Mexico by the numbers

20190416_104837

This is not what you think it says, just like Mexico is not what you think it is…

Well we have completed our 2019 sojourn to Nuevo Vallarta and are looking forward to returning next winter. Our 8th floor condo looked out on the beach and pools and was like being on a cruise ship that never went anywhere. Best cabin we ever had.

20190416_131439
We have been blown away by the overall beauty of the place, particularly the weather and beach. It is the cleanest beach we have seen save perhaps for Florida panhandle barrier island‎ beaches.  The Mexican people are gentle and polite and seem very happy that we and thousands of others are here.
20190416_132002

Yes it seems to say Arnprior Hockey.  Bizarre!

Some challenges. Toll free phone numbers to Canada often do not work.‎ It is a different banking system here but hey so is the US. It is mostly a “credit card” free society and cash rules. The locals are always parading stuff unsolicited for you to buy (but quickly smile and leave when you decline).  The price of golf here is almost 2 x Arnprior prices but 30% cheaper than in FL. Great courses here I must add.  Dave misplaced his bank card and we got locked out of the condo one night, lol.
20190416_132115
Love the pedestrian society.  We have not driven a car in nearly 3 months, relying on our feet, busses and taxis. This is very healthy, refreshing and good for the environment given our “knee jerk” use of cars back home.  We had no trouble with the water or food.  Also lived comfortably without an automatic dishwasher!
20190413_173353
The entrepreneurial spirit of the Mexicans is to be admired. It seems everyone is operating a small business to rent or sell you something.  ‎For example the “collectivo” 10-12 passenger mini-busses that roar around to take you quickly everywhere are small businesses – the faster he goes, the more the driver makes lol!  Milk in a box that stores for months is a joy here.  Love those Lime scooters!
20190413_173413
The prices of food and restaurant meals here are cheaper than in Canada and way cheaper than in the US. The rental accommodation is world-class beach front and cheaper than Florida for the equivalent. There are more Canadians than Americans here and for many good reasons it seems.    We had many visits with friends from home plus enjoyed meeting a growing number of snowbird friends who winter here every year.  Jessica our property manager looked after us extremely well.  We even got to meet her mother, brother and son.
20190416_200700
So here goes our ratings for another swell trip:
Nights here: 78
Kms walked: 400+
Busses taken: 50+
Taxis taken: 20+
Yoga classes: 60+
Restaurant meals: 30+
Concerts (jazz, classical, live shows): 10
Stair flights walked up: 45 x 8 floors
Best night: Andales Bar in PV where we danced and sang “Who the xxx is Alice?)
Best meal: tapas at Marival Residence Sky Bar in NV
Best Mexican meal: tacos al pastor at Ponchos in PV
Books read: (Marie 5, Dave 7)
Cloudless sunsets into the ocean: 50+
Laps swum in the pool: 300+
Swims in the ocean: 25
Days of rain: 1
Cloudy days: 6
Ave high/low: 28/17
Ratings:
Weather 10/10
Beach 10/10
Condo location 10/10
Condo 9.5/10 (another bdrm/bthrm would be handy)
Cleanliness of the hood: 10/10
‎People: 9.5/10
Food: 9.5/10
Transportation 10/10
Our rental agent Jessica 10/10
Church experience 10/10
Overall experience/value 9.75/10
Hence as you can see, we are very satisfied and highly recommend Nuevo Vallarta.  But remember, don’t walk on the grass in Mexico – No pisar el pasto favour!  Mexico Si!
Saludos,
Dave and Marie
20190416_194648

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Semana Santa

20190413_181241

“Abandonment is the supreme expression of love, this giving of oneself to the divine will, which is the total gift of our very selves. This heroic attitude formed from inexpressible trust in God’s Love, from perfect self-renunciation and from loving generosity, is the pinnacle of love.”
Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida                                                              (Wife, mother and writer in Mexico)

We are still in NV and have been hearing about Semana Santa – Holy Week for sometime. Mexicans (there are some 20 million living in cities just a few hours away, flood to ‎PV and NV for 2 weeks of holiday, beach and family time.  Schools are closed for 2 weeks.  The wise we are told, get out-of-town before it is too late.

IMG_3069

Apparently there will be huge traffic jams, shortages of food, cash and gas. Church bells will compete with party revellers in one non stop loud and boisterous Mexican mash-up of the spiritual and the physical.  It is a really big religious week here!!!

At Palm Sunday Mass today with 700 Mexicans, we felt the Mexican spirit. Mexicans have not forgotten the mystery of life. Young and old flock to Church here not because they have to but because they want to. You can see respect, joy, calmness‎, love and kindness in their eyes. No one is in a hurry. The Mass lasts over 90 minutes and could go on forever.

