April 5, 2007

Puerto Vallarta, March 2007

Hi All,

March was a great month. We had family and friends visit, did lots of other stuff and had an exciting time during the Banderas Bay Regatta.

The month of March started with a Ham Exam at the Vallarta Yacht club. Bill was looking for something to stick his nose into and found it. I have my General ham licenses and Bill had his Advanced (He was first licensed in November, 1963). Bill decided to test for the Extra (which gives him a few extra radio bands, but more important: bragging rights) and Volunteer Examiner - allowing him to hold Ham exam sessions (a team of 3 VEs is needed, so he'll need two others to hold a session). Naturally he aced both in short order.

One of the side benefits of visitors is that they can bring "stuff", like the replacement Soda Club machine, Shaft Shark line cutter, rebuild kits for our Autoprop Propeller and Rix SCUBA compressor and Snyder's Sourdough Hard Pretzels. That was very handy as shipping parts into Mexico is usually a problem and we can't find great pretzels down here yet!

We were happy to be having visitors from home. In the past, that four letter word beginning with W has interfered. That changed when our cousin Frank from San Diego retired last year. Now cousin Helene and her husband Frank were finally able to get their schedule coordinated to come to Puerto Vallarta.

PV is an easy place to fly into. Raptor Dance is docked at Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta see: http://www.paradisevillagemarina.com/

The Marina is part of the 5 start Paradise Village Resort http://www.paradisevillage.com/

We have the marina, yacht club, hotel and condos right here with all the amenities: pools, restaurants, shopping center, etc.

Puerto Vallarta is just a short hop away as are a host of other small Mexican towns and attractions. Ah, don't let me forget beautiful Banderas Bay for sailing, whale watching, fishing and salt water immersion of one type or another.

You have the idea. It is an ideal place to have visitors. Once Helene and Frank arrived and we ascertained how active they wanted to be, we were ready to rumba. Actually we did not rumba but we did salsa at a Cuban club in downtown PV.

We started with a nice little trip into the mangroves to Fajita Republic for dinner. The food is quite nice and it's an interesting dingy ride up the estuary. We tied up to a tree on their beach and had a nice dinner.

The next morning we went back into the mangroves in a little steam engine driven boat, The African Queen. It was similar to the boat in the movie but a bit smaller. This was a crocodile seeking jaunt and was plenty successful. There were small Crocs, about 6 feet long, larger Crocs on the mangrove banks and in the water, and the Big Guy whose head was easily 2 feet wide and length unknown (our guess over 17 feet)...very big. He came right up to the boat looking for a bit of chicken. There was no hand feeding!

That evening we headed up to Las Carmelitas http://lascarmelitas.com/

This restaurant has a great view of all of Puerto Vallarta. The food is not as good as past years, but the view is still fantastic.

The biggest challenge of the place is getting back! It's off the beaten track, up a few kilometers up a dirt road. You need to take a taxi to get there - the problem is that taxis don't just hang around waiting for return fares. Folks from the area typically have their original taxi come back 2 hours later to pick them up.

We, however, came from Paradise Village which is over the state line in Nayarit (Puerto Vallarta is in Jalisco). Nayarit taxis are not allowed to pick up fares in Jalisco - thus the quandary - our taxi was not permitted to come back to pick us up! Fortunately half our group got in a cab that was dropping off a new party of late diners. Unfortunately, the rest of us had to wait an hour for another cab, with frequent requests to the restaurant staff to call another cab. With the frustration of having multiple cabs coming by - returning to pick up their earlier fares.

Our general recommendation is to skip Las Carmelitas and go to Le Kliff http://www.lekliff.com/ instead. Le Kliff has both a fantastic view and food and is easy to get to and back - either by bus or taxi!

We had no trouble filling the rest of Helen and Frank's time with sailing, flying through the trees on zip lines at the Los Veranos Canopy Tour (http://www.canopytours-vallarta.com/ ), eating well, exploring PV, and just relaxing at the pool and beach. We were all happy but the time flew by too quickly.

We were in the zone now. Friends Lani and June arrived March 17th, just in time for the Banderas Bay Regatta with extra days to spare. I admit, we did some of the same things...visited favorite dinning spots like Calamari Adventura (The Frisky Squid) and Le Kliff and went on the Los Veranos Canopy Tour. Why do we all love that? I guess it's the thrill and feels like being a little kid again. Yippee! Oh yes, I had a close encounter with a friendly python too. Hmmm.

Our sailing week started with the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run. It is a benefit for local school children which takes paying passengers on the boat, north to Punta Mita. There we all go in to shore for lunch, dressed in pirate gear of course. By 2PM the wind is up and we sail back to the marina with spinnakers flying. It was a great day on the water and a great sail. It was also the first time Lani and June were actually sailing on our boat. All the other times we were sitting still in the marina or both traveling on our own boats.

Also joining us on the Spinnaker Run was our very good friend Jan Brewer (aka Queenie) and a couple from a power boat who came along for the charity event. We thought they were a bit quiet and shy until they told us later that they had never been on a sailboat flying a spinnaker and they were totally in awe!

We'll cover more about the Regatta in our next posting.

After the Regatta, it was back to boat chores... The rebuild kit for the Autoprop was a lifesaver (see: http://www.ab-marine.com/ ). We had Guillermo The Diver pull the prop and found one of the three blades was very loose with the seal shredded and the ball bearings about to fall out.

It took Bill and two friends: John Jones of Jonco Marine Repair and John Prentice of Prentice Marine Services the better part of a day to disassemble the prop, clean it up and reassemble it with the new bearings and other parts. Guillermo then put the prop back on this morning and she works like a champ.

Guillermo also mounted the "Shaft Shark" line cutter we had Lani and June bring down in case we have future run ins with long liners.

That's the latest from Raptor Dance!

Be sure and write us back and let us know how you all are doing! Just please send us a new message instead of "replying" to this one!

Warmest Regards to All,
Mary and Bill

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