I think I am finally getting the hang of this Spanish language. I know how to ask for someone to fix the sink. I can order food and drink, get a taxi…hmm. That is about it. An older man, a helper at Walmart, asked me today why I didn’t speak Spanish. I told him I was working on it, but he shook his head and declared I should have done that years ago. I don’t know why he felt that way, but I told him I would keep trying, but he shook his head again, as if to declare me hopeless. Oh, well. My new phrase today, direct from my language translator, is: ¿Alquiera en busca una cerveza? Is anyone up for a beer?
Today is a lovely day: a bit breezy, but the sun is shining, and all is well in Puerto Vallarta.
This morning I walked to Walmart. I can see that complex from where I sit, but to get there, one has to go around the marinas, past the Naval Base, then take your life in your hands to cross the busy boulevard. I didn’t trust the policeman who kept telling me to go, when trucks and buses were coming around the corner aiming for me. I waited until some locals crossed, then I went with them. Whew! Adventure looms everywhere.
Today is going to be a relaxing day for me. I have an appointment at a spa later this afternoon for manicure, pedicure, 50 minute massage and a facial for a cost of approximately $55. We will see how that turns out.
Yesterday, I took a tour up to an old town far up in the Sierra Madre, reported to be the oldest town in this area. San Sebastián del Oeste was established in 1605, and flourished due to silver mining. After that, gold was discovered up there, so mining for those minerals, plus lead, made San Sebastián a busy place, with the population in 1900 being around 20,000 persons. Now, there are fewer than 1,000 residents. The town is kept clean and pretty, as it is considered one of the “Pueblos Majicos”, due to its history. The town receives a subsidy from the Mexican government to keep it historically correct, including the thick adobe walls of the buildings, and red tile roofs and the architecture. The streets are made of rock: big rocks, little rocks, all cemented together in an uneven hodge podge, it seemed to me. There are sidewalks for about half of the town. I had to laugh, as we saw cars proceeding down the street, slowly bumping up and down. Not that it was needed, for the cars could not go very fast, but the speed bump on one of the side streets was constructed of a heavy rope thrown across the street. It had obviously been there a long time, for it was pretty well enmeshed into the rocks of the street.
Before we got to San Sebastián, which, by the way, is a two-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta, we made three stops. Our guide told us that the first paved roads to that town were constructed in the 1960’s. Up till then, the only roads were dirt. Can you imagine, in the silver and gold mining days, goods and people had to be transported from Puerto Vallarta, where they arrived by ship. The primary means of transport, then, was by pack mule. The journey took two days.
Our first stop, about and hour from PV, was at a store called El Puente de Krystal, which I assume refers to the bridge over a huge ravine beside the store. I was happy that we stopped there, for Frank and I had visited that place on a tour a few years ago.
We watched a woman making home made tortillas from the masa de maiz. She had a big bowl of that lovely dough under the cloth beside her. When someone wanted a taco, she pulled off a ball of dough, pressed it into a tortilla, threw it onto the wood-fired stove top, let it cook until it puffed up, then she picked it up, turned it over. When it was done to her satisfaction, she pulled the tortilla off the grill, put it onto a small plate, then handed it to the customer. There were bowls of retried beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded cheese and salsa prepared. The customer made his taco to his or her preference. I had two of the delicious tacos, for a cost of $1 each.
Our next stop was at a tequila factory, of course. Jalisco, the Mexican state we are in, is the birthplace of tequila, so on any tour, one ends up at a tasting of that beverage.
This place was very simple, with techniques for making tequila going back generations of this same family. They use pure blue agave, the leaves and the root, to begin the process.
I took tiny tastes of tequila, but I am not a connoisseur; others said it was very good.
Next, we visited a coffee farm. There, I did taste the product, and it was delicious. The coffee farm had been established over 100 years ago. There was a woman called Maria, who had been the mother of 21 children, who started the farm with her husband. She outlived him, so she continued the farm and coffee production. Her next-to-youngest son now runs the business, and he is getting up in years, also. Maria, by the way, lived to be 85 years old. I cannot even fathom having a baby almost every year, as she did, beginning with the first child when she was 15 years old, and her youngest, when she was 46. Holy moley! And then she ran the farm, which is about 20 acres, I believe.
We were given a lesson on coffee growing, harvesting, roasting. I also learned that this is an organic farm. An interesting side note is the farm uses natural pesticide: a mixture of oil, garlic and serrano pepper. Hmm. Sounds a lot like the recipe for shrimp ajillo I told you about in an earlier post, except the pepper or chile is different. I might try that on my plants at home and see if it will keep the squirrels away.
Our guide took us to a very nice restaurant in San Sebastián. It was tastefully decorated, and the food was scrumptious. We were served chicken mole, cheese quesadillas, shredded beef for tacos, rice and beans. I could see the cook making tortillas in the kitchen, and cooking them as needed.
We ended our tour in the town square, after visiting the church of San Sebastián.
All in all, it was a pleasurable day. After all that walking on the rocky streets, and listening to Mario tell us all the cultural information, we were a tired group that headed back to Puerto Vallarta. I was grateful to Mario, our guide, for in his real life, he is a history teacher. He gave us so much very good information, both on the history of Mexico and this area in particular, but he expanded more on the anthropological and sociological aspects of Mexico. I felt it was a very worthwhile trip, for me.
By the time I got back to the resort, though, my feet and my brain were tired. I settled into my room for a nap before I ventured out for dinner.
I stayed at the resort for dinner and was treated to a lovely sunset.
So, adios from Puerto Vallarta, until next time. This is, indeed, a restful place.