Sunday, May 30, 2010
Tuesday....Tequila Tuesday as it is known in Troncones ( a small town about 20 mins south of Playa Saladita) at The Manzanillo Bay Inn. And yes, Midge and Dean took us. Up 'til then it was a regular day. Get up, ponder the day, eat, swim, relax. Then we heard about "Tequila Tuesday". Dean & Midge had gone back to Zihua that morning and had successfully navigated Mexican Immigration and recieved their FM3's (permanent residency cards, so there was definitely a reason to celebrate, as though simply being Tequila Tuesday wasn't enough! The Manzanillo Bay serves great food and has entertainment. The restaurant is gourmet, fabulous food served under the palm trees, the ocean in the background, beautiful balmy evening and Josie was providing the entertainment. Randall who runs the show and served us, was wonderful. Corky and his guests with Tim were also there, Raquel was not feeling well, so didn't attend. And Tom got to accompany Josie with his harmonicas. The cervezas, tequila and margaritas were flowing heavily and so, for us, Tequila Tuesday lived up to it's name. Maybe we should adopt it for the rest of our trip? Needless to say, Wednesday was not a productive day. We read and relaxed by the pool and had a leftover smorgasbord for dinner. Thursday was much of the same. Winston is also in a routine. Get up from sleeping on a cool lawn all night, greet Gaby when he gets to work at 8am, follow Gaby around to make sure he's doing a good job (in Beagle Land this is based on the number of pets, bellyrubs and general conversation that he recieves although Gaby has mentioned that he (Winston) does not as yet understand Spanish!), greet Midge when she gets coffee going and spend the remainder of the day finding the coolest tiles in the house to lie on...oh, and a few walks spattered in between. That is about to change. We had gotten the name of a vet in Ixtapa from Raquel and Corky. Dr Jorge. It has been 21 days since Winston had that tick bite and has been on anti-biotics ever since. He now needs to be re-tested to check on how everything is going. Armed with the directions for the vet, that is, Dr Jorge (no last name) in the area of Pelicanos, Ixtapa we set off. Dean, Midge, Tom, myself and Winston. Upon entering Ixtapa, we found a hotel called Pelicanos, we made a u-turn and saw a sign for clinica veterenaria. A few blocks more, in a residential neighborhood, there is Dr. Jorge Islas practice. Sometimes, you're just lucky! I went in and sure enough, he knows Raquel and Corky and their dogs and he speaks English. He checked Winston, drew blood and handed me a small container to collect urine. Here I go again! At least there is no one around. The last time a Mexican family watched with seemingly great interest as I attempted to get a sample! He promised that he would have lab results by Saturday noon, latest and would also contact Dr. Rocio in La Manzanilla and consult with her. We ate an American lunch of hamburgers and fries and decided to keep with the American theme and take home pizza for dinner. Sorry.. pizza is as american as apple pie, ask anyone over the age of 2! All I can say is I still have not had any good American style food here. The hamburger was okay and the pizza was ...okay. But worse than that..Tom and I know we have to leave the comfort of Casa Margarita and the newly found friendship of Dean & Midge and continue on but ... we are having fun. We decide to stay one more day and travel on Sunday. So, Saturday is our last day. I stay by the pool and read and Tom finally gets into the ocean with Dean to body surf, even though the water has not been co-operative. Saturday night everyone comes over for tacos. Corky, Raquel, Melody (a guest of theirs from the states who has visited before), Tim and Bob who plays guitar, very well. The tacos more than made up for the somewhat disappointing american food from the day before and Tom once again was able to bring out the harmonicas and accompany Bob who played guitar for us after dinner. It was late before the gang disbanded with an exchange of emails, promises to stay in touch and bon voyages. We were also given contacts in Puerto Escondido and Guatamala. Sunday came early at 7am with Dean knocking on the door to the motorhome. No.. not to throw us out but to get Tom into the ocean one more time. So whilst I prepared the home for moving, Tom went body surfing and then swung by to say a final goodbye to Corky, Raquel and the rest. We will most definitely stay in touch and hopefully will see them all on our return trip. We,(Dean, Midge, Tom and myself) have already decided that it would be a lot of fun if Bruce and Jeanne could somehow collaborate the timing to be in Playa Saladita at the same time. We'll see. But for us it is a driving day. Next stop, Acapulco.
