Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back in the Groove in Punta Perula

I back to my old self here in our little piece of paradise south of the border. My physical problem was two-fold. I have an ulcer problem once in a great while that causes some blood loss and that is part of the problem, but only a minor problem as it turns out. My greater problem is that I am simply too stupid to take in enough liquids when it is hot! That may seem to over simplify things, but it's the truth. The greatest problems I was having was dehydration. The worst part is that this is not the first time this has happened .......or the second. Really stupid. I drink when I'm thirsty, believing that it's enough, but I'm actually only getting half the water I need.

So, the day we went to the clinic, Helen allowed me no coffee in the AM due to the blood test. I had the blood test and we walked around the city of Tomatlin for a couple of hours in the 90 degree heat. Then we went back for the test results to take back to the clinic. We stopped for lunch and I could only get half a bottle of Coke down. After my "meltdown" in the clinic, the doctor started an IV of saline solution and as the fluid was absorbed into my body, my blood pressure rose and I was feeling fine. By the time Helen returned, the Doctor and I decided that a trip to a major hospital in Puerto Vallarta was not warranted. Phew!!!! I got a series of six iron shots and I now feel great.

The iron situation has been a problem since my bariatric surgery in 1998, and I have to return to my hematologist for an iron infusion from time to time. I had a blood test before our trip and I was concerned because my iron was a tad low, but my new hematologist ( the past two have retired) assured me that I'd be fine. We'll have to talk when I get back.

The worst part of this is that the doctor says "no more coffee, coke, or chocolate". Well, I'm not a big coffee drinker. My brother is a big coffee drinker, having many, many cups of black coffee throughout his waking hours. I guess I'm a sissy coffee drinker, a weak cup of instant coffee with milk and sugar, but I don't really wake up until I've had that second cup in the morning.

A couple of weeks ago I told about my journey through the main plaza in Tamazula de Gordiano. This is a central plaza for PEDSTRIANS. It is not meant for vehicular traffic, except for the funeral procession that was going on at the time. I entered at the bottom right and the police were waiting at the top left. There was not a nasty word said that I could understand and the police led us back to the correct highway. One hears "stories" about corrupt police and how they demand a tribute for catching you in an infraction. This group certainly had enough provocation, but treated us very well.

A few days ago we met some friends for lunch in La Manzanilla at a restaurant called Figaro's.

The walkway between the door and the restaurant.

More of the entrance.

From the left Ulli, Me, Brian, Sue, Mavis, and Jim.

Not in the picture is Heinz. He and Ulli are staying up the beach at Boca Beach Campground. Also missing from the picture is Tilley, who is looking for scraps under the table.

We had a great time reuniting with Ulli, Heinz, Brian, and Sue. We met Mavis and Jim for the first time. The ambiance of Figaro's is to die for. We were situated just above a beautiful beach and we had a constant cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific. One of the greatest attributes of Mexican restaurants is that you are not shuffled out when your meal is consumed and you get your bill only after you ask for it. Therefore we could and did have a lengthy chat with all our friends.

The food at Figaro's was very good, but it does not meet the standard for Italian cooking that I'm used to. I have to say that you should not let a German or a Scotsman set the standard for Italian fare. Helen said afterward " This is the first time I went to an Italian restaurant and had fish and chips". It's probably also the first time Helen hasn't seen Lasagna on the menu, her all time favorite.

Back at Perula the boats are moored for the night. I notice that some are here only for a night or two and some have been here for a week. This picture is not accurate for tonight for it's Sunday and there are twice as many boats.

More later.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Too much adventure in Punta Perula

I got out fishing a few days ago and it was certainly enjoyable. I didn't catch a Dorado, but I did land a pair of Sierras. This is the same fish as the Spanish Mackerel we have in Florida. However, we were fishing on the edge of deep water and these fish were twice the size of any I caught at home. The Dorado and Sierras were the only fish we brought in. We also caught a few skip-jack tuna. There is a Mexican name for them, but I couldn't begin to say it or spell it. These were shaped like a football and really fought well. Why didn't we keep them? Well, taking home Dorado and Sierra are like taking home Porterhouse steaks. Taking home the tuna is like taking home hot dogs. There flesh is bright red and turns ugly gray when cooked. Edible....yes, but!

This is the point where the vacation is going sour. I didn't really feel too good the day I went fishing and thought it was due to the rough seas. The next day I confided in Helen that I was feeling dizzy and weak and was losing blood somewhere. She spoke to the campground hosts and got all the information she needed. First thing the next morning we picked up our interpreter, guide, advocate and all around Gal Friday. She seems to know everyone and knows how to get everywhere. Her name is Isabel and and she would make a perfect personal assistant.

