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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day of 2011 - Flying Kites

My third blog posting for the day – getting caught up finally.

The last day of 2011 – I for one will not be sorry to see it end. A real up and down year.
We started the year in Mazatlan and will end it in San Blas, Mexico. Two very different areas. It was the part in between that wasn’t so pleasant. We hadn’t been home for very long when our oldest son called to tell us his wife of five months (they had been together for over 15 years but just married) had suddenly passed away. She was such a loving and vivacious person it is hard to comprehend that she is gone. A month after that Bill had his heart attack and had a quadruple bypass. One day he was fine the next they were telling us he had a heart attack. How quick things can change. Most of the very hot humid (broke records for heat) Indiana summer was spent with me being a not so patient nurse and his recuperation. It took longer than we thought it would. Kind of drives home that we are not that young any more.
We did get a new member of the family this year – a great granddaughter. Born in June.
But the bad continued as in November our oldest grandson was hit by a car while he was walking. Had to be flown to Las Vegas by helicopter from his home in Arizona. Thankfully he is now recovering and should have no lasting problems. At least we got to see him and his mother and sister for a few days as we were in Vegas at the time. 
Come fall we loaded the Alfa up (after putting a new roof on it) and left again for Mexico where we are today – enjoying the sea and sun. Its 29 degrees at home in Indiana! We are surrounded by friends – John, Carol and George – what more could we ask for.
Enough of that – a new year is just around the corner.
Yesterday the wind finally picked up enough to get the kites up. Carol has been trying to get her mermaid kite up for a while – in fact even talked John into going up on the hotel roof to see if there was enough wind up there to get it to fly.
Nope there wasn’t.
But then later in the afternoon the wind came up enough to get a bunch of kites in the air. Bill setting up one of his – that is Ms Tioga parked next to us.
Carol’s kite is airborne. Up up and away!
All four kites up. Yes four of them. Three of Bill’s and the mermaid.
Oh, oh suddenly the wind stopped and the kites came nose diving down. One of Bill’s disappeared completely. Didn’t know where it came down. Traced the string to the roof of the hotel. John went up there and found it tangled in the rebar and hanging over the side of the building. Rescue complete. Everything put away till next time.
John and Carol invited us to dinner – John BBQd rib eye steaks from Idaho. Delicious, Carol fixed salad and baked potatoes. Heavenly meal. Thank you guys!!!!
Sunset at the beach.
After eating we all drove into town to see what was going on in the plaza. Lots and lots of families and kids. The kids with their new clothes and toys. Lots of laughter and chasing each other around. One boy had a skateboard that the wheels lit up when he moved.
One interesting thing at for me and I forgot to take a picture. On the main street next to the plaza is an area where the taxis park and wait for passengers. While we were standing next to them I heard a phone ringing – loud ringing. Up on a pole was a telephone – push button type. The door to the first taxi in line opened and the driver got out and answered the phone. After listening a while he got back in his cab and drove off. A customer had called. No central dispatch – just a ringing phone. The next driver in line pulled up next to the phone …..waiting. I will have to look for that the next time I see taxis lined up waiting.
Then we watched some young gringos put on a show with flaming poles. They were pretty good but not as good as the show we saw last year in Mazatlan.
By then the bugs were out and it was getting cool so we headed for home.
Well the beach is starting to fill up and its only 10:30 so imagine it will be really busy the rest of the day. Tonight the restaurant will have a band so will go over there and check it out.
Till then.  Happy New Year to all.

Checking Hotels out in San Blas

Thursday we kind of just took it easy.
(Just realized it is Saturday already - I need to get cracking on this.)
Thursday we went to the campground restaurant for breakfast. I had pancakes. Nice thick fluffy one they were pretty good with Karo maple syrup. Did a couple more loads of laundry. Have to do them more often cause the machine just doesn’t hold a very big load. Spent half of the day trying to upload that video of the boat ride. Internet just wasn’t cooperating at all.
I still haven’t decided about the shout box at the very bottom of the blog. Should I keep it or not? That is the question? And who really cares about the answer? The blog does have a comments box – and thank you to all who make comments. I do read and appreciate all of them.
I try to make the blog interesting to any one who happens by it. Guess that is one of the reasons why I include so many pictures. They show so much more and are more attention-grabbing (used the thesaurus for that descriptive word) than just my blah, blah, blah. This is a very colorful country. From the mundane –fruits and vegetables – to the magnificent – buildings and murals etc.
For as cool and cloudy as the day started out it warmed up fast and was more humid than usual. Lots of smoke in the air. Don’t know if someone was cooking or if some fields somewhere were being burned out.
When we were at the place waiting for our boat ride I picked up a little brochure about a small hotel in San Blas. After reading about it we ( I ) had to go see it. So we all piled in Willie and took off for town. Found the hotel with no problem – the Hotel Hacienda Flamingos. It is a gem! Built in 1880 by the So Pacific Railroad to be used as a terminal. [At one time San Blas was a very important shipping port.] In 1912 there was a bad flood that washed out the railroad bridges. This caused the abandonment of the terminal. Later that year a German businessman, SeƱor Delius, purchased the house to be used as private quarters for his employees. At this time many ships from the Orient docked in San Blas so there was an economic boom.  In the 1930s he went bankrupt. It was purchased in 1938 by a wealthy man to give to his wife. In 1950 she turned it into a hotel. In the 1990s there was extensive remodeling.
Of course we went inside. The rooms rent for about US$120 a night. Some pictures of the place.
The entrance

