Riverside Walk

Groovy Servicios

One of the best aspects of the Hacienda Escondida, where I stayed in at Puerto Vallarta, was that it was a short distance from the river leading down to the beach.  My zodiac sign is Cancer and despite my fear of deep water/small boats, I just need to be around water.  Ponds, rivers, lakes or the sea – they all make me happy.  The first morning, I got up early and wandered up to the bridge crossing the river.  It was too early for tourists so I met many of the local people coming from the hillside down into the town to open shops and start work.  On the first trip, I felt there was a distance between the locals and tourists but perhaps it was all in my panic stricken head.  I greeted everyone I met with Buenos Dias and received such smiles and responses.  In Texas I live in a town that attracts tourists and sometimes we get irritated with their presence but they bring in tax dollars…

Puerto Vallarta is flooded with natural beauty and it seems to encourage marvelous creativity.  The outhouses above were located on the river bank.  I liked this Maya/Aztec mural on a riverside building?

Maya Mural and dog

It was blissfully quiet early in the morning and enjoyed having most of the river to myself, with a few friends.

Egret on rock, heron in water

I guess they were lucky that the cat was looking for smaller prey.

Fishing cat

Eventually I reached another road bridge where I admired this lovely cafe which was serving breakfast.

River cafe

I finally reached a culvert at the end of the river and there was a mermaid!

¡Niños!

Concentration

Having been a nanny and no progeny, usually children are the last thing I want to see on vacation. This little cutie, in her plaid Catholic school uniform, just stole my heart. I really wanted to take her home with me but I think that is technically kidnapping… 😎 She was utterly oblivious of the busy sidewalk around her, totally focused on her drawing book. There is a beautiful Catholic cathedral in Puerto Vallarta with a school alongside it. The memory of Catholic school sometimes fills my heart with terror (don’t mention Jesuits…) but this brought back some unexpectedly happy memories. Every time I smell a fresh leather bag, I am taken back to my new leather satchel and first day of school.

Estuary meets the sea

Sandcastles

As I wandered down the river to the sea, there were children playing along the edge of the river or swimming in it. There was a market for local vendors on an island in the middle of the river and I think the children above might have been one of the vendor’s children or perhaps a shell fisherman that I saw not far from them. They were perfectly happy playing by themselves with a bucket/tin and sand. Big sister was in charge.  I was curious as to why they were on the estuary not the beach but perhaps it was for safety or the sand made better castles?

Estuary fisherman

Church of our Lady of Guadalupe

I was trying to take some more shots of the cathedral when I spotted this little girl sitting like a pixie. I think her Dad was watching me protectively.  Puerto Vallarta should be very proud of their lovely children.

School’s out

Mexico – take two…

A pod of pelicans

Just after Thanksgiving last year, Teddy and I went on a lovely trip to Puerto Vallarta…except it wasn’t. What I didn’t reveal is what really transpired. We have been seriously considering a retirement move to Mexico because of the cost of health care in the US. Our first trip was to Baja – wonderful but some current cartel problems in the state. Puerto Vallarta always seemed like a low possibility because it is a tourism town but it also has very good medical facilities and is safe. Nonetheless we were looking forward to a vacation. The first problem was at customs where the officers wanted to look inside the Pelican case containing photography equipment. Silly Teddy had locked it but didn’t tell Bunny the combination… One was a little brusque but generally they were just doing their job. When we left Customs the timeshare people attacked… sigh.

Art at the beach

Our driver from the hotel was waiting for us (wondering why there was a delay) and things got much better. We arrived at the Hacienda which was utterly beautiful in the heart of the old town. It was surprisingly ‘real’, busy with buses taking workers in and out of the city. The cobbled streets amplified the noise of the traffic, open market and other businesses. It was a short walk to a beautiful beach and we had a lovely lunch with perhaps too many margaritas. There was a water feature running into the pool next to our room (the noise was making me anxious) and something just clicked in my brain. A panic attack was starting and Teddy had gone off for a couple of hours. By the time he came back it was fully fledged panic attack and I HAD TO GO HOME! This happened once before in Scotland and I seem to have no control over it.

Balloon

After much reflection, I think there was just too much riding on this trip and I would really prefer to stay at our home in Texas if we can afford it (and we likely can). In February I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Vallarta on a solo trip and this time it was so much better – Mexico, take two. I could even envision a partial retirement there, if needs must. I stayed at the same Hacienda where I made some new friends and got to know my host a little better. They have many repeat guests who enjoy the familiarity of a real home from home. Within moments of entering my guest room, I tripped and twisted my ankle. WTF? Are the Gods out to get me??? Fortunately, I had been practicing my Farmacia Spanish and I strapped it up. More posts to come with some wonderful photographs.