We have just spent the past 8 fabulous days with Midge & Dean at their villa (Casa Margarita) in Playa Saladita. Their property consists of a main house, a 2 bedroom/1 bath fully self contained guest house and a swimming pool, with amazing landscaping and even an RV hookup. Winston loved the lawn and slept outside most nights. So much happened, I will recount day by day. Saturday: After settling in, we took a walk on the beach and visited with some norteamericano friends who live close by. Corky and his wife Raquel have beach front property. Corky is a well known champion surfer who, with Raquel run an all-inclusive resort style guest house specialized for the surfing world. On this occasion, they had several guests. Tim, other person we met, is quite a colorful character who is a retired lifeguard, lives alone with the exception of a myriad of animals - horses, donkeys, dogs etc. most of mexican descent, that he cares for. We visited and drank cervezas as we watched the surf and the boys discussed upcoming weather conditions. Afterwards it was back to the casa for some US raised steaks (which Dean had defrosted) and a dip in the pool. Sunday was lazy! We hung out by the pool and then Tom barbequed chicken for dinner. Come Monday morning, we went to Zihua as Dean & Midge are trying to take care of their permanent residency cards for Mexico. Raquel is helping with the translation and red-tape. Tom and I browsed the stores, the municipal market and beach and we met for lunch later at a favorite hangout. We were mindful that our hosts had a very important prior committment at 6pm that evening, to which Tom and I were also invited. The confirmation ceremony for the brother of Gaby, Midge & Dean's gardner/handyman. The confirmation took place in La Saladita at the local Catholic church. I think the whole village was present to witness the confirmation of about 8 of the village's children. Since the church is small and there were so many people, chairs had been put outside to accomodate everyone. We sat outside, thank goodness, since it was hot and humid. The inside of the church must have been stifling. But afterwards we gathered at the home of Gaby's mom for a mexican feast of chicken mole, rice and beans. Delicious. When we left, we were given a container of food that had been simmering on the stove. Iguana in a chile verde sauce! Hmm, maybe Midge and I will let the men try it. What struck me more was the fact that these people who have so little, by our standards, yet are willing to share and are so happy. They play constantly with the children. They sing, rock in hammocks and share what they have in a seemingly stress free environment. There is surely a lesson to be learned. To be continued.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
After studying our mexican camp book, we had decided to split our time between Ixtapa (ees-TAH-pah)and Zihuatanejo (see-wah-tah-HEH-hoh). However, the book omitted the fact that Ixtapa's one and only campground does not allow pets. So, onward 9 more miles to Zihua (as it is affectionately called). The campgroung here is El Manglar. It has lots of positives and one not so good qualities. The positive is it is on the Playa La Ropa. A beautiful sheltered bay in front for Winston and I to frolic and some good surfing to the left for Tom to continue to become part of the food chain (read on). Fabulous stretch of beach to walk. It has one of the best restaurants in the area with great gourmet food, reasonably priced and indoor and outdoor seating. It is close to other restaurants, shops, spas etc. So what's the negative. Only one.. a big one. It is apparently a conservation area. OK! There is a lagoon/mangrove swamp area bordering one side, leading to the ocean with no fence. OK! They (the conservationists) are trying to rehabilitate crocodiles to their natural habitat. OhOh! Yep, there are 7 crocs not 10 feet away in water and brush. We are told they do not attack people (I hope they (the crocs) read that manual), but are quite partial to dogs and cats. Winston has been tethered since arriving. This morning, whilst walking Winston, there was some consternation between El Manglar (our campsite) and a restaurant next door because there were croc slithers in the sand. I guess these crocs have figured a way from lagoon to ocean. They contacted someone who looked like Crazy the Croc Hunter, who didn't seem too worried and Tom still went in the water to surf! There are also huge iguanas, turtles (I guess crocs don't eat either of these) and myriads of birds. My brother-in-law, Bruce would love it. Bruce and Jeanne have connected us to a couple, who Jeanne worked with, and have retired here (Midge & Dean). As a result, we are backtracking and will head north about one hour to Playa Saladita as they have generously invited us to their home where there is rv hookup and a pool. We are looking forward to meeting them as Jeanne speaks fondly of Midge and their friendship. Right now, it is late. Tom is asleep and Winston is lying (tethered) at my feet. I hear the chirping of crickets, the sounds of birds and the ocean surf in the background. Life is good. Stay well.