We (Helen) drove up to Tomatlin to the clinic there and we got a prescription for blood work. Next we went to the blood lab and had the blood drawn. The results were ready in just over an hour. With the results in hand we returned to the clinic and the doctor, who spoke English very well. My blood level was down and my iron concentration was low. We were working through this when I REALLY started to feel faint. My vision blurred and I was falling out of my seat. Several of them put my in a wheel chair and took me to a private room and placed me on a bed. When I was about ready to fall, the doctor gave me a shot of adrenalin and followed that with an IV of saline solution. There was a certain determination to get me to the hospital in Puerto Vallarta. The ambulance ride would run $150.00 USD. Amazing! Helen ran Isabel back to Punta Perula to take care of the dogs. We left keys with the campground host just in case. When Helen got back to the campground the dogs had been fed and walked. A number of the campers helped out. In fact, Sandy reminded one camper of the dog he used to have and he wanted to keep until I was back on my feet.

By the time Helen got back to the clinic, the Doctor and I had already assessed the situation as being two fold. There was the loss of blood, but it was not a drastic loss, and the real cause of my problem with weakness and dizziness was dehydration. This has happened a couple of times before, and I'm still too stupid to drink enough liquids. I'm almost drowning in Gatorade now, so I'm OK on the liquid.

I've had a problem with blood loss a few times before and every time the doctors can find nothing because the problem ceases before I can get to a doctor. This time, The Gatorade is keeping me hydrated, but I'm still losing blood. Fortunately, there is a nurse close by the campground and I get a shot of liquid iron every day. Wouldn't that make your day! At this point I have one more test to come back, and based on that we may be moving to a campground in Puerto Vallarta in a few days.

I couldn't possibly give enough praise to the Mexican people that I've dealt with. Isabel didn't want Helen to drive her back to Punta Perula, she would just take the bus. She is willing to drive us up to the hospital in PV and then take the bus back by herself. I needed a nurse to give me the iron shot Sunday evening. Isabel called a nurse down the street and I was told to come right down to her house. I picked up Isabel and she showed me the way. The nurse has a large family and there was quite a crowd enjoying something Sunday evening. I was led into a back room and discretely given the shot. This morning I went to the clinic instead.

This is an amazing corner of Mexico, right on the Pacific Ocean. While some campgrounds are suffering this year, the host here has to turn people away on a daily basis. We heard one of the campers here asking the host to try his best to find a spot for their friends. There are only so many spots and they are all taken, many of them booked from November to May.

This too will be remembered as another ersatz adventure, but the real treasure is meeting so many really fine Mexican people. I'm sorry that a lot of travelers stay away because of the horror stories told by the media. We are having a ball! The dogs are having a grand time, especially since the handsome black lab Riggs look-a-like moved in. They are all spayed or neutered, but you'd never know from the interest generated.

I've got some nice pictures to publish, I'm just not up to it right now.

More later.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Punta Perula again, and Tomatlan

A few days ago Helen and I went to Tomatlan to buy some groceries and to get funds from an ATM. Typical for me, I got up there and found that I left my wallet at home, the motorhome. About 65 miles round trip, but what can you do. So, making SURE that I had my wallet, we went back yesterday, taking Adolph and Millie with us. They have been coming here for about 20 years and really know their way around. They also know enough Spanish to keep us out of trouble.

Here I am with Adolph and Millie. Adolph was the first person we met at Hacienda Contreras when he came out to open the gate and let us in. They are rather quiet and very easy to like. Behind us is the bank where we both got money from the ATM.

This, of course, is Helen and me. I'm disappointed in this picture because I thought I was losing some weight, but here I'm as fat as ever. Damn camera!!!

This is Rosemary and Dennis, two MORE Canadians from British Columbia! We joined them, Adolph and Millie for lunch at Chee Chee's. You'll note the location: right on the beach.

In the years that we have been married, Helen has ordered a fine fish dinner that she was pleased with twice. Well, maybe three times. This was another of those days where her meal came as a surprise. I guess that if you want a fillet, you have to SPECIFY FILLET. Helen does not like to see her meal looking back at her. Talking with Rosemary and Dennis about my whole shrimp in Cosala, and they informed me that you had to SPECIFY that you wanted shrimp without the shells. Adolph ordered a fillet and he was pleased. The rest of us ordered shrimp without shells and we were pleased. Helen will be sure to order fillets in the future.....I think.

This is my Shrimp Venezuela very good and a lot of shrimp.

