Sunday, December 30, 2007

Barra

Barra de Navidad is built on a sandbar between Bahia de Navidad and the Laguna de Navidad. The Mexican translation is Christmas Sandbar, or I found The Bar of Christmas as another way of stating it. No matter how you say it Barra is a rwal cool little town. There are about 7000 people who live in Barra proper. It feel of this town is more tourist based. You look around and you mostly see gringos walking the streets and Mexicans selling in the stores. Melaque it is definitely dominated by Mexicans, both tourist and locals. You see you share of gringos, but you can feel that you are in a working community where tourism is holiday based.
We walked the beach to get to Barra passing the laguna and its lush greenery, birds and swamp creatures. Prior to the beach Linda and I had held court explaining about our entire first several days in this area. Every place we passed had a story relating to our discovery of the town of Melaque. It’s always fun to tell the tails of our adventurous times with Buz and Renie. The sun got higher as we neared Barra and the heat slowed the recanting of memories. On the sand at the top of the beach we passed a Boy Scout troop. They had three separate camps each consisting of different aged Boy Scouts. The younger scouts looked very tired, but they all had smiles.

We entered Barra from the beach and walked to the malecón and checked out the health fair that was set up there. There were several tents set up with Huichol Indian art and we checked each one out leisurely.












Saturday, December 29, 2007

Welcome, and the Pack Grows Bigger

This post is a bit out of place due to the late night the evening Rolly and Jeannie arrived, and the quick fishing adventure the next day. Please understand that sometimes, believe it or not, blogging takes second place to actually having an adventure.

At about 5:00PM the Jurgens arrived. Sounded like their trip went real smooth and they had no problems getting into Mexico. We let them get the lay of the land around the house and then we walked down to Bigote's where we sat for a couple hours having drinks and talking. Dinner lead us to Los Molcajetes (formerly Alcatraz) upstairs, in a building near trailer park. We all tried a different Alcatraz Molcajetes special most consisting of slices of sautéed beef, pork, or shrimp, onions, green peppers, served in a hot stone bowl. Linda had a plate of nachos. We dined in their upstairs palapa while watching the world go by on the streets below. The flavor of the molcajetes sauté sauce was phenomenal and we sat and shared our dishes until we were stuffed.

The town was amazingly busy on this Thursday night. People were everywhere making walking very slow. We kept laughing because it had been so quiet before the Jurgens arrived. Our walk took us to the bank where Rolly took on the ATM. For some reason they could only get a 1000 pesos out at a time and had to work the machine three times or more to get $300. Rolly called the bank in Cd'A the next day and had them fix the account so that he could get 5000 pesos out at one time if he wanted.

We sat in the plaza and watched the crowds move about. then we headed back to the house and sat and talked till about 10:30 PM. I finally gave up and started off to bed, I was ready to get some rest before the big fishing trip. The rest of the pack talked for a bit and then each one tailed off to bed.

Just Fishing

Jerry waiting just outside the door when we walked out at 6:30 AM. He greeted us and we loaded into his pickup and drove to the boat in Barra. It was just getting light enough to see our path through the maze leading out to the open bay called Bahia de Navidad. On our left we passed Isla Navidad, the big Hotel Grand Bay glowed ghostly in the dim haze of the morning light. It looked like a skeleton head, the windows lighted as eyes and the main entry its smiling teeth.

Jerry set the lures as we rounded the first rock out cropping. He filled the back of the boat with five rods, set his course and off we went in search of Dorado or Marlin. The reports and Jerry’s recent experiences have said that the fish were off the coast eight to eleven miles. At about ten miles off shore there is a reef that they call the Big 100. When everything is right the fish gather there to feed and this is where Jerry hit a few the days prior.

