El Pantheon and La Playa

I love pelicans and they are very plentiful here, especially down on Playa Marinero and Playa Zicatela, where they can get a sniff of the fish being caught around these parts. Apparently there are still plenty of fish in the sea here …

Along the main city beach here is also an inexpensive campground, right on the sand, which seems sort of unusual in a beach town. Between the campground and the ocean is a small “lagoon” of sorts, part of an estuary, I think, in which lots of birds enjoy spending the day, like this egret. We avoid walking through it; Pam thinks it must be boiling with mosquitoes.

On our way back from the Manialtepec Lagoon the other day I noticed that we had driven past a small cemetery and was interested in going back to take a look at it. I found a quiet shady route from the house to the pantheon “The Woods”, as it is called, through a hilly local neighbourhood. It is right near the beach and beside an elementary school.

Sometimes the graves in Mexico are very brightly painted; these, though, are mostly white, like the ones at the cemetery Ty and I visited in Progresso.

After a pleasant walk through the paths communing with the shades of the dead, I made my way back out to the street, past several houses for sale and rent (likely this is a nice place to live, given the silent neighbours), and down the stone steps to Playa Manzanillo, my favourite beach in P.E.

I had quite a long chat with the servers at the beach-side restaurant; it was a quiet day and they were likely bored with not very many customers to serve. I took the opportunity to practice my Spanish, which, if I do say so myself, is getting quite good.

Playa Manzanillo is on one half of a small curved bay, the other side of which is Playa Angelito. I’ve never set foot on Playa Angelito, simply because Manzanillo is so sweet that I just can’t seem to get over there. But this day I did at least walk over the small rocky point separating the two beaches to take a few pictures of it.

At the top of the steep steps that run down the beach is this shrine dedicated to Puerto Escondido’s black Madonna. It sits under a shady small palapa which also shelters the numerous taxi drivers who ply their trade here.

When I am out and about walking around the town, I like to take my own shade with me … in different styles.

Saturday is market day around here so Pam, Cec, and I hoofed it up the road with the clattering metal cart to purchase fruit and veggies for the coming week.

Some of the locals don’t even bother to look as we pass by …

Mexican markets have the best produce; huge beautiful veggies for about 1/10 Vancouver’s cost. I am fascinated with the enormous cauliflowers here.

Something we would never see a home is a doggie strolling through the meat section of the market, hoping to capture a little something something …

Saturday is also the day when fresh fish comes to the market; here Pam and Cec are discussing the possibilities presented by the sierra, a white fish available in P.E.

After agreeing that it looked good, the man expertly filleted it for us.

Just outside the market, I saw this car with a Madonna shrine on its front bumper.

and a San Francisco shrine on the wall “downtown”.

Almost every day Pam and Cec stride Playa Zicatela beach and stop either at Dan’s Cafe for breakfast or the Bar Fly for a lemonade with mineral water. Sometimes I join them on the march.

Some of the local hotels have the most beautiful bougainvillea flowers, enormous bunches of multi-coloured blossoms.

The other night we headed down to the Adoquin to Pascales, to enjoy a tasty grilled dinner and the music by a local duo with a pretty good virtual back-up band.

All in all,a pretty good place to spend some time.

 

Manialtepec Lagoon, Oaxaca

PE has the usual cast of animal characters, including this tabby cuties. Actually, there are fewer stray dogs than many other places I’ve been and they don’t look at raggedy as some. We’ve seen that some of the shops put out food and water for them, which is great.

Here’s another Mother and Child shrine, this one on a house at the far end of Zicatela Beach.

This beach is really enormous and also wide; unlike places on the east coast of Mexico (Cancun I’m looking at you), it seems that the government does not need to truck in sand here to prevent the beach from disappearing. This is probably because the place is not overdeveloped and doesn’t have massive beach-side hotel developments and piers jutting into the water which alter the ocean currents and cause the sand to wash away.

Here are two ocean goddesses just washed up by the waves:

The Zicatela area has some pretty good street art in the form of colourful graffiti; we see the ones below on our hike to Dan’s for breakfast. Pam and Cec like to get a walk in in the morning and then consume hotcakes before heading back to the poolside ranch. Works for me!

Puerto Escondido is located on the coast in the lime green area of the map below, not too far from the Guatemala border, in Oaxaca state.

