Casa de Bender> travel> Mexico, September 2004
We arrived in Mexico yesterday. Shelley, Laura, Ben and I met at the Boise airport at some god awful time in the morning. I think the cab came to pick Shelley and I up at 5:30 AM. We got our tickets and on to the plane with no problems. The flight to Phoenix was as comfortable as modern air travel could be. Airplane seats are not made for full grown men to sit in.
We landed in Phoenix and surprisingly our next flight to Ixtapa was scheduled for the same gate. We at some airport food for breakfast while we waited for the boarding call. The plane was practically empty when we finally boarded. I doubt that there were even 40 people on board. I think it took about three and a half hours to get from Phoenix down to Ixtapa, but it was a pretty uneventful trip as well. Shelley and I read and Ben and Laura played grab ass. :) They are so cute together; they cuddle and fondle constantly.
The Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo airport looked a lot like the airport we landed at in Jamaica. They park the planes on the tarmac and deboard using stairways on wheels. We sailed through immigration and got our bags right away. Customs was easy too. We each had to push a button which I imagine randomly selected people to get searches. We all got the green light.
We were met at the airport by Javier and he helped us get our rental car sorted out. We packed the bags into the cars and hit the road. Driving in Mexico seems to live up to the rumors I'd heard. Traffic signs and lane markers are just taken as a loose guideline, but Ben did a fine job of not crashing into anyone.
Our first stop was a grocery store to get some supplies for the first day to two. We went to something that was a cross between Walmart and Winco. We got a case or so of beer, some tequila and rum and the fixings for a fajita dinner and breakfast. Then it was back on the road for the 30 minute drive into the countryside to Casa Bertha.
Ben noticed that many of the one and two story brick/concrete buildings have rebar left sticking up out of the tops of the main load bearing columns. Maybe it's to make future expansion easier?
Some of the "roads" we had to drive down to get to the house were actually well traveled goat trails, but at least the big boulders had been cleared out.
Casa Bertha is nice. It looks pretty much like the pictures on the website. There is a big living/dining room area which is basically a tile floor with a high roof over it. There's a huge dining table, a concrete sofa and two hammocks. The house also has a pretty well equipped kitchen with a great grill/range/barbeque combo that you could could restaurant meals on. The pool is warm (but then again everything here is warm so far) and clean. There are a lot of coconut palms on the grounds and everything is nice and green.
The rest of the first day was relaxing. We playing in the pool, drank some beer and eventually Ben made a tasty dinner. After dinner we lay around some more and talked a good game about drinking all night, but didn't really do it. Ben and Laura went off to bed pretty early. Shelley and I read for an hour or two more hoping that it would cool off enough to actually sleep. It really didn't get much cooler, but eventually we decided to turn in anyway. A cool shower helped some.
So far the second day has been just as relaxing. I've read a lot and generally lazed around. Shelley and I took a walk on the beach. It's not as pretty as Matamanoa, but it's nice. The sand here has a lot of clay mixed with it. The weather is kind of stormy so the water is a little mirky too. I've seem quite a few lizards and birds. There are several juvenile iguanas here on the rocks. I want to take one home, but I'm sure Annie and Beulah wouldn't treat it too well. There a lots of hermit crabs too and some shore and wading birds. There a several dogs wandering around as well. Shelley's first instinct is to befriend them, but Laura and I are trying to discourage that. Rabies shots in a foreign country seems like a bad way to end a vacation.
On Monday night we went out to eat at restaurant in the next town down the road. [[Ask Shelley what the name was]] The ride there reminded me of being in the middle of nowhere when I was a kid. The road was paved most of the way, but it wasn't the sort of road that would pass inspection these days. When we got to the town the paved road ended and the rutty gravel began. The restaurant was at a little resort that Shelley and Laura had looked at online. The food was good and the margaritas were strong. Laura and Ben ordered ice cream with caramel sauce for dessert, which didn't sound too fancy, but it turned out to be delicious.
