Thursday, October 6, 2011

Amigos and Rodeos

We headed down to Puerto Vallarta to meet Brian and Hannah on the 28th.  We left early so we would have time to buy some groceries at the massive Wal-Mart, which happens to be located right across the street from the cruise ship dock.  It was disconcerting to see so many Americans disembarking their Disney cruise liner to lumber across the street to Wal-Mart for aloe lotion.  Also disconcerting is that the Mexican version of Wal-Mart smells exactly like the American version.  Anyway, we loaded up another bottle of sunscreen, a few toiletries that are very expensive in San Pancho, and a box or two of cereal, then took a cab to the airport for Brian and Hannah. 

A simple lunch of quesadillas, burritos, and iced cokes followed our return to San Pancho.   We spent the rest of the day playing on the beach.   Cody impressed us all with his wave-catching ability.  

Catch a wave and you're sittin' on top of the world... 
As the sun sank into the pacific horizon, we strolled down the beach toward the fenced-off area that protects the nests of sea turtles.  They release hatchlings every night around 8pm, and it was a thrill to see those tiny creatures inch their way toward the pounding surf.  They’re only as big as your palm!  

Good luck little guy!  
The Fiesta was just ramping up when Brian and Hannah arrived.  We saw traditional Mexican dancing and huge brass mariachi bands.  We drank fantastic pina coladas and margaritas served in terra-cotta cups, and watched as the locals danced salsa to the music.   We tried to dance the salsa, but it’s harder than it looks and most Mexicans don’t suffer from an 11in. difference in height! 

The San Pancho Band!  These guys practice across the street from our place.
It was fun to see them in action! 
The fiesta is thrown in honor of San Francisco de Assis, the patron saint of San Pancho.  It’s an interesting mix of a festival- religious, but more like a county fair.  There were several games set up for kids and adults, one involving bb guns and little plastic toys, our favorite featuring a pile of rocks on a folding table and racks of bottles.  Break three bottles in a row, and you get an 8pack of Corona or Modelo.  Cody didn’t break any, but Brian broke one and walked away with an ice cold Modelo. 

The Church all decked out for the fiesta.  

A highly evolved game of skill.  
We had a lot of fun with Brian and Hannah.  We visited the beach at Sayulita, had a fabulous lunch and boogie boarded all afternoon.  We took a long, hot hike through the jungle to a new hidden beach, recommended to us by the girl at the internet café/ tea shop.  The Playa de Lydia was spectacular- edged by rocky outcroppings and palm trees, and completely deserted.

The incredible Playa Lydia
We took a tour boat out to the Marietas Islands, a national park off a few miles off the coast.  The food was great, (breakfast, lunch and open bar), the staff gave informative and interesting talks about the islands, and cracked jokes, but best of all was the people watching. 

Isn't this a great picture of Cody?
(Click to enlarge for a better view.)
Actually, the snorkeling was by far the best part.  The water was bath-temperature, turquoise and clear, the fish were abundant, and the coral reef and rock formations were  beautiful.  It was easy to forget to look not only below the water, but above, where blue-footed boobies waddled around the rocks, joined by pelicans, cormorants, and their lesser known cousins, the yellow-footed boobies, and plain-jane brown boobies.  I would highly recommend a visit to the Marietas to anyone planning to visit Puerto Vallarta. 

The week flew by, and suddenly, we were hugging Brian and Hannah goodbye as they hopped on a bus to Puerto Vallarta to catch their flight back home.  So glad you guys could come! 

The day after Hannah and Brian left was October 4th- San Pancho Day.  We were lazing around in the midmorning and heard drums just down the street.  We headed out to see what all the commotion was about, and caught the parade half way through.  There were native Mexican Indians (Mayans?) dancing with enormous feathered headdresses, marching bands, a statue of San Francisco, another of the Virgin Mary, and bringing up the rear were horses.  There must have been 30 or 40 of them, their riders decked out in their finest sombreros, neckerchiefs and tall boots.  They pranced along, some horses quickstepping to the beat of the drums.   

Note the huge saddle horn that seems typical of Mexican Saddles,
 as well as the shiny handle of the Machete under his leg.  

Senor Ortega-  One of the best horse dancers of the bunch.  
They all joined up at the park after the parade to show off their incredible horsemanship.  Those horses really can dance!  And back up into a slot between two other horses (which doesn’t really look that impressive to the uninitiated, but Cody, with his Wyoming upbringing, assured me that it was truly a difficult feat.)   It was quite a show, and as it wound down, everyone was well lubricated with Modelo and Corona.  

After siesta time, we headed to the Rodeo going on in the little corral just outside of town.  Everyone had told us, oh yeah, rodeo starts at 5.  So we showed up around 5:30, everyone else showed up at 7,  and the rodeo actually began at 7:30.   Bull riding was the only event, and in between bulls, the clowns, joined by a cross-dressed man in a yellow tube top and mini-skirt, put on a comedy routine.  He/she made his/her way around the stands, flirting and dancing with various men, and of course, she stops in front of Cody and plops down on his lap, shimmying away.  I only wish I had been close enough to get a good picture!

We snuck off early to cook up a pot of shrimp for dinner, purchased from another truck vendor.  We cannot believe the prices of fresh seafood down here!  One kilo of fresh, still wiggling shrimp costs 75 pesos, which boils down to less than $3.50 a pound!  We’ve been eating shrimp for weeks now. 

Oh, yes, and the Terrible News.  The churro truck has gone AWOL.  It hasn’t shown up in a week and a half.  We’re facing serious withdrawal issues.  Not really.  But we are bummed Brian and Hannah never got to taste one! 

Until next time….

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