Right across the street from Dan’s calle is a wellness centre that offers massage and yoga; I hope to get a healing rubdown here before I leave.

One of the must-dos in PE, if you’re into the environment, is an eco-tour to the Manialtepec Lagoon, about 18 kilometers north of here. The only unfortunate thing about it is thaat, if you want to see any wildlife, you must rise early … we had to be up at 5:45 and out the door at 6:15 for our pickup with Lalo Ecotours. Here’s a view of the beach from the walkway over the highway – the sky is just beginning to lighten. The sun rises and sets extremely quickly in the tropics; one minute it’s dark, and the next – boom – it’s light.

After picking up the other two people on our tour, we rolled on down the highway to the lagoon, along with the other rush-hour travel in PE, arriving about half an hour later lagoon-side.

A very cute little terrier mix pup ran out wiggling to greet us.

After spending a few minute tickling the little guy, we hopped on our fibreglass boat and glided over the calm lagoon as the sun rose – spectacular!

When we first arrived, we were the only boat on the lagoon; as time passed a few canoes with local fishermen appeared.

Our boatman guided us down a narrow mangrove channel while the tour guide explained how parrots lay their eggs in large termite nests, giving the newly hatched birds termites to eat and thus have sustenance when they’re born – smart creatures! The termite nest is the large blackish structure on the left attached to the tree that Eve’s pointing to.

I love mangrove trees – they’re so beautiful and interesting. Eve explained that this lagoon has three species of mangrove and that the trees reproduce in two ways: with long thin seedpods that go down into the water and with the hanging roots that do the same thing – very ingenious.

Everyone on the tour is given a good quality pair of binoculars to spot all the birds that live here.

Close to one hundred different species of bird make this lagoon their home and we saw examples of about two thirds of them.

Many of them, such as these pelicans, frequent the tree tops. Apparently, pelicans find it difficult to roost on branches because of their foot structure but these ones look happy enough.

The bird below is either the Bare Throated Tiger Heron or the Black Crowned Night Heron – lots of Herons in these waters!

The fellow below is the Boat-Billed Heron

Below is a better picture of the bird’s head by Jan Sevik; in it, you can see the bird’s large and unusual beak.

The lagoon was really peaceful at this time of morning.

We also saw lots of Yellow-Corned Night Herons (the black on in the trees below) and both Snowy and Cattle Egrets.

The egrets are beautiful white birds with long graceful necks; we saw lots of them.

The root structure of the mangrove trees is really amazing.

Here’s another Tiger Heron biding its time water-side …

Against the brown background of the tree roots, it was sometimes difficult to see these birds after the sun came out. This type of heron is nocturnal, only seen very early in the morning.

I think the bird below is also a Bare Throated Tiger Heron with its neck stretched out.

Some Great Blue Heron, a species of bird that makes our part of the world home, are snowbirds and migrate south for five months in the winter, just like their human counterparts, as do these white-billed ducks, very familiar to me from False Creek in Vancouver.

We went down some very narrow mangrove channels and had to duck our heads to avoid the roots and branches.

In the rainy season this lagoon opens to the ocean; you can see the strip of beach in the photo below. This makes the water brackish, a combination of fresh water from the Manialtepec River and the ocean salt water: “Manialtepec” means “Place where the waters meet”. Our guide spent quite a bit of time calling to the birds, imitating the sounds of a tiny predatory owl to disturb the other birds who did start to flutter and flock and fly around the boat. The sounds of this predator owl, a pygmy owl, causes the other birds to fly around in a fright; the owl then grabs as many as he can and eats them as they scatter – yikes!

This area is where the egrets mate. Eve told us that the female grows long tail feathers during mating season and then loses them after. Also, there is some kind of poisonous element in the bird guano that eventually kills the trees, hence the numerous stick-like tree skeletons here.

We drove quietly down the river channel towards the ocean, passing, unexpectedly, horses on the lagoon side, grazing on grasses.

The horses belong to a local family who have lived at the lagoon for generations and are used for transport if they need to get supplies.

Our tour concluded with breakfast and beer on a huge deserted beach where the family runs a cantina for incoming tour groups, of which there was one other group besides ours this morning.

