Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sights of Barra de Navidad

My fave is the French baker that comes by in his panga boat. He drives around the marina every morning on his way to make deliveries to the waterfront restaurants as well. It's just one of those local "charms" that adds something special. This is the same kind of boat that's used as a water taxi around the harbor here. We take one when we need to go into town and its always fun to see who we will meet as most travelers are quite chatty here... And there's LOTS of Canadians. We'd escape their frigid air too if we lived in that frozen tundra!
It was funny to come across a store just for Thrifty ice cream in town.. Still going strong. Its nice to see how some traditions just don't dwindle out.
As for the locals, a lot of them can often be found at their evening church for mass. That place is packed every time we walk by and it always spills out onto the sidewalk. Across the street from the church is a local food vendor. She seems to run a clean kitchen on her cart selling her street tacos with all the fixings. However, most of us have learned our lessons on indulging in street food... Just not worth the gamble or a bottle of Pepto! The snoozing dog was at the entrance of a restaurant we dined at called Marlenas. It's right on the beach and the food is fabulous! Marlena sat down with us after we ate and we learned that she is from Munich Germany. No wonder there's shnitzel and sauerkraut on her menu! Now we know it will be an authentic treat should we decide to indulge on another visit.
The house on stilts belongs to the local oyster farmer who watches his farm like a hawk. Farther down the harbor we spied the golf course drop-off spot on the side of the jungle, which is just down from a few fun waterfront restaurants. Then we come to our "photo of the day!"... EEEEK!! We were out walking and came across a real WWF Smackdown...Mexican style. The Iguana vs. the Snake and it was obviously a fight to the death. The hotel you see in another photo is right in the heart of the marina. It's called The Grand Bay resort and that's one of the views we have from our boat. The hotel is huge and it's THE one to stay at here in Barra. The photo of the big estate that's been unfinished for years (over a decade) was meant to be a casino. Now it's just what we would call a TMD. (Typical Mexican deal.) Speaking of TMD's... Here's a good one; I bought Brad a spankin' new golf shirt when we were at Tamarindo the other day. It was so nice that he put it on that night just before we are heading out to dinner. He tried it on, but kept sniffing around & said.. "I just got out of the shower. Why do I smell like b.o. ??" I was brave & knew I had no choice but to get in close and sniff out the situation. Haha! Low & behold.. The pits of that shirt STANK. Someone must have worn it & put it back on the shelf in the golf course boutique. That's just another good example of a TMD. Too funny!!
Today we took a water taxi over to Town to visit the port Captains office. On our way through town, we passed Ponchos restaurant which is a local hang with simple fish tacos & beer. I noticed the piñatas in their morning trash.. Someone must have been getting their groove on at a grandé fiesta last night! We then passed the newspaper guy who shouts out the headlines on his megaphone. It seems that everyone loves their mega speakers here, and many vendors have certain songs so you know who they are when they go by. (The locals "ringtone"..ha!) Kinda like the ice cream trucks of our youth.
As we sat at local gringo fave "Grandmas House" (La Casa de Mi Abuela) for breakfast, the water delivery guy went by & used his car speaker to blast out Tarzans call of the wild. You just cant make this stuff up!
There's also a recycling movement that's prevalent as you can see in the plastic bin photo which is nice to see. The locals really take pride in their community. They love their bright colors and the boutiques are well merchandised too. We made a pit stop at the produce market to stock up on tomatoes & avocados for some fresh guacamole later. I loved seeing all the colorful jalapeños and peppers stacked up so neatly, however I have no idea which is mild or caliente & how to cook them. I am looking forward to the guacamolé later..Brad has the secret for making the best tasting guac around!
At the end of the jetty lies a small sea turtle hatchery where they bury the eggs in the sand and put the burial date on a stick. That way they know when to keep an eye out for the new baby turtles as they will need to be released at the waters edge at sunset on the day they hatch. Across from the mini hatchery is the locals fave surf break. We didn't see any huge waves, but with a northwest swell they were breaking around 2-4' today.
This afternoon we took a bay cruise on our dingy out to Melaqué. We watched all the fishermen on their pangas as they casted their nets. The best part was watching the "pelican convention" taking place next to their boats. Turns out that they feed the tiny fish to the birds that they don't want. No wonder! We then cruised the channels of the back bay where they're building a new marina and some homes. We saw a shipwreck with more pelicans atop it. Farther down a canal we found the place where a lot of fishermen park their pangas for the night. It was right next to a nice iguana laying out & working on his tan. A little farther down was the frame of a future palapa.. Or just a reason for someone to call it a house so they could be a squatter. You never know in Mexico!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Field Trip!

Today Brad, Danny & I set out on a "field trip" to Guadalajara. A "mile high city" just like Denver, CO, and it's also the second largest city in Mexico. There is even a city of the same name in Spain.
We were under the impression that it was about a 2:45 min drive which sounded doable & luckily Danny was driving us. After parking in the city center, it had been almost 5 hours since we left the marina. Eeeek! Good thing I had packed some Scooby snacks in my bag for the three of us as we were famished by the time we hit the city. (I'll spare you the dirty deets of how the high altitude affected my 10 day old sinus cold, but it was good times! Ha!!) Our first stop was to find a restaurant for lunch and margaritas were most definitely in order after that long car ride!!! We found a fabulous colonial restaurant right near the main cathedral. They even had strolling mariachis to entertain us with and the perfect table on a 2nd floor balcony looking out over the city square and the passerby below. We had a hilarious waiter who cracked us up and had the best personality...Especially when he brought our margaritas to the table that Brad and I ordered. It turned out not to be two of them, but FOUR! He said it was a two-for-one "special day". Ha ha!! Needless to say, as thirsty as we were they were gone quickly. Our lunch consisted of some homemade enchiladas that were the best ever! Lifesaver!! After lunch we headed to their Libertad Mercado to check out the sights & dealios. Unfortunately it wasn't "muy authentico" as billed on Tripadvisor and we skeedaddled out of there. It was interesting to take in the sights of the city as we found it to be highly organized from street to street. One street was all about beauty... Hairdresses, beauty supply stores and nail salons up & down the street. Another was dedicated to toys, another to flooring, fabrics, etc. For a moment it was reminiscent of Santee Alley in downtown LA. I loved seeing all the street vendors peddling all their wares as well. They are all such hard workers and very proud people. The most popular item I saw on almost every street corner was fun colored shoelaces. They sold them at the shoeshine stands. I'd call them a "hot fashion trend alert" of Guadalajara! We stopped at a few cathedrals which were beautiful and all of the old buildings in the city were well taken care of...Especially after 400+ years... You could feel the history in that city.
We soon found ourselves a tour guide at Danny's suggestion and all hopped into a horse drawn carriage to tour the city center. Little did we know it would take about an hour & a half. Lol!! As if we hadn't been sitting down all day with our butts getting numb. What a riot!! I even fell asleep from the margaritas on our ride. Too funny. We decided afterward that we'd need to head back as we wouldn't get back to the boat until about 9:00, so off we went. There were a few baño stops at gas stations & it was there that we learned how important it is to have pesos in your pocket baby! (Toilet paper helps too) You have to pay to use the toilets and the entrance to them looks like a jail. Funny how things can differ from one culture to the next. As for Guadalajara, we consider that city "checked" off our list along with the 500 mile drive...and it was definitely a memorable one!