What? Weren’t You Just in Mexico?

Well, yes, I was just there but Mexico is a very large and diverse country. This journey took us to the Baja California Peninsula. The only other place we’ve visited in Mexico is the Puerto Vallarta region spanning the states of Nayarit and Jalisco.

One thing I love about Mexico is the food! Most meals in the Cabo area were about the same price as Canadian restaurant meals. My husband and I had an all-inclusive hotel package which included all meals. Our traveling companions, however, did not. This meant that we accompanied them a couple times for meals out. We are cheap and we were shocked! But the service was superb everywhere and so was the food.

IMG_0916
Love at first bite – baked manicotti stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach.

One evening, we visited the Italian restaurant called La Dolce located right in the centre of San Jose del Cabo. There I ate the BEST Italian food I’ve ever had. I sampled the ricotta-stuffed manicotti and then proposed marriage to it. This is one of the only times I’ve taken a picture of my food, but when you’re in love, you want to cherish an image of that special someone and gaze at it during those lonely, hungry nights.

I’m not a huge carnivore and I really love all the readily-available vegetarian options in restaurants throughout Mexico.

Our hotel, the Posada Real Los Cabos, has a beautiful desert garden onto which our first- floor room faced. I sat there in the shade and watched the birds and the iguanas frolic. (Can reptiles frolic?)

The beaches at Cabo are wide and long. I walked early most mornings, rolled up my pant legs, and let the salty water kiss my toes. It was fun to watch the crabs skitter quickly into the outgoing waves that carried those little creatures into the Sea of Cortez. Crabs do all right in this water but humans are not allowed to swim here. It’s too dangerous.

Our group of four spent a short afternoon in neighbouring Cabo San Lucas, just known as Cabo by the locals. I felt like a tiny, tasty fish in a school of starving sharks. We were  hounded by salespeople the moment we stepped out of our taxi. During low tourist season, the deals are better but the pressure is greater. We did visit Sammy Hagar’s nightclub Cabo Wabo Cantina. It was fun! A glass of mineral water there cost 60 pesos. A three course meal in Puerto Vallarta can cost 70 pesos, but the hotdogs were delicious! (So say my carnivore friends.)

I took a few pictures at the Marina in San Lucas. The water was so clear that I could see schools of beautiful fish swimming right close by.

We spent a lovely evening back in San Jose del Cabo later on in the week. What a beautiful place! We listened to live music at the Baja Brewery after talking to some junior high students who were in the square to practice their English language skills on tourists. This was great because we had an intercambio, an exchange.  We got to practice our Spanish on them. Poor kids. They never saw it coming.

It was another great trip, and I’m so lucky to be alive and to travel to the places I love. Have a really good week wherever you are!

~ Lori

One Bag Fits All

Peter and Me
Not the most flattering photo of me but my little green friend (Peter) is too cute not to include.

Hello again! After I posted my most recent Mexico travel piece, a reader asked me to share my carry-on packing secrets. This is a post I wrote the first time I packed super lightly and it includes a few handy tips. I hope you can use some of this information to lighten your load – both mentally and physically! Happy traveling!

Freedom From Luggage

For our last trip to Mexico, I packed one small carry-on bag. I felt so light and free. It was fantastic and here’s how I did it just in case, for your next week-long vacation, you want to enjoy that same feeling of freedom from luggage.

Do Your Research

First, I visited informative websites. These sites told me what is allowed in carry-on luggage and what is not, and how much of each allowed item each traveler can bring. I needed to pack my personal items in a one-litre, clear Ziploc bag and to pull that bag out of my luggage, and set it in a tray when going through airport security. This was very useful information because, when I packed my stuff on the afternoon of the flight, I knew to leave my Ziploc bag right on top so I wouldn’t be digging around for it in the line-up at security. I felt so prepared and the security officials didn’t bat an eye at what I’d packed.

Listen to me read this post:

The next thing I did was to purchase tiny bottles created for packing in carry-on luggage. Into these I poured body spray, sunscreen, aloe gel and mouthwash. These are other items I bought in the travel section of the drugstore: a 43-gram hairspray, a 14-gram deodorant, and 2 packages of 7 facial cleansing cloths. Of course, I also tucked in one of those sample tubes of toothpaste the dentist always sends home with me.

