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 “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.

 

The Devil is in the Details: The Evolution of El Diablo at Art VallARTa

I am so happy that Art VallARTa  studio in the Old Town is fully functional now and doing so well. Monday Ty and I went for a visit and Nathalie showed me around what is now a well-equipped large studio and gallery space.

The theatre is also well set up with cushions and blankets for the weekly life drawing sessions held there. The 2nd annual Romance in the Romantic Zone exhibition of art on the theme of love drew four hundred people to its opening night, offering, in addition to framed two dimensional pieces, ceramic and glass wear, and a gigantic wall mural of a heart, a tunnel of love installation through which visitors walked to gain entry to the show – fantastic! wish I could have been there. Nathalie’s piece is the Love Roulette wheel below.

On Monday a large group of folks were painting water colours in one part of the space while a few others worked on clay projects in the high-ceiling multi-media area.

I have decided to take a ceramics course offered by Froyland Hermandez, a Mexican clay maestro, and attended the first class today. Froyland is a very experienced artist who is very patient with newcomers to the medium.

He is able to explain all aspects of the technique clearly and is very patient, particularly with people like me who are not the best students. I have tried wheel-throwing before, and while I really enjoyed Charmian Nimmo’s class, realised soon that it was not for me, given that I don’t really have the arm and shoulder strength necessary to centre and raise the clay higher than about two inches off the wheel. Makes for a rather limited repertoire of objects that can be made, essentially small candy bowls. Although I did make one bowl that I was quite happy with, the only one that did not have walls that were way too thick and heavy.

I decided instead to try hand-building since I am interested in sculpture and particularly like masks. Froyland showed me how to wedge and prepare the clay correctly and how to roll it out like dough ready to be used. After deciding that I wanted to make a mask, Froyland prepared an armature of bubble wrap and tape around which we placed my rolled out piece of clay.

From this humble beginning the mask grew and took shape. After scoring the surface to indicate where the facial features would go, El Diablo, the devil, was begun by pressing indentations for the eyes and mouth, being careful not to press too hard so as to break or crack the clay’s surface.

For the eyes, I rolled two balls of clay which were placed into the indentations, then scored the surface around each eyeball to accommodate the bits of clay that would form the eyelids. These pieces were rolled out and placed above and below the eyeballs then massaged and stroked with wooden tools to create what eventually looked like a pretty decent set of eyeballs.

Next I created a free-standing nose from a separate lump of clay which was kept flexible by being covered with plastic. Two tusks and several teeth followed, each made by rolling out a cone of clay, first using my hands and then the surface of the table.

This process was trickier that I thought it would be; some of the teeth rolled out too long and thin, while others were too big and thick. Getting a few teeth the right size took quite a bit of time, as did getting the two tusks the right dimensions and curvature. These were carefully placed in the mouth indentation so I could get an idea of what the finished mouth would look like. Having decided that they were good, I then scored the bottom of each tooth, and the area of surface on which each would sit, and attached them with slip, very liquid clay.

I was very excited about the horns. These were made with cones of clay rolled out, like the tusks, first with my hands and then on the table top. Froyland and I had a bit of discussion about what kinds of horns would be appropriate. I didn’t really care but he thought bull’s horns would be best so I took his advice.

He believes that, when working on an object from nature, such as a face, one should look at the details of the face, or, in this case, the horns, to see what they are actually like, rather than simply making something up that doesn’t necessary correspond with the actual “thing”. So the horns took a bit of work to get the right dimensions and curvature. Froyland cautioned me not to put the horns on too quickly because they’re heavy and might crack the piece. I am looking forward to completing the mask tomorrow.

While I was crafting El Diablo, Kelly, a former air traffic controller from the States, was working on a wheel-thrown lidded vessel, on top of which she planned to affix a snail and two sea turtles.

To my right Rosemary, from Lethbridge, painted glaze on her projects, a head with small legs on top, and a mask, for her synchronised swimmer grand-daughter.

At another table several others worked with Carol Ann on silk-painting, a process that also looked very interesting. Some of those folks wore beautiful fused glass bracelets made at another workshop with Carol Ann.

Below, El Diablo so far!

