Wednesday, April 22, 2009

sunset boulevard

That title is a little premature. We are not yet at the sunset of our little journey south. But, we are literally within sight of it. This photograph is a sunset at La Manzanilla, where we spent the night.

Hold it. Weren't Darrel, Jiggs, and Steve supposed to be in Puerto Vallarta on Tuesday night?

That was the plan, but it went out la ventana before we left Rincon de Guayabitos on Tuesday morning. We had doubts whether we wanted to make such a short drive in one day.

We decided to take a quick tour of two villages north of Puerto Vallarta that were on my potential retirement list: San Francisco (or, as it is known by its nickname, San Pancho) and Sayulita. I had stricken each of them for various reasons. I was probably right about San Francisco. It is far too crowded, almost claustrophobic.

I have changed my mind about Sayulita, however. We visited only briefly, but both Darrel and I liked the feel of the vilage. I surprised myself because it has that patina of gentrification that makes me feel uneasy in Mexico. A certain San Miguel de Allende aura by the sea. I will be back for another look.

Because we were alreay so far out on the point above Puerto Vallarta, we decided to take the road out to the tip of Puenta de Mita to see where the Rich Folk live.

There are some extraordinary houses on the point. But I cannot understand why anyone would want to shell out millions of dollars to live so close to your neighbors. Upper class tenement living, I suppose.

1st Mate had suggested that we stop by La Cruz de Huanacastle. That was an easy choice because I had looked at condominia near the marina in the past. After getting a better look around Mexico, I do not want to live as if I am in San Diego. But it is a very nice area.

It was just about noon when we decided to drive into Puerto Vallarta to take a look at accomodations -- and to find a bank. The peso reservoir was once again drained.

I have been in Puerto Vallarta at noon hour before. It is a big town and lots of tourists and locals are on the move. Tuesday was no exception.

We had intended to take the bypass around Old Town. But I could not find it. As a result we went through the center of tourist mania. But I have no complaint. I had not visited that area of town, and I found the experience interesting -- even if it was not unlike seeing Manhattan at noon from the driver's seat of a truck.

Once we were out of town, we hurtled down the road toward Melaque.

Somewhere along the way, I decided LaManzanilla would be a great place to stop. I could show Darrel one of the world's best beaches, and we could look at the houses I had considered buying a year ago.

For those of you who complain about the road between Puerto Vallarta and Melaque, I offer a dissent. The rural roads of Oregon are no worse. My brother and I learned to drive on roads just as narrow with hazards equal to those we encountered. That does not mean the road hazards are not be be respected. Even the cuotas can be dangeropus. We saw a disemboweled horse just south of Mazatlan on an exit ramp.

The photograph below is a good example of mobile hazards. The pickup is filled with field workers -- all standing. And the motorcycle is driving at Little Old Lady from Pasadena speed. Try coming up behind either one at 60 MPH.

Even with those dangers, we made the drive from theairport at Puerto Vallarta is just under three hours. And that was with a gasoline, bathroom, and peso exchange break along the way.

We pulled off of Highway 200 at La Manzanilla and met with my real estate pal, Daniel, who directed us to a good dog-friendly hotel. I suspect we ended up paying about double tariff again, but I was just happy to have a nice bed for the night.

For dinner, I took Darrel to one of my favorite little restaurants in town: Lora Loko. I had enchiladas Mexicana; he had shrimp enchiladas. Maybe we have just been on the road a long time, but both of our meals were some of the best Mexican food that the two of us have eaten.

And our view for dinner? The photograph at the top of the post. What a great way to end a day on the road.

But we still have one last segment.

On Wednesday, we will complete the drive to Melaque. That should not be difficult. It is just over the hill. But, before we leave La Manzanilla, we will have a look around to see if it might be a good spot to live when I leave Melaque.


Jonna said...

ah, you passed right by a small town that I was very, very tempted to live in. We spent several months in Punta Perula and I almost bought some land there. Ejido problems changed my mind but we returned the next year for several more months. We call it the 2 bit town with the million dollar beach. I wonder how much it has changed in the 2 or 3 years since I've been there.

Holly Campbell said...

Well Steve, it looks like you're going to time it just about right. You planned on being in Melaque by 4/24 and you should be there today (Wed)! I'm glad you had your brother with you and that you stopped to see other towns along the way. Hope the Professor is still doing okay and he'll be happy to stay put once you get settled. I have enjoyed all the pictures you've posted so keep them coming! Thanks for keeping the blog going!

Felipe said...

My wife and I spent three nights in La Manzanilla a few years back for our anniversary. In April. It was great, and we had the whole beach to ourselves. Almost.

A Gringo friend moved there some years ago with the intention of staying. After the first summer, he was like Wily E. Coyote getting out of there. Insects. Everywhere. Couldn´t even sleep at night.

And I am distressed to see your complaint about "gentrification." So you want Mexico to stay poor and "authentic." Tsk, tsk.