On the way in we buy a woven palm frond. There is an entrance processional with people lining the aisles and the Priest sprinkles holy water on all as we wave our palms. The words Viva Christo Rei echo through the church and we bow and join in.

IMG_3070

There are no chocolate eggs or Easter Bunny in Mexico.  Instead people will crack cascarones over each other – colourful egg shells filled with confetti. There are large stations of the Cross processions out doors on Good Friday. The city is packed, the hills in the country side call out – Viva Christo Rei!

We all abandon our selves, bow and join in.

Welcome to Semana Santa everyone.

IMG_3005

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Enjoy Now

IMG_3013

What we do down here in Mexico is go on frequent “outings” to restaurants and bars with a growing circle of friends.

This may sound somewhat counter-culture to our demographic, habits and religious identities back home.  I believe though it is teaching us a lesson. Bare with me.

IMG_3016

Wednesday night we went to a fundraiser‎ in nearby La Cruz which is known as “a little drinking town with a fishing problem”. This annual street event raises funds to pay the medical bills of a local family in need.  Wonderful since minimum wage here is $7.50CDN/day.

IMG_3018

There were a dozen talented bands all volunteering their time, that played on the street as we watched from our restaurant seats above. There were expats, bare footed people, people in cowboy hats, young and old all dancing in the street and smiling in the warm evening air. The bands ranged from acoustic flamingo type music to Jim Morrison and the Doors. They were all top-notch!

IMG_3017

About half way through the evening, I noticed one of the servers had a tee-shirt on that said “Enjoy Now”.  I complimented her on it and she smiled and said thanks. This is so Mexican!  I was too shy to ask to take her picture (this is so Canadian).

The other part of this story is that we were with a friend named Doug who has just lost his wife tragically due to complications from a car accident. He is grieving and needed to talk about his pain all evening.

IMG_3019

So I juxtapose these two precepts – the pain of loosing your spouse and “enjoy now”.  Yes we must feel our pain, struggle to get beyond it and enjoy now.  ‎As Marie puts it, the art of letting go of whatever it is that is keeping you off-balance, is what life is all about.  And so, enjoy now is a great lesson.  So folks, wherever you are in life, enjoy now!

IMG_3024

PS As I write this on the beach a large group of Mexican volunteers are scouring the beach, digging up cigaret buts and any other litter to take away. Says it all about the lovely, gracious and humble Mexican people who are teaching us how to enjoy now.

enjoy

PPSS Minutes after posting this Ron Rolheiser, OMI sent out a post saying the same thing that he had written a few years back…

http://ronrolheiser.com/the-challenge-of-accepting-pleasure-without-guilt/#.XKe2rDFYbVJ

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Around The Bay

 

Banderas-Bay-Mexico-mapWe have now journeyed around most of Banderas Bay … by bus – from Boca de Tomatlan on the right hand side to Punta Mita at the extreme left.  The coastline is about 100 km long as it’s a very big bay.

Our first outing to Boca was to go to the Ocean Grill restaurant for lunch.  This required us to take 3 separate busses which took 90 minutes to journey the approx. 40 km to get there.  The bus ride was exhilarating looking out at small beaches and upscale villas and resorts.  It cost us only about $3.50CDN each.  We met our friends in Boca as planned but unfortunately the restaurant decided not to open that day.  They claimed the waves were too rough for our short boat ride from the pier to the restaurant.  Bruce remarked that it was much calmer that day than the last time they had been there.  Such is life.  We had a great lunch at another restaurant taking the “Pacifico” beer in.  We headed home by bus stopping in PV for a little souvenir shopping.

IMG_2899

IMG_2909

IMG_2910

IMG_2913

IMG_2921

IMG_2922

Our second outing was to Punta Mita at the other end of Banderas Bay.  This time we took 2 busses lasting approx. 90 mins to get there.  This ride was scary going around some blind hairpin corners almost on two wheels.  Punta Mita is a fishing village and luxury resort town known for upscale homes, golf courses and private beaches. The public El Anclote Beach, backed by restaurants, has gentle surf. We had la nice lunch as we watched kids learning to surf.  The beach is rather rocky here and not to our liking.  Offshore are the Marieta Islands, with wildlife such as humpback whales and blue-footed boobies (birds).  We wandered around town, did some shopping and caught the bus for home.  This time the bus stalled several times and the young driver drove into a gas station to gas it up with everyone on board.  He then proceeded to drag race other busses as we hung on for dear life.  This is Mexico folks!  Another great day!

IMG_2989

IMG_2992

IMG_2995

IMG_2999

IMG_3004

And we are under the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe here, even on the bus where this photo was taken.