I really enjoyed our trip. We left our place at 6:30 and were returned just after noon. The tour with Lalo Ecotours cost 600 pesos, plus a tip. Breakfast at the beach was 65 pesos and beer about 20. Highly recommended! For more info about the tour company, click here.

For more photos, click here and here.

Enjoying the Adoquin in Puerto Escondido

Here’s what you get right off the boat on the beach at PE – these particular beasts don’t look too inviting but I’m sure all the pelicans hanging around would love to get their chops on them.

Since I was here last three years ago this concrete bunker has gone up at one end of the beach, spoiling the view IMHO. We think it’s going to be a hotel but at the moment it’s an ugly grey skeleton.

The Benito Juarez Market is a must when you visit this town. Located about nine blocks from the beach in a big cavernous metal barn-like space, it’s where the locals shop for pretty much everything. The produce is wonderful and about 1/10th the price of fresh fruit and veg in Vancouver, particularly now as the Canadian dollar sinks ever lower.

On our walk to the market we passed a number of guys selling crucifixes, Jesus figures, and Madonnas from little metal trolleys.

Always on the lookout for religious shrines, I found this nice one on the way up to the market.

All of us are amazed at the tight synthetic fabric clothing people seem to be able to wear in hot climates.

Cecil was designated the cart man and did a good job of rolling his metal cart in, out, and around the various sidewalk obstacles.

Some areas of the market are beautifully scented from the lovely flowers for sale.

Others, the meat and fish sections, are not.

Pam likes to check out all the stalls before deciding on where to spend her pesos so we traversed the entire market before settling on a few places to purchase our goodies.

I was particularly taken with the enormous size of the cauliflower heads here, especially considering that in Vancouver we are paying $8 for a measly microscopic head these days.

Just below our house, on the other side of the Costera highway, is the Adoquin, a boulevard of shops, restaurants, and hotels that becomes a pedestrian only street in the evenings.

We had an ok meal at a local restaurant overlooking the Playa Principal in an attempt to hear the singing duo at Pascale’s down below; unfortunately, our restaurant was playing bongo music at such a decibel that we couldn’t really hear the singers.

This area is called the Adoquin and it is quite nice at night, with all the vendors selling the usual assortment of stuff, plus some things unique to this area, such as the black Oaxaca pottery.

Here’s Cec wondering where Pam has wandered off to.

I like the Adoquin area; lots of pretty white buildings and a good, although expensive, coffee shop called Vivace. The morning I was there a very cute little  Schnoodle pup was also there. Mexicans do seem to love their Schnauzers, and por que no!

 

Hola from Puerto Escondido

When the opportunity came up to visit Puerto Escodido, Oaxaca with friends P & C, I leapt at the chance, even though I am currently working on a contract for SFU. I figured that I can just as easily do my course development work here poolside, as in the rain in Vancouver.

Puerto Escondido is what Puerto Vallarta used to be many moons ago, a traditional Mexican fishing village, albeit at 70,000 population, no longer a tiny one.

Our place is just above the coastal highway and the Playa Marinero, the beach where fshermen sell their catch right off the sand, and about four blocks from the Super Che, the gigantic, air-conditioned local equivalent to a Super Store grocery store, although it sells much more than just groceries, including appliances. The casa has a nice peekaboo view of the huge Zicatela Beach, the two mile long surfing playa that attracts boarders from around the world.

Along with the four of us and a small black female cat, two large green parrots are ensconced poolside in a large white metal cage. While they don’t really talk, they are certainly very vocal and make some very funny noises.

Along with the parrots, roosters, and barking dogs, the pelicans make this part of the world their home; they are funny, large beasts with very sentient eyes.

Most mornings see 3 or 4 of us hoofing it down the long stretch of Playa Zicatela, often in search of breakfast at Dan’s Cafe, a local crowd-pleaser, whose hotcakes I can enthusiastically recommend.

Walking back along the road, we sometimes check out the shops selling mostly beach wear, surf boards, and jewelry.

A local guy who works for a finca (coffee plantation) invited us in to look at the coffee beans he was drying and explained to us how the unpredictable climate was causing havoc with coffee production: “It rains when it shouldn’t, and when it should rain, it doesn’t”.

Since I’m not inclined to sunbathe, I sometimes lie poolside a white ghost, wrapped up in my scarf like a mummy.

