Monday, March 3, 2008

Moving to New Digs and my Non-Trip to San Sebastian

There's a gorgeous hibiscus plant growing just outside the door of my new place at Casa Monarca. The landscaping here is impeccable. There are themes of the sun and the moon. I have the sun plaque outside of my door. It's a very sweet place. Allan (joydancer) was kind enough to transport me over here with my luggage that seems to have gotten heavier since I arrived! This is a relatively new rental, only being built last Spring. The owners, Kate and Luis, have 2 children and live on the upper floor with 2 bungalows side by side on the main level which are rentals and overlook the dipping pool. There's a rooftop palapa overlooking the ocean that is incredibly beautiful. I feel safe here and it's a lot quieter than El Faro. Not many dogs and roosters. Well the dogs are everywhere in Chacala. It's closer to the ocean here too. There's a cobblestone road at the corner which leads to the marina and then a malecon along the water to the main beach. It's my new route to the beach and I love it. Here's a few shots of the inside. The kitchen and bathroom are my faves .......

When I arrived, I noticed an automatic washer and dryer outside and asked Kate and Luis if I could use it. They aren't really for guests to use but the desperation must have shown on my face because they were kind enough to let me use them. There's a woman across the street who does laundry for 50 pesos per load so I'll probably use here services next time. I am lucky to have internet access again. I can blog from the rooftop if I want to but I am writing this from this very spot right now ...

Here's a few shots of the rooftop but I took them at night so it's difficult to see. Also the view from up there at night is amazing.

I relaxed by the pool this afternoon and had a nice chat with Luis, who seemed in his element tending to the flowers and plants on the grounds. Luis is originally from Mexico City and he told me the wonderful story of how he met Kate, moved to the US to be with her, and then decided to move back to Mexico together when they fell in love with Chacala. Well, he didn't exactly just tell me this story out of the blue. Nosy me asked a lot of questions. What a beautiful story and what a beautiful family they are. He also said that Casa Monarca is rented for the next 4 years in high season. It seems they made a good decision having this place built. Some friends of Kate's have just arrived from Boston and are staying in the bungalow beside me. They have been forcing margaritas and sangrias on me! :)

It's hard to get a really good picture of the front view of Casa Monarca because of its size so if you want to see some really good pictures of the place go to the website:

I didn't get to San Sebastian on the weekend after all. It turned out that the bus didn't leave from Puerto Vallarta until 4:30 pm Saturday and the bus back left on Sunday morning. What was the point of travelling all that way for such a brief visit? Besides that, John and I had a mixup in communication. He sent me the above information, I didn't check my email before I left and went to the pre-arranged meeting place ... the Pacifico bus station in Bucerias, which is on route to Puerto Vallarta. Well, no John was to be found. I went on to Puerto Vallarta thinking that he would be at Parque Hidalgo which was where the bus left from for San Sebastian. I waited there all afternoon and no John. I knew something was wrong but didn't find out until I arrived back in Chacala about 6 pm that day and checked my email. John was at the bus station in Bucerias but it was several hours after we had originally planned to meet (which is what the email said!) Silly me ... I should have checked my email before I left. Oh well. So I spent the afternoon in PV but didn't leave the square where the bus left from since I thought I would miss John's arrival. I did get a picture of the Refugio church in PV though which was right behind the square where I was waiting.

I am a bit of a church freak, I know. These buildings are so gorgeous around here. While I was waiting in Parque Hildago, which is a huge square in the middle of the city, I noticed a lot of people making the sign of the cross as they drove by and it quickly became apparent that that's what the Mexican people do when they drive by a church. Not everyone did it but enough did it for me to take notice. These are the little things that I just love about being in a different culture. I spent some time in Puerto Vallarta 2 years ago and my opinion of it is just about the same. Busy, noisy, and you take your life in your hands crossing the street. It is touristy but it still holds that Mexican charm of the cobblestone streets and the malecon which runs along the ocean. It's a great place to spend a weekend if you want to shop and party but I wouldn't want to stay there again for any length of time. Sort of how I feel about Toronto.

