I have been back to work for a couple weeks and have finally gotten all the sand out from between my toes. My tan has started to fade in a couple places, but not too badly. I have had a chance to collect my thoughts and sort my pictures, so I will send you some of each.
For anyone who might not know, I have been working at the London embassy since September '04, doing the same kind of work that I did in Beijing and Athens. On 22 Feb '05 I took a two week break from this job and traveled to Yelapa, Mexico to spend some time with Joann before she took off on a sailing trip across the Pacific.
The old blue and white bus, it's windshield personalized with rodeo trinkets, pictures of the young driver's family, and devotionals to the virgin Mary, ground it's gears and belched smoke as it took us on it's roundabout way to an ocean-front hotel in the old-town section of Puerto Vallarta. From there we would catch the water taxi the next morning.
By 11 am we were traveling the length of the Bay of Banderas in a "ponga," an open-topped fiberglass boat with rows of bench seats and a large outboard motor. The twenty or so passengers and their baggage would endure the whump-whump of the boat pounding through the chop and the occasional spray of seawater. Joann, having already experience a couple of trips, warned me that we should sit as close as possible to the rear where both the pounding and the spray were less intense.
Yelapa itself climbs out of the bay and up through the palms and fruit trees like a scene from an old movie. The stone and brick dwellings with red clay tile roofs alternate with open, palm-thatched palapas. Riders on burros and horses share the narrow rock-paved lanes with villagers and tourists on foot. Small cafes and casas perch on the rocks and line the arc of the beach.
The water taxi pulled right up to the north end of the beach, where some of the passengers disembarked, wading through the surf with their belongings. It then swung south, to the other end of the beach where we got off on a pier jutting out from the center of town. Joann led me up the rabbit-warren of pathways that wound between (and sometimes it seemed, through) the buildings. Soon we were climbing the stone-stepped path (182 steps - I counted!) that led up to Casa Milagros, the place that would be our home for the next two weeks.
Antonia and Joann in the kitchen
View from the kitchen window
Joann introduced me to Hugo and Antonia, our hosts at Casa Milagros.