Friday, February 22, 2008

Oysters On The Half Shell

Just time for a quick post today, I am leaving to go on four mile hike shortly. I should have some interesting pictures for you tomorrow though, assuming that I survive.

I had mentioned that I had a great oyster the other day. Only one though because I had just finished lunch at El Brujo and these were big oysters. I just couldn't pass this pile by though.

A Pile Of Oysters

I told the guy that I just wanted one so he made sure it was big. It cost 250 pesos or about $2.25 U.S., but it was worth it.

A Big Oyster

Granted that the lime is kind of small, but you can get an idea of how big this oyster was. It must have been about half an inch thick too and it was delicious.

Bar Man And Big Oyster

Like I said, there was no way you could just slurk this baby down. It had to be cut in half and eaten with a fork. A squeeze of lime juice and a hit of hot sauce turned it into a mini-meal.

Tucking In

I still haven't found that stand again, but I guarantee you I will keep looking.

Wish me well on my hike and hopefully I will be able to write about it tomorrow.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

El Brujo At Night

As promised, a bit of a surprise when eight of us headed to El Brujo for dinner the other night. I have only gone here for lunch before and when I went this year there were only about six people in the place. It has never been especially crowded and usually the crowd is mostly locals. Well let me tell you, it is an entirely different scene at night.

Waiting To Get In

It reminded me of that scene in Night Of The Living Dead where everyone is trying to get into the farm house. Actually, it kind of reminded me of how people would stand in line to get into the No Name restaurant in Boston. The line itself always turned into a party. One night when I was there a group of airline workers had used free tickets to fly in from Chicago just for dinner. They were going to fly back after eating. Ah, to be young and have free airline tickets.

We had about an hour wait to get in but nobody seemed to mind too much. It was a friendly crowd and we all chatted about where we were from, how long we had been going to Puerto Vallarta, the usual stuff. There was a little grocery store across the street and people were running back and forth to get beers. Lots of fun.

Once we did get in we were all crowded around a little table and had a merry old time. I will now bore you with pictures of our group. If you recognize anyone be sure to tell them that they are now infamous.

Crowded Around The Table

Tony And Bill (not a couple)

Chris And Mike (not a couple)

Mysterious Chinese Woman And Marcie (not a couple)

Mike And Tom (a couple)

Bar Man And Mysterious Chinese Woman (status mysterious)

You can see from the background just how packed this place is at night. I would strongly recommend that you go for lunch because there is no wait, the service is better, and the portions are larger even though the menu is the same. If you like a crowd though, by all means go for dinner.

For those of you who do not like a mystery, the couples were Tony and Chris, Bill and Marcie, Mike and Tom. Bar Man and Mysterious Chinese Woman remain circumspect about their relationship.

Tomorrow you get the pictures of the oysters, I promise. I went looking for the little stand yesterday to get a couple more pictures but I couldn't find it. They probably hadn't set up yet so maybe I can find it this afternoon.

I did see the lunar eclipse last night and if any of my pictures came out I will post them too. I just have a point-and-click digital camera so don't expect too much. We did have a nice view though.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Singers and Dancers

There is always something going on in Puerto Vallarta if you look for it, and sometimes you don't have to look very hard. The other night the daughter and son-in-law of one of the people who stay at Playa del Sol where we stay put on a nice little poolside concert. They are both professional musicians and songwriters so it was a lot better than you ordinary hootenanny.

Invitation To A Concert

You couldn't have asked for a better setting, right on the deck with the bay to the left and the sun beginning to set in the sky.

Let Us Entertain You

They were quite good in a way that reminded me of coffee houses back in the sixties. They hail from San Francisco so maybe that is still the scene there. Living in relatively hard-edged Brooklyn now I kind of miss the mellower times.

The concert ended just as the setting sun provided us with another beautiful sunset.

Sunset Over The Bay

As I said, there is always something to see or do here. Just a few nights ago there were dancers performing at a new ampitheater in front of a park just a few blocks from where we are staying. It was kind of dark and by the time I got there all of the good seats were taken. I did manage to get a few pictures though.

Mexican Dancers

I couldn't help but notice the similarity to a statue on the Malecon so I decided to orchestrate my own little dance with them.

Poetry Not In Motion

I had some great oysters on the street the other day, huge and almost a half an inch thick. No just slurking them down, you had to cut them in half and eat them with a fork. Stay tuned, pictures will be coming along with those of a nocturnal visit to El Brujo and the surprize that awaited me. Don't get too excited, it isn't going to be a real big surprise.

Oh, tonight there is an eclipse of the moon and maybe I will get some pictures of that. I just have a point and shoot digital camera though so don't expect anyhting too spectacular.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Times, They Are A Changin'

Well, it has been a long time since Puerto Vallarta has been the sleepy little fishing village depicted in Night Of The Iquana, the filming of which put this place on the map and forever altered its landscape. Every year brings something new and, inevitably, the loss of something old. Sometimes what you lose isn't, in my opinion at least, all that bad.

Bye Bye Hooters

Some of you may remember that this wasn't one of my favorite places. To its credit though it was nicely air-conditioned and had bathrooms that were well maintained. It also had a nice view of the malecon so you could sip your beer and watch the world pass by. My complaint was the relative indifference of the bartenders and their refusal to make me a margarita even though all of the ingredients were in view. If they couldn't pour something that was already pre-mixed they just couldn't be bothered.