IMG_3005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Golf Fix

20190323_111612

Well Dave finally had his golf fix in Mexico.  A friend of Bruce’s, Don is a member at the Vidanta Golf Club here in Nuevo Vallarta.  He invited Dave to play and Marie encouraged him to go.

Vidanta is the largest hotel and resort developer and operator in Mexico and is currently developing a $1.3B US Cirque du Soleil theme park here.  We have been through the huge Vidanta time share resort several times. It is so big, you cannot find your way out and must take multiple shuttle busses just to get around inside.

To get to and from the course, Dave took a Lime scooter.  It’s fun and convenient.  With the app on your phone, you simply unlock, use, park and relock the electric scooter in the place of your choice.  They sit outside our complex and are always readily available.  Neat!

20190308_115936

20190308_115822

Scooter Dave

Of course Vidanta Golf is very very fancy.  Each group must take a local caddy who advises you distances, hands you your club, cleans them and tells you which side of the hole to put to on the green.  The Nayar course we played is very beautiful with lots of sand and water.  Like Florida, the grass is very hard and dry making for long rolls and tougher putting and chipping.

IMG_3010

IMG_3008

Garth tees off

The course requires us to drive over the longest golf bridge in the world to get to and from parts of the course.  There is quite a lot of wildlife around including crocodiles, iguanas, many beautiful song birds and blooming Jacaranda trees.

20190323_131525.

20190323_123253

IMG_3011

We had a very good time and were completely exhausted at the end due to the heat and strong sun.  Overall. I played not too bad.  Will definitely play again!

20190323_164936

Artruro our caddy was great!

20190323_164916

With Don, Heather and Bruce

Thanks Don, Heather and Bruce  for arranging this wonderful Mexican golf experience!  Fore!!!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Alfred David Morgan 1921-65

Alf circa 1964

A few years ago I started a private family blog called Family Sketches on another blogging platform. I have looked at how to transfer the content to mattersofthemoment and not been able to figure it out yet (it is a 10 step detailed process…).

So here I provide a link to a biography I wrote of my father using mom’s treasure chest of family documents and photos. I have changed the settings so this should now be available to the general public.  If you still cannot access it, would someone please pet me know.

So here is the life story of my father Alfred David Morgan.  Miss you dad.

David

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Amigos

One of the joys of travel is to experience it with friends and family from home.  This year in Mexico we have been blessed with the presence of some friends visiting.  It is so great to get together in perennial summer weather to share a meal, a laugh and talk about the weather back home!  Here are a few images of our recent get togethers with our amigos from home.

IMG_2697

Bruce and Judy from Barrie – long time friends

IMG_2680

Bob and Carol of Arnprior – Bob and Dave back play golf together

 

IMG_2801

Michelle of Arnprior and daughter from NYC – it was Michelle’s birthday

IMG_2817

Mike and Sharon of Arnprior – good friends for many years

And here are photos of some group get togethers we have had recently.

IMG_2828

On the Riviera Nayarit Beach

IMG_2805

Another perfect sunset right from our table in PV

IMG_2830

Happy Hour by the pool

20190302_185037

At Fajita Republic

IMG_2858

Return engagement at the Encore in Bucerias

20190306_114300

With Deacon Mike on Ash Wednesday

Mexico is as safe as anywhere with welcoming people, great weather and wonderful food.  So what are you waiting for…?…come on down amigos!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Rhythm of Bucerias

IMG_2780

Bucerias (pronounced” buusaireeus”) is a pretty beach resort town on the NW shore of Banderas Bay.  It is the next town over from Nuevo Vallarta, so not too far from us.  The other night we decided to meet Judy and Bruce there for some live music over dinner.

IMG_2774

Looking back towards our place from Bucerias beach

We took a cab as it was our first time getting there but next time, we can take a bus and walk the last 20 minutes, we learned.  We arrived early and took a stroll through the beautiful cobblestone streets, dotted with boutique hotels, shops and restaurants.  It was very relaxed and interesting.

IMG_2789

We found the local artisan market and Dave bought a buffalo carved out of ironstone wood.  We wandered through the stalls chuckling at some of the tee-shirt and licence plate messages.

IMG_2788

IMG_2783

The highlight was going to the Encore for some great live music.  A kick-ass blues band from Vancouver was playing.  One of the members had been in the Downchild Blues Band and two in the Powder Blues band which Dave had enjoyed seeing in Vancouver several times in the early 80s.