The other morning as we walked along we heard the sounds of a brass band pumping out latin music, only to find that it was the accompaniment to a funeral procession leaving from the church.

The church is situated in a beautiful small plaza at the top of a stone staircase; inside it, a black Madonna presides.

We’ve also walked along the seaside andador, a stone walkway that travels the base of the rocky cliffs here from the Bahia Principal to Playa Manzanillo.

Slightly disconcerting was the sight of a young, seemingly disconsolate man sharpening a knife in the shade of a big rock.

This route has lots of colourful graffiti on the stones.

After clambering up the staircase at the end of the walk, we chatted a bit to a woman with a very elaborate set of biblical decorations from small plastic toys, including a Nativity scene, in her front yard.

Once ensconced at the beach, we sampled some very tasty shrimp dishes and enjoyed watching the local families frolic in the very warm  water. Since most of the local people can’t swim, they cluster just at the ocean’s edge enjoying the relatively gentle waves in this bay.

Puerto Escondido is very local and I like that about it. See some pics of our earlier visit here in 2012 here.

San Sebastian del Oeste, Jalisco, Mexico

Originally settled in 1605, San Sebastian del Oeste is a secluded 17th century mining town which reached its peak of prosperity in the 1700s, when over 30,000 people inhabited the area. Over the years, the town’s population fluctuated wildly as gold and silver were mined intermittently between the 1600’s and the 1930’s; it now has around 600 permanent residents. Located at the foot of the Western Sierra Madre in West Jalisco, San Sebastian del Oeste, designated one of Mexico’s Magical Towns, is an hour and a half drive into the hills along winding country roads from Puerto Vallarta. The town is located in a pine forest and the air is crisp and clear.

By 1785 there were 10 gold and silver reduction haciendas and almost 30 mines in the area; the town became a city in 1812 and reached its peak in 1830. The mines stopped working during the 1910 revolution and the foreign companies moved elsewhere. The last mine stopped working in 1921. (http://www.puertovallarta.net/what_to_do/san-sebastian-del-oeste-mexico.php)

“The mines were, in part, responsible for the start of Puerto Vallarta. Then know as Las Peñas and consisting of just a few huts at the mouth of the Rio Cuale, it was used to supply the mines with salt which was taken by mules up to San Sebastian and other mines in the High Sierras and used in the smelting process. The silver and gold from the mines was sent, again by mule train, through Guadalajara and Mexico City to Veracruz, where it was sent, once a year, to Spain” (from PV Insider website).

Our driver picked us up from our casa at 10 am for our trip up to San Sebastian, and, after passing many mountain bikers panting slowly up the hills,

we stopped for breakfast at a local family restaurant in tiny Estancia to sample home-made quesadillas cooked on a fire in front of us.

Our next stop, just outside the town, was the Hacienda Jalisco, “built 225 years ago by the Spanish to hold and guard the returns of the myriads of mines of San Sebastian, in preparation for shipments to Spain”, as their website explains.

Now a guesthouse, the hacienda has a small museum of artifacts from its mining days on the first floor, as well as old photos of Elizabeth Taylor and John Huston, the luminaries whose presence here in the 1960s really kicked off Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area as a tourist haven.

We strolled around the premises, snuck a look at one of the guest bedrooms, a high-ceilinged room with wooden ceilings and a big stone fireplace, and saw the aquaduct system and the remains of smelting chimneys still standing on the edge of the property.

Avocado trees, bougainvillea, and coffee are all grown here. There is no electricity, evenings are lit by oil lamps and candles, and there’s no telephone, life as it was in the Colonial era.

From the hacienda we made our way into the small town, currently in the process of being modernised, much to the chagrin of the older inhabitants, who are not interested in change.

Innovations such as a new entrance gate, newly paved sidewalks, new brick walls, and an entirely renovated town square, are evidence of the money the Mexican government is putting into its Pueblos Magicos program, designed to encourage and capitalise on tourism.

We had a look at the Hotel del Puente, purchased some churros pastry at a local bakery, then drove up to a local raicilla distillery.

Raicilla, home-grown moonshine, sort of a cross between scotch and tequila, is made from the agave plant, which distillers harvest from the surrounding hills and then process in what is essentially a small home alcohol still, consisting of clay ovens, big blue plastic barrels, copper pipes, and hoses.