Writer’s anxiety

Yellow shrimp plant

Yellow shrimp plant

My current life and the geopolitical world have left me lost for words. I have been feeling anxious about everything, which is part of my diagnosis, and nightmares have exhausted me. There is a short break before I start the Super Bowl work then I will stop feeling anxious because of focus and tiredness. Sometimes writing lifts me up or helps ease anxiety but despite taking more medication, I am like a cat on a hot tin roof, yawning with insomnia.

red-spike

I have peppered this short post with some final photos from Puerto Vallarta – just to take the edge of my writing. I work alongside people who have immigrated from Iran and Iraq and wonder if their American dream feels as ephemeral as mine. Even at the shops, people are talking in hushed tones about executive orders and I don’t know if they feel happy or afraid. When we went to Puerto Vallarta, we were seriously considering a retirement home somewhere in Mexico but now I doubt that they would want us. Do you think I have enough Mexican ancestors to request entry? Should I print out my Ancestry family tree?

umbrellas

Almost every week I soothe people whose relatives have been detained at immigration. It is usually something relatively minor such as an incorrect visa or a similar name. We were stuck in Egypt until the very last minute, whilst my husband’s employer desperately tried to get a work visa for him to go to the USA. I remember being at the airport in Cairo, wondering if they were going to accept our cats’ paperwork or my husband’s. I have an American passport, so I could go anytime. Nonetheless, it was terrifying, especially since it was during Gulf War II.

yellow-blossom

I can support passengers and myself by being as helpful as always. A smile can work wonders, for the recipient and the person feeling depressed.

Here be dragons…

Green Iguana

Isn’t he handsome – a perfect choice for Khaleesi! He was a few feet long and gorging on the Tamarind fruits that you can see next to him (and falling out of his mouth). If we turned up the hill leaving Hacienda Escondida, we headed towards a more local area with the river dissecting the two areas. It was a haven for wildlife – and they were all new to us!!!

Rivera del Rio

Rivera del Rio

There is a bathing area and we saw local children having fun swimming in the river. The bridge across was the major route from the hillside down to the south side of the Old Town of Puerto Vallarta. If you stay at a resort, you will miss all of this, including a wonderful fresh market. I was told that despite the cobbled streets, the water from the taps was safe to drink. I drank it and it tasted good.

black-birdI think this is just a plain old Grackle, above, but I love his silhouette against the trees and hills.  I don’t know the name of this little yellow bird, also enjoying tamarind fruit, but he was as little as the iguana was big.

Tiny little yellow bird

Tiny little yellow bird

Simple Mural at Rivera del Rio

Simple Mural at Rivera del Rio

Iglesia de la Santa Cruz, PV

iglesia-de-la-santa-cruz

It wouldn’t be a travel blog from Kerry without a church – ‘Nana, I hope you are proud of me!’ The church was celebrating mass when we took this shot but were able to go into the side chapel at anytime to pray. One of the local street vendors showed us where to go. I said my usual prayers but there were no candles to light. My favorite part of this shot was the parking stances with the crosses on them. Who would DARE park there?? I can see the lightning bolt now…

skewers

The church was not far from the beach and I loved this shot of the vendors on the beach. Those skewers looked really tasty.

dune-buggies

This was a typical view of the streets of Zona Romantica – wealthy tourists in a real town. You could see that local people really benefited from the tourist money and many traveled down in local buses from the hills to come to work.

Autoshop and Taco Stand

Autoshop and Taco Stand

I love everything about this shot, close to the river. There is your local family car autoshop and next door a taco stand that has rainbow flags to indicate it is gay friendly. What a fantastic place!

Hacienda flowers and butterflies

black-beauty2

Black Beauty

Her real name is Polydamus Swallowtail – not a variety we see in Texas. We were intrigued that most of the flowers and bushes were the same as we have in the sub-tropics but much more lush. I buy my plants from a nursery and the owners come from Guadalajara and for some reason, they never die. It helps that they are actually grown just a few miles from my home.

striped-butterfly

Band celled sister

Isn’t this one a beauty. We get a similar zebra stripe in Texas but it is so exciting to see new varieties.

poinsettias

Poinsettia

red-blossom

Gladioli

I had to put in a shot of a Ponsettia – it was Mexico and Feliz Navidad! The chili peppers below were just so tempting…

Chili Peppers

Chili Peppers

yellow-butterfly

Julia Heliconian

One final shot of Miss Julia Heliconian, wearing a beautiful yellow outfit. I have that little coral bush in my garden but it very rarely flowers.