After a hard several hours slaving over my clay piece, I met Ty down by the pier and we spent a very pleasant few hours under a palapa at the beach, including a refreshing dip in the ocean, the first one this year. Had the best guacamole and chips with hot salsa ever at the Mahi Mahi Beach bar with excellent service – highly recommended.

See more photos here.

South Side Strolling

Every second Friday night is the South Side Shuffle along Basilio Badillo. Some of the venues have changed from last year; Kathleen Carillo’s gallery has moved around the corner to Constitucion St and the Color Pod lady has packed up her palm fronds, left PV, and gone back to Florida.

However, the main galleries along here, Galeria Dante, Ambos Galeria and Contempo Gallery, are still rolling and bringing in the crowds, at least as long as the vino doesn’t run out …

Live music still gets the crowd going and adds to the festive ambiance. I particularly love the outdoor sculpture courtyard at Dante – I could sit there for a very long time – it is extremely pleasant.

I also really enjoyed meeting a small Mexican hairless dog in front of Cassandra Shaw’s jewellery shop. Poor old Ty has been fighting a cold for the last few days so unfortunately he was not well enough to join in this time.

Some of the things I love about this place are interesting roof lines, including this imitation Greek temple across the street from us, and cupolas;

skeletons and skulls, found all over the town;

angels, including this beauty at the Hacienda San Angel in Gringo Gultch;

dogs and cats, including these guys on Los Muertos beach;

and cold cervesas under an umbrella.

In my desire to be living “local” in PV, I had forgotten some of the idiosyncrasies of living in a typical Mexican neighbourhood. Let me give you an idea of what these are:

1) The small cluster of buildings in which we are staying which seemed so quiet when we arrived is now the site of a small-scale construction operation. Two guys showed up two days ago with jackhammers and buzz saws and proceeded to generate an enormous racket while presumably installing plumbing in two of the empty apartments. And, since PV does not seem to have any noise regulations, or at least none that are enforced, who knows how many days and hours this will go on.

2) Doggies and roosters I have already mentioned; there are several in the immediate vicinity. One rooster gets going at 2:30 am.

3) Our first Friday night in the Old Town was last night and it brought all new noise joys, above and beyond what we have already experienced. About 11:30 pm a blast of music startled us when a mariachi band, from the volume seemingly right in our living room, but actually on the street just around the corner, began playing at full volume to the delight of the local youth whose cries of joy added to the general mayhem. Then, around 3 am, when the mariachi band had finally finished their set, the tourist folks down the block, who’d obviously been having a few brews, began blasting their music at a thousand decibels, while screaming, yelling, and fighting, until 4:45 am. Even the animal noises disappeared into the background with all the commotion. Viva Mexico! Viva la difference!

** I realise that the whole noise issue is a cultural thing – we come from a culture of large houses (mostly) and concrete condos which mute neighbouring noises. Mexicans, at least those who are not wealthy, mostly grow up with lots of noise in the neighbourhood, houses that lie very close together with not much in the way of sound-proofing, and are accustomed to being surrounded with lively, noisy activity day and night.

One of the benefits of staying in this area is the plethora of local bars and restaurants; below is Que?Pasa just down the road from us. Here live music entertains the crowd seven nights a week and they do have delicious tortilla soup.

The Emilano Zapata farmers market is the place to buy food in this area, with several fruit and vegetable tiendas and a central area of butcher stands, as well as this little taco stand just outside.

Mid-day today, though, the scent from the meat stalls was too ripe for my sensitive nose.

While we were strolling around the area a tiny beautiful butterfly took advantage of my hat to hitch a ride. After riding around with us for quite some time, and showing no inclination to fly off, I gently swept it off my hat and onto a welcoming flower branch nearby.

See more here.

Puerto Vallarta seaside

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We are very happy to be staying right near the Isla Cuale, the green heart of Puerto Vallarta’s south side. Almost all of the restaurants and bars that formerly occupied this neck of the woods have closed over the last few years, leaving their empty shells as homes to the feral cats that roam around the island. However, this year a new restaurant has popped up, Eddie’s on the River – we haven’t tried it yet but apparently it has good live music on Tuesday nights.

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We have decided that the best way to get down to the ocean is to stroll under the shady trees of the Isla Cuale rather than along the hot, dusty cobblestones of the Zona Romantica, now that it’s about 29 degrees out.