Nothing was being cooked this day but I could smell the remnants of previous batches in the air. Home distilleries such as these have to be careful to pour off the first litre of distilled alcohol, since it is pure ethanol and will blind the drinker. Provided that the distiller only makes a certain small amount, this home production is legal.

Back in town, we sampled a draught of raicilla at the only cantina in town, located at one corner of the town square and full of local guys quaffing shrimp micheladas who had ridden in on bicycles and motorcycles.

From there we checked out the town church, the Town Hall with its still-functioning jail and graffiti-scratched walls, a jewelry shop with work by local artisans, and then had some delicious fajitas at a Mexican restaurant around the corner.

Full of fajitas, we then drove to the Quinta Mary coffee plantation, another former hacienda restored to a shadow of its former glory,

with two beautiful African blue parrots in a gigantic metal cage snacking on sunflower seeds,

and finally to the local cemetery, where colourful graves and a gigantic bougainvillea bush rest quietly on a hillside to the accompaniment of cattle lowing in the shade.

The experience of being in this town was a strange one. In a way it felt more like Switzerland than Mexico, with the cool temperatures, the mountains and the white of the buildings against the green hills.

For a town of 600 permanent residents, it has an quite a few restaurants and hotels, testaments to the increasing number of tourists who make their way here on day trips and overnighters. Like that strange Greek island I went to off the coast of Turkey, Castellorizo, this place, too, feels like a stage set, on which people are wandering about waiting for something to happen, something that is just around the corner but that actually never seems to arrive.

See more photos here.

Moroccan Cooking in Mexico

Ty and I joined Nathalie and eight other food lovers to create a wonderful Moroccan dinner, led by clay-cooking Maestra Nathalie, in the kitchen high in the sky above the Art Vallarta studio. Photo below by Debbie Berlin.

Here’s the description from Nathalie’s website:

Food is Art when prepared with heart and soul. We will explore every aspect of la comida international. Down to the vessel it is prepared in, selection of ingredients, how the sauce is stirred and the moments of presentation & enjoyment.

Cooking Classes and Events will be held in an handcrafted Mexican tile ART Kitchen in the Romantic Zone. Puerto Vallarta on the 8th Floor of the San Franciscan complex over looking the fabulous Bay of Vallarta. 213 Calle Pilitas, Emiliano Zapata, half a block off Olas Altas in the heart of the Romantic Zone.

Holy Mole Moroccan Cooking Class – The Menu:

Pomegranate Mint Cocktail

Moroccan Meatballs with dipping sauce

Chicken Almond Bastilla


Dried salted tomatoes, olives, preserved lemons and vegetable fish Tagine

Traditional Vegetable Tagine with Lamb Merguez Sausage and Ras El Hanout spice

Preserved Lemons and Pomegranate Molasses

Rose water and spices steamed couscous grain

Traditional Yogurt Cake, orange blossom ice cream with fruits (Photo below by Debbie Berlin)

Wine, Mint Tea and Coffee

Each of us contributed to making the dinner, from slicing the tomatoes, to grilling the meatballs and chicken, to preparing the fillo pastry, to slicing the fish and preparing the shrimp, to grinding the spices with mortar and pestle.

While we worked the multi-talented Froylan Hernandez serenaded us on his guitar.

All the dishes were cooked on the gas stove-top in clay vessels, including a beautiful tagine made by Froylan, topped with a delightful little ceramic blowfish.

After everything was prepared and cooked, we sat down to dinner on Nathalie’s delightful terrace overlooking Banderas Bay to enjoy the fruits of our labours – fantastic!

See more here.

For more info about Art Vallarta click here.

Ceramics and other Fun in the Sun

While I wait for El Diablo to be dry enough to fire and glaze, I am working on a new creation.  This piece began life as an alien with three eyeballs and five tentacles, inspired by the octopus piece Froylan is helping Andy build.

First El Maestro threw a pot on the wheel which then became the rock on which the octopus sits. Then he and Andy crafted a hollow head for the beast and eight curling tentacles which I greatly admired.

I decided that my alien, too, would have curling tentacles; however, I didn’t have the skill to create as beautiful ones as those on the octopus.

The first two smaller tentacles I adhered in place of eyebrows, while three others were attached below the nose. These ended up looked like moustache whiskers. A further larger couple I initially intended to attach below the mouth but, upon further thought, I decided against it.