Rosemary, Dennis, Adolph, and Millie getting down to business.

This is Helen's answer to the Corona ads on TV.

Here in Mexico, you do not get the tab until you ask for it. Sometimes, north of the border the patrons are given the bum's rush after the meal is finished. When we meet another couple for dinner, we seem to be rushed and never get a chance for a good conversation. Here it is expected that you will linger a while and chat.

This afternoon we decided to extend our stay through the month and I hope this nice weather lasts. Dennis went fishing this morning and came bach with three Dorado and he saw one whale leap clear of the water. I'm still waiting for my chance.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 2 at Punta Perula

I slept a long time this morning and when I woke up, one fishing boat was already back with the catch.

These are two of the larger fish, with the big one weighing 19 pounds. A little while later a second boat came in and there were more dolphin to clean. The boats are small Zodiac inflatables with about 20 hp on the stern. Still, they are up to the job of going out for the dolphin and mackerel and also to watch some of the whales wintering in this cove. Shortly after the second boat cleaned their catch, we were offered a couple of pounds of fresh dolphin fillets, Carl already has his freezer full and is giving his excess catch away. The fresh fish was delicious!!!

One camper recognized the dive symbol on my front plate and asked if I was a diver. Of course I said yes. He is a diving instructor way up in British Columbia. I shivered when he told me that he never dove in water warmer than 56 or 57 degrees Fahrenheit. In Florida, we switch to diving in the 73 degree springs when the ocean gets cooler, and that's with dive skins, full wet suit and a hood. He told me that he has never been diving in anything but a dry suit. I believe him.

I mentioned that Helen and I have our snorkel gear and might try that. He told me that at the far north of the beach there is a small tributary and beyond that there are rocks. Snorkel along the rocks and there is a lot to see. We will have to see. Fortunately, we still have Helen's Nikon with the underwater housing.

This is another view of the bay and you can see a number of boats. We seem to be collecting them as there are even more this afternoon.

The day was quite warm and last night was cool. We've paid for a week and will make a decision later as to if we'll stay longer.

You've seen some fish. I will be going out later this week or early next, and I would like to come home with a bragging size fish. I'd also like to see the whales, and I'd like to snorkel the rocks.

The dogs are having a ball. Some of the other campers saw them yesterday up the beach and couldn't believe how much they enjoy the water. We may have to stay here for them.


Monday, January 9, 2012

From Mexico's Central Valley to the Pacific Shore

Sunday was the day when several campers at Hacienda Contreras moved toward the Pacific Coast. It was difficult to say good-bye to the campers and camp owners that we have grown so fond of. However, we did come to Mexico for the heat and it was due time to hit the beach.

This is the road leading out of the valley. Elevation of the campground was about 6400 feet! Clear air, bright stars, and very cool nights. Nothing like the 19 degrees they had in Inverness, Fl, though.

The roads through the mountains are just one curva peligrosso after another. That means dangerous curve and we could see numerous monuments to people who didn't make the turn.

In the lowlands, there were not acres and acres, but square miles and square miles of sugar cane. When the crop is ripe. They burn the cane to get rid of all the leaves, then the stalks are cut and piled. We saw a number of trucks heaped way to high and dropping cane when they hit a bump.

Further on we passed a coconut plantation.

Along the way we passed through Tamazula de Gordiano, a city or village on the way to Colima. They have this story that they tell:

A la vez un gringo venía de lejos y trató de llevar a su casa rodante a través de nuestra hermosa ciudad, hermosa. Acostumbrado a nuestras calles y avenidas, se perdió entre las calles de un solocamino y callejones sin salida. Después de un rato, se encontró en la carretera de acceso a la plazaprincipal de la ciudad, justo enfrente de la catedral. Tan tonto que era, que él condujo la derecha en la plaza, apenas faltan varios peatones y un coche fúnebre funeral. Lo hizo de bypass varios bancos ygrandes arreglos de flores y la herida de su camino a través de los toldos del hotel y por el otro lado.Allí, una fuerza de nuestra policía valiente lo escoltaron fuera de la ciudad.

For those of you who do not read Spanish I offer this translation:

There is a folk tale told about a Gringo lost in the city.

At one time a Gringo came from far away and tried to drive his motorhome through our fine, beautiful city. Unaccustomed to our streets and avenues, he got lost among the one way streets and dead ends. After a while, he found himself on the access road to the city’s main plaza, right in front of the cathedral. So foolish was he, that he drove right in the plaza, barely missing several pedestrians and a funeral hearse. He did bypass several benches and large arrangements of flowers and wound his way through the hotel awnings and out the other side. There, a force of our courageous police escorted him out of the city.