As a side note to my trip to Puerto Vallarta ... I purchased a bus ticket early Saturday morning from Las Varas to Bucerias at the Pacifico station, our pre-arranged meeting place. My ticket actually said I was going to Bucerias. I've never been to Bucerias so had no idea what the town looked like. We drove through several towns that looked alike. I started to notice signs that said "Bucerias" on tiendas but thought maybe we were still on the outskirts and that the bus would eventually get to the bus station and let me out. We got further and further away from signs that said "Bucerias" and I sensed something was up. I went up to the bus driver and pointed to my ticket that clearly said "Bucerias" and he gestured that it was behind us now. Still struggling with the language, I made it known to the driver that I was supposed to be let out there and he just shrugged his shoulders and stopped the bus on the side of the highway and gestured that I had to go back down the highway. Ok great amigo, but how? I got off the bus and crossed the very busy highway and started my way back to Bucerias. I noticed a taxi and flagged him down. He took me to the Pacifico station in Bucerias and it cost me 50 pesos. In hindsight, I should have said something sooner but how the hell was I to know the driver would forget to let me out at the place where I actually bought a ticket to!! Only in Mexico. I guess I was trusting the driver and shouldn't have. He simply forgot to let me out!

It wasn't a very good day....

I'm beginning to think I should just stay put in Chacala ...

The good side of all this is that I now know how to get from Puerto Vallarta to Chacala on the bus. I know how to get from the airport to Chacala too. This is all the good stuff. And I will speak up sooner the next time I have an odd feeling about something. Even if they don't understand me!

I got back to Chacala and felt very tired and crashed for the night soon after.

John and I researched getting to San Sebastian together online and I now know how to get to this remote mountain town on the bus. Not an easy task, believe me. I called from a phone booth in Chacala to book a room there which was a good Spanish lesson in itself, even though that particular place was full. These are all good things that will save me a lot of time in future.

I can't believe I haven't mentioned the musicians in Chacala who wander around town and play alongside people who are dining in the oceanside restaurants. Every day, as I stroll along the small strip of eating places, you can hear them singing and playing their hearts out. It's mostly the Mexicans who hire them to play beside their tables. They change their matching shirts every day. I guess it's kinda like their uniforms. The instruments consist of a guitar (which is played by the singer) an upright bass, a little snare-like drum and an accordian. Sometimes a few of them harmonize. The thing about these guys is that they play and play and play. One day they played for over 6 hours at one table! Without a bano or cerveza break. That just wouldn't happen at home. I'm used to the first set, second set kind of thing so I really give these musicians credit. Here's a picture of them. I think it's always the same guys ...

Music is such a big part of life here in Mexico. It's playing everywhere I go, whether it be live or recorded. I listen to the different styles all the time and am starting to distinguish between what is traditional and what is more modern music. I even hear Mexican hiphop blasting from trucks! They love their music and they love it loud! No one seems to mind and no one complains.

A lot of things are sold from trucks here. I figure they have no flyers to deliver to your mailbox or any other way to advertise. The fruit and vegetable truck blasts their wares over a loudspeaker as they drive through town. Same goes for the truck that carries the propane gas which is how most everyone cooks their food. I've told the story of the tamale truck. There's a little red car that just drives around and plays this kind of music that sounds like music you would hear on a carousel. I have no idea why but I always wave to him. A guy sells warm fresh tortillas from a cooler on the back of his scooter. I'm getting used to these everyday sounds as they become a part of my day. I buy most of my food from the Chacala Super Mini though. I'm getting to know the mother and daughter there and they are always so pleasant and helpful. I always ask "nombre Espanol?" (name in Spanish) as I pile my goods on the counter and am getting a free Spanish lesson every time. I think they think that's it's pretty cool that I am least trying, even though I forget almost every time. Sooner or later, it will stick in my brain I hope! The queso (cheese) is to die for. I've been eating a lot of homemade quesidillas. When the mother is working, she patiently writes down the price of every item I am buying and tells me how much it is. Then she adds up everything without a calculator and sometimes it's a pretty long list! She is adamant about telling me to return the cerveza bottles for the deposito so that they don't lose what they had to pay out when they purchased them.

Well, the waves are calling me to sleep. Buenos noches and the sweetest of dreams to you.

Next entry I will tell you about my thoughts of the prospect of leaving Chacala soon.

Hasta luego and gracias for taking the time to read my blog.

A picture of someone taking a picture of a couple in front of the sunset ...


Maggie said...

Thankyou for sharing your holiday with us all. Like you I read Andee's blog for a long time.
I have enjoyed your stories and photos and seeing life in Chacala and Mexico again. Happy traveling.

Charmalita said...

Nice to hear from you again, Maggie. It's sad that I never got to meet Andee but her spirit is everywhere in Chacala. Everyone knew her and she is very much missed. It's great that her blog will stay online to bring more visitors to Chacala in the future. :)