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I guess that we no longer stand out as tourists, since very few of the vendors tried to sell us anything as we rolled past. Today on the Malecon a lovely breeze moderated the heat and we enjoyed walking north to the church, stopping every once and a while to do some power people- and pelican-watching. The beast photographed above chases people off his turf in front of the seafood sales shack with alacrity.

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One thing that does surprise us about the main square here in front of the church is that there are no restaurants or bars, with the exception of a Starbucks on one corner which we have no particular interest in frequenting. Other than that the only action this morning was the shoe-shine guys and a couple of jewellery vendors sitting in the shade.

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Once back on the boardwalk again heading south, we stopped for a cervesa at Cuales y Cuetes, next to the new pier, and then planted ourselves sandside at Ritmos Cafe on the south end of Los Muertos beach.

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Along with the usual jet skies and parasailing options, a new fun in the sea activity, fly-boarding, is being offered here. We watched a couple of people give it a go, not having much success at getting further out of the water than about three feet. To me, it does not look that interesting …

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As you can see from these photos, erosion continues to be a problem on the beaches of Mexico. High tide creates a cliff drop-off of about three feet at this end of Los Muertos which these workers are sandbagging in an attempt to keep the beach from being washed away.

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The usual cast of characters were out in force, the tiny women in Mayan dress selling trinkets and jewellery, the men trying to sell Ty pipes and smoke, the guys wanting to regale us with “information” of various kinds, the tour sellers, and cheeky crow-like flying beasts.

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We really like our neighbourhood; the gas man drives past every hour or so, honking and playing his horse-racing music, the water man rolls up on his bicycle with trailer of gigantic water bottles, and the young guys in their muscle cars with very loud stereos serenade us late at night and early in the morning, competing with the chickens and dogs.

See a few more pics here.

Greetings from Puerto Vallarta!

After a 2:30 am wake-up for trip to the airport, Ty and I were out on the sidewalk at 3:20 waiting for our pre-booked-the-night-before yellow cab; as time ticked past and still the taxi did not appear, we were starting to get very anxious. A passing driver, seeing me pacing along the sidewalk, had the presence of mind to realise that we were waiting for a ride that hadn’t come, picked us up and whisked us off for an on-time arrival.at the Air Canada desk for our early morning departure.

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We are staying in the Zona Romantica, Old Town Puerto Vallarta, in a great local neighbourhood right next to the river and the Cuale Cultural Center. “Our” street, Aquiles Serdan, is one of the only streets in the old city on which the great rumbling buses do not run, so it is quieter than other areas.

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That it not to say that it is quiet, though; since we are in a typical Mexican neighbourhood, we are treated to the sounds of loud TV shows emanating from the neighbours’ apartments, the yells and car honks of the passing gas man, the cries of the water vendor, the barking of the many dogs, and the strenuous crowing and cock-a-doodle-doing of the next door rooster. We have not yet had a night of uninterrupted sleep but perhaps it will happen as we get used to the various noises of the city.

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Our studio apartment is on the second floor of a small three storey building; it is cute and clean, with a couple of large easy chairs, the tiniest ever wall-mounted flat screen TV (which I don’t watch) and a very hard bed. The kitchen is fully-equipped with everything we need to cook our usual fare. On the roof is a shared deck with a table and four worse for wear leather bucket chairs which offers nice views out over the neighbourhood. Just across the street, on the neighbour’s rooftop, is a very funny small black dog who patrols the deck, rushing to and fro barking at anyone who comes along the street, a very officious beast.

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In this area are many small tiendas, bars, local eateries and food stalls, including our favourite roast chicken stand, and the farmers market, with several butchers and vegetable and fruit vendors. We are slowly easing into the daily life here and really enjoying getting to know the area. It is a balmy 25 degrees with a gentle breeze most days – yippee!

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Hasta Luego, Puerto Vallarta!

Well, we are back in Vancouver after a wonderful trip, luckily to some beautiful sunny, albeit cold, weather. Here are some photos and thoughts from our last couple of days in and around Puerto Vallarta.

The beach vendors have a tough job, trying to sell stuff to vacationers who, in many cases, have been here many times and already have all the trinkets and Mexican clothing they want. These pictures are from Playa de los Camarones just past the north end of the Malecon.