Hall around the patio -check out the floor tile

More hallway -
What the chairs were looking at - the patio
The pool area -- little chapel in the background
Star fruit teee - lots of fruit trees growing around pool area
Inside the little chapel
Mosaic Last Supper on altar
From there we went to another hotel and checked it out. The best thing about it – in my mind – was the piece of onyx behind the desk.
And the hanging plants in the lobby.
After visiting the hotels we had lunch in McDonalds again – no not The McDonalds burgers but Mike McDonalds Restaurant. I had filet empanizado – breaded fish – very good with salad (usually have to squeeze lime on the salad as you very seldom get any dressing) and fries. Bill had been salivating thinking about Chili Rellenos but when he got his it was too spicy for him to eat. The last time he had it here it was perfect. Guess there was a different cook today. There was a big sign out front about the days special. Shrimp. But when John asked about it the waitress didn’t seem to know anything about it. TIM – that is Mexico.
It’s amazing the neat things you can find in these little towns if you’re willing to walk around and really look at things. And talk to the people who live here.
The front of the Palacio Municipal is almost completely painted now.  

Hang Glider Video

Watch as these guys try to get the Glider launched.  First the sideways run then facing forward. Oops heading towards the truck And finally barely into the air before hitting the water.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hang Gliders on the Beach and Revisiting Tepic

Friday a.m.
Very cold and hazy and damp here this morning. At least the Internet is working a little faster today. In fact my jungle boat ride video just uploaded - and is right below this post - and I hurried up and published it. I’m ahead by one already today.
I mentioned that when we got home from the boat ride there was a motorized hang glider here. It was a good afternoon’s entertainment. This is just after he came down from flying around the area. Quite a contraption he is harnessed to.
He has to run down towards the water then the sail part of the glider comes up off the ground and fills with air and hopefully he takes off before hitting the water. Kind of neat to watch.
Then they decided to do a tandem flight. First they had to spread out the sail just right and get all the ropes to it untangled and just in the right place. See the second guy on the right in the white shirt and white helmet.
They there are hooked together getting ready to go. The guy on the left has a video camera on the pole he is holding. All systems are almost go.
Here they are  - ready set – they had to run sideways the first few steps then turn to face the water and run like the wind.
Oops. They ran over the video guy and came to an abrupt halt. Try again. A couple of times as they were picking up speed in their run towards the water a vendor on with his cart would wander by and they have to come to an abrupt halt. Tried getting into the air a couple more times but there wasn’t enough wind so they gave up until later in the day. Here they are when they successfully got up in the air.
Coming in for a landing. Which they managed quite gracefully - well at least without breaking anything.
While watching them fly around I decided to try something from one of the vendors. His sign said Frescas con creme –well it used to say that anyway. – sounded good strawberrys with cream. So Bill bought me one.
Not exactly what I was expecting but very good. It was a small carton – like a small milk carton – full of frozen strawberrys topped with heavy sweetened cream. Yum. Going to have to eat them again. You could get full just trying out all the things that are sold from carts on the beach. Even tamales.
One man takes his two horses up and down the beach selling rides. The kids and young love it.
The next day we went back into Tepic with John and Carol for the day. Their first trip there.
I am so far behind on the postings - if I'm not careful I'll have to fire myself for not doing my job. Will post pics from our second trip to Tepic with John and Carol the other day.
Be back in a few minutes. Bill just cooked me an amazing breakfast. Have to stop and eat.
I have a video of one of their flights - will see if Internet keeps cooperating. Watch for it.
Will add our trip to Tepic to this post - it's kind of short - then will try to work with video.
Clear back on Wednesday – two days ago – we went back to Tepic with John and Carol. Their first trip there. How can I be so far behind? Maybe we’re having too much fun here.
Because parking is so hard in Tepic we went in one car. Bill driving Willie up the mountain again. As always the beautiful green ride up. Through the tunnels of trees.
Stopped at the fruit ladies stands so we could take pictures. A bowl of bright star fruit. In this shot we can really see the star shape.
A big variety of fruit – lemons, yaka, watermelon, bananas, star fruit, avacados and tangerines just to name a few. Didn’t buy anything this time. Just admired them. I know I post a lot of pictures of them but I love the colors.
Traffic in Tepic is always crazy – for one thing you turn left from the far right lanes. And all the people selling things at every intersection. Floor mats for your car? Window shades? Want your windows cleaned?
This year it is so much easier to drive to downtown as all the construction is done and the bad pavement gone. We didn’t get to park in our usual lot as it was full clear to the sidewalk, couldn’t have put a bike in there. So we went around the corner to underground parking. Keep Willie cooler too.
As we approached the main plaza we noticed a lot of Huichol Indians. Their clothes are incredible – so colorful and so many different designs.
Stretching across the entire upper end of the plaza were Huichol Indians selling their wares. At least a hundred of them. From babies to grandmothers. Either she has a lot of children or she was babysitting.
Just some of the tables with all kinds of jewelry, dolls, purses and blouses.
The dolls for sale
Just another look at the crowds.
Tepic is not a gringo tourist town so most of the customers were people from Mexico. They will be here selling for the next three days. Sure glad we came today. More of the tables. Young people were helping to sell.
Grandmother was helping to take care of the young one.
He is about 10 and is already in the family business. His is very serious about his beading.
This time we stopped at KFC for lunch. Carol and I had chicken and Bill and John had hamburgers. Hamburgers at KFC? Oh well.
From there we crossed the street to the cathedral.
This is the mural on a dome you pass under to go into the cathedral.
The inside – it is very pretty.
Tepic Cathedral
We also found a Michaels type craft store that of course we had to go in and investigate. Lots of stuff but we restrained ourselves and didn’t get anything. Picked up Willie and drove to another parking lot so we could take John and Carol into the government building to see the spectacular mural in it. I posted pictrues of some of it last week.
Then over to WalMart for some shopping. This time I managed to get a shot of some of the trees along the street. This one is a piggy.
Got back to Aticama just about sunset. And discovered that George has moved Ms Tioga over to our side of the campground. So he is now our next door neighbor.
I still have to take yesterday's pictures from San Blas off my camera and sort through them. One of these days I'll get caught up.
What I try to do with my blog is share Mexico - through my eyes and feelings - with others. It is a beautiful and very interesting country.

