Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 60: Sunny Vancouver

Woo Hoo, the sun came out in North Vancouver, and even though it is still cold, everything just looks better when the sun shines. Actually went outside for the first time, but like the proverbial gopher, I ran back inside my home predicting another six weeks of winter.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 59: Sorting Photos

Avoided going outside again by spending the day sorting through the nearly 4000 photos I took while I was away. Getting no sympathy from Sue about how cold I am. Even with the heat turned up I am walking around with a sweater on. Damn, I miss the sun.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 58: Withdrawal

What a shock.

After living for 8 weeks at 27C in Sayulita, Vancouver seems like the North Pole. Dark, Gloomy and cold. Cranked the thermostat up to 25 and spent the day unpacking and washing everything, and not going outside.

Day 58: I'm Back

Well I am back in freezing Vancouver after 8 weeks in sunny Sayulita, and I will be updating this journal so stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 57: Going Home

Janet making sure Glen goes home to Sue
Today is the day we fly home, but since we only leave in the evening we had a whole day here first. We also had arranged for a late checkout at 3:30 so after we packed up our bags we headed down to take out a couple of paddle boards one last time.

The ocean was still very choppy but we were determined. However neither of us could catch our balance enough to stand up, so we paddle out to the anchored boat in the bay on our knees, and then called it quits. Had a last breakfast at Panino's of bacon and egg on a baguette and a soy latte.

Afterwards we lounged reading by the pool and worked on our tans until it was time for Jorge to pick us up and take us to the bus for the airport. We had been told to allow three hours at the airport, so we arrived at 5pm for our 7:45pm flight only to find the place empty. We checked in without any delay and spent the last of our pesos at the bar.

The flight was on time and arrived at Vancouver just before midnight. We cleared customs quickly and walked out into the freezing weather that Vancouver has been experiencing. What an incredible shock to the system!

We picked up Janet's car from the long-term parking and she dropped me off at home around 1:30am.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 56: Going Live

Saying goodbye to David and Michael at Tres Vistas
We wanted to make the most of our last day here. The plan was to go paddle boarding, but the weather was still blustery and even from our place on the hill we could see the whitecaps on the ocean.

We had originally planned to meet with David and Michael in the afternoon, so we switch to the morning to see if the weather would improve later. Janet had brought them down a WIFI extender but I was unable to install it as their old router would not cooperate. We did manage to finalize the Xocotla website and with appropriate fanfare David pressed the button that made the site officially public.

David and Michael then came to see Tres Vista before we had to sadly say goodbye.

The afternoon continued to be too choppy for us to attempt taking boards out, so we hung around our pool with our books. We planned to have a last great meal at the wonderful Italian restaurant Miro Vino that Sue and I had gone to, but I forgot they were closed on Tuesday's. Bugger.

So we ended up at Calyso's once again and a afterwards sat on the beach and listened to the soothing sound of the surf one last time.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 55: Windy

Up early to go paddling before breakfast. Pickup up our boards from Stand Up Sayulita and headed out into some choppy water with an on shore breeze. The conditions made paddling difficult and we manage less than an hour before we headed back tumbling through the waves to have a tasty smoothie at the back of the board store.

We read our book waiting to see if the wind and chop would settle down enough to take the boards out again, but it never let up. Bumped into David and Michael and chatted with them over some beers. Arranged to meet tomorrow to finalize the Xocotla website and hopefully make t go live. They have never seen Tres Vista where we are staying so we invited them over tomorrow to see the place.

Familia Veryka again
We went back to Calypso for dinner and I had their excellent baby pork ribs again. Afterwards we stopped by Don Chow's for a drink and to see what music they had going, and were thrilled to find that the band they planned had cancelled and was replaced by the fantastic music of Familia Veryka again. 

They were rocking and we stayed until the place closed. What a great way to end this trip.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 54: Recovery

The therapy pool
We both drank too many margaritas last night listening to the great music at Don Chow's, and neither of us felt our bodies were up to paddle boarding.

We lounged on the beach reading our books to see if we might feel like it in the afternoon, but as this is a long weekend the beach was crowded and we went back up the hill to our private pool instead.