After asking me whether my creation was a predator or a vegetarian – vegetarian – Froylan had an idea for the mouth, based on a trumpet fish he’d seen while diving. He crafted me a very nice small mouthpiece on the wheel; subsequently, we decided that one of the smaller tentacles would be best placed coming out of the mouth for feeding purposes.

As I continued to work on the piece, it mutated from an alien into the Vegetarian Sea Santa you see here. The shape of the mask suggested a beard, so I carved wiggly lines into the clay to indicate wavy hair.

Scales were cut into the cheeks and algae into the area around the forehead; if I had time, I’d probably have made the algae hair more three dimensional by attaching separate fronds and leaves. Given that there’s not much time left to complete the piece, that will have to wait for another opportunity.

The other night Ty and I made our way down to the Sea Monkey beach bar to watch the pelicans swim and wait for the sunset.

While there we enjoyed watching a pair of golden long-haired dachshunds play on the sand, running and digging holes.

Other than that, we have drunk cups of coffee at various outdoor cafes – Caffe del Mar, also an art gallery containing the ceramic work of Rodo Padillo and the paintings of Angie McIntosh –  is a good one,

as is A Page in the Sun, a combo bookstore and coffee shop,

played a few games of pool at the Crowbar in our neighbourhood, run by a woman from Chilliwack,

had a few lunches at Mi Cafe, a fantastic spot around the corner from us,

and spent Sunday evening at a potluck film fest put on by Nathalie at Art VallARTa, watching Birdman and Gone Girl, while sampling some spicy chili, pasta salad (made by me from scratch), pizza, and lots of baked goodies – fun!

I really love the colourful streets here, with fabrics of many colours and stripes, beautiful flowers, and vibrantly painted cement buildings.

See more here and here.

From Boca to Colomitos

Ty and I decided to spend the day in Boca de Tomatlan, about 30 minutes by bus south of Puerto Vallarta, a small fishing village which is the jumping off point for water taxis to points further south not accessible by road. After a busy, full bus ride of folks who mostly got off in Mismaloya, we were deposited on the highway near Boca and walked down the cement staircase to the town, accompanied by the sounds of the grader and workers fixing the road into town, obviously from having been washed out in the recent torrential rain storm. Noisy! And hot!

The town itself is unremarkable, a small burg of a few stores, some cement houses, a couple of rental apartments, and lots of baying dogs. The folks you see walking away behind Ty we later saw in Puerto Vallarta with several dogs which they take around every day as volunteer dog walkers for a rescue organisation.

Boca is located on a lovely small bay at the mouth of the Horcones river, in which lots of water taxis and other boats are parked. We saw some beautiful tiny white wading birds with very long legs hunting fish.

Although we hadn’t really planned on it when we set out this morning, we decided to hike around the point to the next beach over, since the noise of the working machinery was unappealing.

I had researched the hike from Boca to Las Animas, a beach further down the coast about halfway between Boca and Yelapa, and we had mused about doing it. Today’s walk, though, was spur of the moment.

After wading across the waterway, we found the trail on the far side of the bay and clambered up onto a cement walkway that passed along beside the houses and rental casitas of the far side of the bay.

Some of the houses along here are enormous, white-painted, and many-leveled, with beautiful flowers. We passed a gigantic Banyan-like tree with a huge canopy of branches and several cement terraces with diving platforms.

The trail then became a bit steep as we climbed up and up into the forest and skirted around the headland. Up along the ridge are several abandoned houses whose shells have been picked clean, possibly by vagrants.

After reaching the top we then carefully made our way down the far side of the ridge to a lovely small, secluded beach called Colomitos.

We were drawn like moths to light by the sign advertising “Beach Club” along the rocky cliff side. However, when we got there, the host told us the place was reservation only and that it was full. No room at the inn for these travellers and no beer to be had at the bar. We could, however, do take out. I bought 2 beers and asked for a bag of ice which the barkeep gave us. Apparently, there are three seatings a day at this place and folks are ferried over by water taxi from Boca. If we had wanted to take a boat back, we could have done so for 50 pesos each.

Once down on the beach and settled into a little patch of shade next to the rocks, I asked a few folks already there about the difficulty of the remainder of the hike to Las Animas and we decided that it was not for us this day – perhaps mas tarde.

