Alamos Mexico

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 27-03-2009

Our last stop (and one of our very favorite) was Alamos in the state of Sonora.  We  had heard a lot about this small town of 10,000 nestled in the mountains at 1400′ elevation and even saw a bit about it on a Mexico travel video.  We had no idea it was so special.  The roads were paved with cobblestones and the beautiful adobe houses were painted in an array of wonderful colors.  One day, I took a morning walk and passed some large wooden windows which opened up to a beautiful room with a huge garden in the background.  A woman was busy painting while listening to Opera.  Very cool!  Alamos is one of Mexico’s 14 “magical pueblos” and magical it is.    Maria Felix is the “Marilyn Monroe” of Mexico and her birthplace is now a quaint little inn in the center of the city.  There is also a most amazing inn called, ” Hotel Hacidena De Los Santos Resort and Spa” which is beyond words.   A place for a special occasion. 

I am always on the lookout for special little coffee cafes (in my effort to avoid all Starbucks) and we found a beautiful little place off the beaten path.  Cafe de Sol is owned by an American and one can sit and relax with a creamy latte in the courtyard surrounded by native plants, soft music and gentle warm breezes.  I managed to come up with a reason to go everyday (took each of my family members one by one) and I can’t wait to go again in December! 

Alamos really is a magical memory and worthy of a visit.

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Our new friends, “The Canadians”

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 22-03-2009

When we met a full time RV family in October at Harris Beach Oregon, little did we know that chance meeting would add a dimension to our RV adventure we couldn’t have dreamed of. Meeting Roch, Helen, Ariane and Myrina turned out to be great in so many ways. We have shared  many wonderful memories with this family and we hope to continue our friendship way into the future. Together, our kids added up to five and they became a tight happy unit. They would take walks together during the day and evening around the campgrounds, tell stories, watch movies, play in the ocean and just laugh the days away. The bond they formed is strong and we all hope it will last their lifetimes.
While the kids stuck together like glue, the adults were somewhat “childless” and had time to enjoy some adult time.  The four of us relaxed over many a “happy hour”, shared a special Valentine’s double date dinner at “Roosters” and enjoyed many walks in Melaque after dinner. When you share a similar perspective on life – that’s it’s short and you only have so much time with your kids before they head off to college – it’s a great starting point for meaningful conversations. It was neat to see Roch fully embrace the Mexico lifestyle and tuck away his watch (never has this happened before) and wear a pair of flip flocks (never has this happened before either!).   Helen was such fun and we really enjoyed her stories. Both Helen and Roch have been in the Canadian military for many years and it was so interesting to hear their stories of trips to the Congo, Afghanistan and many other countries. We always felt safe alongside these two walking the streets!

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We hope to meet again with “The Canadians” during our trip through the Midwest this Spring. Thank you Canadian family for adding such so much to our RV adventure!
 

 

Teacapan

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-03-2009

The migration north is evident everywhere you look as campers from North America make their way back home. We stopped in a little seaside town called Teacapan and were greeted by three couples we had met in Melaque. It was great fun to see them again. We were told by others about this special little town and now we know it for ourselves. The campground is very simple and it over looked a very calm and beautiful bay. Andrew went fishing within minutes of parking and caught several good looking fish, although their type remains a mystery. The town is very small but has a renowned bakery which we visited (of course) and bought a variety of goodies straight from their wood burning oven.

We left Teacapan en route back to one of our first stops in Mexico, Celestino. We expect a few people we met to still be there but come April, most will have returned to their casas in the north.

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Chimulco (Villa Corona)

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 14-03-2009

We left Melaque en route for Villa Corona, a town at 4500 feet elevation and just an hour outside Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara. What our kids did NOT know is that our Canadian friends would be there when we arrived. They greeted us and I thought our kids would fall out of the RV! They made us a yummy dinner of chili and we sat around in the clubhouse, eating dinner and reminiscing about our days together in Mexico.  

A great attraction at RV park were the natural thermal pools. Each day, the park fills the many pools with fresh clean warm thermal water. There is a great big water pool which includes slides, a big water bucket and a massaging pool. They also have a smaller pool, open only to those of us in the RV park which we all visit at 7PM each evening. Soaking in these warm thermal pools can’t but remind  one of the movie, “Cocoon”, where they seemed to lengthen their lives while they soaked. One can only hope!

The RV park was on a beautiful lake which was full of crane and heron. The days were warm and windy and we loved just sitting outside, hearing the wind blow gently through the pine trees.