These black and yellow birds are beautiful.

This little guy hopped up onto my umbrella just as I was trying to take another picture of him.

The banana boat didn’t see much action in these parts but this day a group of young men decided to give it a go. With the high waves, it was a bit difficult for the operators to get the banana to the beach so that they could jump on.

Coming back in after the ride was tricky, too; the waves were still high, some of them couldn’t swim, and one of the beach folks had to go out on the paddle board and bring them in.

This sculpture of sea gods near Rosita’s Hotel is a favourite roosting place for the pelicans that hang around here.

Pelicans are large! And have attitude in keeping with their size. This beast, who obviously considered this patch of sidewalk his turf, gave Ty a run for his money, coming after us with his beak open.

These two, dressed all in black under a black umbrella, were an interesting sight on the beach.

We took one last stroll down the Malecon to admire the sculptures and the roof top line-up of chubby aging rock gods.

Feeling the need for something cold after a hard day on the beach, we stopped in at Da Vino Dante, the wine and tapas bar upstairs from Gallery Dante – great spot!

Our very last day was spent at Swell Beach Bar on Playa Los Muertos; everyone was commenting on the condition of the beach; just as we saw elsewhere in the world, rising sea levels are eroding the playa here, leaving a smaller expanse of sand and an abrupt tide’s edge cliff of sand.

On our way back to the ranch the Pope blessed us from his balcony.

Last supper at the Blue Shrimp on the beach was just OK in terms of food but the guitarist, a Gypsy King’s tribute artist, was fantastic.

Micro dogs!

Coronas with ice!

Cemetery sculpture!

Ravens!

Tattoos!

Colourful paintings!

Skeletons!

Tiny parrots!

Big pelicans!

Sayonara, PV – Hasta Luego!

See more photos here.

Sunday and Sundry

Things we have learned in our attempt to live local, none of which will really come as a surprise: 1) fruits and vegetables, if bought from small local shops, are one tenth the cost of those in Vancouver 2) rice and pasta are one fifth the cost 3) pastries, cheese, fish are one quarter the cost 4) beer, meat, and sauces are half the cost 5) milk, cereal, wine, and coffee are the same price 6) bus transport is one quarter the cost Entertainment, for us in the form of beach bars, averages $35, including tip, if we share one order of food. The little cutie below was fighting with his leash at Mango Beach Bar.

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Beach vendors are relentless, coming in waves along the beach like the incoming tide. And speaking of waves and tides, you can see how strong they are here at Playa del Camarones, where they have carved a bank in the  beach.

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People work very long hours for not very good wages and few days off.

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Lots of people bring their beasts here; many people adopt stray dogs locally. Schnauzers are a favourite. It seems like the new pier may have changed  the water currents in the Los Muertos area; new expanses of sandbars are being carved out and the big waves are breaking in a different area than I remember from last time. The fishing must be good off the pier; these pelicans know a good thing when they see it.

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If you can speak Spanish, you usually get a better price for almost everything. My crummy Spanish occasionally gets us cheaper donuts… Las Brazzas grill has fantastic grilled shrimp in soya sauce and garlic.

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Walking around Gringo Gulch the other day, not having any idea where I was but wanting to explore the hilly area behind the church, I stumbled across the Hacienda San Angel, a beautiful boutique hotel and restaurant with a tremendous view of the entire Bay and wonderful old wooden religious sculptures.

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At one time it was a convent, then the villa of Richard Burton, bought while he was starring in the 1964 John Huston film that put this place on the map, The Night of the Iguana. Attached to the villa by a pink Venetian-style bridge was Casa Kimberly, the house given by Burton to his lover Elizabeth Taylor. Unfortunately, even though everything was intact when sold by Taylor in the eighties, it was not kept that way and the place is now a gigantic construction site. The only evidence of that famous filming remaining here is a dilapidated sign, barely legible, just south of Mismaloya where the film was set.

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We sampled the South Side Shuffle delights once again and enjoyed an interesting chat with Jack, the owner of Ambos Galleria. A really great show of paintings is on view at the Contempo Gallery by Cuban artist Yoel Diaz Galvez; I recognized his work as being by the same person as a show that we had seen in Guanajuato in 2012. Obviously others liked it, too, because the gallery was packed.

