Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Viva Mexico!

Today marks the last day of my 10-day antibiotic treatment for the bronchitis that hit me during my Mexican vacation. The fatigue that accompanied the ailment disappeared almost immediately, but the cough still persists a little. Enough of that; here are some more enjoyable notes about the vacation.

On November 4th, we arrived – as stated previously – 5 hours late, but soon after getting escorted to our Junior Ocean-view suite on the 9th floor, we headed for a much needed cerveza and sampling of the buffet restaurant which was open until 10:30 pm. If I read, on TripAdvisor, any negative reviews about the food, I’ll S-C-R-E-A-M!  There was such a variety of food types that even the most stalwart of carnivores, piscatorians and vegans would salivate at the sight of it all. Even a ‘meat and potatoes only’ curmudgeon would be satiated. This same restaurant served an equally diverse breakfast buffet from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. Huevos of many varieties (not solely ‘rancheros’!), juices, cold cuts, cereals, breads, etc., etc. There was sufficient variety that I was able to ignore the unattractive, pink and skinny ‘things’ that were labeled ‘sausages’ and fill myself on other cooked items. Lots of blue cheese was consumed – regardless of whether it was morning or evening!  Enough of the food-talk, already!

Yes, our suite had a great view of the hotel’s courtyard and the ocean beyond.

The ocean in question is the Pacific; we were on the west coast of Mexico – in Jalisco, just up the coast from Puerto Vallarta. Taken from a few yards into said ocean, with my better half waving at the camera, this is the Riu Vallarta hotel, our home for 10 days.

Perhaps this will give a better view of where our Ocean-view suite - room 9038 is the 5th from the left on the top floor - see red dot.

We had been to a sister hotel (Riu Jalisco) - a few hundred yards north - 5 or 6 years ago, in September. At that time it was very humid – being in the rainy season there (though it only rained once in that 7-day trip). This time, our choice early November weather was better – no sign of the humidity but the temperatures were still in the mid to upper 80s F (about 29C for you ‘metric’ folk.)

It was far from crowded, so we virtually had our pick of the scores of sun-loungers on the beach

The sea water was so much fun – waves usually about 2 to 3 feet high and with a tidal rise / fall of about 7 or 8 feet, receding only 25 feet or so – not the ¼ mile trek out from from HWM to LWM that I was accustomed to back home in Swansea, Wales – which incidentally has the greatest tidal rise / fall (close to 40 feet) in the world – after the Bay of Fundy!

After enjoying getting bowled over in the surf, the two swimming pools offered a more secure place to waddle around in - in navel to nipple-deep water – or to lay on the ‘ceramic loungers’ half submerged at the edge of the pool, sit in the Jacuzzi enclosures or wander through the hordes of Canadians to the ‘swim-up’ bar and sit there on tiled stools – or beat a hasty retreat to where the pool water would likely contain less of the recycled drink fluids – if you know what I mean! This photo is from alongside the ‘swim-up’ bar -  in the bottom left corner. 

Here's a look to the 'swim-up' bar - 

Though it was a ‘registered guests only’ beach, there were a handful of ‘licensed beach vendors’ permitted to seek their luck at getting the tourists to buy their blankets, jewelry or whatever they had to sell. Fortunately, unlike in the nearby towns, these vendors were not persistent and a simple ‘No, gracias’, ensured that they left you alone. However, I could not resist the temptation to take the desire to be left undisturbed up one notch!

There were lots of beach-side activities at hand for the more energetic – from para-gliding, wind-surfing to boogie-boarding or kayaking. One 20-minute ‘aqua-aerobic’ session in the pool left me exhausted so I opted for the more sedate bocce-ball, darts throwing, horse-shoe-pitching and rifle shooting activities taking place among the palm trees – even winning first place in those latter two! I was however also enticed into a ‘sexy-dance and belly-flop’ contest. That I did NOT win – though I have a large enough belly to win with.

We took a trip out across Banderos Bay, passing on the way the cove where the famous movie, ‘Night of the Iguana’ (starring Richard Burton) had been filmed decades ago. Our trip took us to a private beach, Las Caletas where we could snorkel, kayak or float in inner-tubes in the crystal clear water.

I did the snorkeling thing, seeing scores of beautiful fish seen and taking in the odd mouthful of salty water down the snorkel pipe!  We watched ‘a paella-for-80-people’ cooking demonstration. Into a 3-foot diameter bowl, the chef loaded fish, squid, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, octopus – along with onions, garlic, peppers, rice and tequila!  A 20-minute guided walk up through the jungle led us back to our beach-side lunch where I made sure to avoid the paella (cannot stand sea-food – except Long John Silver’s codfish) but washed the other plentiful dishes down with a dark beer. 

In the shade near the lunch area: 

On the 45-minute boat trip back to port at Nuevo Vallarta, as we drank more cerveza and pina-coladas, we were entertained by Gene Simmons’ Mexican cousins:

Back at the Riu, after a shower (that always had lots of hot water, plenty of pressure – we were on the 9th floor, remember) or a lounge in the room’s whirlpool tub, we sat on the balcony and watched the activity below – and the colorful evening sky.

Most evenings, we dined at the ‘buffet restaurant’ or at one of the three ‘by reservation’ specialty-dining restaurants, sampling steaks at one, Asian dishes at another and gourmet dining (I had lamb chops) at the third. After dinner we sipped on pina-coladas and/or cerveza as we watched the nightly entertainment shows on stage – one was a Michael Jackson ‘knock-off’, others featured modern and traditional Mexican dance troupes - and a Mariachi band.

We usually rounded off the night by stopping at the 24-hour Sports Bar to pick up a cappuccino before heading back to our air-conditioned suite and a welcomed sleep after a full day.

The sun rose about 6:45 am (shining directly on to our balcony from 11:00 am until sun-set) and sank into the sea about 6:15 pm – usually with a colorful exit.

Viva Mexico!


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