We cruised at a speed between eight and twelve miles per hour. Jerry said he adjusts the speed based on the clarity of the water. If it is clear seas then the fish hit at a faster speed. About two miles out we spotted a gray whale off the port bow of the boat. I quickly reached my camera and hit the on button. Just as I pointed the lens out to the open ocean the whale breached. I pressed the shutter button and captured the breach. It was quite a long way off, but I cropped the picture and you can definitely tell it is a whale. This was my very first whale that I have seen breaching; needless to say I was very excited.

We came upon more whales during this trip. I counted a total of six whales, two dolphins, many sea turtles, and several sail fish jumping. All that sea life would have made my day, but at eight miles out the Dorado hit, and hit hard.

Jerry brought us up to a line of floating junk, a mass of debris made up of coconuts, leaves, and sea weed. Our first strike was a double. Rolly set his fish first and I set mine next and the fight was on. My fish came in first and Jerry skillfully boated it and turned to Rolly’s and did the same. For the next four hours we would sweep in by the debris and the fish would attack. We set the hooks and fought them into the boat and Jerry would gaff then and tuck them away into the fish hold. It was like you see on the TV sporting shows. Three times we hooked up on doubles and brought them in to our locker. We all were having so much fun and working hard as they attacked, we lost count of our catch at ten.

The bite slowed a little but we were still getting strikes. Rolly was up to bat and one hit. He grabbed the pole and the fight started. By this time we had the routine down. Jerry would pull out of the fishing lane off the debris line and idle down the engine. I would grab my camera and most of the times take video of the action. Rolly was fighting and turns to Jerry and says that he thought this one was as big as the one on his business card. Jerry laughs and said the that one was a forty five pounder, the biggest one he has put a client on to. Rolly fought some more and as it came into view, Jerry changed his tune. It was a big Dorado bull. Jerry gaffed it and heaved it in to the transom of the boat. Rolly and I retreated to the area by the seats. We had learned that if the fish came off the gaff and hook, in the back area of the boat, it would thrash and flail tossing blood and fish spew everywhere. My cloths were proof of that as we watched.

The Dorado thrashed for about five minutes as Jerry released the hook. It was a forty pounder, not quite the best he has boated, but he was a big one. Jerry got him calmed down and into the hold. Rolly was tired but happy and we prepared to fish on.

Jerry went to the steering wheel and readied to get back on the debris lane and noticed something wrong with the boat. He jumped back to the transom and sure enough the fish had thrashed hard enough to break off a fitting on the steering mechanism making it impossible to use the steering wheel. We were done fishing!

We looked over the damage and could not fix it. All the steering fluid had leaked out making navigation using the steering wheel non existent. So Jerry had to rig up a way to steer, while sitting at the back of the boat to get us back to port. Within ten minutes we were heading back, slowly, but we would make it by 5:00 PM. It was a great day and we had no problem giving up the hunt at this point. As we went Jerry made some adjustments to his new steering technique and each time I would adjust the speed faster. We were moving along nicely! Jerry looks at me and says with a big smile “Let’s not waste our day, get two lines in!” So Rolly and I put out two lines and Jerry noted the speed and compass direction and we fished on.

We looked back over our shoulders and spotted some Marlin jumping about a quarter mile back. We talked about what we should do if something hit and we got everything squared away as to how to handle a hit if we got one. Within five minutes I looked at the lures splashing behind the boat and there they were, two sailfish fins batting at the lures. Everyone got ready, but they didn’t take. It would have been a long fight without the help of the boat. We could not be disappointed about the Marlin outsmarting us, our day was extraordinary as it was.

We made good time back to the dock. Jerry ran the steering and I ran the throttle. We approached the pier and backed the boat in to its moorage. The final fish count was 13 Dorados, seven hens and six bulls. We don’t know who caught the extra fish, but we knew Rolly caught the big one and I caught the second largest. Rolly also caught the smallest one, we had three doubles on the day and it kept us extremely busy for several hours. Other boats reported that they had caught one or two fish, the boat that was working the debris line with us had at least five fish boated. Several boats reported that they had been skunked. Jerry and the "Hakuna Matata" did us well today. We settled up and set our date for another trip on the 31st of December.





Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yeah Right, Very Funny

What do you do when you are in Mexico and all your friends are back in the cold hills of Idaho? You send then a photo of you in the heat.

What does you friend do when he gets a photo of you enjoying the heat? He sends one back!

Nice job Danbo! We all burst out laughing, it made our day.

Sunsets and Gifts





Xmas Dinner & Sr. Froy





Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Last Hambuger in Melaque

To fulfill yet another Mission Mexposible task we stopped for lunch at Ava. The Tomzap gringo website rates the burgers here "best hamburger in Melaque". We sat down and ordered. Beth made conversation with the waiter and expressed that the hamburgers at Ava were known as "best hamburger in Melaque" but her Spanish got a little mixed up and she actually said "the last hamburger in Melaque." We the puzzled look on the waiters face alerted us to the mistake and Beth re-worded her statement. A flash of recognition appeared in his expression and we all started to laugh. The burger was very good and I had no regrets in ordering it, but Beth and Linda ordered tortilla soup and a chili renelleno dish that was super good.





Lunch at Cesar & Charly's

Cesar & Charly's has always been one of our favorite little beach restaurant. The food is reasonable and always good, plus you get to watch the birds dive for fish from a much closer view point. We stopped in and had lunch, I had a beer with mine so I could knock off another Mexpossible challenge picture.

Linda had her usual quesedilla and Beth and I had chilequiles. The picture of the chilequies says it all, muy delicioso. We talked to the waitress the girls practicing their Spanish, me practicing listening.

Back at the house Linda and Beth made up some margaritas using fresh lime juice squeezed for their enjoyment by, you know who. It took some experimentation to get the right mix of lime juice, beer, tequila, and sugar, but in the end the drinks tasted pretty good.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Noche Buena

For Christmas Eve we walked into the town square and found a cab for a ride over to Barra de Navidad. The cost was $5 and the ride was quick and uneventful. We planned to eat dinner and do a little looking, hopefully watching the Xmas eve happenings of the bigger city. Walking the main street it becomes apparent that things were going to be very quiet this holiday night. We walked to Lucy's, a small restaurant just off the waterfront where we had our meal. It was very good and we sat in a location where we could watch the street happenings as we ate and talked. After dinner we walked around and looked at the various shops, but nothing drew our immediate attention. After a bit of looking about we caught a cab back to the plaza in Melaque.

Ice cream was the next order of business for the three of us. Linda had a chocolate mix, I had caramel crunch and Beth had a small dish of mango. All flavors we very good and as we ate them we went to the plaza and sat. It was quiet in Melaque also, church was in session and very few gringos were present in the plaza. As we watched, a very old couple strolled by. The gentleman turned to us and said "Noche Buena" and then continued to tell us that for many years he thought Noche Buena was the beer. A local had just explained that Noche Buena were the terms used to express Christmas Eve in Mexico. He went on to say that in reply you would say "egualmente" which means "and to you also". These two folks came from British Columbia and had been coming down here for many years. We had a nice chat before they moved on around the plaza. We sat for a while and then visited the doughnut man and returned home where Linda beat me in cribbage.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday in Melaque

We went for a walk. The three of us exited the place and walked to the right when hit the first street. This would take us in the direction of the Laguna. As we walked we talked and laughed about everything around us. We passed Buz and Renny's place. We stayed there the first couple of years we visited. It was a nice place, very cheap and each person we met had a very color full back ground.

At Laguna De Tulli, the big hotel at the end of Melaque, we turned left and followed the streets away from the ocean. Mexico streets are dusty, have lots of old cars parked along the curb and posses a wide variety of sleeping dogs. Most dogs lay in the dirt and as you pass they raise their heads to check you out. This gesture acknowledges that you have been seen and it is OK for you to pass. They waist no energy and rarely get up, even if your path crosses their resting place.

