We got to the airport and the plane arrived on time. This is a rather rare occurrence in the North and I was happy about it. It was extremely cold outside but we’d made it there with Toby and his kennel. We were bringing him along so that he could get his shots. It seemed like it was taking forever to board the plane and then we found out the bad news. The plane had NO room for ANY luggage… including the dog! They hadn’t stopped in the community just north of us because of a snowstorm and all the people that should have gotten off there (and their luggage) was still on the plane. So B and I got a bit worried. We told them that we don’t give a damn about our luggage but our dog needed to get down to
When we got to
The next day we picked up the van we’d rented and drove Toby out to the kennel he was going to be boarding at. He was so well behaved B and I were just beaming with pride. It was his first real car ride, so we weren’t sure what to expect but he just sat on the floor between us and soaked up all the attention we were giving him. We dropped him off and headed back into town to do some shopping! I got myself a pair of PJ’s and B and I each bought a Gameboy DS. We bought a few different games for our various consoles too but not too much since we still had our trip to
Monday we left for
We got to our hotel, checked in and headed to our room. It wasn’t nearly as nice as I would have expected for a 4.5 star resort. In fact, it wasn’t even as nice as the 3 star I’d stayed in when I was in the Mayan
We then headed to the lobby to check out what kind of excursions were being offered. We chose some really neat trips. The first one was just a trip into the market area of downtown Vallarta that had a whole bunch of shops. We did a whole bunch of shopping there, trying to get the present hunting out of the way up front. We did pretty well too! There were a lot of nice things to choose from at the market and we brought home a bunch of souvenirs for us and our friends/family. There was even a guy and his donkey that you could pose with for a few pesos and a cigar factory!
After our day of shopping we headed back to the hotel and went to the beach for some Pacific swimming! The waves were pretty strong and we got pretty battered by them but if you went out far enough you could just float on the water. The biggest problem was the rocky bottom at the beach. It was really painful if you landed on one of the rocks after being tossed by a wave. I thought at one point that I’d cut my foot on them but it was just scratched up.
Wednesday was our “day off” we just chilled in the Adults Only pool, sipping our drinks and chatting with other people who were there. At one point I was looking out over the horizon and saw a splash. I figure it was just the sun on the water until I saw it again, and again. I stopped in the middle of the sentence I’d been saying and stared. I apologized and told the people I’d been chatting with that I’d just seen a whale jumping. They all turned to look and I pointed in the direction I’d seen the whale and sure enough he decided to give us a show. He was just jumping and playing! He was quite far out but it was unmistakable that he was having a blast out in the ocean. December is their breeding season so they are more easily spotted at that time of year and it was really great to see one from the pool built into the cliff at our resort.
Thursday we had to be up early for our trip to see the Huichol Indians in the mountains. The Huichols are descendants of the Aztecs and continue to live a more simple, agricultural life in the mountains. This is a choice they’ve made along with the choice to hold on to their own religious beliefs which are nature based as well. I’d seen a video on them in my anthropology of Religion class last year. It was about their peyote hunt which is a sacred rite for them. I was really looking forward to meeting these people in the flesh. B was really unsure of this trip. It didn’t really interest him until we actually got going. Our guide was great, which was good since the bus ride was about 4 hours long with a 20 minute boatride afterwards. He explained the relationship the Huichols have with the land and how the deities are considered family (Father Sun, Grandmother Corn, Brother Deer and so on). He also informed us that the Shaman for the area might be there to great us and cleanse us before we headed to the town! I was really excited about the idea of meeting a real shaman and being part of a rite of passage like this. I was not disappointed. We headed deep into the mountain and across the river to be met by the Shaman and we were all cleansed. He had feathers on a small stick of sorts that he drew energy into and then he took it and moved it over our bodies, one person at a time in a couple or family, bringing all the negativity into the centre of the body then he sucked it out, using the feathered stick, and spat the negative energy onto the ground. After he had taken the negative energy he blew back onto us, returning cleansed, positive energy. This is roughly how it was explained to me only our guide was much more knowledgeable and better at describing it.
