Almost Adios

Hello again everyone and welcome back to OnVallartaTime! What the heck? I can’t believe that it’s April already! Our time here in Vallarta is almost done for the season.

We have been having such a good time that we hardly noticed its passage. It’s time for us to start getting our heads around leaving, with all that it entails.  We are mentally packing — what to take and what to leave? What do we have to do to prepare our apartment for being vacant until November? We are now eating out of the freezer; I’m going to make us some dynamite pork chops for dinner tonight!

I took a short walk this afternoon to get some essentials. My first stop was Farmacia Guadalajara, a large drug store chain in Mexico. There’s a local branch about four blocks from the house. Then I went by the frutería for potatoes and mushrooms to round out our dinner. Along the way, since it was past lunchtime, I stopped by a taco stand and got two — one of carne asada and the other of pollo adobado. Each of them came with two of the small corn tortillas, with a healthy pile of filling. Then you add toppings and salsa, yum! All this for 19 pesos (about a dollar). Man, it’s going to be hard to leave!

High season is winding down here. All our visitors and many of our friends have already left.  There’s more breathing room at the beach, and it’s easy to get into most restaurants without a reservation. I like it better; it’s less hectic and more relaxing.

Since the last edition of OnVallartaTime at the beginning of February, we have been very busy. My sister Laura and her husband Bob came for a couple of weeks, and for the first week they were accompanied by Laura’s son, my nephew Chris and his wife Angie. Our friend Eve came back for a return visit also. It was the highest of high season and many of our annual friends from all over were in town, so there were lots of get-togethers and dinners out. Meanwhile regular life went on, with trivia on Mondays, Los Strumbreros ukulele group on Tuesdays, and lots of beach time.

In the middle of March, Peggy and I went on a short vacation from the city to Barra de Navidad, a small beach town about three hours south by bus. We had a really great time! It’s always fun to see new places and have new experiences.

So let’s get to the pictures — first of friends, family and fun times, then of our trip to Barra de Navidad!

Here are sister Laura, Brother-in-Law Bob, nephew Chris and his wife Angie, posing by the big rubber tree on the Isla Cuale.

We had a great dinner at La Traviata restaurant at sunset with my long-time friend Ethan, his wife Carol, their friend Jackie, and Eve. Spectacular setting, outstanding Italian food.

A bunch of us got together and rented a pontoon boat for a tour around the bay and a trip south to Las Animas beach for lunch. Here we are at the marina before departure.

On the way, we passed by Los Muertos beach. Swell Beach Bar, where we usually hang out, is the group of tan umbrellas just to the left of the blue ones.

Humpback whales were in the bay on their annual migration to give birth. These whales didn’t dive, breach or otherwise show off — it was serious, with a mother, a nursemaid, and a new-born calf. They were just staying on the surface to support the calf.

We passed by Los Arcos, near Mismaloya. These rocks are the nesting place for thousands of birds. It’s a popular snorkeling spot.

Here’s our lunch bunch at Las Animas. 

Friends on the beach.

More friends, this time gathered for a memorable dinner at Cuale Paradise on a little island in the middle of the river.

A beautiful sunset, from Ethan and Carol’s place in Conchas Chinas.

Our ukulele (and other instrument) group, Los Strumbreros. A new member of the group, Connie Olson (Chelo) worked for weeks to produce this painting.

Now for the trip to Barra de Navidad! Known as Barra, it’s a small town on the coast of the state of Jalisco, south of Vallarta. It is situated on a sandbar (hence the name) where a large lagoon joins the ocean. It shares the bay with another, slightly larger town, Melaque (also known for some reason as San Patricio), just a few kilometers away. The bay, Bahia de Navidad, was named by the Spanish explorers who discovered it on Christmas Day in the mid-sixteenth century. In colonial times, it was a center of shipbuilding, repairs and a jumping off point for trade with the Philippines. These days it is a sleepy small town supported by fishing, farming and tourism.

Peggy and I felt the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, towards the end of high season. We decided on a five-day trip, did some research, and booked a hotel by phone. We needed this trip!

Waiting for the bus at the Primera Plus bus station on Carranza near our house. It’s a 3 – 3 1/2 hour bus ride. The buses are quite luxurious, with two bathrooms, individual viewing screens with entertainment, and wifi. We mostly looked out the window at the scenery; there’s a lot of empty country on the way with incredible mountain and jungle vistas.

After arriving and settling in, we watched the sunset from the rooftop bar of a neighboring hotel, the Alondra. It has a 360-degree view and was a good place to get the lay of the land.

The view south, showing the ocean and the mouth of the lagoon.

The view east across the lagoon and the canals.

The view north along the bay with Melaque in the far background. Our hotel, the Bogavante, is the yellow ocean-front building.

The front of our hotel.

The view from our third-floor room. The beach is very steep here, making for treacherous swimming conditions, but also making for large, close-in breaking waves that lulled us to sleep each night.

The hotel pool from our room. It’s an infinity pool and quite pleasant — we spent an afternoon poolside.

Our hotel had live music three nights a week, a good place to have a happy hour.

Happy hour sunset.

We spent an afternoon in Melaque after we hired a cab driver to give us a mini-tour. This is the beach, much more swimmable than Barra.

This was our lunch spot in Melaque.

These are the ruins of the former Casa Grande Hotel in Melaque, destroyed by a 1995 earthquake and never rebuilt.

Sleepy by day, Barra comes alive at night with live music in many of the restaurants. Strolling mariachis came by the Bésame Mucho restaurant, one of our favorites.

There was a carnival in town, close to our hotel.

There are two waterfronts in Barra, the ocean and the lagoon. We enjoyed El Manglito, a restaurant on the lagoon.

The interior of El Manglito.

We had lunch and some happy hours at the Best Sunset Bar, a relaxing place with good, fresh seafood.

The ocean from the Best Sunset Bar.

The interior of the Best Sunset Bar.

The Best Sunset Bar’s resident parrots. I think they must like sunflower seeds!

Passing by the Barra church in the evening.

We spent our last full day at a little beach up the coast from Melaque, Cuastecomates. It’s a hidden gem, with a flat, sandy beach, perfect for swimming, even for young children. There were quite a few Mexican families enjoying themselves here.

Cuastecomates beach.

Well, that’s it for this post, and, sadly, for OnVallartaTime until the fall. We have a lot to do to get ready to leave for Oregon. So we are preparing to go back to the other side of the wall, where some things may be easier or more available, but where the conception of time is less flexible and more scheduled. Yet we love it there, and soon we will be back on our familiar Oregon beach!

I hope you have enjoyed following along with us this season! As a parting shot, here is another sunset, this one from Lindo Mar in Conchas Chinas, Vallarta.