Went to dinner again at Don Chow's but the band was so bad they drove us away early.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 53: More Paddling

This is what I wish I looked like on the board
We decided to rent some real paddle boards instead of the soft beginner ones, and got them from Stand Up  Sayulita, a great new store just up from the beach.

They have expanded to use the land behind the Iguana Tree Sanctuary and have planted grass and created a smoothie bar. The staff are happy to help carry the boards to the beach for us.

We both got up on the new boards and controlled them way better than last time, and before we knew it we had blasted past the anchored boat and headed left towards Muerto beach ... and beyond.

This is a lot of fun, and an incredible whole-body workout. By the time we had paddled back we were done, and ready for one of the incredible smoothies while watching the iguanas play in the tree.

Familia Veryka
Decided to enjoy our incredible private pool for the afternoon, and in the evening we had dinner at Don Chow's and listened to a fantastic sort of Reggae Jazz fusion band called Familia Veryka jamming some wonderful music.

The music drew people and by the time they ended the place was packed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 52: Lazy Day

Tres Vistas
After our party with the two families at our place last night we started our day slow, and stayed slow.

Neither of us had the energy to get on a board and we ended up reading by the pool instead. Tough day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 51: Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Today we decided to try stand up paddle boarding. Figured it might be easier to learn to balance once we were beyond the waves. We rented two large soft boards from Patricia's and with only a few minutes of instruction we walked the boards to the easier left side of the bay, and pushed our boards through the surf.

These are quite a bit longer and wider then a regular surfboard and it is a struggle getting them out past the waves, if the board is not exactly perpendicular to the wave it easily snaps sideways and flips over onto you. But out past the waves it is stable and easy to jump onto and sit or kneel. Standing up is another thing altogether. But the water is warm so falling off is not a problem.

Gradually we learned to stay standing, and once we got going it was fun. There was a boat anchored in the bay beyond the waves, and we made it our mission to go around the boat before we called it quits for the day and headed back to shore. Getting in past the waves is tricky as the board is harder to control than a regular surfboard, and even kneeling I wiped out. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos as I did't want to leave my camera on the beach, but Joanna from the boat trip yesterday spotted us and snapped this photo of us at the end of our paddle.

Dinner with the two families we met on the boat trip
Yesterday we arranged to meet the two families we met on the boat trip yesterday in the main square at 4 o'clock. Luz showed up in their car, and we went to get some chicken from the ladies on the street while Janet walked up the hill with the rest of them.

Joe and Joanne are from Ontario with their three girls, and Chris and Luz are from Guadalajara with their two girls.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 50: Whale Watching - Again

We were up early at Chulavista to get out bags packed and ready for Jorge to pick us up at 8 and take us across to Tres Vista on the other side of the hill. Although the move was only a couple of hundred meters, it was nice not to have to lug the bags and groceries over the hill in stages.

Tres Vistas is a stunning two bedroom place with its own private pool and a large deck overlooking the bay. We only had a moment to appreciate it as we dropped off the bags and caught a ride down the hill with Jorge to go have breakfast before our trip left at 9:30.

Blue Footed Boobies
I had tried to take Sue on this trip while she was here, but the weather never cooperated, it was always a little too overcast or blowy. The conditions seemed perfect today and about 30 people headed out in several taxis to the marina on Banderas Bay and then onto the Chica Loca trimaran.

The water was calm, the sun was shining, and the whales were jumping. We saw a pod of a mother, father and baby, and were lucky to see them and other whales jumping and breaching. What a great sight.

The boat had a good mix of people on board, and we met two families with their five kids who were re-uniting. One family was from Ontario and the other from Mexico had met them when studying in Toronto. We ended up inviting them to our new huge place tomorrow to have dinner and swim in our private pool.

Once again the cruise took us to the Marietas Islands to see the blue-footed boobies and to snorkel. Once again the visibility was poor and the water was cold. However we spotted whales again on the way back which made it all worth while.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 49: Exploring Saylita with Janet

Janet leaps the mighty river
After an early breakfast at Panino's I took Janet for hike on the north side of town across the bridge, to see the places and views there.

