Vallarta is home to a new Turkish bath, called Hamam, just down the road from us. While I haven’t tried the whole meal deal yet, I did get a tour of this wonderful new facility.
Below is a photo of the round heated marble slab upon which patrons lie to have a soap sud massage, a really unusual sensation. While in Turkey, on rainy and wet days after booting it around town for hours, I would occasionally treat myself to a hamam, and enjoy the saunas, baths, and massages they offer.
I hope to check this one out before we leave!
My plein air painting group continues to meet weekly, one past week at Amapas Beach, the so-called “hidden beach” just past the end of Los Muertos, with its interesting rock formations and wonderful high surf.
Most of us use oils or acrylics but Patricia is a master of the soft pastel medium – it’s amazing the subtle variations of colour you can get with these.
I always find it intriguing how everyone approaches the same scene differently; some are more realistic, others more fanciful, especially in coloration.
While it looks relatively calm this day, there can be high surf and bad currents along this coast. On one visit a couple of years ago, we saw two young men save an older guy who couldn’t get back into shore on his own from drowning – very frightening. I never swim here.
Every second Friday night during the high season Lazaro Cardenas Park is host to food tents offering gastronomic delights from various corners of Mexico. This night we tried Chiles en Nogada, chili peppers stuffed with meat and dried fruits. Lots of folks like this local treat but it’s not my favourite. Beatrice fought off the crowds to save seats for us at these nicely-decorated tables.
The Rat Man and his ladies – Ty enjoying his moment in the photographic sun on one of the last Southside Shuffles of the season.
Angie and I in Galeria Dante, variations on a theme of blonde (or semi-grey in my case). The open air courtyard here is one of the most beautiful places to enjoy a beverage and view art.
Below is the studio of Kathleen Carillo, an American artist with a gallery here. She teaches painting from this space on Constitution, around the corner from Galeria Dante.
So many beautiful trees are in bloom here: bougainvilleas and primaveras, especially.
Recently there was a sewage leak here from an overloaded pipe, and, instead of allowing the sewage to run throught the streets in the north of town, the powers that be deliberately pumped it into El Salado estuary, a marine habitat, draining it of oxygen and killing many animals. Apparently, the government had been warned months earlier that this was likely to happen because of overloaded infrastracture and too much new condo building. The mayor actually asked the press here not to report on it because of the potential impact on tourism. No bueno!! Below you can just see the red flag on the beach indicating that it was not yet swimmable on this day. Now, a few weeks later, we are told that testing goes on daily and that the waters are safe for swimming – I’m not sure, though.
Friends Ken and Linda, who have a house in the 5th of December colonia, purchased the empty lot next door and have been busy creating a small ranchito chill-out space, with gigantic fruit trees and a chicken coop, where four hens produce four eggs daily for breakfast.
We enjoyed an afternoon here under the huge avacado and banana trees.
There are many waterfalls in the hills around the bay and one recent sunny Sunday saw nine of us head upriver to the Palo Maria waterfall near the Garza Blanca resort. “Upriver” mostly designates the direction, since the “river” in question is actually mostly a dry riverbed filled with boulders large and small this time of year.
Our intrepid group of explorers made its way along the fence, through the trees, across the riverbed and back several times, jumping from rock to rock and clambering up hill and down.
Our reward for the punishing hour walk upstream was this beautiful deep fresh emerald green pool, into which three of us decided to plunge to cool off from the hike. Breathtaking! Cold!
Up above the first waterfall, accessed by climbing up the rocks on the lefthand side of the pool, is a series of seven further waterfalls. We’ve never been past the first one because the climb is so dangerous but today young barefoot boys were clambering. Hard to watch because we were afraid they might fall in!
That evening I joined Pam and Cec at Act II Stages for the Abba and Elton John show by Us Two and the Band. It was great fun – both singers had excellent voices and the band was great.
Although we were one of the last groups allowed into the small theatre we actually got great seats, right at the front of the second floor balcony – huzzah!
