Christmas in Melaque

0

Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-12-2009

During our last stay in Melaque, our Canadian friends were with us almost the entire time so it was a bit bittersweet to arrive solo. We did however, feel a bit more at home when we were greeted by George, Seaward and Jeff – friends we made during our stay last season. Last March, we made our reservation and picked our spot, #20, on the lagoon side. While we enjoyed being on the beach side last time, we found the spaces on the lagoon to be bigger, shadier and more quiet. We arrived two days before our reservation but our spot was all ready for us and we were very happy to be back. We arrived on December 18 and could tell the mood in the town was very different than last season when we arrived way past the holidays. Decorations and pinatas were everywhere and locals from towns inland, began arriving by the busload.
 
We rode our bikes into the town center and found people everywhere – eating, drinking and shopping. It was great fun to be included with the locals and find such a high level of energy everywhere. Meanwhile, back at the campground, Poohnut was so happy to hear her favorite song, the canned music of the “Ice Cream Man” make its way past our RV. He was equally excited to see her again as she was his best customer last season.
 
During the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the kids and I made our way across the highway to the country side of Melaque. The roads were surprisingly good and small farms with little houses dotted the wide open fields. People waved to us as we drove by, happy to see visitors. We purchased a bunch of small gifts in the states with the plan of delivering them to some local children in Melaque. We picked this more rural side of town as it seemed that few people made their way across the highway. At first, it was difficult to find any small children. Then Andrew spotted a little girl playing on the side of the road with a piece of wood and jumped out of the van, adorned in a Santa hat, and gave her a large plastic candy cane filled with M&Ms. She quickly dropped the piece of wood and gave Andrew a big happy smile. We continued down the road and found a small group of children. They were very appreciative of the small gifts and we wished we could give them so much more. Moments later, it was as if they announced our arrival with a bull horn, as children came running from every direction. We busily handed out all the gifts and then slipped into our van, whipped off our Santa hats and tried to drive incognito back home. We wished we had brought many more gifts as it was hard to leave without giving each and every one of those sweet children a present. Note to self – bring more than 100 presents next time!
 
Our Christmas Eve dinner included lobster pasta, made with 3 lobsters purchased by “Lobster Man” (what is that guy’s real name??) that morning for the cost of about $45. (Yes, we had a lot of leftovers!) Unfortunately, Ken wasn’t feeling that well (was it the after effects of the stingray encounter?) so I played the role of Mom and Dad. Santa arrived early morning (amazing how he finds us each year with all our moving around) and left a large white bag full of presents outside the RV. The kids woke up oh so happy and dragged the bag merrily into the RV. Present unwrapping took just a couple hours and was followed by a yummy breakfast of homemade cinnamon buns made by Nikki and Poohnut. 
 [nggallery id=163]
 

Boca de Iguanas

1

Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-12-2009

Our drive from Lake Chapala took us by the volcanoes of Colima while were beautifully displayed with snow capping their tops.  We were happy to reach the coast again and enjoyed the smooth ride down from the higher elevation.
During our last stay on the Costa Alegre, we fell in love with the amazing beach of Boca de Iguanas. Quite possibly the most beautiful beach in Mexico, this beach also has a small rustic style campground we wanted to check out.  I dreamed of waking up on this beach with my coffee and sipping a glass of wine as the sun set. The plan was to camp here for four nights and relax before heading to the busier town of Melaque. Most campgrounds in Mexico are no more than about 250 pesos a night, this one in Boca being no different. However, they charged an additional 100 pesos for each person over two so it ended up being ridiculously expensive by Mexico standards. So, we changed our plans and only stayed for two nights, still allowing us to enjoy our coffee and wine in the sand.
 
 After breakfast, Ken and Andrew took off to do some shore fishing. They met a great couple and the gal helped Andrew improve his net throwing  technique .  After about an hour, Ken came limping into the RV, having been stung by a stingray.  His face was so contorted in pain that it was evident the normal pain remedies would not suffice. I tried to call a friend in the US so she could Google possible tonics but we couldn’t get a cell signal. Ken was getting worse so I jogged over to the owner of the campground (a woman who spoke no English) in the hopes of finding the location of the nearest medical center. She was chatting with a gringo from Iowa who turned out to be our savior. I explained the situation and she quickly took me over to a large vine which was growing wild on the beach. She instructed me to place the leaves in very hot water and have Ken soak his feet in the hot “tea”.   She said the pain would diminish quickly. I did just as I was told and to our relief, Ken felt better in less than one minute! What a miracle!! We have no idea what this plant was but it’s always great to find a holistic and natural remedy as opposed to pumping up on medications. I think we can learn a lot from the Mexican people!
 
