Archive for May, 2016

Aqui es “Ditto”! So, “What’s Up?”

Ditto. The bird of few words. Photo: Diane Huntress

Ditto. A  bird of few words. Photo: Diane Huntress

This pretty little guy stands guard near the door of Restaurant la Glorieta de Enrique in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. As far as we know he says “hola” and “What’s Up?”. But he keeps an eye on every shady character that comes and goes here. He’s just not talking much about it.

“FUEGO!”

Huachinamgo. I could get used to this! Photo: Diane Huntress

Huachinango. I could get used to this. Photo: Diane Huntress

Sunday morning at the fish market, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

No shortage of crosses in La Cruz

No shortage of crosses in La Cruz

If you guessed chicken breasts, grilled fresh pineapple, and grilled poblano peppers, you are right. But, you missed some amazing flavor! Tonight, it’s grilled very, very fresh Huachinango. Butter, lime. Garlic. Garlic. Film at 11.

Photo: Diane Huntress

Photo: Diane Huntress

The Best Coffee in La Cruz! It’s in the Garden.

imageRight here at Marychuy Ortega’s Octopus’s Garden, an oasis in the middle of La Cruz De Huanacaxtle. She’ll make you breakfast, too. The coffee comes from a nearby plantation and roaster, all in the state of Nayarit. In the mountains. We prefer the dark roast. Marychuy grinds it for us, and the half-kilo bag comes to 125 pesos. That’s about a pound for about $6.75US. And, yes, it is very good, whether she makes or I make it at home. Lucky for us we wandered in there the first day we were here.image

And, there is a bar upstairs. Live music. We will return for the acoustic trio that plays on Saturday nights…even in the summer! Hasta Luego! By the way, Huevos Rancheros are 70 pesos. Really. That’s only a little more than $3.50 in Denver dollars. Hmmm.

It May be Low Season for Tourists, but Tuna Sees It Entirely Differently

Here  in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, every morning sees the return of the local small-boat fishing fleet to the Marina docks. And, judging by the constant selection available, the quantity and the quality…not to mention customer traffic…fishing is good. This is the time of year when tuna are plentiful in the Bay of Banderas. So is the dorado. And the huachinamgo.

While building the Marina, the city also built a new thriving fish market for the fishermen...and us!

While building the Marina, the city also built a new thriving fish market for the fishermen…and us!

Denver by the Slice…Barefoot! wandered down to the market the other morning with the clear intent of returning with a fresh piece of fish for dinner. My next trip (it is three blocks after all) will be for the Atun. But I eased into the process with a conversation about the huachinamgo. I asked for and received a beautiful, cut-in-front-of-me filet, suitable for dos personas. Perfection! Grilled with a simple lime, butter, garlic sauce. What a shame to cook away that beautiful red color. But, what a great tasting piece of fish! Next, I’ll catch the tuna.

Practical note: Huachinamgo filet, .5 kilo, 64 pesos, or just under $3.50US

On the Importance of Dick and Liz…

The real Oceano Bar is long gone. And, the iconic seahorse statue has been moved down the Malecon. Even the dusty cobblestone main drag has been replaced by one of the finest pedestrian zones we have seen. But, Puerto Vallarta, at its heart, is still very much like the village that John Huston put on the map with his 1964 film. The culture is in tact.

Along the Malecon in downtown Puerto Vallarta.

Along the Malecon in downtown Puerto Vallarta.

Of course, if you have been to Puerto Vallarta, you may see it as a glitzy Pacific mega-resort with a beautiful setting. It is. Or, you may see it as hundreds of thousands of people seemingly all moving around at the same time, often in one of the 1500 taxis careening down the road. It is that, too. It is a tourist city. It is a tolerant city. And, there is always someone trying to sell you something, or to take you deep sea fishing. But, there is a lot more.

Street art with a purpose.

Street art with a point.

Still, in the center of the town, and in the surrounding villages, the culture thrives. Good, honest, very hard working people are friendly to all. They value their families. They walk along the Malecon as often as possible. They show up for endless festivals and concerts at the seaside amphitheater in the center. And, on Sundays, the municipal band plays concerts in the bandstand between the church and City Hall.

This is a beautiful area to spend a few days…or, like us, a few months.

We have come to the Bay of Banderas for over forty years. Just a few years after Liz and Dick. We tacked Vallarta onto the end of several trips to other cities in Mexico. We even ran into John Huston and Angelica at breakfast one day. By the late eighties, Marriott had built a very fine resort near the Marina and we started to stay there. As of last week, several of the same people we have gotten to know over the years were still working at the Marriott. And, they remember you. We started this trip there last week with a short three-day stay.

A visit to the Bay of Banderas should start with a view of the bay. From the lighthouse!

A visit to the Bay of Banderas should start with a view. From the lighthouse!

Then we moved. For the next several months, we’ll be in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a quiet fishing village about 25 kilometers north of Vallarta, but easily within reach. This little town did not really even exist until the 1930’s, and only about 1200 people actually live here. Some good local restaurants, lots of cold beer, an active daily fish market and skateboard-proof cobblestone streets. Often with chickens walking across them.

As on many airlines, you can buy a bag of peanuts on the local bus.

As on many airlines, you can buy a bag of peanuts on the local bus.

This blog will fill you in on life here as we go along. There is plenty of time for that. We will be here for a while. It is summer and the rainy season will be here by August. Too bad Dick and Liz couldn’t stick around to see this area now. Take all the hotels, taxis, buses, nightclubs and most of the tourists out of the picture…and it looks pretty much the same. The iconic adjoining houses that the couple built up the hill behind the church are still there, too.

Stay tuned, we’ll try to photograph the next iguana we see.