One day, we visited the “Sand Church” which was nestled high on a hill over the town. It is completely made of sand and so unusual it even made the list of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”. We were greeted by Juan who gave us a tour, completely in Spanish. We all nodded when he spoke and picked up a word here and there. After the tour of the church, we made our donation and then walked freely through the sand caves. The caves were dark and cool and one needed a flashlight to venture deep into them. At one point, Ken pointed his flashlight upwards more than 30 BATS flew away from the light. Yikes! A bit creepy, even though I completely see the significance of bats on our planet. A wonderful stop during our stay in Mexico.

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Lake Chapala

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-03-2009

During our stay at Villa Corona, we took a day trip to Lake Chapala.  The drive to the “biggest lake in Mexico” was beautiful and we drove through many small colorful towns along the way.  We arrived in a bustling lakeside town, full of festivities and people, all enjoying their Sunday afternoon in the sun.  We had lunch at a little local taco shop then walked along the lakeside malecon.  On our way home, we stopped at a roadside fruit vendor and Ken bought the most RED watermelon we have ever seen and a sweet pineapple.  We love these roadside fruit stands!  A stop at Lake Chapala is a definite must if you are even in the Guadalajara area.  We look forward to exploring it more one day. 

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Guadalajara

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-03-2009

On Saturday, we took a day long tour of Guadalajara with our Canadian friends and our tour guide, Ricardo. We piled into his SUV and headed into the city. Ricardo obviously knows his way around the city and how to navigate the crazy traffic. He showed us a special shop where they concoct potions of every kind.  For example, do want to make someone fall in love with you? There’s a potion for that!  How about making someone fall OUT of love with you? They have you covered for that too! It made me think back to Shrek 2 and the potion shop of the fairy.  Maybe these folks in Guadalajara are onto something!
We visited the historic downtown which included the Plaza de Armas, a gathering place which has remained unchanged by historic events. We learned that in days long ago, the young people in town would walk around this plaza and profess their love to one another but dropping a confetti filled egg on their true heart’s desire. (Could you imagine our kids doing that today?) We then took a tour through the main symbol of the city, the Cathedral , during Mass no less. We felt a bit awkward taking pictures while the priest was doing his thing! Ricardo showed us where the finger tips of those who defended the Catholic church were housed. Interesting!
We took a tour of the Municipal Palace which is surrounded by a series of portals and is filled with paintings by Jose Clemente Orozco of Mexico’s famed liberator Father Miguel Hildago who fought to abolish slavery in the middle 19th century.   We learned enough history that it left us with a burning desire to learn more, something we promised to do before we return again.
While it had been so wonderful to have the peaceful time by the sea, spending time in an amazing city was a real treat and we look forward to returning next winter.
Andrew has a good friend in Anthem, Gus, whose relatives live in Guadalajara. Thanks to Gus’ mom, Luz Maria, we set up a dinner date with her three cousins – Leticia, Patty and Olga – together with Olga’s great husband Beto. We had such a wonderful dinner with this group and enjoyed chatting with them very much. After they very generously treated us to dinner and gave us a bouquet of delicious chocolate roses, we bid farewell, knowing we would see them again next year on our trip through Guadalajara. On our way home, we slipped into one of the only Starbucks I have seen in Mexico. It was, by far, the most beautiful Starbucks we have ever seen. I got a big coffee mug that reads “Guadalajara” which was lots of fun. A nice end to a lovely evening.
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Tlaquepaque

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-03-2009

During our tour of Guadalajara, Ricardo took us to a nearby town called, Tlaquepaque. This town is recognized as one of the most important artistic centers in Mexico.  Tlaqeupaque was so beautiful and reminiscent of a city in Europe. Ricardo dropped us off and let us roam free for 3 ½ hours. We had a wonderful lunch at “The Patio” and strolled along the beautiful streets, filled with shops full of everything from home furnishings to colorful clothing to funky glasses and dishes. We were in heaven! The men grew tired of shopping so they sat at an outdoor bar, drinking beers and watching the mariachi bands stroll the streets.

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Melaque Part Dos

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 06-03-2009

To give you an idea of how much we LOVED Melaque, we already put a deposit down on a RV spot for December 2009! One of our favorite new culinary traditions is a “taco crawl.” Similar to a pub crawl where you stagger from pub to pub drinking beer, a taco crawl includes sampling tacos from a variety of outdoor vendors. We usually have one or two at each place (the guys have two) and then we move on. At the end, we judge who was the best. One of Ken’s “rules” (though I do not obey it) is to try something different at each place – you can’t have the same type of taco at two different places. Were I to adhere to this rule, I would undoubtedly end up eating a taco of unknown origin and I am not that adventurous. . .yet! Andrew IS that adventurous and he and Ken would challenge each other to try a taco with a stuffing they could not pronounce nor understand. Let’s just say we never had a bad taco so. . . there you go!

