and it was the perfect time to eat some wonderful tacos at a roadside stand before getting home. A 9.7 km walk. Not bad.

    It is a tiny
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  • Day11

    Gnomes, or Mexican Duendes

    December 21, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    During the past few days, I have been checking stores in Mascota for items to make little Christmas gnomes for gifts. I had brought 3 pairs of fuzzy socks from home and now needed rice, string, thread, something for a beard and noses, decorations, and little elastics. I found most of the items in a store called Todo de Todo. It is like our $ store with a little bit of everything. I had to be a little creative though. Chris found a white fake fur child’s hat that when pulled apart provided me with material for beards, noses, stuffing and decorations.

    Gnomes, or duendes as they are called here, are a part of Mexican folklore. Apparently, a lot of people in the south part of Mexico believe that they are real. I started to wonder if a duende would make a good Christmas gift though...

    Here’s what I learned about them.

    Duendes are known as gnome-like creatures who live inside the walls of homes, especially in the bedroom walls of young children. They attempt to clip the toenails of unkempt children, often leading to the mistaken removal of entire toes... oh...

    Only few grown-ups can see them – unless duendes get drunk. Then they seem to lose all caution. If you catch a duende in that moment, you can keep him and have him do all kinds of chores for you. But, you have to treat him nicely and always offer him the first bite of your food. You do that by throwing it over your shoulder. If you don’t, the duende will get angry and spoil your food. In former times, people used to have a much closer relationship with duendes and offer them food and booze.

    Duendes aren’t very nice to naughty children. In fact, sometimes they kidnap them with the intention of eating them...

    Oh well, my duendes turned out pretty cute so I think that they will bring good luck and good health to the people we give them to.
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  • Day22

    Happy New Year 2020!

    January 1, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    On New Year’s Eve, Mascota gears up for night time festivities like every place that we have been. A dance in the plaza has been planned with a local band playing and lots of fireworks at midnight.

    Silvia, the lady who cleans our apartment and in general handles any issues we may run into, came at 10 a.m. to change our sheets, bring fresh towels and clean. She is a sweet lady who doesn’t speak any English but she is very kind and helpful. When she comes, we usually head out for a walk so that we aren’t in her way.

    Our landlords, Margarita and Andres, live in Guadalajara but are in Mascota visiting family for a
    few days. They stay in their big house behind our apartment. As we were going out, we met them and thanked them for the raicilla. They asked us how we had enjoyed our time in this town and then asked if we wanted to join them for the afternoon at their family’s ranch in the mountains.

    What a great offer and one that we could not refuse. Their nephew, Chuy, drove us all up, past the Mocajete volcano and onto a side road to a lovely spot overlooking a series of distant mountains and valleys. What a view!

    The family had purchased the property ( seven acres of avocado trees ) and built a beautiful main house there. They all have construction backgrounds so are now in the process of building several rustic cabins for visitors.

    The main house looked out over a pond full of fish, surrounded by a forest of oak and pine trees.
    Dogs, cats, chickens and geese lived together with the family in harmony.

    Margarita and Andre’s 3 nephews and their families are all working together to create this little piece of paradise and what an accomplishment! The oldest nephew, Roberto, is married and his wife is a wonderful artist. Her handiwork can be seen all over the house - paintings, sculptures, decorations, etc.

    After a tour of their place, we were invited to sit at a large table under the veranda, to continue our Spanglish conversations about life in Mascota and Mexico and Canada. We all got along so well together and really enjoyed our time together. The men cut and chopped up small pieces of bass, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions to make a huge bowl full of delicious ceviche. Another huge bowl had marinated shrimp. It all went down easily with Mexican beer - Modelo and Corona.

    We had a wonderful conversation with Roberto’s son who is in his 5th out of eight years studying to be a Catholic priest. Quite a young man. Roberto’s daughter joined us a little later and was just just as lovely.

    We had met Chuy before, as he had come to the apartment to fix a few things up. He spoke
    English quite well as he had worked in the U.S., along with his two other brothers. His son, another
    Chuy was quiet yet interested in learning about life in Canada.

    We were privileged to have shared the last afternoon in 2019 with this warm and friendly family. They live in a Utopia of their making and we wish them the best in all future endeavours.

    By the time that we got home, the sun was setting and it looked liked Mascota’s centre was ready for the big night.

    We decided to stay in (old foggies) and watch a movie on our one English movie channel before going to bed. Thank heavens, it was a good one! At midnight, the ruckus began with bells ringing and fireworks booming. Our balcony patio was the perfect place to watch the streaming ‘shooting stars’ and the big colourful sunbursts.

    Happy New Year 2020!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Estado de Jalisco, Jalisco, JAL, ハリスコ州, 哈利斯科州

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