The village itself looks primitive according to our standards but it was really beautiful in its simplicity. The houses were built up off the ground and a log with notches in it was the only way to get in. The log could only be climbed by humans we were informed. There were also bags underneath buildings to keep scorpions out… simple, yet effective. We saw the school they had and a kitchen, both of which were very basic. Then we got to buy some of their art which is incredible. It’s made of beads, placed on the shape or carving one by one and stuck there with beeswax. We also bought some beaded jewellery. It was just incredible. B decided that it had been a really good idea and ended up really enjoying it despite not having wanted to go the day before.
Friday we headed up into the Sierra Madre mountains in some overhauled military vehicles. It was a bouncy ride but really amazing. We stopped at a tortilla factory and then at a small town to try home made tortillas. What a difference! We were shown different fruit trees and plants too. It was an amazing ride through the tropical forest and once we were deep into the mountains and high up we all jumped out of the truck for a short hike in the forest. Our guide showed us an oil coconut (very small version of a coconut used in tanning oil/sunscreen) and a little scorpion beetle or something like that. He also pointed out several of the different plants like the bromeliads growing in the trees. It was just beautiful. We were then brought down to the beach where a BBQ was prepared for us and we all chowed down before hopping back into the trucks where our guide told us we would be doing something that is illegal in Canada/USA… drink while driving! Well, we wouldn’t be driving but we’d be in a moving vehicle while drinking and he pulled out a big old bottle of tequila. He told us that once a bottle is opened it has to be finished. There was no problem with that! As we went through the military checkpoint that was on the way a few people got a bit rowdy and B knocked a lady’s drink out of her hand and it hit the person across from us in the head, spilled down the guy next to her’s shirt before bouncing out of the truck down the road towards the military guys. I wanted to die! I was so embarrassed!!! But we all had a good laugh about it.
Our last excursion was whale watching and snorkeling. We headed out on a boat and within a few minutes we were lucky enough to spot a whole pod of dolphins playing in the water!! They even chased our boat for a few minutes!! It was really neat. Later on we got to see a pair of whales that came so close to the boat it scared me and a few more dolphins swam by a bit later. The snorkeling was pretty neat too. Lots of different fish a the Marietas but our visit was cut short by a herd of jellyfish on approach. I got stung by one on the back of my knee and boy did it sting. So now I can officially say that I’ve been stung by jellies in both oceans in two different countries! We just chilled on the boat for the rest of the day while some people headed to the beach. B swam off the back of the boat and I just chilled out. This was Christmas day so I said that we did Christmas snorkeling but it really felt more like summer than Christmas.
Sunday and Monday we pretty much took it easy. We met a few really neat people over the few days we’d been there and met up with them again. We have some email addresses and phone numbers to keep in touch with them too. We visited the adult pool again and just relaxed. Monday of course we had to pack and check out and we hung out in the hotel lobby for a bit just reading and relaxing in the cool shade. By this point we were both ready to get back to
Somewhere between security in
My mom flew in the next day and we spent the next few days with her. We went shopping and she helped me pick out some watercolour books which I have yet to put to use. We took her out to a really nice Indian buffet for her birthday and saw the movie Phantom of the Opera with her. She really loved it which made me happy. At one point I got really upset because we didn’t know the city very well and she wanted us to take a detour so she could see
We did a bit more shopping before we left
I have to admit that I was really happy to get home… of course when we got home, none of our suitcases made it on to the plane. Only Toby and a couple other boxes arrived. No one had any luggage make it through. The airline really needs to get their act together I think. We got our luggage over the next few days so it wasn’t too bad. I was just glad that Toby made the trip okay. He was a bit sick for a few days but I think that was just the stress from the traveling. He’s doing pretty good now.
And that about brings us up to date. I’m sure I left out a ton of details but I’ve never been good at remembering details and I think this entry is long enough to get a good idea of what happened over the holidays. One thing however that I should mention is that I LOVE guacamole and ate it as much as I could when I was there!! I wish I could get it up here but … well there aren’t many avocadoes around. Hehe