Someone told me that the place was closed due to some kind of a union action and it did, indeed, look as though it was being picketed. Well, no need to worry too much about it, a new shopping complex has opened not far from town and a new Hooters can be found there. I haven't been yet but I will be heading out one of these days.

Although Hooters is gone Puerto Vallarta now has that quintessential indicator of ultimate gentrification located right in the heart of town:


Of course I always find it a bit bizarre that people will travel all the way to Mexico and then find comfort in a place they could find back home. However, with the economy booming down here, you find a lot of locals indulging in Starbuck's offerings. One certainly can't begrudge them that. The biggest knock on this place seems to be that although they have seating and wireless connections for your laptop, they don't have bathrooms. Of course the neighboring establishments that do have facilities are not too happy about recycling Starbucks coffee.

A couple of other places that I did enjoy visiting have also, unhappily, bit the dust. One was Pau Pau's, right across from Daiquiri Dick's. They had decent food and were about as close to the water as you could get. Also, my neices affectionately call their grandmother Pau Pau so it was kind of like losing a member of my family seeing this place gutted.

Bye Bye Pau Pau

It is in too prime a location to be empty for long so I will be interested in seeing what goes in there. I did notice that the previously rocky strip seperating Pau Pau from the water has been cleared and it looks like a lot of sand has been hauled in to make it a nice beach now.

Another decent place that I liked, the Lazy Lizard, is also now but a distant and forlorn memory.

The Lizard Has Left

I liked the Lazy Lizard because the outside area just had a bunch of beat up old sofas and over-stuffed chairs that looked like they had been sitting outside for years. The beer was cheap too.

Now the Burro Bar hasn't gone anywhere, but the ambience has become a bit more beckoning. There used to be a large, somewhat ominous burro head ouside, but that has been gone for several years. It has been replaced by these rather toy-like looking guys instead.

Child Friendly

For some reason this warning sign

We Dare You?

and this toy

Grr, Beware

just don't seem to go together.

We had a lovely little concert out by the pool a few nights ago and tomorrow I shall post the pictures of that. Last night a bunch of us were sitting out by the pool and we did see the famous Green Flash that everyone talks about. In all of the time I have been coming down here this is only the second time I have seen it and it was the first time for a lot the people who were having their sunset cocktails. It is unmistakable, like a bright green Christmas tree light flashing on and then quickly off. Quite impressive, but you will have to take my word for it because it was much too quick to get a picture.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lunch At El Brujo

The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I decided to go to one of our favorite out-of-the-way places for lunch a few days ago. We go there a few times each year and were happy to find that it hadn't changed much. It is on a busy street right where cars come out of a tunnel and head into downtown Puerto Vallarta, or at least into the part called the Romantic Zone.

El Brujo

The prices here are very reasonable and the portions are quite large. Everytime we come here we say we will order just one dish and split it but, for some reason, we seldom do. Perhaps it is because we like different things.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman And Shrimp Tortillas

You get a large, and I do mean large, sizzling plate of shrimp and peppers and onions all cooked up together and your choice of either corn or flour tortillas to wrap it in. Most delicious and after she was done there was plenty to take home for another meal the next day.

I, on the other hand, am partial to their seafood cervice. Again, a large, more than you can eat, serving of shrimp, octopus, and fish marinated in lime juice with carrots and peppers and cilantro and other delicious spices.

Bar Man And Cervice

The beers here are cold and fairly cheap as well, 18 pesos which is, I guess, about $2. With the American dollar tanking everywhere and the booming economy here in Puerto Vallarta things aren't as cheap as they once were, but still a lot cheaper than in New York so it still feels like a bargain here. It is funny though to see that the Canadian dollar buys more pesos than the American dollar now. I have never seen that before although I am old enough to remember way back in the days when the Canadian dollar used to be worth more than the American dollar. Must have been back in the 50's and 60's though.

It was the day after Valentines Day and there were still a few heart-shaped balloons hanging about. There is usually something depressing about partially deflated balloons, but this one kind of reminded me of a sunburnt Dolly Parton.

Dolly Parton With A Sun Burn

The Mysterious Chinese Woman wasn't too happy when I pointed this out to her.

For those of you who are adventurous eaters, this little place right across the street from El Brujo was doing a brisk business.

Street Food At Its Finest

I am a big fan of eating at these taco stands. The food is quite good and they are really kind of fun places to eat. In the evening they are little neighborhood gathering places while during the day it is where a lot of Mexican workers take their lunch break. And you can't get better value for your money. I am always surprised when people ask me how I can eat at these and if I am not afraid of getting sick. I have never had a problem and the food is delicious.

I also find it funny that the same people who worry about these taco stands seem to have no problem eating a hotdog from a street vendor back home. Guess it is just what you feel comfortable with.

By the way, on Valentines Day I did take the Mysterious Chinese Woman out for lunch at another nice place, Daiquiri Dick's. But damn, I forgot my camera. It was a pity too because as we were eating lunch a couple of whales were hanging out just a couple of hundred of yards off-shore. This is a big calving ground for them as well as for porpoises, but it is just about the end of the season for them and soon they will be moving on.

Until tomorrow, hasta luego, or something.