Friday, May 21, 2010
The road between Playa Azul and Ixtapa/Zihua was another trial lesson in patience and taking one's time. in addition to the general terrain of coast and mountains, Mex 200 (the main road we are travelling) seems to be constantly under repair. As such, our travel time is approx 30 miles per hour. Tom is getting a good lesson in patience. I had mentioned in my last blog about militia checkpoints. The further south we go, the more predominant they are. According to newspapers and local gossip, they are stopping and searching vehicles for drugs and weapons. They are more than a little intimidating. The soldiers are young, speak little English and tote very large automatic weapons! We have been fortunate. The only time we were stopped, close to Perula, they ask where we were coming from and where we were going to. To note, as yet we have not been searched although they have every right to go through our entire RV. We can only hope our luck continues. Also, contrary to the horror stories that abound, we have had no problems with banditos, thieves or any other type of nefarious characters. On the contrary, we have had pleasant and helpful encounters with people who are only too willing to help with language, navigation, accomodation, Winston's medical issues and the other sundry of issues that we have had to deal with. Next blog - Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo.
We are now headed deeper into Mexico's Pacific Coast line. After leaving Melaque our first stop was going to be in La Placita at a supposedly beautiful upscale rv park owned by Norteamericanos. After driving through amazing countryside with coconut & mango groves, the road twisting and turning through beach towns and rocky headlands (think Highway 1) and going through more militia checkpoints (more on those in my next blog), we arrived at our destination..only to find it closed! We were told that the owners had had problems with the local indigenous people (Mayan/Indians) who considered this was their land and not for sale. After threats the owners had departed for the US, to try and sort it out. The caretaker who told us this news could see we were upset and a little frantic. There are not many places with rv facilites on this stretch of coastline and he told us in no uncertain terms that it was definitely not safe to drive at night - the roads, the indian reservation territory that you pass through and problems on the road. As Tom chatted to the caretaker, we pondered on our options. The caretaker said we could stay on the rv property (no security), I quickly vetoed that. They (the people who considered this land theirs) had already shot at and threatened the owners (I don't want to desecrate or use any property that is indigenous..plus I don't want to get hurt), or we could stay on his property (hmm, better) or head back to La Placita and stay in a hotel. I grabbed our Mexican camping book to see what else there was. Voila! Completely and utterly by accident, we had the good fortune to stay in La Ticla (131 miles from Melaque). Described in the book as an alternate spot it was wonderful. Only about 5 miles further on Mex 200 this is primarily a camping and cabana camp ground with fantastic surf! Upon arrival, the managers quickly got us settled in front of a large palapa hut, with water and power all for less than $8.00 per night. This is apparently a well known surfing spot and as such was filled with the 20 - 30 year old age group, a mixture of Mexicans and Americans. I loved it and Tom loved it. So much so that we stayed for 3 nights. Our next stop on the coast was 49 mile away in the village of Zapote Tizupan. This rv park is new and still in the process of being constructed. Nevertheless, it has a small restaurant, great swimming pool and full hook ups. It fronted the beach and Winston made a new friend in Chocolate (a dog of dubious mexican heritage and.. you've guessed it, brown in color). Again we loved the simplicity of the place and stayed there for 2 nights. The downside to both these places was no internet and I was conscious of the fact that I needed to stay in touch. Our final stop on the Michoacan coast was Playa Azul (49 mile from Tizupan). Here we stayed at the Playa Azul Hotel which has an rv park right in it's center, literally. There is the hotel and a pool in the front and a pool and beach access in the back and slap dab in the middle is hookups for about 15 rvs. A strange setup but it worked for us. The beach had a couple of good palapa restaurants and the hotel pools were wonderful. Catering to a Mexican clientele, it was quite busy considering school is in and it's mid week. Winston was a little bummed out. He misses his friend but he is definitely feeling much better than a couple of weeks ago and is still on antibiotics. We hung out for 2 more days at the hotel, mostly by the pool with Winston lying on grass in the shade before heading to the state of Guerrero and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo & Acapulco.