Jungle boat ride - Short video

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Revisiting the old Fort and Church in San Blas, MX

Thursday a.m.
Sitting here watching the sun slowly coming up over the mountain. As soon as it does it will warm up in here. It cools down enough at night that we need covers on.
Got a dilemma – I’ve got that Shout Box at the end of the blog. Had it there for quite a while – it is the free version so I had no control who could post on it. I get a lot of junk posting/spam – so far nothing obscene just gibberish. So I go in and delete the junk every once in a while. But as of Jan 1st there will no longer be a free version. There will be a minimum fee - very minimum. So do I want to keep it? Is it worth it? If I have to pay for it I will want to use the version where people will have to sign in to eliminate most of the junk. Will people use it if they have to sign in? I kind of enjoy  legitimate "shouts". An ego thing I guess. Have to make up my mind soon.

John we miss you and love you. And think of you often. Doesn’t seem possible it’s been five years already.

Back to Tuesday
After getting off the boat ride we went into San Blas and went to visit the old fort and church up on the highest point around. Last year I wrote a lot about the fort and the church in my blog so will not dwell on it today.
Going up to the area we passed one of the stands selling lobsters. They sell fish and oysters too.
Also heading up hill. These kids are playing on the sidewalk in front of the Panteon Municipal – the cemetery.
After paying our 20 Pesos the first structure we come to is the old church. It is in kind of a state of arrested decay. The entire floor has been replaced and electricity has been run but the ceiling is gone and the walls are crumbling. It was built by Fray Juinpero Serra. Who left from here to establish the California Missions.
Looking in from the front door. The pillars and arches down the left side of the church.
The doorway in back leads into a small side room, the closets doorway to the outside.
Across the street are more ruins. The jungle hasn’t quite covered this arched doorway and the walls around it.
More walls. Soon they will disappear altogether.
One part of a wall still standing. The construction is very interesting. All sizes of rocks from big square chunks to small filler stones.
The vegetation around the area.
Did this used to be a coffin? Don’t know but it looks like some kind of fancy container.
The front of the church.
These pieces have fallen off the top of the walls. Decorative edging on them.
One of the pillars inside with its decoration. At one time the walls were all plastered. Bits of it remain here and there.
This is in the very middle of the first arch. Not enough left of it to figure out what it represents.
This is on the outside wall to the side of and above the main door. It is in better shape. Wonder who he is. Can even still see the decorations on his uniform.
Drove on up to the actual fort. The town was established in 1529 when the Spanish took over the area. San Blas was one of the major sea ports at the time. And because of the wood available around here it became a ship building area too.
In 1768 a naval station was opened here. There still is a naval school/station in operation here. Didn’t take any pictures of the fort. Most of it was rebuilt after a bad hurricane.
Did take some pictures of the San Blas area from up there. A palm grove and in the middle a baseball field.
A zoomed picture of the new church and the old one next to it. The center of town.
Just part of the town.
When we got back to the campground we discovered a group with a motorized hang glider. Fun to watch.
More about them on next post. Have to fold laundry now and try to post video - Internet not cooperating - maybe late for the video.