Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leather art and a haircut

On this morning's walk, we discovered a display of wearable leather art.

Not sure who would wear these items but they are beautifully crafted.

Later in the day I had a haircut.

Sidney, a friend who moved here from San Francisco, came over
to the house and gave me a professional haircut for the second time
since we arrived in Puerto Vallarta.
She returns to SF on regular visits to update her clients' hairstyles.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coffee and another bird

We rediscovered a small Mexican coffee shop yesterday that we haven't been to on this visit. It is on the busy bus route, very noisy but really interesting... great place to people watch and friendly service.

An Americano, an herbal tea and two slices of banana loaf at this little place = $5.50...half the cost of Starbuck's. We enjoy trying the small local businesses.

Later in the day we were visited by this gorgeous bird. I hope that Joyce can send me another name!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Another busy day

Another busy day. I prepped five new canvases in my series before we left for a tour of a new shop that our friends Sid and Sheila will be managing. Tucked away on a back street, Mann Made Mexico features the designs of an American woman who has all of the pieces made in Mexico.

She selects materials that are readily available and then employs artisans from the area. The chair is strung with thin strips of leather, the stools are woven plastic and the lamps are local vine and sisal.

A short walk from the shop is the apartment that she has leased for five years. It overlooks the river and is filled with her eclectic furniture designs.

She had the kitchen counters refinished with polished cement and drew a chalk design on the upright part of the bar. A ceramic rooster and elephant perch on the counter!

This is one of eight dining room chairs that surround the wooden slab contemporary table. Handwoven fabric is stretched across the seat cushions, the back is woven straw and the base is woven plastic around a metal frame.

Juan del Dio and Juan del Diablo. Which is which?

After touring this apartment we drove up the river to El Rio for a late lunch of ribs & beans.

 The mariachi band was taking a break when we arrived. 
I am sure that each pair of mariachi pants is individually made 
to tightly fit the contours of diverse body shapes!!

The restaurant overlooked a popular swimming hole.

On a Sunday afternoon there were a lot of families enjoying the cool water.

The older boys were doing daredevil stunts off the rocks!

The ribs were delicious, the setting was ideal and Julia, the dog, enjoyed every bit of flavour from the bones we donated to her. Later, she followed me to the washroom and washed her meal down with a good drink from the toilet...much to the horror of another patron!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Nestor, the property manager, decided to host a feast of "carnita" this afternoon for his employees and family.

Xavier (the gardener) was given the task of cooking the food.
Apparently he was quite a skilled cook in his previous life.
No fancy barbeques for these guys!

The carnita pot held pork meat, cheeks, liver, kidneys and skin.
I tried it all with a squeeze of lime juice. Delicious but a little bit was enough!

Nestor (turquoise shirt) is our property manager.
Beto & Cesar, two of his brothers, do odd jobs around the Quinta and several other properties.

The cooking, meal prep and eating took place at the next door neighbour's under their infinity pool, almost like being in an open air basement! By the time the meat was ready there were several maids and handymen gathered as well as Nestor's family. A cooler of beer, freshly chopped salsa and bags of limes were assembled. After the feast Nestor's family enjoyed the infinity pool upstairs.

Another Southside Shuffle

Another "Southside Shuffle" brought us downtown last night to visit the galleries and listen to local street music. At Galleria Dante we enjoyed new pieces by Miguel Angel Martin del Campo.

His current work revolves around "Mixed Beings"
and often combines metal sculpture with ceramics.

Across the street at Contempo Gallery they were featuring works by Yoel Diaz Galvez, a Cuban painter. Stunning images of the human body expose the struggle of Cubans attempting to leave their island nation.

Diaz Galvez was awarded the Lorenzo II Magnifico Award in Italy last year. At the Ninth Annual Florence Biennal he received second prize in the painting category while competing with 450 artists from around the world.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eating out at The Cheeky Monkey & Bravo

Another busy social day! We met Sandra & Harry (Salmon Armenians) at the Cheeky Monkey for lunch. They brought us up to date on the proposed underpass and other civic politics back home. Another meeting is planned soon with several other visitors from the Shuswap.