This beach is so pretty and its quietness adds to its appeal.  There is a very special ecohotel at the end of the beach.  If you have any special events to celebrate, this would be our place of choice.  Check out this website:  http://www.bocadeiguanas.com/    Boca de Iguanas Beach Hotel offers rustic but luxurious and stylish accommodations that deliver an ultra-chic vacation in a pristine ecological setting.    Really special!  
 
After two somewhat  relaxing  days on the prettiest beach we have seen in Mexico, we made a short trek to our “home away from home”,  Melaque.
[nggallery id=162]

Lake Chapala

0

Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 16-12-2009

After our wonderful and tasty short stay in Tequila (love those margaritas!) we made our way through the side streets of the bustling city of Guadalajara (a bit hairy in our big rig) then onward to our peaceful campground on the shores of Lake Chapala.  Lake Chapala lies in a valley surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains of southwestern Mexico and is the country’s largest natural lake.   Lake Chapala is known for its breathtaking beauty, geothermal hot springs, and ideal climate.The campground, Roka Azul, was not only home to a handful of snowbirds (still a bit preseason) but also included a large beautiful sports complex complete with hot mineral pools, volleyball courts, soccer fields and playgrounds. The grounds were impeccable and amassed an area of more than 50 acres. We parked on the more rustic side of the campground, overlooking the lake. The evenings and mornings were cool and the days never went past 75 degrees. I can see why some people choose this kind of climate over the warmth and humidity of the seashore as it is quite lovely. (Although we are beach people so we only lasted a week!).

We took a drive along the Ribiera (Riviera) de Chapala which was beautiful and full of color and festivities. The drive was dotted with many lakeside restaurants where the men shouted outside, motioning for us to try their eatery. We parked in the historical district of the city and walked around the town, enjoying the malecon (beach path) and local street vendors. Lake Chapala attracts many foreigners and one can definitely see why one would want to spend their retired days in this beautiful place.

Poohnut was insistent upon having a picnic (she LOVES picnics) so one afternoon, we made a wide array of culinary delights including crust-less cucumber sandwiches, a cheese plate, cut up apples with brie and an array of other goodies.  We enjoyed our yummy picnic among the trees. Afterwards, we played a competitive game of volleyball and again, our children outplayed Ken and myself. They are definitely more limber than us two!

Now onward to where we last left our hearts, the town of Melaque.

[nggallery id=161]

TEQUILA!

1

Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 11-12-2009

On our route back to Mazatlan last season, we saw “Santiago de Tequila” from afar and vowed to include a stop this time around. Admittedly,  we were lured to this town because of our great fondness for the namesake of the town. Santiago de Tequila is a town located in the state of Jalisco about 60 km from the city of Guadalajara.   Tequila is best known for being the birthplace of the drink that bears its name, “tequila,” which is made from the blue agave plant, native to this area. The heart of the plant contains sugars and had been used by native peoples here to make a fermented drink they called mezcal. After the Spanish arrived, they took this fermented beverage and distilled it, producing the tequila known today.  The popularity of the drink and the history behind it has made this town and the area surrounding it a World Heritage Site.  It was also named a “Pueblo Mágico” (Magical Town) in 2003 by the Mexican federal government.

We missed the road to a small farming campground mentioned in our Mexican guide book so we decided to wing it and find a spot to park in the town of Tequila.  Prior visions of the town included a small population of people walking calming around an historical center.  What we found was a vibrant town full of people and thus little space to park.  Ken negotiated with a manager of a beer distributor to park in his parking lot behind a fence.  Ken offered him money but he declined, further evidence of the generosity of the Mexican people.  We asked him for a good place to have dinner and he sent us to “Cholula”.  This hot sauce just happens to be Poohnut’s favorite hot sauce in the whole world so it was the perfect place to eat.  The restaurant was located in the heart of the town square where we found a huge festival underway, complete with food vendors, rides for kids and  a Catholic Mass.  We enjoyed our dinner and then further fulled up on a yummy desert of fresh strawberries with cream and fried bananas.  Ken and I had the obligatory shot of tequila (offered at every street corner) then made our way back  home to our beer distributing neighborhood.  Our parking spot was just a few yards from the “free road”, used by those who don’t want to pay the fee on the toll road, so the night was quite noisy.