These are the police that escorted us out of the city.

Even with the escort, navigating the narrow streets was no picnic.

You may notice how we are forced to the right side of the road, where some of the roof overhangs can gouge the side of our camper. In reality, the police were extremely courteous and helpful. Without their guidance I would still be in the plaza in front of the cathedral, blocking the funeral procession. There was also a senior citizen who directed us around the hotel awnings so we wouldn't take them with us.

Later in the day we stopped at Boca Beach, a campground recommended by Heinz and Ulli. In fact, we met them and they were surprised to see us. The beach seemed nice, but there was only 15 amp electricity and NO wifi. NO wifi, can you believe that?

This is the beach there, but we didn't let the dogs get close. Since we were moving on to Punta Perula in the morning, why get sandy wet dogs for the night.

A sunset picture taken by Helen.

This is the lagoon at Boca beach. Later we found that those lagoons can contain alligators!!! Not a place to take the girls swimming.

Sunset at Boca Beach. Enjoy yourselves, Ulli and Heinz!

The end of another day in paradise!

This is our spot at Punta Perula RV and Trailer Park. The camper is located about 40 feet from the cleaning table where all the fish are taken. I was drooling at the sight of the large fish being cleaned this morning. A half day fishing trip is $1,000, in pesos or about $74.00 US. I'll just have to go!

This is Punta Perula beach looking southeast. Beautiful!!! The water is clean and I can easily cast a lure into the blue water beyond the surf.

I'm getting ready!!!

These are the ones who really enjoy the water. They will chase a stick until I just can't throw it anymore. The surf doesn't bother them a bit and all three have had waves wash over their heads without slowing them down. They come back up and continue after the stick, all of them.

This is looking back at our campground. I can drive the beach here with my Jeep, so we take the dogs down a ways where there are no people. We had a group walk past us today and their dog joined ours in the water. The people were surprised as their dog generally doesn't do water.

This building was supposed to become a hotel some time in the past. It had gone to ruin and someone decided that it had to come down. Kevin and Ruth were there when they tried to blow it up. What they have left is a death trap, too dangerous to get near to finish the job.

This is Helen's last picture of the day. Trust me, It's as good as it looks. I could get used to Mexico in the winter and Canada in the summer. Florida is good for three weeks in the spring and three in the fall.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Catching up in the New Year!

Yes, I know that I have been irresponsible in my posting my blog. If you will give me a few more minutes I will try to come up with an adequate excuse................ Sorry, no excuse comes to mind. I have promised myself many times that I would surely get a blog done.....tomorrow. Well, today is the tomorrow I've promised myself.

We got to Hacienda Contreras on Sunday, December 18th, late in the day, as I reported earlier. The next couple of days were spent getting organized here and resting from the grueling drive from Celestino. On the 21st, there was a feast in the clubhouse of the Hacienda.

From the left, Sal, Kevin, Ruth, Linda, Jurgen you can barely see and Adolph and Millie you cant's see. At the far end is Ulli, Heinz, me, Helen, Sandy, and Sue.

There was a tray of shrimp prepared five different ways and each way was excellent!

A pan of steak and chiorozo (spelling?).

There was a lot of other food as well. If this is Mexican food, we should all be so lucky. Keep in mind that this is only the 21st.

Saturday the 24th, all the ladies were gathering up at the clubhouse to prepare tamales, a traditional Christmas dish. The guys wandered up in time to sample some sopes, another traditional dish, I think.

Here Sal's sister, Juana, and mother Doña Theresa are organizing the sope and tamale work. Doña Theresa was up well before the crack of dawn to take her corn to be ground. From the amount of corn in that big bowl, one would think that the job would never end.

However more hands help make the work easier. Left to right it's Ruth, Helen, Sue, Millie?, Sal, Juana, and Mama.

Helen doing her best to learn Mexican cooking with Jurgan on her right and Linda on her left. The ladies made hundreds (literally) of tamales.

Later on on the 24th, a whole group of us went out to eat at a restaurant right on the plaza in Valle de Juarez. We had a nice meal of enchiladas and very pleasant company.

Nearest the camera is Jurgen, then Sal, Barbara, Robin, Kevin, Me, Sue, Brian, and Linda.

The special was chicken enchiladas and we all had the same thing, varying only in the beverages chosen.

Only after the meal was finished and we were preparing to leave did Barbara thanks us all for helping her and Sal celebrate their 39th anniversary. I did notice that Barb was all dolled up for this dinner and figured that it must be because of Christmas Eve. After the meal, we wandered around the plaza and enjoyed part of a Christmas program at the church. It was a beautiful evening spent with special friends.