IMG_4289
Here’s everything I packed for that first carry-on trip.

What did I bring for clothes? Glad you asked! I brought 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, one sundress, a swimsuit and a swimsuit cover-up which pulled double duty as a nightgown, a T-shirt, 2 tank tops, a foldable sunhat and a pair of sandals. I also brought a down-filled vest that can be rolled up and stuffed into its own small pouch. This kept me warm back and forth from the Calgary airport and on the flights to and from Mexico. I also found room for my water-resistant camera and my sunglasses.

To save space in my luggage, I wore on the plane about half of the clothes I’d wear in Mexico. For the flight, I had on my light Skecher walking shoes, pants (Airline officials frown upon pants-less passengers.), a tank top, a T-shirt, a white button-up shirt, and my down-filled vest. I was cozy but not uncomfortable.

Everything Fit!

Everything I needed for a week surprisingly and easily fit into one carry-on bag. By the end of the trip, I realized that I could’ve survived without my red T-shirt, too, except that it kept me warmer on the airplane. I didn’t even bring a purse, just my wallet and passport placed into one of the bag’s exterior pockets for easy retrieval.

IMG_0419
Iguanas are not allowed in carry-on luggage.

I did have lots of time to plan what to pack for this adventure when at other times, I’ve been pretty rushed. But now that I’ve successfully done this once, I’d definitely just pack one carry-on bag again.

Thanks for being here with me again today. If you like what I write, please share it! And please stay connected. Follow me here on WordPress, write a comment, or just send me a friendly email. I’d love to hear from you! Have a really great day wherever you are.

Cheers,

~ Lori

Ya no puedo mas . . . If you haven’t heard this, click it! It’s too fun.

Mexico in June

IMG_0777
On our deck overlooking the crab-filled pool.

Crabs in the pool

“What’s that in the pool?” It was a big crab. I wish I’d seen it before getting into the pool.

Being a helpful Canadian, I stopped the first person in uniform who passed through the pool area. “I just want to let you know that someone has taken a crab from the seafood buffet and thrown it into the pool.” I am a helpful Canadian who likes to give a story context. Honestly, I had no idea how the crab got there.

 

 

Hear me read this post:

The pretty young woman smiled and nodded. She reassured me, “I will report that. Thank you for letting me know.”

IMG_0789
Flowers in bloom at the resort.

I beamed. I’d done my job and now the swimming pool would be crab free forever. It was a satisfying, short-lived moment.

Within minutes, we noticed that there were crabs in all the pools by our building. Some were dead, but many were walking along the pool floors. Each morning, a guy with a net on the end of a long pole fished the crustaceans out of the water. No one threw those crabs into the pool! They jumped in all by themselves.

We saw evidence of this later on in the week as we watched a crab amble sideways over the grass toward the edge of a pool. It was intercepted by the pool maintenance guy. Perhaps the crab would live to swim another day. Silly crabs.

The sweetest month

This was our tenth visit to Mexico, but it was our first June trip. I used to work as a teacher, and now I’m a student free to travel during that sweet month of June. What’s so sweet about it?

The hedges throughout the property at our resort in Bucerias were covered with bright orange flowers that attracted hummingbirds. Those hummingbirds were everywhere! Some were small and dark green while other were larger and red throated, like the ones we have here in Alberta. The tiny birds would fly all around us, right close by, unafraid and busy eating. I’d never seen hummingbirds in Mexico before. I’d also never seen crabs in the pool.

IMG_0763
No biting bugs. Instead, we saw this HUGE butterfly on the wall outside our hotel room door.

No biting bugs

There were no biting bugs. During our July visits, invisible insects would sting us and cause wildly itchy welts. In July, there were also bigger bugs with pincers. They would bite and I’d think, “Hey! That didn’t even hurt.” Two days later, a crusty, pus-filled bump would form and eventually burst. Gross. I’d rather itch. I’d rather not be bitten at all. That’s why I like June in Mexico.

 

During June, the ladies are still set up to give massages on the beach just steps from the resort. They are well-trained professionals. If you’re too shy to take off your clothes on the beach, please get over it. The massages are well worth any lost modesty and the therapists do keep you covered up. I beg you to do it if you can. Life is short.

