Guess who? Put a couple of hats on the beasts above and lo and behold, voila – you get the shadow below.
The beasts below are working burros who haul stuff up and down the hills of PV. These ones are responsible for hauling the cement and other materials to build the staircase that travels up the hill to the cross viewpoint.
We are loving every moment down here and feeling very grateful to be able to be here for this long stretch of time. Below just one of the many early evening views of the Los Muertos Pier, illuminated in changing colours of light.
For live music lovers, Cuates and Cuetes, right near the pier, is the place to be, especially when Tatawari and Media Luna are playing, fantastic guitarists all.
This place is paradise, and even things that would normally bug me a bit, like the noise and some of the chaos of Mexico, mostly just roll off my back these days. I say “mostly” because sometimes the craziness of some things here just makes us shake our heads.
Skeletal figures are everywhere here; the females are known as “Katrinas” (not sure what the males are called). Many full- and over-sized papier mache creations of these happy skeletons grace the stores and restaurants.
Sometimes we just like to loiter on street corners and watch what comes by …
The burro below can be found next to Andales bar in Old Town every evening, not sure why.
One of our favourite spots is Page in the Sun, a cafe/bookstore next to Lazaro Cardenas Park, with excellent coffee and shelves of paperbacks, mostly secondhand, the remains of tourists now departed.
Since I have a nerve issue in my left foot, I can’t wear flip-flops or elegant shoes walking around any more, so it’s the big black orthopedia Oxfords or the new runners I’m trying to break in that are always on my feet. The ol’ black shoes were getting a bit scruffy so I took the opportunity of getting them polished by one of the guys at the main square; he did a fabulous job for 20 pesos (aboout $1.75).
A new artists’ space has opened in Old Town on V. Carranza, called the Art Guild.
They are renting studio space in a wonderful converted hacienda, with individual rooms, a shared space, and a gallery, all around an open air courtyard in what used to be a restaurant.
To introduce the group to the city, the guild had an “Evening of Local Colour”, with lots of artistic and artisan wares, as well as refreshments.
For the remainder of our time here, we have moved north to Palo Seco, down near the Hotel Zone north of town. Our new neighbourhood is very quiet, except for the insanely barking dogs, one large one with a deep voice and two really maniacal terriers, one with a high-pitched screech and another as yet unidentified, a special needs person who screams, mostly in the night, and the buses that roll by every 10 minutes until around 11 or so. Thankfully, the screaming person lives about a block away, so, while I am woken up by it, I can usually get back to sleep again. I feel for the family.
Below is the front view of our hacienda; there are four apartments in this building and we are on the second floor at the front.
Before they left us, we had Pam, Cec, Beatrice, and Barb over for dinner, managing to cobble together a couple of bistro tables and enough chairs to seat all of us.
People are friendly to us here, seemingly the only gringos in the neighbourhood. The apartment, on the second floor of a three storey building, is nice and cool which is great after a hot day of stomping around the place. No A/C necessary, just fans. The huge tree out front shades us all day long.
Sometimes, when Ty is in need of a cervesa to refuel, we roll along the sidewalk in the direction of the northern hotel zone, bisected by a river inhabited by crocodiles – Ty saw one the other day, but I only saw the sign warning of them.
The rainy season is the time to really watch out, when they are more active and conceivably could swim down into the river mouth or crawl out onto the sand. Ty told me that some of them only eat once a year, not sure whether I believe him or not.
Palo Seco area has a large Saturday market, with clothes, toys, tools, and kitchen wares, as well as food, being the big sellers. This past Saturday I scored a couple of tops and a sharpening stone.
Compared with Old Town or Centro, Palo Seco is much quieter and family-oriented. Everything is pretty much closed on Sundays and the businesses also take siestas still between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, a pretty good idea, if you ask me. Note the style in the photo below, not much exposed skin …
Throughout the day and evening in the streets of the various barrios, vendors walk and drive, advertising their wares with particular cries, sounds, or music: the gas man, the water man, the ice-cream man, the tamale man, the political party man, the donut woman, all have their own specific call, just like back when I was a child and the ice-cream van rolled down my street in Lynn Valley tinkling his chimes like the Pied Piper, calling all the children out from their homes.
Recently, a nice restaurant has opened up in the neighbourhood, the Lattey Bistro, which has live music in the form of a pianist and sometimes a singer with a great voice.
We had a very tasty meal while listening to the tunes.
It’s great to have the bus stop right outside our front door, but it’s amazing how many times just as we are trying to unlock the front gate, it rolls past, leaving us behind. In Mexico all the properties have locked gates, as do the windows and doors. We were woken the other night by a strange noise, thinking that perhaps someone was trying to climb our tree to get in via our balcony, shaking it and raining down hundreds of seed pods. We later saw the culprit, a cheeky grey squirrel. This character squawks every morning, adding to the dawn chorus of animal voices in the yard.
I’m continuing to enjoy the plein air painting group which meets most Friday mornings.
At our last session, we trudged up to the top of Argentina Street in the 5th of Diciembre neighbourhood to paint on the rooftop deck of Donna’s building, with a beautiful pool area and dramatic view out over the Bay. If I lived here, I might never leave the building.
Donna, a Canadian originally from Vancouver, I think, is lucky enough to be able to teach her painting classes under a covered area in one section of the top deck. Most of my painting buddies are leaving by the end of March to head back north, so only a few of us will be left as we move into late Spring.
Rob, Ty, and I did a nice riverside hike up to a waterfall near the Garza Blanca resort south of town one Monday.
