Saturday, February 28, 2015

Late Lunch @ Laguna de Barra de Navidad

Yesterday we forked over 7 pesos and took the bus over to Barra where we spent some time walking around and checking out all the little shops. Note to self: Nothing ever changes so don't spend the time shopping in Barra.

Jill and Barry had a restaurant named Marry's they wanted us to try over on Laguna de Barra de Navidad. After shopping we took a water taxi over and had a wonderful meal. 

The four of us with the Grand Bay in the background.
Our view from our lunch table.
Shrimp empanadas.

Group photo by guy at table.

Friday, February 27, 2015

La Manzanilla Stream Hike

We went back over to La Manzanilla and hiked up a stream to a small falls.  The trail was cool and easy walking.  We stayed up there for a while. Lots of people coming and going. I put together this video.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Day at La Manzanilla

Barry and Jill picked us up at 10:00 AM, we had rented Leone's car, our destination was La Manzanilla for a beach day.  The day was perfect with clear skies and light winds. Berry drove and I rode shotgun. Our journey was uneventful.

We parked for the day a Pedro's Tacos and got the best beach table we could.  I ate breakfast as Linda and Jill went shopping. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and talking.

We have two friends who own a beach house in the middle of the La Manz right on the water. I had heard through the coconut telegraph that they were down in the area now so I took a stroll down the beach to try and find their place.  I talked to several people who directed me to a scraggly haired realtor who they said knows everyone in town. I introduced myself and asked if he knew where Steve Wetzel lived. He took a drag on his cigarette stub, exhaled the smoke across his yellow teeth and said "Yeah, look for Casa Tortuga!" I thanked him and headed back u the street.

I found Casa Tortuga and noted that it was closed up so I talked to a neighbour.  The gentleman knew Steve and after a bit of who's who and where you from, he said that the Wetzels would be down in March. I asked if I could leave them a note and he said that he would make sure they got it. Thus, my hunt was over and my days work was done.

Beach fishing at its best!
I walked back to Pedro's and read my book. Halfway through the day Larry, Maggie, Max and his family arrived for a day at the beach.  The two little girls had a blast and everyone enjoyed their smiles and chatter.

We ate and drank while watching the beach world go by.  Late afternoon we loaded up and drove back to Melaque.  Another great day in the books.

A Torro pulled in via hand line.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Monarch Butterfly Trip

When you visit Mexico there are so many spectacular places to visit and wonderful experiences to take in, a visit to see the Monarch butterflies is one of the items that you must place on your south of the border bucket list.
Jesus, our bus driver and the
transportation hero of the tour!

In hearing about the possibilities of checking this one off our list, Linda contacted a tour company located in Melaque and found that they were offering a tour that included a visit to view these spectacular creatures.

Experience Mex-ECO Tours provides many offerings and all came highly recommended which made the decision to join this adventure very easy. Linda contacted Dan Patman, Mex-ECO Tours owner, and made the arrangements. When Tuesday, February 10 at 5:45 AM rolled around Maggie, Linda and myself, loaded into our bus and started our trek to visit the Monarchs and other attractions of the Michoacan area.
(Click on photos to enlarge.)
Our first day was mostly riding and getting to know the numerous people on our bus. We drove southeast to Manzanillo and then followed Hwy 54 up through Colima to Guadalajara where we met up with a second bus and filled our open seats with people from the Puerto Villarta area. Once we had our full accompaniment of sightseers, Jesus, our bus driver, continued on to our first day's stop in Morelia.
Linda and Maggie with the
volcano in the background.

Arriving in Morelia we checked into the Casa de Anticuario and got settled into our rooms.  The hotel was very nice and quiet. Our room was just off the main reception area under a set of stairs. We had plenty of room and were able to connect to wifi so that Linda could call her father and check on her mother who had just had a hip replacement operation that day.