We stopped at a convenience store on the way back to the house to get some more beer. There seem to be a lot of little "miscellaneous" stores in the towns that sell junk food and beer to the touristas. The girl behind the counter was trying to tell Ben, Shelley and I something about what we were buying, but it took several tries for it to get through since none of us speak Spanish worth a damn. Eventually we figured out that she was telling us that some of the bottles of beer required a deposit.
Back at Casa Bertha we had some more drinks and bs'd for a while. Ben and I were both in the mood to get wasted, but Laura and Shelley apparently weren't. You can guess who won in the end.
Today has been rainier. It's pouring right now and it's about the third time it's happened today. This time is definately the hardest yet though. When it's not raining it's been beautiful. Sunny and breezy, definitely not as hot as the day we got here. It actually cooled down quite a bit last night and was pretty pleasant for sleeping.
I feel kind of like I'm not writing enough about each day's adventures, but I'm having such a good time laying around on my ass and reading that I haven't done much else. Shelley booked a fishing trip for tomorrow morning though, so I'm sure that will give me plenty to write about.
Yesterday we got up early and went fishing. Our captain was Ramon and his ship was the Miguelita. The fishing was great. He asked us which direction we wanted to go in when we first got underway. Laura told him to "take us where the fish are." Ramon laughed and said he'd try, and he did a great job. We started catching fish within fifteen or twenty minutes. The first batch that we caught were barrilitos(?). They looked like tiny tuna to me. Ben and I landed a couple of these a piece in pretty rapid succession. Shelley and Laura each took a turn at the polls and caught their share too.
A little later we started catching small dorado. I think we hooked seven or eight all together, but they were all too small to keep. While we were stopped to reel in one of the dorado Ramon noticed that we were in a school of small fish. I don't know what they were called, but Shelley thought they looked like piranha. Ramon cut up on of the fish that we had caught and fed in to the school. The little fish attacked it voraciously and pretty soon their feeding attracted a small shark. It was probably only a couple feet long, but it looked pretty cool. Ramon baited a hand line with another hunk of fish and tried to catch it, but the little fish kept eating his bait before the shark got anywhere near the hook. We made a couple more passes through the area where the little dorado and the shark were. On one pass Shelley caught half a dorado. The shark left a nice clean bite mark in place of the other half!
We circled out some more into deeper water. Somewhere along the way we saw a small pod of dolphins. They splashed around the boat for a while, but we didn't catch any fish while they were around. Out in the deeper water we finally ran across some larger dorado. Shelley and I both hooked into them at the same time. Mine threw the hook after only a minute or two of fighting, but we got to see it jump a couple of times. I was pretty busy watching my reel which liked to foul a lot, but Ben said that it was a monster. When I'd reeled my line in to make sure it was out of Shelley's way the hook was straightened, so he must have been pretty good size. Shelley hung in like a trooper and landed hers. By the end her arms were shaking and she was sweating hard, but she brought it all the way back to the boat. We didn't weigh it, but the fish was about the same size as Shelley's leg.
While the last of the fight was playing out, we could see quite a few other dorado in the water around the boat. The are really pretty in the water, gold with bluish stripes down their back. We kept making passes through that general area for the rest of our time on the trip. Ben managed to hook and land a good size one too, but Shelley's ended up being the biggest of the day.
On our way back to the beach, Ramon spotted a turtle. I got a few blurry pictures of a hump in the water. I think Dad will get a kick out of them because they are a lot like his infamous "there's a bear behind that stump" pictures. In person though we got a pretty good look at the tortuga until she decided we were getting too close and sped off.
We had one of the barrilitos for lunch. It had a really dark red flesh and muscle structure that went right along with it's external appearance of being a tiny tuna. And it was damn tasty.
