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Holiday

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Herewith a final batch of images from our recent sojourn in the sun during the run-up to Christmas.

Puerto Vallarta has a sizable and most attractive marina which includes a basin large enough for the ubiquitous cruise ships to dock:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidOn Thursday evenings the marina plays host to a rather splendid market at which it is possible to purchase the wares of local artists and craftsmen, as well as sampling local foodstuffs and – of course – tequila!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidIn the centre of town there is a lovely church dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’, an image of which also featured in a mural adjacent to our resort in the Hotel Zone.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidI promised a photo of a bus! This was by no means the oldest or the most rickety!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidI liked the slogan on the ‘Cashola’ ATM. “Say hello to your money” it says – with the clear subtext “Prepare to say goodbye to it again shortly thereafter!“.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Hmmm!

My humble apologies to those who receive these updates via the email feed… yesterday’s posting was done under the influence of the Boxing Day blur and I sadly omitted various steps from the habitual routine by which means I normally ensure that all of the images render correctly. Should you have suffered the resultant shambles (and can give a rat’s arse either way) please do follow this link to view it all over again.

Puerto Vallarta’s seafront is quite naturally a major attraction. The Malecon is a mile-long esplanade that takes one along the front as far as the bridge over the Rio Cuale. This recently renovated pedestrian promenade features a fascinating display of public statuary:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidCrossing the river (which at this point incorporates the wooded Isla Cuale in an area surrounded by cafes and cramped boutiques offering the outpourings of local artists and craftsmen) one comes again to the Zona Romantica, the which district borders the sea at the charmingly entitled Playa de Los Muertos:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidThe rocks that separate the various beaches are home to a multitude of massively shy crabs that can apparently tell when they are being looked at. If one stands with one’s back to their habitat they all shuffle out – sideways – to sit on the rocks, but should one turn one’s head to look at them they scurry away into the shadows at pace…

…except for this one – which isn’t going anywhere ever again!

This chap is not going to be playing the piano again either…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidA pretty awesome place to have a massage:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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Our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta – my first visit to Mexico – furnished such a vivid range of impressions that I found it impossible not to be continually firing off shots with whatever photographic device I had to hand. Feeling the urge to share I am going to upload several batches of the resulting images for the gentle reader’s (and viewer’s) delectation.

We paid a number of visits to the old part of town – the Zona Romantica. Here are some images:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidWe had brunch at a PV institution – Memo’s Pancake House. They make a mean Eggs Benedict!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThis is where the PV fat cats buy their cigars!…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid…and this store in the flea market made me think of The Eagles!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidWhat do you think – fella? Hmmm! – time for siesta…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThough I have mentioned The Girl’s connection with Mexico on a number of occasions within these pages I now feel the need to expand a little in that regard. As I have indicated before, Mexico is a favourite haunt for Canadians wishing to escape the rigours of the north American winters. Many of them do so through a similar mechanism as did she – the purchase of a timeshare slot in a resort.

Such a purchase sadly has in common with that of a new automobile the immediate and irretrievable drop in value the instant that it is (metaphorically) driven off the lot. The Girl and her co-purchaser thus found themselves each in possession of half a timeshare, neither part of which has a significant monetary value. It made sense therefore that they should continue to make use thereof in alternate years.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidNow, the way that these things work is that – should one wish to visit a resort other than that in which one has purchased – it is possible to trade ‘points’ for slots elsewhere, as did we in Europe whilst we were still living in the UK. It is also possible to accumulate these points.

All of this by way of explanation of the fact that the first week of our stay here was in the delightful resort in the Marina at Puerto Vallarta in which the original timeshare had been purchased, whilst for the second week we have moved a little nearer to the centre of town to another resort for which The Girl has traded points (being for logistical reasons unable to get two weeks in the same location). All one need know is that both are delightful and that the Mexicans are a wonderfully friendly and positive people.

The Pacific coast of Mexico has much to recommend it, not least of course that – in the week before Christmas – the temperature is in the mid-twenties and the sun is shining. This naturally makes the customary Christmas decoration – with its emphasis on snow and sleighs and suchlike – seem somewhat out of place and it has to be said that this is quite unlike any run-up to Christmas that I have previously experienced.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe staff at the first resort held their Christmas party by the beach on one bosky evening whilst we were there. We peeped, fascinated, from our balcony at the merry-making. They had wisely chosen not to go with a Christmassy theme but settled instead on… pirates!

Aaaarrrrr!

Much fun was clearly had…

 

Another considerable selling point here is the exceptionally good value. Both of the apartments we have inhabited are fully equipped with kitchens (and twin bathrooms!) so we have been able to cater for ourselves, but given that eating out is so reasonable it can be a tough choice to make. Taxis are also very reasonably priced and the fares are fixed and notified before each trip, so there are no unexpected extras and getting around is easy.

Even cheaper are the buses, for which each trip is covered by a fixed rate equivalent to around a (Canadian) dollar for the two of us. The buses themselves are something to be experienced. Not since a visit to India in the 80s has bus travel been such an adventure. The vehicles have an ageless look about them (in much the way that the 50s Beaver floatplanes do in BC, though the latter appear considerably better maintained) and as far as can be told have no suspension at all. As a result the outside lane of each road (being mostly cobbled or paved with small blocks) has a profile not unlike the Rockies!