There is one insanely steep hill there that feels more like rock-climbing than hiking, especially since the road is made of cobble stones. But at the top there is a vacant lot from which is a truly awesome view over Sayulata bay.

Further along I finally found the road to another property that I can see from our place on Gringo Hill that I have wanted to find. These are amazing homes with breath-taking views over the bay.

We want to go on the whale-watching boat trip tomorrow since the weather is clear and calm, but we are also moving to our new place that day.  Back in town we went to see Tamra at Avalos to arrange for the move, and they already have the keys to the place and will move us in early at 8am, so we can then go on the boat trip at 9:30.

After dinner at Calypso we ended the evening on the beach listening to the sound of the surf.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 48: Touring Sayulita

Janet at Chulavista
Started the tour with Janet by hiking to Muertos beach along the jungle road and then over the hill by the graveyard and along the main beach ending at Panino's for breakfast.

After breakfast we hiked the beach along the main bay and then back to Chulavista to cool off in the pool and read our books.

Yesterday we met Cathy and Brian who are staying in the top apartment at Casa Juanita where I stayed, and they invited us over for drinks this evening. We headed over there around 5:30 with appies and wine and watched the sun set from the rooftop deck with them.

We then all walked down the hill for dinner at one of the restaurants by the square, and of course we bumped into Michael and David from Xocotla there too.

Janet loves the sound of the ocean too, so we ended the evening sitting on the beach listening to the surf. Unfortunately along the way I dropped my prescription glasses out of my shirt pocket and lost them in the sand somewhere. Fortunately I have one spare pair, but that was a lesson to always carry them in their case which has my email address in it. Damn.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 47: Company Arives

This was the second and final day of the Surf Competition. It included a race on stand up paddle boards  with four loops around a course of buoys, and on each loop they had to land and run up to the start on the beach and then re-launch through the surf for the next lap.

For the finals of the surfing in the afternoon they used an electric radio-controlled helicopter with a camera attached to film the surfers from up close.

Radio controlled helicopter photographing the surfers
Janet, a friend of Sue and mine in Vancouver, had convinced me to extend my stay for another week so she could come and visit.

She caught the bus from the airport and Margaritas is about a hundred meters from where you are dropped off in Sayulita.  In the afternoon I headed over to Margaritas where we had planned to meet.

Our timing was perfect, Janet had just walked in as I arrived, and we sat with a beer before I lugged her bag up the hill to Chulavista.

As we headed down the hill for dinner at Don Chow's we went by Casa Januita so Janet could see where I was before, and we met and got talking to Cathy and Brian who are are staying there now. They invited us over tomorrow night for drinks on the rooftop deck.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 46: Surf Competition Day 1

Today was the first real day of Surf Competition. The beach was packed from one end to the other to watch the people who were invited from around the world to compete in Paddle Board Surfing, Woman's Longboard and Men's Longboard events.
Yes he is surfing backwards

As you can expect the level of expertise was amazing, and because of the small waves people went for style. It was a long day sitting in the sun on the beach and I must have shot thousands of photos. I will publish more photos on the Sayulita Photo Album.

At the end of the day it was refresing to be be able to jump into the pool at my casa to cool off.
Says it all

Met Christen  and her son Ross from Quebec at pool, also on one year sabbatical, here for 7 weeks. Her husband Patrick was able to do some work remotely via computer so he could join them.

Ended the day back in town and dinner at Don Panchos from where I could watch and listen to the live music on the stage they had constructed on the beach.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Day 45: Surf Competition Setup

Practicing for the competition
The first day of the Surf Competition turned out to be a practice day. After breakfast at Panino's I sat on the beach learning to use my new telephoto lens as the surfers practiced for the main events starting tomorrow.

The beach was crowded from one end to the other, and they were busy constructing a large stage for live music tomorrow.

I am reading The Wave by Susan Casey, and I found I was hooked from the first page. Far better than I expected, she has a fantastic ability to draw you in and paint a picture of the search for these giant waves.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 44: Xocotla

After breakfast at Panino's I spent the morning with David and Michael working on their Xocotla website.

Spent the afternoon reading by pool at Chulavista, and then as the sun started to set I headed down the hill for dinner at Don Carlos.