We enjoyed our beers and the visit of a gigantic black Great Dane named Wilson. After an hour or so, we decided against the boat back and trudged our way back to Boca along the trail again. Then walk back was significantly easier than coming, with the exception of the steep hike back up the hill from the beach.

Being thirsty and a bit tired, we plopped ourselves down on Boca’s beach under an umbrella and toasted the afternoon with coronas and french fries before grabbing the bus back again. Good Times!

See a few more pics here.

More info about this hike and other beaches in the area surrounding PV here.

More info about Boca itself and the surrounding area here.

Centro Art Walking

Here I am wearing the approved art opening outfit, on the foot bridge over the Rio Cuale on the way to Angeline Kyba’s art studio opening in Gringo Gultch. Her place is the last house on the street that runs right along the river and has a commanding view out over the town and mountains south of it.

There are many beautiful houses, and especially beautiful bougainvilleas, in this part of the world.

The studio is accessed up a fairly long, steep set of stairs to the top floor. Below is a photo of the artist.

After spending a bit of time inhaling the ambience, we headed back down the road to Centro for the Wednesday night Art Walk in the area past the main Cathedral.

I really love photographing the Cathedral, but its odd location makes it difficult. Unlike other cities here, in which the main Cathedrals are situated in expansive plazas, PV’s is off on a side street in a position that hides it from being seen in its totality.

We passed an interesting looking restaurant/ bar on the way and so stopped in for a glass of vino on the balcony. Florio’s is its name and it also has a lovely little brightly-decorated patio in the back.

Our first stop, just around the corner, is a new artists collective gallery operated by a woman from Vancouver, Nina I think is her name. I really like the painted wood free-standing devils and masks from Oaxaca made of wood and boar’s bristles. Fabulous! Now that I am a ceramicist (ha!) (not), I can really appreciate the skill that it takes to make these pieces.

Galeria Corsica, billed as containing “museum quality fine art”, was next on the route. This place, on several levels, occupies the former house of a famous old-time Puerto Vallarta artist.

It has a lovely sculpture courtyard, which looked beautiful in the light of the early evening.

Kitty-corner to the Corsica is the Galeria des Artistes (at least I think that’s the name), which had an interesting juxtaposition of abstract steel sculpture and semi-surrealist painting.

Ty always manages to find a good place to sit while indulging me in my art fetish.

One of the galleries that I find most interesting is the Galerie Omar Alonso; it often has good installation and contemporary sculpture.

This night they were setting up the work of Ireri Topete, the printmaking maestra I met last year. She runs the studio on Isla Cuale. Her beautiful mixed media works on paper deal with the environment and the sea and sky scapes of Puerto Vallarta.

Galerie Whitlow features the work of Michael Whitlow, a realist painter of still lifes.

Calle Aldama was partially blocked off for a piano recital by local teenagers, presided over by the ubiquitous skeletons found around here.

The Pacifico was one of the more crowded spaces, possibly because the drinks and nibblies are more lavish here than in some places.

This puppy dog, exhausted from a strenuous art day, could barely move to acknowledge visitors.

See more here. More information about the art walk can be found here.

El Diablo Rises

Another day, another beautiful walk to Art VallARTa to continue my work on El Diablo.

The devil was covered in a plastic bag overnight to be kept flexible for further operations this morning. The first order of business was to add a protruding chin to the face, using a separate piece of clay which was then massaged into the correct shape.

I cut lines into the forehead to prepare the surface for eyebrows. After rolling out two small amounts of clay to the correct size, the eyebrows were attached and Froyland helped me to shape and mold them.

We added lines to indicate the brow and wrinkles between the eyes.

El Maestro seems to have been pleased so far!

The next step was to affix the horns; first small holes had to be pierced in the temples of the mask, then the horns attached with slip.

Froyland demonstrated how to attach the horns, holding the mask so that it would not crack as the heavy material was added. I also added cheekbones.

So far, so good. Froyland is working on a couple of vessels featuring imaginary undersea creatures.

As we were working, others continued with their projects, scarves and silk paintings and glazing ceramics.

Since the devil is a master of the art of temptation, Froyland thought that he needed a cigarette …

Small towers of clay were placed under the horns to support them as I worked on the finishing details of El Diablo’s face.