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Yes, we are still in Melaque. We decided to stay here another day. We took in the tianquis (market). It was very provencial as markets go and not a lot of things we need, although Tom did find a set of small wire brushes. Coming back to the park we picked up some groceries and rum to make Cuba Libres for later. Also, stopped off at the "ropa playa" (beach clothes) store and I bought a sarong - tye dye - very pretty. We had prawns for dinner with rice and avocados, preceded by those aforementioned cocktails. Winston is continuing on the road to recovery and is getting stronger. Right now Tom is trying to sort through his harmonicas to complement Beethoven's work, which we are listening to on the IPod. The beautiful music in symphony with the waves is amazing! The crickets, in the background, almost seem in harmony. Tomorrow is a driving day and another adventure. Stay posted. Buenos Noches
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
As Tom & I sit pondering our next move, we listen to the ocean next to us and look up at the lights of nearby Barra de Navidad. Should we move tomorrow or stay here for another day? Wednesday, is tianquis (market) day in Melaque. Tianquis serve the local (and tourist) population and come to small towns that do not have large stores of their own. They sell everything - food, clothes, shoes and any other type of stuff you could possibly need. It is tempting to stay but the Michoachan coast is calling. Winston is recovering and one more day would be nice. In addition there is a salon here and I need a pedicure and a massage. The massages in Mexico are usually quite good and for $25.00 or much less you can get 1 and 1/2 hours of much needed muscle relaxation. Also, although I am not into shopping there is still one very cool shop that sells some attractive sarongs and skirts. I feel very relaxed. Tom did his lemon-garlic chicken for dinner with rice, it was very good. And, every time we enter the motorhome it is filled with the scent of the lilies and red roses that I got for Mother's Day. Life is indeed a wonderful thing. Maybe one more day here will be good. We'll see.
Monday, May 10, 2010
After leaving Puerto Vallarta, we have spent the time on a stretch of coastline in the state of Jalisco from Perula to Melaque/Barra de Navidad, a distance of approx 73 kilometers. It really consists of several bays and beach towns. The first is Punta Perula. A small village with some mini marts and a few palapa restaurants. The campground is steps from the beach and is part of a small hotel with a swimming pool, very nice. It was here that we met Bastian and Eva. They have a business in L. A. but spend most of their time in Mexico. They were a tremendous help with Winston as Bastian's Spanish is fluent and they have a second vehicle to get around. Their kindness will never be forgotten and we will hopefully meet up with them at another point in our travels. From Perula, the next large bay is beautiful Tenacatita Bay. This bay encompasses the towns of Tenacatita at the north end and La Manzanilla in the south, with a few smaller villages and beaches along the way. We spent 2 nights in Tenacatita, again a small village with a few palapa restaurants and fewer stores. A traditional food from Tenacatita is Rollo del Mar. A piece of fillet of fish, stuffed with seafood and cheese, rolled, breaded, fried and topped with a white citrus sauce. Delicious. Another evening was spent at Boca de Iguana (Mouth of the Iguana) - I liked the name! This was a huge campsite for both RV's and tents. Again steps from the ocean and primarily Mexican clientele - we were the only NorteAmericanos. Even though La Manzanilla is the largest of the towns on this bay, it does not have a full service campsite. Camping is along the beach. As this is the off season, mindful of the warnings given to us on never camping alone and there were no other Rvers, we decided not to stay there. Too bad since this is where Dr. Rocio (Winston's vet) has her practice. The final bay on this stretch of coastline is the Bay of Melaque/Barra de Navidad. We are told that lots of Canadians and Americans call Melaque home during the winter, but again this is off season and we have the campground to ourselves. It is 10 at night and in the 70's. As I sit writing, Tom reads and Winston is resting. The ocean is on the other side of a small 3' wall, just steps away. On the other side of the bay the lights of Barra de Navidad are bright against the night sky. The only sound is the waves against the shore. Buenos Noches!