Another day, another waterfall! Ty, Kate, and I headed south on a panga to Quimixto, a small coastal village accessible by boat or hiking trail, to check out the falls in that part of the world. Along the way we were lucky enough to see a beautiful pod of six dolpins frolicking in the ocean.
This morning it was quiet in the village but as we rounded a corner we encountered a tourist group from Vallarta Adventures who were saddling up for a horse ride to the falls.
After leaving the village proper, we crossed the river twice and headed upwards along a narrow sandy path inland.
Lost of horses, burros, and their dog buddies were tied up in the shade waiting for potential riders. The walk to the waterfall took only about half an hour or so and was much less strenuous than the Palo Maria escapade.
At trail’s end a restaurant, bar, and small store await the visitor, as well as the cooling waterfall pool and swim.
On the way back we passed the Vallarta Adventures group who had finally gotten underway.
As you can see the Fall is quite far upriver from the Bay.
After our hike we spent a quiet afternoon on the beach at Coco’s, with a swim in the ocean and a lovely lunch.
We were amused by a crazy beach dog who kept burying and uncovering his piece of driftwood and dragging it along the sand.
A recent Friday saw several of the plein air painters out at Kathleen’s palatial home above Mismaloya for a painting session.
After a bus ride south and a lift from Patricia up the hill, we arrived to an amazing hillside villa, more luxurious and larger than many of the boutique hotels in these parts, and were presented with a breakfast buffet, coffee, and mismosas.
With many different seating and chill-out areas, there was lots to choose from in terms of painting locations and subject matter.
After checking out the entire abode, most of us set up shop on the top terrace with a commanding view out over the ocean and Mismaloya beach.
While many of these folks are experienced outdoor painters and have all the gear, I don’t. If I’m going to do much of this I will need to get a collapsible easel and a paint box – this will make it much easier to find a place to paint. At the moment I am balancing my painting on my knees much of the time – not optimal.
We had heard from a few people that Layla’s Restaurant in 5th of December was a good one so we decided to give it a whirl that Friday evening, getting a seat on the top floor to enjoy the live music as well as the great food.
Ty had the filet mignon, his first beef in ages, and I tried the pork – his was great, mine was ok.
I enjoyed watching this caricaturist at work on the Malecon on the way back – his “victim” looked a bit apprehensive about what was transpiring.
Below are some random photos of art in the city: the iguana mural on the side of Yoga Vallarta.
This chihuahua dog and flowers in 5th of December.
A tropical fish on the side of one of the cultural buildings on Isla Cuale.
Art classes at the Cultural Centre with a local painting instructor, well-attended by visitors and locals alike.
A show of surrealist art by a Guadalajara painter whose name escapes me at the Cuale Cultural Centre Gallery.
Music is everywhere: a large mariachi band just down the street from us on the Malecon.
The annual Cuates y Cuetes Jazz Festival on the beach by the pier; below Media Luna is in performance.
A local group of Aztec dancers perfoms on the beach for the solstice and return of the sun (well, the sun doesn’t go away here in the south but the solstice welcomes the sun back for us in the north).
Cuates y Cuetes was jam packed for the festival but I was lucky enough to be able to share a table with a couple of women with a great view of the stage.
A group of nine guitarists playing romantic Mexican music at the park.
The plein air group painting on Barbara’s terrace in Conchas Chinas.
Kate and I attended a stunning projected performance of La Traviata live from the Royal Opera House in London, starring Ermonela Jaho, Charles Castronovo, and Placido Domingo. Jaho was a standout as Violetta, a superb performance. The theatre itself is huge and, since the crowd for opera here is a smallish and old one, we were all clustered in the bottom centre of it. Our seats were great, in the centre just below the projector.
Rght next door to the theatre we spotted these large skeletal Virgins of Guadalupe looking for a home …
See more here.
The last 10 days or so both Ty and I have been sick; first I picked up the cold or flu that’s been going around and then Ty got a worse version of it. I think we’re on the mend now but we are moving slowly! As a consequence this will likely be my last post from Vallarta; we will be back home on April 1. Hasta Luego!