Met Marylee who owns surf shop with Joshua, and she was reading The Wave by Susan Casey, and recommended it as a good read.

When I got back I downloaded the book for my Kindle.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 43: Lake Saylita

Decided after loafing around reading yesterday it was time to go do some boogie-boarding and enjoy the surf while I can. But first I needed some exercise before breakfast, and hiked what I call The Jungle Road to Muertos beach, which in reality is the longer way to get there on the back road around town through the trees.

Imagine my surprise as I came over the hill past the cemetery, and saw Sayulita bay stretching out before me as flat as a Canadian lake. Not a sign of a wave, and only the merest ripple at the shore.

Sue would love this as she is a lake-girl, but the surfers are going to be hugely disappointed on Friday if the waves do not pick up before then.

In the evening I watched Wasteland that was screened outdoors at the Activity Center. This is a powerful movie about the people who make a living picking recyclables from the largest garbage landfill in the world outside of Rio de Janeiro, and the filmmaker who helped them turn garbage into art.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 42: Just Hanging

For the first time in the five weeks I have been here, today was a truly relaxing day, with no hikes or other activity whatsoever.

The day started overcast and foggy looking, as it has been often, but by early morning it had burned off and the rest of the day was warm and I spent it reading a good book in my hammock that I purchased and rigged up on my deck.

The view from here
It has been a long time since I read a good SF novel, and I tripped over Hominids by the Canadian writer Robert Sawyer. Turns out this is the first part of a trilogy called The Neanderthal Parallax.

The second part is Humans, and I am now starting the last part Hybrid.

I am actually going to get out and head down to town for a bite to eat for dinner.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 41: Making Arrangements

Sayulita International Bus Terminal
After breakfast I met with Tamra at Avalos Realty to finalize the rental of Tres Vistas for Mar 14-21, which is the last week I am here, and when Janet will be joining me. We will get the two bedroom place with exclusive use of the pool.

Janet is going to be adventurous and catch the bus from the airport by herself and I will meet her here on the 11th. So I took a picture of where the bus stops and Tequila's restaurant where I will be hanging at so she will know how to find me.

Tequila's Bar & Restaurant
The weather is warming up this week, and by the afternoon there was nothing for it but to jump in the pool here to cool off in between reading my book.

Going to head down to Don Chow's tonight for their excellent Bento Box and some sushi, and see what live music they have.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 40: Catching Up

With the lack of Wifi in my room I was getting behind on updating my journal, so spent the morning down at El Expresso with the laptop catching up on my writing.

Then back to the apartment to read by the pool. Well someone has to do all this research!

In the evening Francico the owner invited me to join him and his family for a picnic dinner in the palapa by the pool.
Francisco and his family

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day 39: Xocotla Website

After breakfast at Panino's I headed over to Xocotla to help Michael and David finalize their website. Doane and Rayata met me and came to meet them and see the place.

We spent a couple of hours going over the details of their website and how to use email and calendars at their new domain name. At that point they were done, and we spent a wonderful couple of hours drinking beers up on their rooftop deck overlooking the bay.

The rest of the day was reading in my new hammock I have strung up on the deck. Wifi is still spotty from my apartment to contact Sue later that evening I had to sit by the manager's desk downstairs facing the wireless router.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Day 38: Finding a New Place

Tearing up the road again
The living area of Villas Chulavisa looks great during the day, but is not comfortable at night and the furniture is harder than office chairs.

So I spent the day working with Tamra at Avalos Realty to find another place for the last week - I have already paid for two weeks at this place.

Once again they are tearing up the roads. They have changed their minds about the road leading from the square to the beach, and are now going to add the wide sidewalks to continue on from the rest of the road leading to the beach. 

Met this guy just hanging
Tamra gave me the names of a few places that are available for the last week, and I spent the morning walking around town checking them out.

One was too far out of town, up a really steep hill, that I felt would feel too removed from everything.

Another turned out to be already booked, but the one I like was back on Gringo Hill just behind the Horse ranch, called Tres Vistas. Tamra managed to negotiate a good rate for two bedrooms for the week starting March 14 until we leave on the 21st.