In the evening we drove downtown to join Keith, Gerry and Edna (Gerry's 90 year old mother) for dinner. We were in a "loaner" vehicle as our hosts' car was being repaired. There was only one back door to enter & exit the backseat. The three guys climbed out, shut and locked the doors before I could slide over to get out! I sat there, watching them saunter down the sidewalk. John did look back occasionally, wondering where I was . They finally wandered back, trying to peer inside the vehicle. I almost peed my pants laughing!!

Enroute to the restaurant we passed a very busy pool hall. Competition was fierce!

Dinner at BRAVO was very tasty and beautifully presented. A new restaurant in town, it is upscale but very noisy. It was a challenge to converse across the length and width of a table for seven people.

Monday, January 20, 2014

February 27th

We have extended our stay until February 27th!
More gym sessions for John and more painting time for me!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A large margarita!

Last night we met Sid and Sheila for dinner at a little place near the gym. I am not sure if it has a name and it doesn't have a menu. All of the items are posted on pieces of paper outside the entry, dependent on what they decide to stock the kitchen with? The food was delicious, the drinks were okay but small with the exception of my margarita!!

Our hosts with my margarita in the foreground!

We ordered plates of mahi-mahi, shrimp, pork and sausages. Everything was very tasty and the total cost for six of us was 880 pesos (about $70). Two musicians performed in the background.

This young guitarist looked about 14 years of age
and played like a professional!

This fellow sang in Spanish, French and English.
His last song prompted much debate about the song writer.
Did Carole King or James Taylor write "You've got a friend"?

Later research indicated that Carole King wrote the song but both James Taylor and Carole recorded it the same year (1971) on separate albums!!

Friday, January 17, 2014


On yesterday morning's walk we explored "upriver", away from the harbour. It was quiet and untouristed.  Along the way we passed a donkey, many varieties of birds, a homeless guy sleeping on the river bank beside a pot of flowers and the remains of a campfire.

Someone, in a burst of creative energy, decided to paint the benches in a small park. Our walk took us along the other side of the river and up to Gringo Gulch. We passed the 1960's homes of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, connected by a small overhead bridge. The buildings are currently under renovation but the pool is intact and kept beautifully clear. 

From the Hacienda San Angel we took about 999 steps back down to sea level and were ready for nourishment. One of our favourite spots to stop for morning coffee/tea is Cafecita, a small coffee shop located along the side of Rosita Hotel. The owner,  a Canadian woman, is an amazing baker. So far we have taste tested her blueberry scones and pecan/berry coffeecake. Yummhh!

From our perch at Cafecita we watch the ferry to Yelapa being loaded by an older man with the body of a twenty year old.  He wades out into the water with each piece of cargo, pulls the boat toward him and throws the packages onboard.

At the Bay end of the river a fisherman was cleaning his morning's catch (from the sea) in the river and feeding the pelicans at the same time! These two managed to keep the territory to themselves!

Three days a week we walk into town in the heat of the afternoon to the gym for John's fitness training sessions. There are several jewelry shops along the way. This one always catches my eye.

While John sweats and strains I usually saunter up to a little street leading to the Cathedral and plop my bum on a very uncomfortable wrought iron bench. From there I can follow the activity of locals and tourists. Last week a young woman was celebrating her "quinze ano"(15 year) in a full length wedding gown. Initially I thought that she was a bride but then she climbed into a convertible with three young men. An eight piece mariachi band played on the Cathedral steps while a group of women (mother and aunts?)teetered on stilettos. I decided that it was too invasive to photograph their personal experience.

An overhead celebration of colour on this street!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Hoping that my birding friends can help to identify these feathered creatures!

Monday, January 13, 2014

News items

Two items in the Vallarta Tribune caught my attention last week. Minimum wage for employees in this area was increased by 3.9 percent at the beginning of the year. That means in increase to 67.29 pesos ($5.62) PER DAY!!

The other item concerned an appeal by Monsanto and SEMARNAT (Mexico's Environment and Natural Resources Ministry) to overturn a September court ruling that banned the planting of GM maize in Mexico. A Mexican judge threw out the appeal!! Bravo!!

This decision states "that even if a new court case is filed on this subject by Monsanto and its government supporters, the suspension shall remain in effect until the appeals court has made a final ruling". The Mexican Federal government had allowed trial crops of GM maize to be planted in Mexico since 2009.