The courtyard just outside our room.
One of the churches just off
the square in Morelia.
With the family duties finished we joined our tour group and our guide, Antonio, where we took a walking tour of the centro district of Morelia.  The two hour tour covered the history of the area and answered many questions.   As Antonio pointed to the last historical sight we were to visit, the skies opened up, lightning crashed and the thunder roared. We took it as a sign that we were not supposed to go into that last church, but were to go get dinner. It poured as we ran for cover in any place that would provide shelter.
After ten or so minutes the rain let up and we were able to make our way back to a restaurant near our hotel where we had a wonderful meal.  With our stomachs full and the rain continuing we ended our first 18 hour long day back at the hotel. 

When morning arrived we ate a wonderful breakfast at the hotel and loaded into the bus leaving Morelia, passing through Ocampo, to Santa Rosario. It was in this little town that we came upon a most interesting problem. Once every two months a special government sponsored tiangui takes place in Santa Rosario. Because of the government sponsorship, it is unpredictable when this event will be held and so we just happen to be traveling during its arrival.

Our bus climbed the road leading through the lower part of the town. As we moved on we started to see cars and trucks parked lining the only road leading to the biosphere reserve.  We inched our way around a tight left turn and there stretching out before us was almost a mile of tiangui filled with hundreds of indigenous peoples. Our progress came to a halt!

Foreshadowing of the tiangui
that was just around the corner.
Antonio jumped out of the bus and started lifting ropes that held tarps, using tall sticks laying along the streets. The bus began moving up through the mass of people. The vendors joined in, lifting the ropes, waving hands signaling Jesus, moving their wares, and allowing the huge bus to move through the tiangui at a snail's pace. After 40 minutes we broke past the final rope and were free to continue up to the butterflies.

The bus parked and we exited, stretching our legs, and preparing for the climb/ride up into the butterfly reserve. We walked up and Dan met us at the gate with our entry tickets. At this point our tour group divided into two groups, the hikers and the horseback riders. Linda, Maggie and I entered the park and hiked up the brick path. During the first part of the hike the path is concrete bricks leading past vendor huts. Then after climbing about a quarter mile, the brick path ended and we hiked on a dirt trail up to a meadow that opened up at about 8500 feet elevation.

As we climbed we felt the elevation in our legs and lungs. The higher we went we saw more and more butterflies. Finally we broke out of the forest into the meadow where we could see the butterflies!

At the end of the trail in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve the butterflies congregate, clustering onto pine and oyamel trees. There are so many butterflies hanging onto the branches that the trees appear orange and branches sag from the weight. One reason the butterflies congregate so thickly on trees is to conserve heat. When the sun comes out these butterflies warm up and the skies fill with fluttering orange specks! You can hear their wings swishing as they take flight.

While we were there the weather was cooler so the butterflies were clustered in their groups. Several times we watched as the sun came out from the clouds and the butterflies took flight. The wind moved through the trees and the Monarchs fluttered about; it was breathtaking!

Entrance to thMonarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. 
Keep climbing!
The first signs of Monarchs on the hike up.

The large clumps are the masses of butterflies keeping warm.

Everything orange are the Monarchs.

When the sun came out the Monarchs took flight.

Vendors along the hike up and down.

Our lunch stop after the hike.

The ruins at Tzintzuntzan

Aral photo of the archaeological site.
Shopping in the town of Tzintzuntzan.

Landscaping pieces made from the pinkish rock.

Notice the likeness?

Everything in the entrance is made of flowers!
View of Church of San Francisco and its open chapel.
Flowers, flowers everywhere. The place smelled amazing!

Fish gordita cooked just outside the bus door.
The fish are caught in the nearby lake.
Goose and Linda on our bed.
The creation of copper pots.

Dan explains the process.

Dan with a beautiful copper vase.

The princess of my life!
A mobile hardware store.
Mural of the history of Mexico.

The entire town is painted in this traditional manner.

Beauties everywhere!
The butcher was a little pig headed. LOL