It seems miraculous that some of these ancient vehicles have not shaken thsmselves apart (or maybe they have and on the edge of town somewhere there is a big broken bus graveyard!). Suffice to say that those with loose fillings should probably stick to the taxis and, though since there appears to be no limit on the number of passengers that can be carried at any time there is little likelihood of ones actually being thrown around the bus, should one take the plunge one should cling on tightly at all times.

I feel inclined to write more about my first visit to this surprising country – and certainly to post more pictures – but my hosting provider has abruptly decided that I may not load further images from here in Mexico. There should – for example – have been a photo of a bus attached to the latter part of this missive…

This will doubtless be a trivial issue to resolve but further postings must needs now follow our return to the chilly coast of BC this weekend.

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The title says it all…

Double click on the images for the full effect.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

I can’t stop snapping those sunsets!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Well – not exactly… but it does feel a bit like playing hooky to have left our contractor and tradesfolk of all descriptions beavering away on our renovation whilst we have flown south for some winter sun in Mexico.

This is my first visit to this part of the world though The Girl is, of course, a regular. So many Canadians use the Mexican resorts as their winter home from home that it almost doesn’t feel like ‘abroad’.

So – what do I make of Puerto Vallarta? On what I have seen thus far – I love it. That means photos, of course. These from the balcony of our rather swanky suite:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidI am fascinated by the amazing Frigate birds that constantly circle above our roof, riding the thermals with their seven foot wingspan. The hawks are eager to get in on the act too:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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A final batch of photographic images from the recent sequence…

Having survived the rigours of our efforts at the Victoria Fringe Festival and enjoyed the company of our friends from the UK, the Girl and I took a well-deserved couple of days off and scooted westwards around the coast to a quiet resort on the other side of Sooke. The wild-fire smoke that had been so pervasive a little earlier in the summer made a brief return (much of it this time from Oregon) and as a result we felt disinclined to do much that was strenuous. Fortunately our suite featured a splendid rooftop hot tub in which we could be-sport ourselves and – apart from indulging ourselves with the tasting menu in the Copper Room at Sooke Harbour House – that was pretty much all we got up to.

I did take the Fuji x10 for a stroll along the beach…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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Given that the friends who visited recently from the UK (see previous post) had a mere four full days to spend in the provincial capital it was essential that we mapped out their agenda with particular care. Wishing to meet (and hopefully to exceed) their expectations we offered them a rich palette of options and put the choice in their hands.

For the Saturday they chose a day trip to Saltspring Island – and in particular to the Saturday market in Ganges. It would have been lovely to have cruised to Saltspring under our own power in ‘Dignity’, but a blazingly hot Saturday on the September long weekend is a bad time to fight with the queues both at the Sidney boat launch and at the public docks in Ganges, so we chickened out and took the ferry to Fulford instead.

A stall holder at the market – with whom, as is our nature, we engaged in conversation – swore that the crowd was scarcely half what it had been but a few weeks previously. Goodness knows what all of the other souls could possible have been doing – the place looked to be completely packed to us… and did I mention that it was blazingly hot?

It mattered not, of course, as we all had a splendid time, a very passable lunch and then returned home tired but contented.

The taking of photographs in the melee of the market, however, would definitely have been inadvisable, so I contented myself instead with assembling the odd assortment of images that you see represented below…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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What is there more kindly than the feeling between host and guest?

Aeschylus

As revealed in my last post to these pages my efforts at the Victoria Fringe Festival on behalf of Intrepid Theatre had to be brought to a premature conclusion with five days of the festival still to run. The reason for this unfortunate abrogation of my responsibilities was a previous engagement welcoming to British Columbia our second set of visitors from the UK this year.

Our most welcome guests were themselves only to be with us for five days; scarce time to see all that they desired on their first visit to Canada (let alone to Victoria) and only just enough time to catch up fully with dear friends that we have not seen for over two years. Nonetheless – we had a good stab at covering as much ground as possible and I kept the trusty Fuji x10 to hand to document our various excursions.

Our guests are great gardeners and horticulturalists and an extended visit to the Butchart Gardens was thus near the top of the list of things not to be missed. The recommended agenda of a daytime visit followed by a bit of a break and then a return to catch the gardens under illumination during the evening was adopted; the Kickass Canada Girl and I accompanying our guests for the latter…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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…and ladies!

A few final random (photographic) representations from our recent ramblings ’round the southern end of Vancouver Island.

I always enjoy showing guests this view from Beacon Hill Park across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic peninsula – particularly as it is revealed abruptly after an unsuspecting stroll through the park.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThere is always something to see in the inner harbour…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidFirst stop on the road up island is this viewpoint on the Malahat. The vista is of the Saanich inlet and the peninsula – and then across the hazy Gulf and San Juan islands to Mount Baker beyond. Spectacular!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe remaining shots are of the aptly named ‘Cathedral Grove‘ near Port Alberni. Some of the trees in this carefully stewarded residuum of the ancient rainforest date back over eight hundred years.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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