Father Miguel Concha, leader of the movement to ban GM maize planting, emphasized that "the government is obliged to protect the human rights of Mexicans against the economic interests of big business".

Kim Kuzman at the Cabaret

We were out on the town again last night. There are so many performance venues in this town that are very well supported by locals and visitors. Most of the entertainment is geared to anglos but the economic advantages for locals are very visible. All servers and administrative staff are Mexican and musicians/ stage performers receive compensation. Tickets for the two hour performance last night by professional musicians were 250 pesos ($20.00) each.

Kim Kuzman was on stage with a six piece band: two guitars, a bass, flutist, two percussionists. She has a power house voice and the band was exceptional. Kim performs in Vancouver and has also gigged through the USA. She is a consummate performer who connects easily with her audience.

The Cabaret...find my three guys in the back, behind the railing.
The high stools were plush and comfortable with a bar that runs along the length of the rail.

Bob Tansen on flute was the highlight of the show for me!

Enrique Jimenez was very animated  and energetic!

I enjoyed Kim's performance but was enthralled with the band...want to hear more!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day 42

On day 42 of our PV visit he finally tested the water in his new bathing suit.

Southside Shuffle

We enjoyed the "Southside Shuffle" last night, touring local galleries on Basilio Badillo, listening to street bands and mingling in the crowds. Starting at Galleria Dante, we wound our way through their labyrinth of gallery rooms, into a sculpture garden and past a huge exhibition of various artistic styles.

The Gallery was overwhelming because of the quantity and quality but there are always rare surprises hidden in corners. An opening night reception celebrated the mosaic works of Nina Di Giovanni and the abstract paintings of Jean-Gabriel Lambert. Both artists were Canadian born.

From here we discovered Ambos Galeria and explored their upper floor with its unique hand carved desk from a single piece of tree trunk. Display cases exhibited beautiful ceramics for sale by Mexican artisans...very tempting!

Across the street we entered the Contempo gallery for the opening reception of Alfonso Pena's latest works. Upstairs we discovered several engraved steel silhouettes by Luis Espiridion. These were definitely the highlight of our tour. Unfortunately the photos did not transfer to the computer!

Down the street we shared a tasty dinner at Cafe de Olla before wandering up to Garbo's for a nightcap. The bars were overflowing with intoxicated tourists trying to be heard over loud music! It was definitely time to head home!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Photo updates

It is time for a couple of updated photos.

The artist finally completed The Three Kings
to accompany a nativity scene on the beach.
One is holding an Angry Bird, the second has an empty wine bottle
and the third has an ipad! Not sure what this means?

The powder room on the main floor is finally complete.
The vanity has been silver foiled, taps and basin installed.

John is recovering from some strenuous muscle extension in his shoulders yesterday at the gym. As a result we are in slow mode today but did manage to push ourselves out the door and down the hill for a walk into town. 

It is interesting to note the contrast between morning walkers and afternoon walkers on the malecon. In the morning everyone is intent on exercise and is dressed "normally". The afternoon walkers stroll along in various degrees of "undress" and/or sobriety. What are these people thinking? They would never walk around like that at home...or would they? Aren't bathing suits meant for the beach? And aren't they supposed to cover at least 2% of your body? I don't need to see the entire length of your tattoo from shoulder to groin!...or ankle to groin!

Meanwhile the locals are dressed for winter with fake-fur lined hoodies, skin tight jeans (they obviously like their women with big butts) and mile high boots. Early in the morning they actually huddle, shivering in the "cold"!

I am working on a new series, dedicating a portion of each day to painting in between the walks and the daily pool floats. So far the results are promising. It is a gradual toning, tanning and creative process for the next three weeks.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

La Cruz market day

This morning we drove out to the La Cruz market for a wander through the stalls. 
A special yoga class was taking place on surf boards in the bay.

He actually managed to do a complete handstand before tipping into the water!
This could be the next step for my yoga friends in Salmon Arm this summer!

Musicians provided entertainment in the market area.

Colourful plastic baskets and bags were on display.

A guy in a "TORONTO" shirt made us delicious Moroccan burgers!

A tapas dinner

Last night's dinner was a selection of tapas including Moroccan chickpeas, Roe's eggplant dish, chicken salad, sauteed baby squash and steamed artichokes with a special dip. The flavours were wonderful!