Tres Vistas
Doane and Renata who are staying at Cas Juanita were interested to see Xocotla since they walk past it every night and it looks so magical through the trees all list up. I had planned to meet the guys from Xocotla in the afternoon to try and finish their website, and suggested they join me to meet Michael and David.

However I bumped into Michael and David in the morning and they re-scheduled for tomorrow morning. So when Doane and Raynata stopped by my casa, we spend the afternoon talking on my deck and drinking beer. Really fun talking to Doane about his photography career, and I think his portraits of actors on his website are stunning.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 37: The Mission

The unit at Villas Chulavista looks wonderful during the day, but there is almost no light at night, which may look all romantic, but barely enough to read by. I asked the owner Francisco if he  can find me a reading lamp. However today I decided to go find some 100W bulbs to replace all the low wattage ones they have. Also the deck is crying out for a hammock, so it was my mission to to find the hammock guy.

They have finished paving the sidewalk outside Paniono's and it was wonderful to sit at a table for breakfast that didn't wobble.

I found a hardware store that sold lightbulbs by the river where the Friday Market is held. I got seven 100W bulbs and two 100W spot lights to shine down in the living room to hopefully provide enough light to read by.

The new hammock at Chulavista
The hammock guy has tried to sell me one on the beach for the last five weeks, and wouldn't you know it, now that I want one he was not to be found. I walked all over the beach and over to Muertos and back but no sign.

Sat for a couple of hours nursing a beer so I could claim a deck chair and read my book, keeping an eye out for him. Finally towards the end of the afternoon, just as I had given up and resigned to finding one at Market Day tomorrow, I bumped into him by the river.

We bargained from $55 to $30 (US) and then I paid him in pesos, and headed back to the casa to string it up. Fits across the end of the deck, with just enough clearance to keep my bum off the floor. Will be perfect for reading in the morning as the sun comes on that side.

Francico came through with a small reading lamp for the living room. Will see how it all looks tonight before I bug him for reading lamps for each of the bedrooms too.

The couple I had dinner with last night work in the film industry. Renata Gregory was a Production Designer for many years, and Doane Gregory is a photographer who takes the still shots of actors for movies. You can see some of his fantastic portraits on his website. I mentioned that my next door neighbor Doreen Beaulac does the accounting for movies, and is currently working on the fourth Jason Bourne movie, and of course he knew Doreen, What an interconnected world this is.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 36: Moving to Villas Chulavista

Up early and after packing up all my stuff I headed down for breakfast at my favorite place, Panino's, but it is closed today because they are laying the concrete for the new sidewalk outside. Should be done by tomorrow, and it will be nice to have the tables outside on wide even ground at last.

Headed over to El Expresso for a leisurely breakfast reading a new book by Erik Larson called Isaac's Storm. Have read two of his books down here both of which I highly recommend: Thunderstruck, and The Devil in the White City. These are non-fiction that each combine two or more interesting story-lines that intersect in unexpected ways, and his ability to paint the period in time in words is masterful.

Villas Chulavista Unit 5
After killing a couple of hours I stopped by Villas Chulavista to check that I could extend my stay for yet another week until March 21. This time Janet, a friend of ours, is going to fly down to join me for a little over a week, and since it is now snowing in Vancouver I was easily convinced to stay a little longer.

The place is available, and I have changed my flight, said adios to Ramona who had cleaned my place for the five weeks I was there in the two apartments, and hauled my bags and groceries the 50 meters around the corner to my new apartment in stages.

At Villas Chulavista (Cool View) I have the owner's top unit numero 5, which has two bedrooms each with it's own en-suite bathroom, a central kitchen and living area under a high thatched roof that is open to the elements, and a sweeping view of the north side of the bay.

This means it will be a little cooler in the morning, but the bedrooms can each be closed off if it is too cool. OK, so I have gone native: cool is around 15C.

As I was moving I met the new people in unit 2 at Casa Juanita, they are from BC and we have arranged to go to dinner at Don Chow's tonight.

Oh, and I finally managed to get a numero uno haircut.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 35: Last Day at Casa Juanita

Panino's Bakery
Sue arrived safely in freezing Vancouver last night after ten days in the sun, and has to hit the ground running with work today.