Quiet streets, beautiful artwork

 

IMG_0798
Pottery at Jan Marie Boutique (JMB) Gallery in Bucerias.

We visited a gallery while in Bucerias that featured some of the most gorgeous dishware, stoneware, and sculptures I’ve ever seen. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, check out JMB Gallery. It’s a visual feast.

In June, the snowbirds have mostly left the Puerto Vallarta area leaving it looking more like itself. There’s room to move and space to breathe. The restaurants and bars happily welcome you, and there’s time to chat with locals. It helps to know a few Spanish phrases, but it’s not necessary. Don’t be shy to try. People appreciate that you’re interested in speaking their language.

I met a couple nice snowbirds on a bus in Mexico last January. “We’ve been coming here for forty years. We never learned to speak a word of Spanish.” I liked them, but I don’t want to be like them. Dive in. You’re there anyway. Immerse yourself if you can. Spanish is a beautiful language and Mexico is a beautiful country – especially in June.

Did you like what you read here? Consider following my blog either right here on WordPress or through email. See the right sidebar to follow me. It’s easy and it’s free. This way, you won’t miss any of my posts. Thanks for reading! ~ Lori

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, Old Friend

 

For FB
Me in Puerto Vallarta. This picture was taken with my new camera the next year.

A while ago now on a trip to Mexico, I lost my camera. It wasn’t an expensive camera. We bought it using accumulated Airmiles points. In this sense, it was almost free. Its focus capabilities were lousy. It was a point-and-shoot, but I had to point and shoot very patiently as this little gadget consistently took its time in capturing images, often blurring and focusing in on the wrong subjects. To teenagers, the technology of my departed camera would be akin to that of a telegraph machine.

 

But to me that camera was dear. It came with me everywhere, witnessing weddings and family reunions, books signings and mountain drives. That little camera brought me photos of friends and their children and their pets. It came with us and a taxi driver to a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia where it kept for me images of sad angel monuments framed by branches heavy with hanging Spanish moss. It helped me to remember the beauty of the Arizona desert and the simplicity of spring’s first crocuses.

Listen to me read this post:

I almost lost my camera a time or two before. Upon exiting the train onto a downtown Seattle LRT platform, a loud shout drew the attention of everyone. “Camera! Camera! Someone forgot a camera!”

Instantly, I thought, “Who is the crazed lunatic and what is he shouting about?” In the firing of a synapse, I realized that he was not a crazed lunatic but instead a helpful train employee and that it was my camera case he held up above the crowd for all to see.

DIGITAL CAMERA
My brother and I enjoying Seattle. A lot.

Thanks to that kind (and somewhat annoyed) train conductor, that camera accompanied us on our 4th of July evening exploration of some of the best watering holes the fine city of Seattle has to offer.

How did I lose my camera, you ask? Well, speaking of watering holes, we had just returned from one in a neighbouring village. There we had each enjoyed a lime margarita the size of my head. We got off the bus at the side of the highway and walked through the jungle, down to the resort. My husband wisely headed to our room for a nap while I made my slightly wobbly way down to the ocean’s side where I love to lie and listen to the waves.

IMG_3215
A pelican (I think) over the water at Puerto Vallarta.

There on the beach a server from the bar/restaurant would come by periodically and offer me an additional lime margarita. I accepted a couple of beverages before remembering that I was to meet some friends at the pool. The last pictures my camera took were of the gawky seabirds that strutted their ungainly stuff over the rocks and sand along the shoreline, and the graceful ones that skimmed the ocean’s rippled surface.

I still feel sad and sentimental about my old Airmiles camera. I know it won’t mean anything to anyone else in this big world. It’s probably in a dump now somewhere, discarded and forgotten.

I also feel a tad irresponsible. That camera had served me well, had been a good travel companion. Did it use too many batteries when the flash was needed? You bet. Did I drink too many margaritas and forget it on the beach? Yes, I did.

IMG_3276
A colourful parachute over the beach at Puerto Vallarta.

On the way home, we bought a new camera. I’ve taken two pictures with it. Impressive! It has a stunningly sharp and quick focus, and a million pixels. But it’s too soon for me to feel any joy at the wonders of the new camera. I will, I know. After all, it’s great.

But how can making a new friend replace the memory of an old one and all the things we did together? It simply can’t. Not really. Goodbye, old friend.