Showing posts with label Puerto Vallarta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Puerto Vallarta. Show all posts

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bucerias, Mexico: Back to our Future

There was a time when Bucerias, Mexico, a small fishing village north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s west coast was our future. Now, it's a sizeable segment of our past. Earlier this month we revisited that past.

RivieraNayarit2012 177Seven years ago we sold our last property there, The Dolce Vitas, and filed Mexico away in our history book.

(Unlike our Casa de la Playa below, the DV’s still stand – next to them these days is a restaurant offering live music and dancing.) 

Back to our Future


Casa de la Playa 001In 1991 the laid-back fishing village we selected as the site of our second home --our heads filled with all the giddy future plans that go with such investments – there were maybe six restaurants.  Accommodations included a couple of Mexican-owned and operated low-end  hotels, a condo building or two, and a few privately-owned homes, such as ours, that served as vacation rentals.

The town’s landmark were the stalls of oyster vendors that lined the two-lane Highway 200 that bisected it.

From our U.S. home we brought supplies – sheets, towels, kitchen supplies –to the south-of-the-border house (in oversized suitcases; thankfully, before baggage fees came to be).

Today:  Tourism and Touts; Big Boxes and Banks

 Bucerias  is now a part of the tourist-zoned, Riviera Nayarit.  And tourism has come to town! (Along with the multitudes of over-zealous trinket touts and timeshare sales people that seem to come with Mexican tourism.) 

RivieraNayarit2012 058The gauntlet of trinket touts lines every street leading into town from the old footbridge over the dry, dusty arroyo. The constant calls:  “Hey Lady, come look!” “Hey, how long you here?” “Good prices, almost free!”  made us want to shout: “Enough already!”



RivieraNayarit2012 320Oyster vendors? We saw one  lone table  stacked with oysters to the side of  a ‘lateral’.

The laterals, those local access roads to the side of the highway, have been enlarged to two lanes each direction as has the highway itself,RivieraNayarit2012 069 making the road through town an eight-lane super structure with a palm-tree lined median strip.









RivieraNayarit2012 318Accommodations abound. This hotel sits across from the fish restaurants that still line the beach in the town’s el centro.
High rise condo buildings with unit price tags starting at $300,000US, are sprouting like beach grass all over town. The rental site, Vacation Rental By Owner, lists 129 accommodations – unlike the half dozen listed when we owned there.

RivieraNayarit2012 184Household supplies are readily available from Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, in Puerto Vallarta, and the Mexican chain, Mega in Bucerias.  Each store is stocked with ATM’s.  Bucerias  has banks now as well.

Bucerias isn’t the town it once was, but we aren’t the same either. As we all know sometimes change isn’t always bad.  Have you revisited your future lately?  If so, what changes have you found?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

TPThursday: Getting Stoned in Mascota, Mexico

Our trip down Mexico’s Memory Lane took us last Saturday to the small town of Mascota, Mexico, nestled high in the Sierra Madre’s behind Puerto Vallarta.

We were delighted to see that little had changed since our last visit nearly a decade ago. The pasteleria (bakery), the iglesia (church), the zocalo (town square), the archeological museum; all were as we remembered them. 

As we toured our favorites, Joel recalled ‘that house made of stone' and we set off to stand on the sidewalk and admire its construction as we’d done on previous visits.

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What made it so amazing was that the stones used in the border on this two-story home’s fa├žade were so small they could  easily fit in one’s hand. It obviously had been meticulous, painstakingly detailed work.

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However, we were no longer  forced to admire the home from the sidewalk because seven years ago it had become a museum; El Pedregal Museo, The Stone Museum. Paying the 10 peso per person admission fee (less than $1US) gave us entry to one of those quirky, unexpected experiences that make this life of travel so wonderful.

We were greeted by the owner, curator, artist and our personal guide, all rolled into one Don Francisco Rodriguez, who told me I could photograph anything in the place with the exception of the dozens of historic photos that line the walls (each in a stone frame, of course).

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Perhaps because we were the only visitors at the time or because we were genuinely interested in his work, we toured the upstairs living area as well as the downstairs gallery. (Note the coffee table and the television surfaces as well as the walls are stone.)