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The “husband’s waiting area” benches get a pretty good workout on these evenings.  We also met Linda,  originally from Victoria, the owner of Banderas Soap Works, who was stirring up a storm of lovely smelling handmade soap.

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Sunday nights El Centro comes alive with locals and visitors. The municipal band plays in the square in front of the church,  all decked out in traditional white. After they finish, a DJ spins contemporary and traditional Latin hits for a big throng of dancers against a backdrop of incredible deep blue sky.

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Strolling around the back streets we discovered the Que Pasa bar, an expat haven, and the municipal market, with several butcher stalls.

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We took a  moment to visit the 5th of December cemetery, walking among the colourful headstones and family tombs, one of which had an interestingly painted portrait of Jesus.

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Below are some closeups of the plants at the Botanical Gardens, where I went back another day to take some infrared photos.

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Centro Art Walkin’

Every Wednesday night in Centro an Art Walk happens from 6 until 10 in the evening. Good ol’ Ty humours me by indulging my mania for both art and walking; rather than going home from the beach after an afternoon’s strenuous lounging we headed straight downtown for the walk, with only the briefest of pauses to flag down the donut man  and scarf down two huge donuts for sustenance.

The dozen or so art walk galleries are found just north of the main church and east of the  Malecon. Helping to encourage folks to come out are the small glasses of vino served by each, the better to attract eager, and thirsty, art patrons. We began our art journey at the Peyote People gallery of folk art, mostly from Oaxaca and Chiapas, where the attendant showed us some Catrina skeletons, full torso female figures in fancy clothing designed to mock the pretensions of the rich, who, like everyone else, irrespective of their wealth, end up as bones. We also saw some incredibly intricate beaded skulls with tiny insects atop them – really fabulous.

From there we pounded the pavement to the galleries further north, stopping at a cluster of three selling beautifully decorated ceramics and the Loft Gallery, a three storey emporium of mostly realist painting. It had a wonderful view out over the rooftops of PV and the setting sun. Around the corner was Galeria Uno, packed with art lovers consuming tiny margaritas. Ty lurked in the shadows, practising his best travelling incognito mode.

A few blocks farther north are five of what I consider to be the most interesting spaces, Gallery Corsica, Gallery Omar Alonzo, Gallery Pacifica, Galeria des Artistes, and La Pulga, all of which have wonderful architecture and good art, especially the sculpture.

I particularly enjoyed the mixed media portraits at Omar Alonzo by Rogelio Mango, which incorporate silk and oil paint.

After a few hours of dedicated art viewing, hunger overcame us, necessitating a hasty hike to Old Town and grilled shrimp at a packed Joe Jack’s Fish Shack.

See more Art Walk photos here.

I really love walking around the old town area and Isla Cuale is one of my favorite spots. Oscar’s restaurant near the beach has a second floor gallery that right now is showing portraits of Indigenous people by local artist Marta Gilbert. At the studios on the other end of the island, I ran into (not literally) one of the artist patrons of Barclay Manor in the West End, Tavia, who looked very startled to see me. I think it was the hat that did it. She, and lots of others, both locals and visitors, was painting up a storm under guidance of maestro Hector.

Yesterday we decided to spend our beach day at Conchas Chinas Beach, the next bay south of Los Muertos where we usually go. It is accessed by a path that runs along the high tide line at the beach’s edge, over a rocky point and along the waterfront homes south of here.

We did not make it all the way but chose to set up our stuff in the shade of a rocky outcrop between two small rocky bays.

The current is very strong here and the waves high; we had to relocate from our first spot because the waves inundated it.

Just after we had been  talking about what we would do if someone got into trouble in the water, it happened. An older man had decided to go out swimming in this very dangerous place and couldn’t get back in; the current was dragging him out to sea. It became quickly apparent that he needed help and his wife was rushing back and forth on the beach, trying to call for help on her cell phone. Two young tourist guys just happened to be there, saw what was happening, and saved him by running up to a nearby hotel, grabbing a life preserver, swimming out to him, putting it on him, and towing him back in to the thunderous applause of everyone watching from the shore. Lucky man.

See more photos here.