Meanwhile, I will be moving to my new digs at Villas Chulavista tomorrow, just fifty meters around the corner from where I am now. Decided to start the day with an early morning walk on the beach and end at Panino's for their wonderful bagette breakfast and soy latte.

Laying the new pedestrian-friendly sidewalks to the beach
The road crew are busy stamping down the earth on the sidewalks in preparation for laying new concrete. They have planted new palms, and when it is finished it will look very attractive and pedestrian friendly.

They have made good progress with the street repairs in the five weeks I have been here, and the first of the beach access roads is nearly complete with extra wide pedestrian sidewalks and only a narrow road with no parking for deliveries to the stores.

Rooftop porn at Casa Juanita
Went to get a haircut, but the place I used last time is closed up and no sign when they will be open. Not sure if there is another hairdresser here, will have to go and see later.

Back to Casa Juanita to catch up on my journal and to start packing up my stuff. Last move I left several things in the apartment, so this time I will be more careful.

I am going to miss Casa Juanita, especially the top unit with its private rooftop deck with the sweeping view from the top of Gringo Hill.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 34: Sue Leaves

Sue waiting to leave at Sayulita bus terminal
Today is a travel day for Sue back to Vancouver. Once again we started the day early with a walk along the beach to the end of the bay as the sun started to peek over the trees.

Then over to Paniono's again for a leisurely breakfast, where we picked up a sandwich for Sue to take with her on the plane.

Then it was back to Casa Juanita for Sue to pack up, and head down the hill to get the noon bus to Puerto Vallarta airport. On the way she was able to print her boarding passes at the Internet cafe just off the main square.

Painting by Evelyn Boren
One of the advantages of staying for another two weeks is I will be able to watch the Punta Sayulita Surfing Competition on March 9-11.

I spent the rest of the day on the rooftop deck reading The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson, a wonderful tale of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a murder mystery intertwined - and working on that elusive all-over tan.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 33: Sue's Last Day in Sayulita

For her last full day in Sayulita Sue wanted to walk the beaches and relax in the sun, and that is exactly what we did.

We started the day walking the length of the bay shortly after sunrise, when the temperature is cool and pleasant and there is only runners and fishermen on the beach. Ended up at Panino's, one of my favorite places for breakfast and a soy latte for me.

We spent much of the day reading on the rooftop deck and enjoying the sun. Then later in the afternoon we hiked to Playa Muertos and cooled off in the wonderful swimming beach.

We ended Sue's trip with an excellent meal at Miro Vino, which easily has to be the best restaurant in Sayulita, and has the North American prices to prove it. After weeks of fish tacos, it was a delight to have some innovative Italian cooking, and Sue and I celebrated her stay here in style, and then finished a wonderful evening with wine on the rooftop deck with the brilliant stars for company.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 32: Another Research Day

Doing tricks on the beach
After the late night from yesterday's adventure we both slept in late, and decided we wanted a slow relaxing day today. The day turned out to be beautiful and sunny, and we headed down to the beach with our towels and books and parked in a couple of deck chairs with a bucket of cerveza and watch the surfers and the guys doing tricks on the beach.

Sue said the weather forecast for Vancouver was cold and wet, and asked why I was coming home on Wednesday. Did a quick calculation of the travel funds, and decided to try and extend my stay here for another two weeks.

Back at Casa Juanita I looked through the listings, and sent of some inquiries, but figured these may take a day to reply. So I walked around the corner to a place I had seen before called Villas Chulavista (Cool View) and spoke to Luz the on-site manager, with on of the guests Mary helping with the translation. The result is I am booked there from when I leave Casa Juanita on Feb 29, and now leaving March 14.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 31: Another Adventure

Flag Day in Sayulita
Today was another surprise adventure day for Sue. We started the day with breakfast at El Expresso and watched the Dia de la Bandera (Flag Day) parade pass along the main street  from of our table. All the kids from the surrounding schools were there, of course waving flags.

We then had time to visit the Friday Farmer's Market before catching the bus to the entrance to Nuervo Vallarta on the highway, and walking the half hour in to meet once again at Vallarta Adventures. This time we were going zip-lining through the forest on their Canopy Adventure.

