The past couple weeks have been pretty dismal here. We both have had colds that left us tired, achy and coughing endlessly. The political news from Madison has been both exciting and very depressing for us, and we both have been hearing from our former workplace friends and colleagues (teachers and county workers) about their hopes and fears for the future under Governor Walker. A friend died after months of fighting a brain tumor, and another lost her adult son, and I learned that still another has bone cancer. Dismal.
So, I thought I would share some photos of our very enjoyable week in Puerto Vallarta at the beginning of the month. The weather was warm to us, though the Mexicans were wrapped in sweaters and jackets, making hot chocolate (very tasty indeed). Sometimes it's good to consider, and share, happier things.
We have visited Puerto Vallarta before several time since we have been married. It continues to grow and expand, and currently seems free of the violence that plagues some other resort areas. The cruise ships still visit, the weather is still great, the whales still leap in Banderas Bay, and we still love the atmosphere and food. We stayed in a nice hotel near the Malecon, a seaside walkway in the old town. Villa Premiere is not very large, is a block off the busy main street, has a friendly and helpful staff, and all rooms have a balcony facing the water. I took this view from ours.
Back in Wisconsin winter festivals and snow carving competitions were in full swing, but in PV there was a sand sculpting competition, a whole series of intricate and huge sculptures that were already blowing away by the end of the week.
One of the things that makes this city appealing to me is the way the Sierra Madre mountains rise up from the edge of the water, and the way the old part of the town clings to the slopes. I took this shot from a window in our hotel. There was some fog every morning that rolled in off the bay, and was captured by the hillside.
The beaches here have sand, but only because the hotels have hauled it in - the beaches are naturally rocky. Still, it is an easy walk to downtown along the water, and fun to see all the hotels, condos, and beach vendors. I loved hearing the surf each night, and it was warm enough to crack the patio door for fresh air and the sound of the waves.
We both loved Mexican food, and we made an effort to both return to places we liked before and try new ones. We always have gone to a place downtown on the second story, where we could drink some cervesa and watch the sunset. I was sad to see the restaurant we liked had sold out to a chain, but the food was fine and the view unchanged. You just cannot get avocados like this in Wisconsin in February.
All of our previous trip had been four or five days, but this time we stayed a week, and decided to see a bit more of the area. We signed up for a day tour out of town that included an old silver mine, a small coffee plantation, old mining town of San Salvador, and a very small tequila distillery. It was fun to get away from the town, and into the countryside of Jalisco. We traveled through agricultural areas, small towns, on a fairly new road. The coffee plantation was interesting, and we strolled through the farm, chickens fussing over insects, and parrots making a racket. We tried their excellent shade grown arabica coffee, and bought the best sugared peanuts I have tasted for about $1.50. They were excellent with homemade margaritas each evening on the balcony a sunset.
We also stopped at a very small tequila distillery. Much fine blue agave tequila comes from the area. This is a wood-fired oven where the plant is roasted before it is distilled. The taste is sweet and mild, almost like brown sugar. We ended up buying some smooth flavored tequilas, one coffee flavored similar to Kahlua, and one almond flavored. I'm thinking either will be nice in Sunday morning coffee or over flan.
One reason we enjoy traveling here in winter is to see the humpback whales. They arrive from Alaska each November to mate and have their calves, then the mothers and babies head north at the end of March. We've been out on Banderas Bay before, but never saw so much activity as this year. We saw adults and calves breaching from the water each day, many times. I took this shot from a whale watching tour. We also saw lots of dolphins and baby giant Pacific manta rays - currently the size of large pizza boxes, but eventually to grow to be twenty feet across.
It was a great trip, one we hoped would break the back of winter. I hope it achieves that goal, and sustains us both through to spring.