A couple of days later we were invited to hike over to the "Castle", an intriguing building we could see off in the distance. It was an interesting building as seen from the campground, but when one gets up close it is really amazing.

The stone work on this building is absolutely amazing. This is the project of a very rich somewhat eccentric man who insists on absolute attention to detail. You would have to see it up close to appreciat the fit of all the cut stone that makes up this complex.

The lower level windows look into the dining room, as this has been conceived as a restaurant with owner's quarters above. The domed room above is actually a small kitchen/sitting room.

This shows the two domes. The larger dome is the bedroom/family room, I suppose. There is a huge bed, bath and shower, refrigerator, fireplace, sofa, and big screen TV. The dome is painted brightly on the inside and the dome shape gives some unusual acoustics. Beneath the large dome is a fully furnished modern kitchen. I was told that he even had a chef in residence in the past, but has not been able to open his restaurant yet. The "castle" and grounds require a great deal of upkeep and we saw a number of people working around. The grounds are beautiful.

In every group you will find a couple of bone heads. Long after the group was led back down stairs and the doors locked, these two (Heinz and Me) came from the other side of the dome to find our egress blocked. Ever dependable Sal ran back up the stairs to unlock the door even as Helen and Ulli were telling him to let us stay.

Walking out from the castle we walk the road of John Deere Tractors. The owner has more than a dozen really old John Deere tractors including some horse drawn machines. There a lot of items, such as swings, around the grounds that are made with ancient John Deer wheels and things. I'm allowed to go fishing in that pond and the only reason that I have not is that I am lazy. I have adopted the manner of "mañana, but I did learn how to put the squiggle over the n.

Just a quick look back.

This is Kevin and Ruth of Travels with Kevin and Ruth fame. I hope you checked his blog for information when I was being lazy. I see that he did 402 blogs in 2010, which makes him one sick puppy!

This is the new Sal Contreras family. Just so you know, that's Sal on the left, Barb on the right, and Donkey Hotay in the middle. Barb thought that Helen might like a donkey, but Helen explained that I was enough ass for her.

"Walking" Donkey Hotay back to his pen.

On the 29th, we were invited to the wedding of Sal's nephew, Luis. Luis is Juana's son. Sal's has been like a surrogate father to Luis since Luis' father passed away.

The chapel was very beautiful adorned with lace and flowers.

Here is Luis' younger brother, Mother Juana, Grandmother Theresa, Uncle Sal, and Aunt Barb.

I have to tell you that this wedding reception was not for Gringos!!! There was a Miriachi Band that was great, BUT SOOOOOO LOUD!!!!! There was all the soda and tequila you could drink and the food eventually arrived, but the music was very loud and intrusive. It was nearly impossible to chat with anyone. SOme of us managed to have a good time anyway.

Helen and Juana movin' and a groovin'

More happy times!!! Behind Helen are a Dutch couple from the campground, John and Anna, a very lively and happy couple.

This brings us to New Years Eve. Not that this blog references all that we did or all that we could have done. There was so much going on all the time and we were ill for a short time so we had to forgo some trips.

Here's Helen taking the covers off the New Years Eve food. Have you noticed that there's always a lot of food?

More food and I will not name the people this time.

Dutch Canadians John and Anna.

The hostess with the mostest. Barbara has been in the center of everything, morganizing, planning and working her tail off. Ex nurse and mother of five, she just naturally worries about everyone. I talked to other campers and we all agree that we have never been at a campground that makes us feel as comfortable and at home as we do here. Keep in mind that with all the campers, we're talking about the whole North American continent, perhaps even Europe. They should franchise Hacienda Contreras throughout the US and Canada.

OK, more food! This was the group outing yesterday. We rode to Mazamitla to eat at the Alpine Restaurant where Helen and I ate early in our visit. It's more fun with the group. What's especially nice is that Sal can translate the menu. Heinz kept raving about the bean soup and
most of us tried it. He was right on!

Helen ahd to check out this atrium with all the plants. She was enthusiastic about so many of the beautiful flowers, but it's unrealistic to believe that we could get them back to Florida.

I found this fuzzy little friend among the plants. What a little doll! Like our three, she loved to have he belly scratched, but can you picture me trying to hold one of mine like that? A very cute little dog with a huge personality.

OK, that's all for today. It might be quiet for a few days until we move back to the coast. Then, we should have more pictures of the dogs, beaches, and (I hope) fish that I catch.