Trucking to the Canopy Adventure
Eleven of us piled into a truck and drove an hour past the airport and into the hills, where they have 150 acres of forest rigged with a trail of zip lines. The staff are all young, enthusiastic, and very safety conscious. They handled all the harness and connections and taught us the basics we needed to know to stay safe without overloading us.

Then it was up into the trees and for the next two hours we zipped and zapped down numerous lines ranging from 60 to 120 meters. Also had to do two rope rappels and some of us chose to do a harder route that involved climbing back up 20 or so meters up a rope ladder and across part of the canopy on small suspension bridges. We learned that they are in the process of building a 1.4 kilometer line that you will ride horizontally, and then end the trip on ATVs.

At all times we were connected from our harnesses to a safety line and when switching lines our guides always connected us to the new line before disconnecting fro the previous line.

Unfortunately for safety reasons we were not allowed to take our cameras with us, and once on the course I understood why - we had to use all our attention and both our hands to focus on what we were doing.

They did had a photographer follow us, and my only complaint with Vallarta Adventures is that they then charge almost as much as the trip for a copy of the digital images. It would be for better if they simply set one price that included everything instead of nickel and diming you to death.

Then another hour's truck ride back to the main center, where we had just enough time to shower, get changed and have a drink before we set out for the second part of the adventure.

We passed a pirate ship in Banderas Bay
For Sue's evening surprise I had booked us on their Rhythms of the Night dinner and show at Las Caletas, an isolated cove on Banderas Bay below Puerto Vallarta.

My surprise was that there was 500 people heading out in five boats. Not exactly in intimate evening I had imagined, but we went with the flow and the MC on our boat was funny and kept us entertained for the hour or so it took to get there. We Stopped at Puerto Vallarta along the way to pick up the majority of the passengers.

Thankfully I had been warned by Eduardo, who sold me the package in Sayulita, to dress warm and wear shoes not sandals, as it was cool on the boat, and cold on the return trip.

Rhythms of the Night (Photo: Vallarta Adventures)
The staging for the show was well done and the
show was a collage of dance representing the history of the region. There were some good acts, but overall I think Sue and I have been utterly spoiled by Cirque du Soleil that it was hard to sit still on the hard wooded bench seats, especially as by now we were starving.

We did not have dinner until after the entertainment which ended around 9.30. They did a good job of dividing the 500 people up into small sections that were separated from each other by candle lit pathways and burning torches. The dinner itself was an unremarkable buffet, and we felt rushed  knowing we only had a half and hour or so before the boats left. It was a good experience, but not one I would overwhelmingly recommend as I would the dolphin training and the canopy adventure.

We got back to Nuervo Vallarta around midnight and got a taxi back to Sayulita for not much more than the official set price that we had been told, and collapsed into bed around 1.30am.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 30: Sayulita Day

The view from the east hills
The plan for today was to walk the beaches as far as the peninsular just before San Pancho. This involves walking to end of the Sayulita bay beach and then hiking a jungle trail over the headland to the next beach which is generally deserted. I had done this a while back before Sue got here, and thought it would make a good day hike.

On the way out I talked to the owner Juanita, whose real name we learned is Janet but the Mexicans immediately called her Juanita. She said that there have been reports of bandidos along that beach robbing lone tourists, and even an incident of a shooting in the last few days. So we revised our plans to stay close to town.

Today is supposed to be the start of Sayulita Days, but we cannot find any information about it. Sue had seen a sign at the arena by the highway where we saw the horse show the other day on our way back from San Pancho. So we hiked out and they looked like they were setting up some equipment there for the evening, with a sign painted on the wall with something about bands on Feb 23.

Next we hiked up one an incredibly steep road on the east side, that opens into an incredible view of the town from the top.

Rooftop deck at Casa Juanita
Back down along the beach, picked up beer, wine and a chicken from the ladies at the bottom of our road, and headed back to enjoy reading on our rooftop deck. The weather was starting to look threatening, and we wanted to take advantage of our fantastic view while we could.

Tomorrow is another surprise adventure day for Sue, so stay tuned.