Friday, February 28, 2014

Return to Vancouver

Early morning view of the city and mountains from the apartment.

We arrived back in Vancouver around midnight last night. Because of the lengthy walk at the airport from the terminal to Customs, we requested assistance and arrived at Customs on a battery operated cart along with several other "walking challenged" passengers.

The Customs agent chose to process the flight crew first and seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time with each of them. The final crew member admitted to carrying an apple when questioned about fruit. That further delayed the process as he explained that the apple would have to be disposed of in a nearby container. 

Finally he turned to the assisted passengers. By this time there was no one else in the Customs area! It was empty!! 

On the first cart were two passengers from Fiji. Onboard the plane they had asked me to fill out the form for them and I had transferred their passport info onto the form. When I asked the form question about whether they were bringing any meat into the country, they said no, just fish! Of course this became an issue with the Customs agent, further delaying our entry into Canada!! When we finally reached the luggage carousel there were only two lonely bags circling endlessly.

It was after 1:00am (3:00am in PV) by the time we dropped our bags in the apartment and found a notice stating that the Fire Alarm system for the building was being tested in the morning. They would start at 8:30am on the top floor...our floor!!

We were groggy but ready for the loud, invasive alarms in the morning. When they finished we drove over to Main Street for a coffee. In hindsight it probably wasn't a good idea to drive while jetlagged and just plain exhausted...but then, hindsight is always great!! Enroute I had noticed that my right turn signal wasn't working. Outside the coffee shop I saw a parking spot that should probably require proper parallel parking but there was a guy right behind me and I couldn't signal my intention to decided to simply drive into the spot. Unfortunately I nicked the car that I was attempting to park in front of and the driver was sitting at the wheel!! She was not impressed and I was totally humiliated! ...54 years behind the wheel without an incident! It was a very minimal paint scrape on her car and nothing on ours.

My stomach was too upset to enjoy a coffee afterward so we just headed back to the apartment. I placed a call to ICBC to report my part in the incident before we retired for a much needed nap. Even with earplugs firmly in place I was woken by the announcement that they were testing the building alarm system again!!


Mural boards have been set up in Puerto Vallarta for artists to explore
a variety of themes. This one caught my imagination!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Heading north

Packed and ready to return to the frigid North! We are extremely grateful to our hosts for their hospitality. It isn't normal to have two extra people living in your home for three months. They have been very tolerant of our daily quirks and foibles!

We will also miss Jean, Doug's soon to be 95 year old mother. She has had a extraordinary life and entertained us with stories, songs and poems from the past.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Simply Barbara!

Tonight we were in the audience at The Palm for a performance by Steven Brinberg, a Barbara Streisand impersonator. He had an amazing voice. Sometmes, if I closed my eyes, he sounded exactly like Streisand. Unfortunately about one third of the audience disappeared during the break between Act 1 and Act 2.

During Act 2 he sang a Marvin Hamlisch song in the voices of Cher, Patsy Cline, Carol Channing, Lena Horne and several others. A great performer, the show was very enjoyable!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cabbage rolls

Four years ago, during the Olympic games in Vancouver, we made a Puerto Vallarta dinner of cabbage rolls, perogies and sausages. Tonight Doug and I revisited the experience, using his "wrapping" skills to prepare a casserole dish full of delicious cabbage rolls. My recipe is not traditional but combines some bacon with the meat, rice, chopped onion and herbs. The sauce is a "KAY" mixture that will remain a family secret!

Doug also chose to model his self designed, off the shoulder, modified white t-shirt 
instead of opting for  the culinary safety of an apron!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A taste of Tuba

 I have always been curious about the guys who sell drinks from a large gourd that they carry around. Yesterday I settled at Roberto's for a coffee while waiting for John to finish at the gym. The young waiter went out to a drink vendor and returned with a plastic cup of liquid and announced that it was delicious. Later, I asked him what it was and he said "tuba"...all natural and good. Did I want him to get one for me? After a moment of hesitation I thought "why not?'

He tried to explain what the "floaties" were in the drink...nuts and chopped up apples! He stumbled over his explanation of the liquid...something about coconut trees. The drink was sweet and had a slightly unusual flavour. I sipped it tentatively but didn't eat the apple and nuts. Our morning conversation with friends had centred around the topic of a parasite (amoeba) that is water born and very common in Mexico. About halfway through the drink I had convinced myself that I would either be parasite ridden or die of bubonic plague!