The  next morning, we went back to the main square and by contrast, it was calm and lovely.  The girls and I had breakfast at a small cafe and enjoyed cappuccino and French bread.  The boys walked to  the grittier side of town and ate a more authentic Mexican style breakfast.   Ken looked up the tour schedule for the Jose Cuervo factory and we arrived just in time to take a tour in. . . Spanish!   Oh well, you don’t need to know Spanish to know you like tequila!

We were so impressed by the grounds of the Jose Cuervo factory.  They were really beautiful and I couldn’t stop taking pictures. After watching a promotional style video (with English subtitles) we followed our tour guide from place to place, learning first how Agave (the plant used in tequila) is selected then we learned about the process used to distill the alcohol and finally how it’s refined to the finished product we know and love. The guide also explained the differences between the various types of tequila and their uses. The buildings each had varying degrees of the odors of alcohol – the vapors strong enough to have the guide request no electronic devices to be used in the buildings at all. The hour long tour was made complete by a  free margarita, the kids enjoying the virgin variety.   We learned a lot about tequila and its’ production and we also tasted a good bit of tequila along the way including a smooth 120-proof pure tequila – not  something we usually drink at 11AM!  The tour was time well spent and we have a deeper appreciation for one of our favorite libations!

Now off to our favorite spot in Mexico (so far!) . .   Melaque!

[nggallery id=160]

Going “home” to Celestino

0

Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-12-2009

We have such wonderful and special memories of Celestino and returning felt like going “home”.  This is the first RV park during our adventure where we  got to know some really great people.  We arrived in Celestino (45 miles north of Mazatlan) the day before Thanksgiving with a small turkey in the freezer together with all the ingredients for a special holiday meal.  We tucked Mom into her little bungalow down the beach at “Villa Tortuga”.  Villa Tortuga is  brand new and has a small RV park (only 8 spots) and some beautiful bungalows.  Rene, along with his family, have created a haven on the beach and it’s one of the most beautiful places we have seen in Mexico.  Mom’s room overlooked the ocean and she was happy to have a little restaurant beneath her room for tea in the morning.  It was great to have Mom with us for Thanksgiving and we all thoroughly enjoyed an awesome dinner, eating outside in our “tent”. 

[nggallery id=158]

The girls and I took Mom into Mazatlan on Saturday and had a great girls day out.  We started at the Loonie Bean for a latte then drove the “Golden Zone” into the historic part of Mazatlan.  We walked along the colorful streets and enjoyed a yummy lunch at “I Love Lucy”.  After lunch we shopped at some really special places, our favorite being “Casa Etnika” owned by Helene and Miguel.  It is one of the coolest and most unique craft stores we have even been to and a must shopping stop while in Mazatlan! 

We enjoyed several days of simply lounging by the seaside and reading at Mom’s place.  Mom gave the kids their Christmas presents early, very special drawing pens with good drawing paper, so they all had an “art day with grandma” , a special day to remember.    All six of us took a trip into Mazatlan so Mom could experience the cathedral and the central market.  A day FULL of food and people as the town was bustling with activity.  It was hard to say goodbye to Mom but we all enjoyed our time with her and can’t wait to visit her at her place early next year. 

[nggallery id=159]

We enjoyed our time with friends so much in Celestino.  It was great to see Rick and Wendy, Craig and Diane and Kim and Larry.  Kim and Larry  have grown to be special friends and we look forward to spending more time with them in the future.  They are definitely people we could travel with and that’s tough to find!   Kim included the kids in a fun craft activity that required Andrew or Ken to catch a  fish!  The kids then applied fabric paint to the outside of the raw dead fish and then pressed it onto a while t-shirt.  It was so cool!  We didn’t have a lot of t-shirts so the kids found shells and rocks and had fun painting them too.  While we depart tomorrow for our next destination (Tequila!) , we look forward to seeing them again during our return trip as they spend the whole season in the Celestino area.   As I write this, our three munchkins are over at their RV watching the “Grinch who Stole Christmas” (the Jim Carey version).  Hard to remember it’s the holidays when the temperature is in the 80s everyday!

[nggallery id=157]