Cynthia Johnson and Mike Nickell said...

You're almost there...and it sunny and warm in Salem! And you've probably heard about Beth's dog, Gracie, - she has to have surgery. :(

New Beginnings said...

Bienvenidos! It must feel good to finally be here. Let me know if you ever plan a trip to Manzanillo.

Chrissy and Keith said...

Say hi to daniel for me. I help him out from time to time with Title Insurance issues in La Manz and in Boca. I have a photo of this same sign you have posted here. Enjoy the last part of your journey.

Anonymous said...

Like all the rest, I too have enjoyed the trip thru your descriptions....what fun!!

Prof Jiggs is a phenomenal guy!! Especially like the posts with his picture.

You're almost home
Take Care


mdoneil said...

What? No Professor Jiggs update?

Glad the guys are enjoying their trip!

1st Mate said...

You're almost home! You really made good time. If you consider La Manzanilla, make sure you don't settle in too close to those crocs.

glorv1 said...

Nice. Very very nice sunset. I 'm glad you aren't as tired as I thought. Seems as though retirement has finally been accepted. I'm really happy that you, Mr. Jiggs, and your brother Darrell are having ad exciting adventure in your lifes. What a wonderful memory lasting experience this will be and Mr. Jiggs is spending his last few years enjoying it with you. What an adventure for him. Viva Jiggs!! He does need his haircut and I'm sure he will feel a lot better after it. Hugs to Jiggs and my best to you and your brother. Ride on! Can hardly wait till your next post. Sounds like your eating pretty good too and thank you for allowing me to journey on with you for this exciting experience.

YayaOrchid said...

How're there!! Gloria's been filling us in on your trip, and I gotta say, it sounds so exciting andadventuresome! Pls continue to keep us posted on your trip.

Anonymous said...

hi steve,

i seem to be repeating myself but i want to tell you again how glad i am that the trip is going so well-hard to believe it is over by now as you are probably in melaque as i write this. i have to admit i'm surprised you liked sayulita so much, but of course we all have different tastes. it is too touristy for me and i do not like the beach as the water is much too rough for me and after 2 near drownings, i don't like such big waves. if you do end up there, i have a friend who rents out rooms so if you wanted to rent something to check out the place, you could possibly stay there.

take care amigo! can't wait to hear about the last portion of the trip. hope the prof is doing well. i am sure he'll be happy not to have to sit in the car for so long.

que dios te bendiga,

Steve Cotton said...

Jonna -- The beaches are beautiful in this part of the world. I am looking out on one right now.

Holly -- We made it with time to spare. I had my first work dream last night. I am glad I am here.

Felipe -- Insects and heat continue to head the list of things to be tolerated. The distinction I was trying to draw with my "gentrification" comment was between progress and what passes for Disneyland preservation. Progress and growth are always to be welcomed when they bring a better life for locals. Gentrification usually brings a better life for only a few.

Cynthia and Mike -- Yes. I heard about poor Gracie. We are now in Melaque. But that is for a post.

New Beginnings -- I will be heading to Manzanillo to register my FM3 within the next three weeks.

Chrissy -- I will say hi to Daniel for you. My brother and I need to get over to La Manzanilla in the next few days.

Mic -- Jiggs is happy to have arrived at the last bit of the road trip.

Mdoneil -- More Jiggs to follow.

1st Mate -- They have fenced in the crocs. Good for Jiggs. Bad for dramatic photography.

Gloria -- Happy to share the story. Especially everything Jiggs.

Yayaorchid -- The posts will continue.

Teresa -- This part of the trip is over, but there is far more to come.

Anonymous said...

glad you arrived safely! can't wait to hear more.


Islagringo said...

Try revisiting Sayulita in June or July. I think you may revise your assessment of it. Too bad you couldn't stay the night in Chacala. I hope you at least had a memorial Coke.

Just south of you is a place called Caleta de Campo. Check it out sometime. The beach water is green with living phosphorense (sic) at night. Very cool to swim in.

Anonymous said...

Senor Steve,
Congratulations on your arrival to the Costalegre! Something tells me this is only the beginning of your journey. I have enjoyed the travel posts enormously. Looking forward to future tales.
Detroit, (Where it has finally reached 60 degrees!)

Babs said...

We "dipped" Matilda's toes in Sayulita.....all I got from Sayulita was the smell of pot.....
I thought Chacala was a 1000 times better!
Glad you're here safe and sound....

Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- Thanks. And there will be more.

Islagringo -- Thanks for the travel tip. I will take a gander. As for Sayulita, the prices will undoubtedly scare me away again, but not the summer weather. After all, I am about to get another dose of it myself.

Fancisco -- Gracias. And, of course, there will be more to come. As long as I can stay away from stings.

Babs -- I agree that Chacala is a far better spot than Sayulita. Another spot to explore for roots.