We came to a street that forced us to turn left, but for some reason we looked over our shoulder and spotted a very nice side street leading to the Lanuna. We followed it two blocks and came to an area where there was a intersection made of cobblestones and concrete. Ornate street lamps lined the block and a boat ramp and dock sat at the edge of the laguna. This complete area was less then two blocks long and then there was nothing but dirt and trash. It looked like and oasis along the edge of the city.

A New Guest

Beth made it safe and sound last night. She had some flight delays and the usual small waits and such, but she rang our door bell about 8:00 PM and was very happy to see us.

We let her change and then walked down town to Sr. Froy's and had a wonderful dinner. Sr. Froy was in his usual great form and he paid a lot of attention to our two ladies. Notice Froy in the background of the picture of Linda and I. He did that with out Beth noticing and then asked if he could see the photo she took. Of course Beth showed him and we all got a good laugh when we saw his face in the background. They loved all his jokes and of course he got a bid tip for his efforts.


We walked around to the plaza, had our evening doughnut and watched the kids chase, punch and play. I watched a group of young boys up in the plaza gazebo kicking a soccer ball at each other real hard. I figured out the game after just a few minutes. They kick the ball as hard as they can and try to hit another kid somewhere that they didn't like. Then if the ball went out over the railing and down into the plaza they would swarm the kid that kicked the ball and caused it to go out in to the lower area. As the swarmed they would all yell the same chant and smack the kicker on the top of the head until said kicker could break out of the swarm and go fetch the ball. It got a bit wild if the kicker was located on the opposite side of the gazebo steps. If they were close the chant started and they fled as fast as they could to avoid getting smacked. This went on the entire time we were there, it looked rather wild and harsh, but on one seemed to get hurt.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More than Modern

This is the latest convenience we found in our beach house.

Posted by Picasa
Yes it is a battery powered water pump. Last year we use a hand pump, the year before we would pour the water from the jug. Man what next?

The Rhythms of the Night

Everything in Mexico moves to it's own rhythm. The ocean, the animals, the people, all are in sync with their own beat. One block off the beach is a restaurant that we pass every time we walk to town. It was once the location of a very good restaurant called Sr. Froy's, but Froy's has moved to the center of town across from the bank. The new place specializes in steaks and such, and their theme is the music of the 50's and 60's. As with most Mexicans when they play their music, they play it loud. Elvis and Buddy Holly Blair from a sound system from which the high notes could break glass and the base resonates deep in your stomach. I wonder why they feel the music and level they play it at will draw gringo customers. I can barely walk past the place, let alone sit down for dinner. It might be that 50's music has never been my favorite genre.

I have come to believe that if you have a car or truck in Mexico, they provide you with two things that you must install in your vehicle. First they give you all sorts of LED lights, mostly in blue, to place around your licence plate, the running boards, on your windshield wipers, on the water squirters for the windshield and some times on the air caps of your tires. I have noticed that even the worst run down junkers have one or two of there lights installed somewhere.

Next, when they give you your licence plates they must hand you the biggest car audio system that you can fit into your vehicle. If you have a VW Bug, then the back seat is comprised of speakers, on seats, just speakers. If you have a truck then they give you ten or twelve small tweeters and a base tube that fits under your seat. Some have video screens with the newest popular MTV music videos playing. Others just have an amazing amount of sound emanating from the open window. Some of the sounds are of rap or 80's disco, but most are Mexican Mariachi style music played as loud as the stereo can go. You get used to the sounds mixing and it is rather enjoyable to wander to the different beats of the passing locals.

Tonight's walk took us down to our usual sunset bar, Bigoties. We reached the end of the street where the city turns to beach and to our surprise Bigoties was boarded up. Linda suggested we walk up the beach a bit and there it was relocated and prospering. Many of the faces were familiar. Over the years you run into the same expatriots and relocated Canadians. Most are retired, heavy drinking, chain smoking people who have the same daily routine which end here at the bar. You nod your head, they smile and wave, but that's about it.