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The dark diamond shape designs around the bed’s headboard and base are created by hundreds of black stones set into hundreds of gray stones that make up the background. “This is Fred Flintstone’s bed,” Don Rodriguez joked, as he provided a running commentary in Spanish.

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Everything and every surface in the gallery was covered with stone, including the guitars, and vases displayed at a stone planter.

Tables and chairs, whimsical and practical, you couldn’t help but be ‘stoned’ by the displays.











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Even the public restrooms in the gallery were stone, from the toilet to the sink and waste basket (yes, this really is the ladies room).

Pero, por que piedra? (But, why stone?), Joel asked of our 76-year-old artist as he explained how he goes to the river and searches for rocks, loads them into a wheelbarrow and hauls them back to his work table in the museum.

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Porque es mi pasion, (Because it is my passion),” he answered simply with a shrug and a grin. 

We spent far more time in the little museum than we had planned; his photos and the stories he told about them provided a fascinating history of this town in which he has lived his life.

I told him I planned to write about him and his museum for this blog. It was only then that he told me he was also a writer,  he’s authored four books on various historical aspects of the town and its culture.  (We later saw them displayed all over town). 

Writing is another of his passions and to that one I could relate!

Note:  If you find yourself in Mascota, (a 2.5 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta) the Stone Museum is two blocks beyond the town square and church. It is open ‘all the time’ according to Don Rodriguez (and if it isn’t, it would be worth going back to when it was). 

Today is Travel Photo Thursday so rock on over to Budget Travelers Sandbox to take a photo tour of other great places in the world.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Safely South of the Border, down Mexico Way

Two month ago, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, issued a lengthy advisory about travel to Mexico
Carnival Cruise 2012 054It notes that while hundreds of U.S. tourists and students continue to successfully visit our neighbor to the south, there are some places that should be avoided and others where common sense when traveling should be used.






Carnival Cruise 2012 066We didn’t pay much attention to the early February warning because Mexico travel wasn’t on our radar screen then.

That’s changed. Not only did we take a short cruise to Cabo San Lucas  in March, we are soon heading to Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit for a two-week timeshare stay.

A few friends have responded to our south-of-the-border destinations with the skeptical raised eyebrow and almost whispered: “Are you sure you want to go there? It’s not safe right now is it?”

An answer to those questions:

Carnival Cruise 2012 057We had two days to wander through Cabo San Lucas; around the touristy marina area and then on cobbled streets with uneven sidewalks into the town’s el centro, the center. On our two morning excursions we were on our own, heading where ever our feet led us.

I wore jewelry and carried a purse and camera. We felt safe . . . aside from a fear of breaking an ankle on those crazy Mexican sidewalks, pictured to the left,  that raise and lower without notice.

The streets were pretty much empty other than for shopkeepers and a few other tourists.

The only time we were verbally accosted was when a timeshare salesman called out. We stopped. He showed us photos of the development he was pitching and then of his family.

Carnival Cruise 2012 118Ricardo Garcia Castro, director of Planning and Tourism Development in Baja California Sur, quoted in Los Cabos Magazine, may have said it best: 

“Mexico is a very large country and the lack of knowledge of geography by the American media make people [think] an incident in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua affects Los Cabos and the California Sur. It is like if an incident in New Jersey would affect Florida or Montana.”


Nayarit Advisory:
Out of curiosity, not concern, I’ve read the U.S. State Department advisory and this is what it says about our upcoming destination. (I’ve added the boldface highlight):


Map picture

“Nayarit: You should defer non-essential travel to all areas of the state of Nayarit north of the city of Tepic as well as to the cities of Tepic and Xalisco. The security situation north of Tepic and in these cities is unstable and travelers could encounter roadblocks or shootouts between rival criminals. There is no recommendation against travel either to Riviera Nayarit in the southern portion of the state or to principal highways in the southern portion of the state used to travel from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta.

Our planned safeguards: I will be leaving  jewelry in our safe deposit box at home, but by now you know I can’t travel without a camera. It will be with me, as will my purse.

We will travel using common sense when out exploring. But are we going to get out and explore our old haunts tucked away in the Sierra Madres between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta?

You can be sure of it! 

What about you?  Been to Mexico lately? If so, what was your experience?

Note: Click the link in the opening paragraph to read the entire U.S. Department of State travel advisory for Mexico issued Feb. 8, 2012. Click the map pins for details.

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