The early hour that we had left for the trip, four hours of fun in the sun and lunch combined to make a pretty strong sleeping potion. Everybody ended up napping and relaxing for the rest of the day. The cook/housekeeper made us another excellent dinner to top the whole day off. We had cerviche and shrimp tacos for dinner. It was way too much food, but it was all good. She made more tasty guacamole too and Shelley and I braved eating some of it with no dire results. My throat got a little itchy, but it tasted so good I didn't care.
Today has been pretty windy. It's raining again right now, but not too hard. I don't see any big leaks at the moment. Shelley and I have been content to lay around and read all day. Ben and Laura got antsy this afternoon and took the car out for a drive. Bouncing around in the back of a car didn't sound very exciting to me, so I stayed here. Shelley is trying to setup a scuba trip for herself tomorrow out of a dock in Zihuatanejo. Ben, Laura and I will probably go along and hang out on a beach called Los Gatos while Shelley dives.
So far we are still having a lot of fun, but I am a little homesick. Bryan was very off last night when he said it was only raining a little bit. The deluge continued for at least 8 hours. Everything was soaked in the open air living room, so we retired to the big unused bedroom and watched "Castaway" on the fancy DVD player. It was rather fun, but once again really hot. Really really hot....and sticky. I am sick of nature, and a little homesick. The giant mammoth moth who is my new archnemesis kept me up again for a good portion of the night. But today was great. I did get to go diving despite the deluge, and Laura and Ben enjoyed snorkeling. Bryan enjoyed the beach.
On the dive visibility wasn't great because of the rain last night, and because it is the off season, but still I got to see a lot of sea life. There were several different kinds of puffer fish, two moiree eels, one zebra striped and the other spotted, a little octopus and the tiniest little crab you ever saw. He was about the size of a quarter and looked entirely as though he was made out of red moss. Our dive lasted about an hour which is quite a while. At one point I had an extreme ear equalization problem which made me think my head would explode. It didn't. I am safely still in one piece.
The dive company was located on Playa Los Gatos (Beach of the Cats ?) and is called Carlo Scuba. It is actually now owned by Carlo's son Jean Claude who we learned today was trying to get Terry, Jean Claude's son and my guide and dive buddy for the day, to buy the place from him so he can move to some other exotic locale and spend the rest of his life playing in the sun. It was hard to guess Jean Clade's age due to his chain smoking and the fact the he seemed to never wear more than a tiny little Speedo. If I had to venture a guess, taking those factors into account I would say late 50's. The dive shop has been in operation at that location for 40 years. Jean Claude let us in on the secret that the shop/his house is located on federal land for which he pays a lease rate of $300 per year. Carlo Scuba will probably be around for another 40 years.
After our adventure, all of feeling pretty happy and sleepy we all returned for a lunch of leftover pasta goodness. I finished my second book, Bryan worked on his fifth, and I think Laura and Ben laid down for a rest. Dinner was fabulous. The mahi-mahi, or el dorado as it is locally called was great. Margarita and Felix prepared it in butter and garlic. After dinner Bryan and I had a walk on the beach and then ate some ice cream that Ben and Laura procured for us....very thoughtful. Now it is five minutes to 9:00 and I am very seriously considering another cold shower and then heading off to bed.
Tomorrow is our last full day here, and while it has been great, I am ready to get home to my well protected no bug, no moth, no stay dogs haven. I plan to have pizza and sleep without moth interruption.
Yesterday was good. I laid around the pool all morning and got more reading in. Unfortunately I was too stupid to put on sunscreen. I'll have a good tan if it doesn't all peel off.
We went into Ixtapa for dinner at a pretty fancy restaurant called Bucanero's. Shelley had some tasty beef in an attempt to stave off her homesickness for a while longer. I had the best oysters rockerfellerrockafeller I've ever had. They were buttery and cheesy and just damn good. I had a really tasty salad with pears and goat cheese and a nice tuna steak too. Shelley ordered a fancy coffee that took the guy almost ten minutes to make at the table. It involved a lot of flambe and fancy showmanship.