IMG_2790

IMG_2797

IMG_2792

The hostess was most engaging and fitted us in nicely.  We had some great food and the band took the stage at 7 PM.  Well the singer/trumpet player Will Ward sounded like David Clayton Thomas (of Blood, Sweat and Tears fame) and the rest of the band players – bass, keyboards, sax and drums were all professional musicians.  It was a fantastic sound to behold and we enjoyed every minute of their 2 hour+ concert in the warm open air.  Ms Armi Grand, owner of the restaurant is a talented jazz singer too and took the floor to sing a couple of beautiful numbers.

IMG_2793

IMG_2794

IMG_2795

Judy and Marie enjoying the evening

It was indeed a superb evening, our kind of music, our kind of place.  We booked a front row table for March 6 when the Vancouver All Stars R&B Band returns.  I mentioned this to Will the singer on the way out and he said they will have some new material then.  Wow, got to love this place Bucerias!

IMG_2775

Hasta luego amigos!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Kite Runner

kite

Khaled Hosseini, 2003

A bestseller at the time, this is a story that puts a human face on the Afghanistan conflict in the words of an Afghan born American.

It is the story of Amir, his father Baba and his half-brother Hassan. It traces Amir’s privileged upbringing in an upscale neighbourhood in Kabul, starting in the early 70s. Baba, a lofty Pashtun, is a wealthy merchant and great man who raises his son after Amir’s mother dies in childbirth. Amir is great friends with Hassan, the son of their servant, a lowly Hasara. They fly kites together in competitions until one day, Hassan is sexually abused by the neighborhood bully, while unbeknownst to anyone,  Amir looks on, too fearful to intervene. He never tells anyone what happened to Hassan and carries this guilt for years.

Amir and Baba go about their lives as everything collapses, escaping to Pakistan and then emigrating to California. Years later Amir, now a successful writer,  is called back to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan’s son from an orphanage. It is only then that he finds out that he and Hassaan were actually half-brothers, so he in fact is the half-uncle of little Sohrab.

After much violence and drama, Amir brings Sohrab to America where he too starts to fly kites.  An interesting read but a little too contrived a story in my view. I found myself wishing it would end about 100 pages sooner.

I liked Baba’s character development. He did his duty to everyone, built a orphange and was successful in business. However he never told Amir and Hassan about their brotherly relationship.  Family reputation and avoiding shame is everything in Afghan society. I liked the information about the Pashtuns who are culturally superior to the Shiite Hasaras. The references to the Soviet invasion, communist takeover, Northern Alliance regime and finally the Taliban tyranny, complete with beard police (all men must sport long beards) and public stonings, was indeed educational and gruesome.  I would have liked more information on this though to better understand the context in which the story is unfolding.

I found the series of Afghan names, types of food they eat and references to the Koran a little vexing to remember. Sometimes I could not remember who was who.  Afghans do like lamb kabob and spinach.

I would rate this book 7.5 out of 10 simply because it was a little overdone. I note Khaled’s later books (this was his first) seem to have been rated slightly higher. Nevertheless a  good read about a far off place that I had a little understanding of and would like to learn more about..

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Moonset

 

IMG_2767

Marie and I went out with our friends Judy and Bruce the other night for a great dinner at Casa Isabel on the hill overlooking PV‎. Their daughter and her friend were here for a visit too. Lisa brought us some incense which is almost impossible to find here. It was another perfect sunset and later a moonset evening.

IMG_2730

IMG_2733The food, service, view and ambiance were exceptional including the flaming Mexican coffee service. One of the highlights was the bus ride home. There were crowds outside everywhere. We passed the fair grounds – packed with revelers. There were kids on the bus laughing, tourists like us and some people just coming home from work. We passed a barber shop with its doors wide open at 10 PM!

IMG_2743

IMG_2752

Later, Dave happened to get up at 4:40 AM and look out the window. He saw this huge orange globe setting in the low hills above La Cruz at the north end of the bay. It was the first moonset he remembers seeing that clearly. Stunning!

IMG_2760

We have seen whales frolicking in the bay near sunset. There are iguanas in some trees and Angel brings his trained hawk everyday to keep the birds away from the open air restaurant. The sand on the beach as the waters recede reveals thousands of sparkling golden flecks. We have chatted with quite a few friendly Canadians and Mexicans and chaff at how fast the day goes by.  There have been about 6 weddings right outside our window, always fun to watch.

IMG_2762

These kind of things are different from FL and make this place uniquely unique. Sorry to drone on about Banderas Bay, but it is starting to feel like home.

IMG_2763

P.S. We went to Mass mostly in Spanish at the nearby Paradise Village community hall with 650 others.  On the back of the Sunday (English) Missals was printed “Donated by Rev. James L. Holland, OMI”, who is from Canada.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized