Tuesday, March 25, 2008

La Ballena Azul

Ah, I love this place. It was number 217 back when I was doing my 1000 bars in a year thing. I never fail to go back every time I am in Puerto Vallarta, more than once if I can.

Bar Man And Paul About To Be Swallowed

We had the whole crowd with us, or at least our bitter, er, better halves and we quickly settled in for shots of tequila and beers.

Making Ourselves At Home

I was happy to see that you could still buy cigarettes one at a time for the machine on the wall. I think it cost 10 or maybe 20 pesos per cigarette.

The Machine

Normally I don't smoke, but I do like an occasional cigarette and I always feel compelled to have one when I come in here. I didn't have a match but the bartender was more than happy to give me a light.

A Most Attentive Bartender

I am not sure if the bartender told me his name, but if he did I have forgotten it. I really should start taking notes again.

My Amigo

We got here fairly early in the day so the place wasn't very crowded, just a few guys having drinks at the bar.

The Early Crowd

Of course I couldn't help but notice the Michigan tee-shirt on the one guy. I, fortified by my tequila, had to go over and explain that I was from Minnesota and we were rivals of Michigan but now I was a Chivas supporter.

Buddies At The Bar

Immediately after affectionately placing my hand on his shoulder the brawl broke out and we had to fight our way out the swinging doors. I was glad for two things. First, the wooden chairs that they used to have had been replaced by plastic chairs so they didn't hurt as much. Second, I was here with Paul and Sharon instead of with Rico And Sandy. Sandy could have held her own but Sharon was much better in a brawl than Rico would have been. The Mysterious Chinese Woman is very effective when it comes to in-close fighting.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Up The River

On Good Friday the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I decided to take a hike up the Rio Cuale with the Mysterious Chinese Woman. We have walked up this way before, but never as far as we did today. We walked well beyond the end of the line for the bus that goes up there, and that is a fair hike indeed.

Our first stop was a restaurant that we have been to before. Quite an interesting little place right along the river. This place would have been the end of the line for most hikers, but for us it was just the beginning.

Cuale Paraiso

We were a bit too early for lunch so we simply settled for a couple of beers.

A Beer At The Bar

They had a number of stuffed animals, birds, and animal skins from what were indigenous species before they were all stuffed and skinned.

Keep An Eye Out For Predators

Nice Little Birdie

They have a number of tables inside but also a few outside right next to the river. The last time we were here it was in the evening and I would highly recommend you apply bug repellent before you go. We got pretty bitten up by little sand fleas, or whatever they are.

On The Patio

I didn't get any bites on this day but the Mysterious Chinese Woman, delicate flower that she is, managed to get a few.

Of course if you are walking along a river you need to, on occasion, get to the other side. There were a number of alternatives, but this one was, by far, the most interesting.

Ah, I Don't Think So

The idea was to climb up a small ladder and then two of you could sit facing each other and crank yourselves over to the other side.

To The Far Side

I am not sure if this thing was even operable, but we weren't about to find out.

As we hiked further up the river we saw fewer buses but the locals seem to have other means of transportation at their disposal.

Saves On Car Insurance

There were a few little stores along the way, but they weren't exactly your local deli.

They Did Have Beer, Though

Across from this store was what looked to be an old ranch. It didn't seem to be occupied though, but the gate was impressive.

Anybody Home?

From this angle you can get an idea of the road we were hiking.

A Bit On The Desolate Side

And then suddenly we felt like we were in a Mad Max movie.

A Little Chicken For Dessert, Perhaps?

A bit further along we saw yet another well crafted bridge across the river.

Wading Might Be Easier

Given that this is the dry season I suspect this was just a temporary bridge, at best.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman, always searching for some botanical discovery that could either be made into a soup or a medicine, spotted these interesting flowers blooming or about to seed.

Must Be Good For Something

Of course she had to collect a specimen for latter analysis.

Oh, So Pretty

We soon moved out of the Mad Max setting into more of a Clint Eastwood scene.

The Good, The Bad, And The Horses

The Bad And The Horses, What Happened To The Good?

We come across the Mexican equivalent of a lemonade stand. Little kids were selling fruit and juices along side of the road. I particularly liked the stairway up to their house made of old tires. Not much goes to waste.

Papaya On A Stick

By the time we got here we hadn't seen a bus for quite awhile and I wasn't sure just what we were about to encounter.

The Gateway To...?

Actually, we didn't really run across much of anything other than a lot of Mexicans who were taking advantage of the Easter weekend to camp out along the river.

Camping Out

Everyone looked like they were having a great time, cooking and eating and drinking while the kids frolicked in the river.

The Kids At Play

After hiking for about another half an hour or so we realized that we weren't about to stumble across a town or anything so we decided we better head back to where we last saw a bus so we could catch one and head back to town.

The Bus Stop

Luckily this bus stop was right outside a little store that also sold cerveza, and believe me, I could use one.

Uno Cerveza Fria

And along came our bus.

Home, James

It was a long hike, even with the bus ride back. The Mysterious Chinese Woman had had enough.

Zonked Out

I pretty much did in my Minnetonka Moccasins on this little trip, although to be fair they weren't in that good of condition when I started.

The End Of The Line

I Wonder If There Is A Money Back Guarantee

It was a pretty exhausting day but there was a neat looking little restaurant next to the bus stop that I would like to go back to visit. It was closed because it was Good Friday, but one day soon I will take a bus back to check it out.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chivas Forever

I went to El Torito, a sports bar, to watch the hated Knicks play the dreadful, but improving, Timberwolves. We won't go into all of the reasons why I, a former Knicks fan, now hate them. Suffice it to say that I am not alone.

I was thinking of wearing my dashing Chivas shirt but never got around to changing into it. That was probably a good thing because Chivas was playing Pachuca, an arch-rival I take it, and there was a large crowd of locals watching the game on a couple of televisions and loudly cheering Chivas on. I am sure if I was wearing my shirt I would have had to have joined them. I probably would have had to drink a lot of tequila as well. I am certain I wouldn't have been allowed to sit and watch a basketball game.

As you can see, Chivas was victorious, winning 2 to 1.

I Read It In The News Today, Oh Boy!!!

Oh, and the Knicks lost to the Timberwolves 93 to 114. The Knicks have now lost 11 of their last 12, eight of those by double digits and four of them by over 20 points. I would post pictures, but I have to think of the children.

Back To Boca

After our visit to the zoo we hopped on the bus and headed down the road a bit to Boca de Tomtalan. I really like to head out here for an afternoon on the beach and a bit of a hike if you are so inclined.

Mysterious Chinese Woman, Sandy, and Rico Having A Cold One

Sharon And Paul Letting A Sleeping Dog Lie

After a couple of beers we decided to take a bit of a hike along the river. At one point we like to cross the river and head back along the other side. There is a little bridge that most of us use, but Sharon finds forging the stream a bit more to her liking.

To Each Their Own

Her husband, Paul, shouted words of encouragment which, I am sure, Sharon greatly appreciated.

You Can Do It!!!

At about the halfway mark things looked like they were going well.

How High's The Water, Mama?

However, there came a point where the water was a bit deeper than Sharon thought it would be.

It's Up To My, Uh, Well, My...

However, the river was successfully forded and everyone emerged safely. I am sure the locals will remember this day for a long time.

The River Goddess Emerges

After a quick trip into the little town to buy dry pants Sharon returned for our afternoon snack by the sea.

Looking Quite Proud Of Herself

We had another nice day and although some people preferred taking a water taxi back to town, we settled for the bus.

Taking The Taxi

Although Boca de Tomtalan is still far enough out of the way to not have too many tourists, the cruise ships do run out people for a quick bite to eat and a view of the "real Mexico." Luckily they confine themselves to one restaurant so we don't really have much reason to interact with them. It is kind of interesting to see them being run in and out of here though. I wonder how much they get charged for the trip. If they knew how to use the buses it would cost them about a two dollars total for a round trip and they could really experience Mexico.