Bigoties has always been the spot to watch the sunset, drinking margaritas and beer. Tonight was no different from the last night we were in Mexico last year. Our waiter take our order, expressing the fact that it's always two for one video
cervezas at Bigoties. About two drinks into the night the music starts. Three musicians play guitars and bongos and entertain the patrons. They are not great, but good enough to make you tap your feet and move to the sounds of Mexico.

We pay our tab, tip the band and head into the town in search of dinner. We have tacos, tamales, and enchiladas at one of our favorite spots, then we go buy some donuts from the Donut Man who is always on the corner by the Church, and we sit in the town square and watch the people of Malaque.

We return to the place at about 9:00 PM, the sounds of the 50's floating down the street to the ocean. Linda fell directly to sleep and I laid on the bed reading. I woke some time later to the sound of a marching band. The wind was blowing out to the bay and our 50's music had been replaced by clean brass sound of a Mariachi marching band. It only lasted a couple songs and then it was quiet. Except for the tick, tick, tick of the celling fan and the booming echo of the waves smashing onto the shore. In Mexico everything has a rhythm and the people have embraced this syncopation of life so we sleep.

Friday, December 21, 2007

¡Él I Caliente En Malaque, México!

So day two started for me about 9:00 AM, when I rolled out of bed and walked out to the pool. Temperature was moderate out side, but things were setting up to get hot! Linda had gone to the "club" and worked out. She found the place several years ago and always tries to get over there to lift weights. It cost her a few pesos, has only old free weights, but I think it is the mystique of working out with all the various people that's the draw.

We ate breakfast and I got on line. One of the new luxuries of the place is wireless Internet access. I'll be on line and posting regularly because I don't like to lay in the sun as much as Linda. I put in about fifteen minutes each day trying to ease my white Idaho body into the sun of Mexico. I'll extend that as we get further into our vacation.

Posting and surfing will fill the time during the day when everyone down here is taking their siestas. I plan of goofing with the blog and posting as many pictures as I can.

Right now it is about 4:00 PM and everything is real quiet. Well, quiet for Mexico that is. There are still the dogs barking, chickens crowing, 4 wheelers on the beach, waves pounding, and music playing, but that is normal down here.

I can't figure out the 4 wheeler thing. It is said to be illegal to ride them on the beaches around Melaque, but they go back and forth quite often. The beach patrols ride them but I never see them stop local riders. Some times they yell something to the drivers, but nothing happens. It could be worse and really doesn't bother us too much.

I took a picture of the receipt from the Supermarket and posted it. Our first night we spent $239.82 on food. Of course that's pesos so that was about $23 us. If you look at what we bought you can see how much things run down here. A can of re fried beans was about $.69.
Coca Cola Light is $.73, and milk was $1.00. A little less then up there in Idaho. Where you score is at dinner! Last night we had four tacos, a plate of chicken enchiladas (4) and two sodas and it came to $7.80 US. Feed two up North for that will you!

Linda just got up from her nap so I'll continue this later this evening.

Mission Mexpossible

Dean Bennett, your mission, should you choose to accept it....
is to take digital photos of the following things:

1. You playing Ping Pong with a Mexican Citizen.

2. A pinata that you would not think they would make into a pinata.

3. You holding 10 different kinds of beer (one at a time obviously, 10 different photos)







































4. Rolly Jurgens with a fish(could be a tough one)

5. A bowl of Menudo.

6. You feeding a goat. (Byron's idea)

7. A shuffleboard table.

8. Rolly or Beth with a member of Law Enforcement




9. A female Mariachi.

10. You eating Mole'. (This is Mole' and I ate some, but it belonged to Sylvie. It was very good.)


11. A Burro.

12. A menu from your favorite restaurant (readable in pic)




13. Something you can't find in Idaho.







14. A Hamburger.



15. Linda with something (man made) over 200 years old.




16. Someone playing basketball.
17. You buying me a bottle of hot sauce. :)








We'll also keep track of the results of the Southern Cribbage Challenge here.

Linda 6
Dean 3 (Dean only needed six Linda got lucky and won the game)