Jumping off the bus before we hit Mismaloya, we followed the Garza fence for a while, then around and over boulders and rocks in the dry stream bed until we reached the first of a series of waterfalls, this one created by a human-made dam of rocks, with a lovely deep swimming hole.
We watched as a couple of local kids clambered up the steep sides of the canyon, using a metal rope put there for that purpose. I almost didn’t want to watch for fear one of them would slip and tumble down.
We should have jumped into the water as soon as we got there but another group appeared and we watched them frolic in the water instead. Several of the group jumped from the canyon side into the pool, luckily without incident. I was reminded of Lynn Canyon and all the people who have lost their lives over the years by doing just that (although that is a much steeper jump than this one).
Almost all of our pals have left town and we miss them! Maggie flew away the end of February and, the last few days before they left in March, we spent time with Pam, Cec, and Beatrice eating, drinking, and generally being merry. A night-time stroll along the Malecon, music, art, and dancing were all on the menu.
Every weekend during the high season it seems like there is free music somewhere; this group was playing at the arches stage next to the main square.
The abandoned and bordered up building on the left (above) would provide a wonderful surface on which to project a film – I should keep that in mind for next year. I love the changing colours lighting up its blank surface.
I love the way the buildings along the malecon are all lit up at night, pulsing colour along with the pulsing music. Crowds throng the malecon every weekend, with music, food vendors, and statue artists aplenty. These folks work very hard for a pittance late into the night.
Among the frozen-statue guys on the boardwalk was this monstrous fellow from the Alien movies, the first time that I had seen him.
Every weekend come hotdog, crepe, taco, tamale, corn, and dessert vendors, set up under tents with lamps illuminating their seductive goodies. Although both Pam and Angie said that these cakes were from Costco, rather than home-baked, we still found them pretty apealing. What is it about concentrations of sweet things that appeals so much, I wonder? (Check out the paintings of pies by Wayne Thibault – you can find them online). These treats come out on weekend nights and the excess of it is muy rico.
Every Friday night at Lazaro Cardenas Park the Folkloric Ballet group dances for a large appreciative crowd which fills the amphitheatre steps. This night we couldn’t find a seat but managed to get a standing room spot at the back of the top tier.
Every times the dances and costumes are different; the company must have an almost inexhaustible supply of clothing, all of it gaily decorated and, of course, colourful, with complex and elaborate headgear.
Angie and Rob were here until mid March and we enjoyed hanging out with them, taking in art, film, theatre, and food. They have a cute studio in Old Town and Angie has converted what was a tiny hole in the wall in the bottom of their building in her painting studio.
At the Boutique Theatre on Basilio Badillo we saw Par for the Corpse, billed as a homicidal comedy, the cast of which was mostly amateurs from PV’s large expat community.
It was also great to see Barb briefly, in town before and after her butterfly tour, with whom I hiked up to the cross atop one of the hills a couple of times.
When we feel like a beach day, Ty and I go to the Flamingo Beach Club at Playa Las Glorias, still blissfully construction-zone-free, since the derelict building demolition seems to have come to a halt again – glory be!
Daily, three horses and an accompanying dog ride up and down the beach, sometimes alone and sometimes with tourist passengers. Unlike our dearly-departed doggo Brubin, who used to howl with outrage whenever he saw a horse, this dog is obviously the horses’ buddy.
On a recent long weekend, the wooden lounging areas that we thought were the derelict remains left behind by a hurricane were spruced up for a three day Skyy vodka-fest on the beach, complete with bused in loads of scantily-clad young women, much to the joy of the usual male beach suspects. Electronic Euro pop pulsed at top decibel out onto the sand, while us oldersters sat under our palm frond palapa.
We’ve met some new friends at Flamingos, Linda and Ken from Saltspring, who have lived here for 10 years, and enjoy hanging with them on the beach, this day joined by Fran, her husband, and beautiful old dog. Amazingly, Fran was one of the folks that Maggie and I had played bridge with at the Friendship Club back in February.
One of our favourite places now is the Babel Bar, an expansive newish venue on Isla Cuale, with a riverside beach seating area perfect for plein air painting.
Ty took the photos below, the first slightly modified with a filter, of me at their beach bar.
The recent long weekend saw a Raicilla festival on Isla Cuale, with horses, cowboys and girls, raicilla tastings, music, folkloric dancing, singing (very loudly) and big band music, attended by a mostly local crowd of well-heeled nationals and a few, less well-heeled, tourists.
After watching the horse procession from the malecon lighthouse to the island, as we were walking by Las Brazzas, I saluted a group of older expat men who invited us to join them for a tasting of their fire-water, which to me was undrinkable, although those three were having no difficulty putting it away.
It was great to see so many people down on the island, since usually this place is Sleepy Hollow. Interestingly, Las Brazzas had installed fake flowers and pieces of sod to spruce up their garden area for the occasion.
Along with the alcohol-fest the Cultural Centre had an exhibition of local art, unfortunately less well-attended than the raicilla tastings, including two painted toilets on their way to Mexico City for a water-themed show.
After a late dinner at the Casa Tradicional near the Church of Guadalupe, a beautiful, but very touristy, venue, we also hit the opening of Quetzal’s Flower Show down in Centro, where he presented many huge, brightly-coloured paintings of flowery figures, locating the studio using our trusty Google Maps app.
Vallarta at night is beautiful, with colours and lights that glisten against the night sky. I really love the main cathedral, with its gigantic filigree silver crown and its lit-up brick carapace.
See more photos here.