Curiosity drove me to research online:

In Mexico, tuba is primarily a coastal drink. Coconut palm sap is fermented to make the clear, white, sweet wine called tuba. To collect the sap, workers climb the palm tree in the morning and evening and bruise the coconut flower stalk until it starts to ooze its liquid. The stalk is tied with bamboo strips into a special bamboo container to catch the sap. Crushed tanbark from the mangrove tree is dropped into the container to give the sap a reddish color and to hasten its fermentation. As many as three flowers from one coconut tree can be made to yield sap. Each flower produces tuba for two months, after which it dries out and is cut from the tree.
The liquid actually begins to ferment while still in the bamboo container on the tree, but the alcohol content increases considerably with longer fermentation. Tuba quenches the thirst, is good for indigestion, and makes conversation flow easily.
So far, so good. I didn't notice alcohol in the drink but I didn't finish the entire cup either!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The mural

I have walked this street many times and never noticed this lovely mural.

There is usually a crush of pedestrians around the area
so that must be why I didn't see it until early this morning before the crowds.
Both telephones are operational and apparently well used!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Date night

Apparently Valentines Day is a big event in Mexico and the restaurants are all very busy so we decided to have a Date Night on the 15th. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Mama Rosa's new location before strolling with an ice cream cone.

John managed to make a new friend enroute!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Underwater heart and Robotic camera

As usual, we saw some unusual sights this morning while walking along the malecon.

An underwater statement of love left over from yesterday!

Further along we encounter a large group dressed in white.

What are they looking up at???

This robotic camera was hovering and swooping overhead
to take photos of the group.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


We saw Rick Mercer try this on his show.
Today we watched as several people attempted to soar!!

This guy was a real gymnast, twisting and turning high in the air!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Boat ride

Today we took a short boat ride to view some of the landscape to the south.

Let me know if anyone who has visited us can spot the Quinta???

It was more interesting on the water!!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The crash

Never a dull moment! Just before 9:00pm last night there was a huge crash! Running downstairs I discovered that a security company truck had slid down the road, smashing into our front gates. Apparently the motor had died and brakes failed leaving the security guard with no control over the vehicle. The new wrought iron gates were bent, the lock sprung, plant pots broken, outdoor lights shattered.

Nestor, the property manager, was visiting next door and he arrived within minutes. A representative from the Security company arrived within half and hour, the police about one hour later and finally, at 11:00pm, an Insurance agent drove up the hill to discuss a possible settlement. The tow truck arrived shortly afterward and drove to the top of the hill.

From that position, on this very steep road, he attached a long chain to the undercarriage of the truck and started to (very slowly) winch the truck up the hill. At some point the truck engine cooperated and by the time everyone left after midnight, the truck followed behind the tow truck down the hill with the original driver behind the wheel!

The front gates were chained and locked until they can be repaired. Damage to be assessed. Only access now is through the garage.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Malecon

I have been told that frequent walks along the Malecon are boring. "You see the same things every time!" Actually I never know what I'll see when I leave the house each morning.

Yesterday I watched as two dozen pelicans waited patiently 
for these fishermen to throw tidbits in their direction.

Today this elderly caballero with his donkey and dog 
joined the procession of joggers, walkers and strollers.

Sometimes I even get to watch these daredevils
swing around the pole while descending to flute music.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cafe des Artistes

On Friday evening we were included in an invitation to have dinner at Cafe des Artistes. This is a restaurant that I have admired from the outside for several years but never thought that it was an affordable option for us.

Exterior of Cafe des Artistes

Much to my surprise, after entering into the restaurant, we were led up some stairs and into a courtyard garden with fully grown trees. It was a beautiful setting! Our group consisted of three Italian women (one was Camilla, our hostess), myself and our two friends. Unfortunately John had succumbed to a chest BUG and was not well enough to join us.

With encouragement from our hostess I enjoyed an appetizer of one dozen fresh raw oysters. For the main course I chose lamb osobuco. Everything was delicious and the conversation was very interesting. I was seated beside Stephania Ciccone, a retired professor of Italian studies at UBC. She entertained me with stories of her family history while Camilla provided humorous tales from across the table. It was a great evening at a wonderful restaurant.

Camilla and Stephania