Sunday, May 9, 2010
It has been quite eventful since our last blog. I will detail the various beach towns tomorrow but I want to bring everyone up to date on Winston. First a heartfelt "Thank-you" to Bastian and Eva - without their help, this would have been much more difficult to take care of. It began on Sunday, May 2nd. We noticed that once again Winston was not getting around very well. He looked as though he was having difficulty controlling his walk. We asked around and found the name of a vet in Hidalgo, a small village in the hills about 30 mile from Perula not far from La Manzanilla. On Monday, Bastian drove us to the vet. Our feeling was, that this vet was probably better at treating farm animals than pets. He thought Winston's hind muscles were enlarged and prescribed an anti-inflamatory. Tuesday, Winston looked a little better but by Wednesday we knew there were much deeper problems. By noon our fur kid could no longer support his rear end. He was dragging himself around by his front legs and his butt sliding on the ground. 2 o'clock found me in tears and us desperately trying to figure the best course of action. Tom was even contemplating flying us back to the States from P.V. Again, with Bastian and Eva's help, we drove and found a vet, this time in La Manzanilla about 35 mile away. At this point, we were having to carry Winston everywhere - not a simple task with a 50 pound dog. Dr. Rocio Tapia was a blessing. She was tending another dog, also owned by Americans, when we arrived. This lady told us that her dog had had similar symptoms to Winston once before. As Dr. Rocio checked Winston out, she took blood to do a quick analysis. It was definitely positive for something, possibly an infected tick bite (a little like Lyme Disease), and she immediately prescribed a strong antibiotic that he will take for a month. She also had us go to a lab in Melaque (10 mile furthe south) for X-Rays and said she wanted to see us the next day. Wednesday, X rays in hand, we met with her again. Unfortunately the lab that would test the rest of Winstons bodily fluids would not be open until Friday. Miraculously Winston was at least able to support himself but still could not get in or out of the RV without help. Friday found us back at Dr. Rocio's where she drew lots of Winston's blood, which we promptly refrigerated. After collecting the rest of Winston's bodily fluids for testing - a mexican family at the Pemex gas station watched me in amazement as I collected Winston's pee in a bowl - we headed for the lab in Melaque. Two hours later, blood findings in hand as the rest won't be available until Monday, we head back to La Manzanilla to the doctor. Things look alright but she wants to see the other tests before giving any further diagnosis. In the meantime, Winston is definitely getting stronger and we are left with another doctor visit on Monday. I am struck by the differences between the States and Mexico. In San Jose, Winston goes to Dr. Viera. When we go to the clinic everything is taken care of - blood is drawn, x-rays are taken, diagnosis is made all in one facility. Here, we visit the vet. We then go to an X-ray lab in another town which serves primarily people. Tom and Bastian hold and position Winston, neither are offered any protection. Blood vials are drawn but are handed back to us with instructions to refrigerate them, get them to the lab asap, wait for the results, oh, and don't forget to bring the vials back. This lab also primarily serves humans. But, these are inconveniences which we don't mind as long as Winston gets healthy. Tomorrow, will find us at the vet again and hopefully we can put all this behind us. Tomorrow I will tell you about the beach towns around here and a little more about Bastian and Eva.