We enjoyed taking evening walks along the streets and watching all the hubbub of activity. We found one area which became my favorite place to walk – it was the malecon (waterfront walkway) along the lagoon. The lagoon is home to some amazing birds, beautiful blooming lily pads and some crocodile. It is a very peaceful place to walk at any time of day but especially during the evening hours.

During our walks, we would find lots of land for sale and daydream about buying them and converting them to our own private RV pad. Many people have already done this and their places are very special places indeed. One couple bought a lot that was about 50’ to 100” for about US$30,000, put about US$30,000 of improvements into it (including a outdoor kitchen, tile, concrete and walls, plants and flowers) and now own a little piece of heaven to return to each season.

We made a tradition with our Canadian friends to have dinner on the roof of the hotel on Friday nights. We would each make something yummy and bring it up the four flights of stairs, settling into our chairs to enjoy a cocktail at 5:30 prompt! Memories of these special dinners will remain with us as they were so carefree and relaxing. One dinner included a birthday party for Myrina, their now 10 year old daughter. She wore a blindfold and swung at a piñata until all the candy can spewing out. I took a picture of Lauren and Myrina, making a pinky swear to be friends forever. So sweet.

During one of our early morning walks, Ken and I were overtaken by the smell of fresh bread, one of the best smells in the world (as far as I am concerned!) We followed our noses and it lead us to the source, the bread bakery for the whole town of Melaque. What a find!! Ken meandered in and discovered we could buy this wonderful bread straight from their big wood burning ovens, all for the cost of only 2.5 pesos a piece (about 17 cents). This became one of our favorite things to do in the morning and we never grew tired of the warm French bread. Oh how I miss this morning tradition!

The RV park did not have a laundry facility. No problem as down the street was a “lavandaria”. We would take our big bags of laundry to there where they would weigh it and we would return to pick it up that afternoon – all fresh, dry and packed up. The cost was 10 pesos per kilo so it usually ran us about $8 for a few loads. Such a deal as I didn’t have to hassle with coins and machines. I grew quite fond of this service and look for it now wherever I go! So spoiled am I!  

Our Canadian friends left a few days before us and it was hard to watch them leave. We had spent almost two months with this family of four and have grown very fond of them. We realized that we could have quite a bit of fun traveling with another family and we look forward to having our paths cross again, something we will make sure happens.

After five weeks, we departed Melaque with just a bit of sadness as we knew we would return in a mere 9 months.

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Mom’s Visit to Melaque

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 05-03-2009

My mom came to visit us in Melaque for 8 days and stayed in the bungalows at our RV park. The drive to little Manzanillo airport was a mere 30 miles alongside grooves of coconut trees. We picked her up and then tucked her into her little room, three floors up with a view of the beautiful lagoon and mountains.  

 We took her to all our favorite beaches and she even went boogie boarding with Andrew. She caught a great wave and rode it all the way to shore. She was so cute and loved the sense of freedom that comes with swimming in the ocean. She spent time with the kids and even had a sleep over with Lauren one night.

I took her on a panga boat across the bay to the, “ Grand Bay Hotel”, where we walked along the shore, pretended we owned one of the million dollar yachts and had a lovely lunch on a terrace overlooking the bay.

My mom met some artists on the plane to Melaque and was anxious to visit the galleries in town. We went to one gallery and met a wonderful artist named Octavio. He used some interesting methods in his artwork and mom had a great time chatting with him about his techniques.

Mom treated Ken and me to an amazing dinner in Melaque at a restaurant named “Maya”. We sipped on pineapple infused vodka martinis, warm goat cheese spinach salads, rib eye steaks and a killer brownie for desert. We ate like royalty, all for the total cost (including tip) of $90. Gotta love Mexico and the 15:1 exchange rate!

It was so hard to say good-bye to her but we know she will visit us again along our trek – perhaps Alaska? 

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Bocas de Iguanas

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Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 03-03-2009

 Boca de Iguanas (BdI) is an ecologically-progressive resort community along the “Costalegre” in the state of Jalisco. Surrounded by jungle vegetation and strikingly beautiful, this bay is amazing with its fine sand beaches and gentle waves. BdI was my very favorite beach thus far in Mexico. It was so peaceful and when you see the pictures, you too will understand its beauty.

When we walked over the little makeshift bridge to the beach, we saw a sign that read, (in Spanish) “Watch out for the crocodiles!” We looked just behind the sign and there, sitting peacefully on a log, was a crocodile. They weren’t kidding! The kids were so excited and even us adults were happy to claim we had seen a wild crocodile a mere 10 feet for us!
BdI has a small resort on the beach which is beautiful, simple and luxurious. We ate at their airy little outdoor restaurant, upstairs under a big palapa. Because we had lunch at the resort, we were able to use their lovely pool and sit under their beach umbrellas. What a feeling of simple pleasure and relaxation. We can’t wait to come to this beach again!  
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